How to Outline Your Memoir [Step-by-Step Guide]

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  • February 12, 2024
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  • 6 min read


Writing memoirs is a great way to tell your stories and connect with others. But if you start writing without a memoir outline, it can get messy, and you might never finish. It’s important to learn how to outline a memoir to prevent that from happening. In this guide, we’ll go through each step of outlining, from figuring out what your memoir is about to turning your outline into a captivating story.

Understanding Your Memoir’s Theme

Understanding the theme of your memoir is like finding the main idea or lesson you want to share. It’s the big-picture message of life story writing you want your readers to take away after reading it. To do this, think about what your memoir outline is really about. What’s the main focus or feeling you want to express? Then, look at the important events or memories in your life that relate to this theme.

These moments will help you shape your story and make your theme clear to your readers. Take your time to think deeply about this, as it sets the foundation for everything else in your memoir.

Brainstorming Your Memoir

Brainstorming for your memoir means letting your thoughts flow freely onto paper. Start by writing down anything and everything that comes to mind about your theme and the key moments in your life related to it. Don’t worry about making it a perfect memoir outline or organized at this stage. The goal is to get all your ideas out there.

Creating a Timeline

Mapping out significant events in your life means putting them in order based on when they happened. Imagine creating a timeline of your life story, starting from the earliest memories and moving forward in time. This helps you see the sequence of events.

As you do this, think about how each event connects to the next and contributes to the overall story you want to tell. Consider the ups and downs, the challenges and triumphs, and how they all fit together like puzzle pieces.

Developing Characters

When developing characters in your memoir, think about the significant people in your life who have shaped who you are. These could be family members, friends, teachers, mentors, or anyone else who has had a meaningful impact on you.

Introduce these characters to your readers by describing who they are and their relationship to you. Please share stories and anecdotes that illustrate their personalities, quirks, and their role in your life. Pay attention to the dynamics of your relationships with these characters and how they’ve influenced your journey.

Defining Your Narrative Arc

Defining your narrative arc means creating a roadmap for your memoir outline. It’s like planning out the story from beginning to end. It also includes tone and perspective.

Start by setting up a strong beginning that grabs the reader’s attention. This could be an exciting event or a moment setting your story’s stage. In the middle part of your memoir, you’ll dive into the challenges and obstacles you’ve faced. This is where you’ll share the ups and downs, the successes, and the tough times that have shaped your life. Finally, wrap up your memoir with a satisfying ending. Tie up any loose ends, share what you’ve learned, and show how you’ve grown because of your experiences.

As you plan your memoir’s arc, consider how you want readers to feel. Do you want them to feel inspired, moved, or reflective? Planning your story this way allows you to create a compelling memoir that resonates with readers.

Choosing a Point of View

When deciding on the point of view for your memoir outline, you choose how you want to tell your story. You have two main options: first-person or third-person perspective.

First-person perspective means you’re telling the story as if you’re the main character. You use words like “I” and “me” to share your experiences directly with the reader. This can make your memoir feel more personal and intimate because readers get to see things through your eyes.

On the other hand, a third-person perspective means you’re telling the story as if you’re watching it happen to someone else. You use words like “he,” “she,” or the character’s name. This can create distance between you and the reader but allows for a different perspective and can sometimes be more objective.

Structuring Your Chapters

Breaking down your memoir outline into manageable sections means dividing it into smaller, more easily digestible parts. Each section, often called a chapter, should have its unique focus and purpose to contribute to the story.

Think of each chapter as a mini-story within your memoir. Start by identifying each section’s main idea or theme, and then organize the content around it. This helps create a structured and organized narrative.

Adding Detail and Description

Enrich your narrative with sensory imagery and vivid descriptions that bring your story to life. Create scenes that immerse readers in the world of your memoir, allowing them to experience events alongside you.

Finalizing Your Outline

Make any final tweaks or revisions based on feedback, ensuring that your memoir outline accurately reflects the vision and scope of your memoir. Take pride in the clarity and organization of your outline as you prepare to start the writing journey.

Translating the Outline into Writing

Use your outline as a roadmap for drafting your memoir, allowing flexibility and creative exploration. Stay true to the overarching structure and themes outlined while embracing the writing process’s spontaneity and flow.

Seeking Support and Accountability

Join writing groups or memoir ghostwriting services to connect with fellow memoirists and gain valuable support and feedback. Set deadlines and milestones to keep yourself accountable and motivated throughout the writing process.

Overcoming Writer’s Block

Experiment with different techniques for generating inspiration and overcoming writer’s block, such as taking help from professional services such as Ghost Writing Founder. Remember that imperfection is a natural part of the writing process, and embrace the journey with patience and perseverance.


Mastering the art of outlining is a crucial step in the memoir-writing process, providing structure, clarity, and direction as you bring your story to life on the page. By following this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to confidently outline your memoir and start a transformative writing journey.

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