Improve Your Memory and Memoir: Cluster Your Thoughts on a Topic-Part 5

Choose a key word or phrase then write associated ideas and words in clusters around it. Now start with one idea and write …

This process inspires connection between ideas often forms new ideas. The process is similar to brainstorming in that as you jot down ideas on a piece of paper using words or short phrases. Use different colored pens as ideas seem to suggest themselves in groups. Don’t bother to organize too neatly because that can impede the flow of ideas. Don’t cross anything out because you can’t tell where an idea will lead you. When you get a few ideas written down, start to group them, using colored circles or whatever. Draw linking lines as connections suggest themselves.

PART 2: Three Ideas for Starting to Write

  • Choose one idea from the cluster and begin writing. Choose the idea you remember most vividly, for example driving your dad’s new car.

  • Include your five senses — touch, smell, taste, sight, sound and color. When you drove your dad’s new car, how did it feel to get behind the wheel? What did the new car aroma smell like to you? How did the engine sound when you started it? How did people look at you when you drove by? What color was it? Associate colors as you remember them. Stick with colors readers will know, like crimson, scarlet, vermillion, barn red, sage, heather, sea foam, teal, emerald, or spring green. Let the reader see, smell, touch, taste, and hear as you have.

  • Recreate the stories and scenes as you remember them. What happened the first day your showed your friends your dad’s new car? Paint a scene for your reader.

PART 3: Five Tips to Enhance Your Writing

  • Address the five W’s – who, what, when, where, why, and how. Start with the facts to communicate clearly and accurately.

  • Broaden the topic by moving to the another idea in the cluster.

  • Force yourself to keep jotting down memories. Even they don’t seem important or worthwhile. As you’re recalling an event try to remember: What did you see? Where were you? Who was with you? What happened? You may recollect some wonderful anecdotes.
  •  Record yourself recalling some memories. Talk into a audio and imagine your audience sitting in front of you. Then, transcribe the recorded material using speech-to-text software . This technique will add some new ideas.
  • Change the Audience. Pretend your memoir is for a child, a close friend, a parent, a person who disagrees with you, or someone you’ve just met. Changing the audience can clarify your purpose. Changing the audience can also make you feel more comfortable about writing your memoir.

    PART 4: Four More Tips to Enhance Your Writing

  • Play a Role. Pretend you are someone else writing the memoir. For instance, assume you are your friend, a colleague, or a loved one, writing about you. Pulling yourself out of your usual perspective can help you think more about the subject than writing about the subject.
  • Freewrite. Choose one memory and jot down some detail about it. Then choose one detail and do it again.
  • Write a Letter. Imagine you’re writing a letter telling your closest confidante about your project? Try starting your work “Dear ____” and you might tap into a fountain of lovely, loose conversational prose.
  • To embellish ideas, ask yourself: what did I mean by that?

PART 5: Three Important Tips to Enhance Your Writing

  • Include some reflections: As a memoirist, rather than simply telling a story from your life, you tell the story and muse upon it, trying to unravel what it means in the light of your current knowledge. The contemporary memoir includes retrospection as an essential part of the story. Your readers will be entertained by the story itself and interested in how, looking back on it, you now understand.
  • Create drama. Near the beginning of the story, insert the your goals/direction/decision that results from this opening event. This goal or decision should also push the story forward. Somewhere in the middle of the story, plant a surprise, a complication or a change of direction. You don’t want things to go smoothly, you want more problems to crop up and tension to increase as the story progresses. If possible, show your determination to achieve your life’s ambitions. Keep classic plot lines in mind. For example, many classic stories are about a quest, an adventure, a journey, a contest, a pursuit, or solving a mystery. Make the overall stakes in the plot high. Readers love the idea of a character setting off in pursuit of something that has great importance and/or lasting impact on the lives of the characters.
  • Include careful description. Description begins with observing the nuances of life. For example with people, notice personality traits, quirks, gestures, and body movement. Recall conversations, jokes, and quips.The trick is to use description sparingly while still revealing something to the reader. Include only the most significant and compelling information. Don’t go too far and try to capture every aspect. Description should not be an inventory of all the characteristics of each item, person, or place. It’s most effective at its briefest and cleanest, when it sparks the reader’s imagination, but does not provide an exact portrait. Inspire readers with details they have never read before. Write in precise terms. Use vivid language to create word pictures or minimovies in your reader’s imagination. Use specific nouns — castle, giant, dwarf, Cyclops. Use active, exciting verbs, especially those that sound like their meaning such as: thump, whack, bang, whiz, crash, crunch, plop, sizzle, pop, slam, whir, pop, twirl, mince.

Watch for the next post in this series.