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Writing Books/Chapter titles in a memoir


Hi again Sandy, I hope you are well!

I wanted to ask you about chapter titles in memoirs.

I am thinking of going with telling the many occurrences individually, via having a chapter for each one, as with the memoir I'm writing I'm finding it very difficult to fill the blanks and go from one scene to the next.
It isnít a novel it is real and I really do not want to fill the book with fluff or take focus away from what is to be recognised.

Do you think this is a good way (not boring for the reader) to deliver my memoir? Ė So long as the writing is good, as that's what makes or breaks it isn't it?

Is it possible to literally title each chapter according to the occurrence for example; the time I knew I had to get out.  

I've read an article saying Roman numerals, letters then numbers are used in terms of category, subcategory etc. Is it not okay to title each section/individual recalled event with my own title?

On a different note quickly, how can put my unvoiced thoughts of the situation at the time and my present thoughts of the then situation, in to the book in each section/chapter?

Do I write these during the present tense chapters? If so, how do I distinguish the event going on and what I was thinking but not saying at that time?
Then there's also what I'm thinking now to add. Or do I at the end of the book have a present time chapter and give my current take on the whole lot with my final words in there?

Thanks so much,

Thanks so much,

Hi L,

Just touched down after 26 hour flight from Morocco to Australia so jet lag is making things a bit weird!

I would stick with traditional "chapter one, chapter two" etc. Having names for chapters is a bit prescriptive and rather old fashioned.

As to your other question about reflection; don't complicate things for yourself. Simply reflect. "I thought..." "I sensed..."

I would not have a present time chapter, but incorporate your feelings as you go alone, otherwise you have to remind the reader each time about what you are referring to. I would, however, consider an epilogue as a way of closing off your account.

Hope this helps,



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Sandy McCutcheon


Author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a memoir and children's fiction.I can work with people on the process of writing, what to expect and ask for from an editor. How to work with the publisher`s marketing and publicity people. And how to survive book launches and publicity tours!


Published author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a young adult and three non-fiction titles. Visit his Moroccan blog at for a look at his blogging work.

St Andrews, Helsinki University and other institutions. Adult Educator of the Year Award, Australia

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