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Hi Susan, 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,
L


Answer
Hello Luisa:

You have asked several questions in all, some easy to answer, some more difficult, that will require more space than is available here.

1. Forget about the Roman numerals, letters, and numbers. They are talking about a formal outline and that's not what we're dealing with here.

2. You may tell your story in any way you want; arrange your chapters as you like, put whatever events you think seem to go in this chapter, section, etc., as you like, and title sections however you want to. It is YOUR book, and no one can tell you how to write it. Write it in whatever way seems best to you.

3.  Don't worry about mixing up what you were feeling "back then" and what you are feeling and thinking now. Just put it all in, and don't worry fret about it. Read some memoirs to see how this is done.

4. Your real problem seems to be one of organization. Organizing a book is not difficult, so long as you do it the right way. As it is, you are fumbling around in a welter of information, with little idea of how to deal with it.

What you need is a mentor, or guide. I offer mentoring services at my website: http://pygmypress.com. The lessons are inexpensive and of great value, saving you a great deal of time and effort. If you don't wish to pay, you can seek help at your library, but this will take a lot longer and require even more effort on your part.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high scores over 1900+ questions.

And thank you for writing!

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Susan Rand

Expertise

I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at http://pygmypress.com, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.

Experience

I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

Education/Credentials
BA degree in Written Communication

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