Saturday, September 10, 2011

Your homes: their roles in your life’s story

Recently you’ve been dreaming about your finished memoir, its title, and its cover. I hope this is fun for you!

You’re also thinking about your memoir’s structure, its framework: how you arrange the order of your chapters. How can you organize them in a way that will appeal most to your readers?

We’ve considered several options for your structure:
  • Chronological
  • Theme
  • Flashback
  • “Where I’m From”

Today I’ll offer another option: Your homes. I got this idea while reading Diana Trautwein’s Trip Down Memory Lane at her blog, DRGT / Just Wondering, at

Recently Diana and her husband drove by the four homes they’ve lived in during their 45 years of marriage. The experience brought back a flood of memories for Diana, some of which she wrote about in her post. You’ll enjoy her Trip Down Memory Lane and photos of those lovely homes at

Diana’s story got me thinking about structure: You could arrange your memoir into divisions according to your homes and the events that happened while living in them.

If you’ve stayed put most of your life, this framework won’t offer much excitement for you or your readers, but for those who have moved a few times, this could be an interesting choice for structuring your memoirs.

Similar to the structure in Wednesday’s blog post, a Table of Contents would look like this:

Part 1: Our Home at 1489 Blueberry Lane
          Chapter 1’s title
          Chapter 2’s title
          Chapter 3’s title
          Chapter 4’s title

Part 2: Our Home at 815 Washington Street
          Chapter 5’s title
          Chapter 6’s title
          Chapter 7’s title
          Chapter 8’s title
          Chapter 9’s title

And so on.

Think about it. Give it a try. Maybe it will work well for you.

Be sure to include photos, and don’t forget addresses! Decades from now your great-grandchildren might like to drive by your old homes!


  1. This is another interesting approach to the memoirs ;-) I just wanted to come by and let you know I got started today. Not only that, I have joined a local writing group that gets together every week or so to write. They don't really visit. It is just a time to make time to write. They are not Christians but all kinds of people that want to write. So I joined them today for the first time. I was able to write exactly what I wanted to write about within the time frame I had. I had fun. I wondered if you wanted to look it (after I type it up) and give me your thoughts/critiques/suggestions.

  2. Linda,
    This is a great way to tap into memories. I have done this exercise through Jerry Waxler's Hero's Journey course,called "Places I've Lived" We had to describe each home and inevitably scenes from that time period popped up. I am still writing stories from this exercise. As you are suggesting,having a structure to writing can really help move the writing process along. I enjoyed your post and the links very much!

  3. Joyful: HOORAY!!!!! I'm so proud of you! Yes, contact me at and I'll see what I can do for you.

    Kathleen, Jerry's course sounds fabulous. Was it was an entire course on the places you've lived? I'd love to know more. In my classes we do an exercise (and I will blog about it soon) that's sketching the floorplan and home they lived in (during a certain period in their lives) and the road and neighborhood as a way of stirring up memories and story ideas. Is this kind of what you did in Jerry's class?

    Thanks for stopping by, Joyful and Kathy!


  4. Thanks Linda! I have to type up my piece first and then I'll send it off. In our group we use pen and paper (which I like).