lements of a Story
A good story has certain key ingredients.
Whether we’re talking about fiction, nonfiction, ormemoir – it should be supported by the following basic elements.
A beginning, a middle, and an end.
Every story has them – a beginning, a middle, and an end. Each section, flowing seamlessly into thenext, has a special ‘signature.’In the beginning you’ll introduce all or most of your major characters and set up the primary conflict. Agood beginning starts with a good lead or hook – something to ‘grab’ the reader and propel them into the story.In the middle you’ll want to build on that original conflict, complicating it with a twist and a turn.Middles are used to flesh out your main character’s personalities and motivations.In the end you’ll bring the conflict to a logical and satisfying close and resolve your main character’sdilemma. Remember, not all endings are happy but that’s okay; that’s real life.
In your memoir, the main character is you. Your job is to honestly portray yourself (and others in yourstory) without bias and with as much flavor and detail as possible. Avoid flat or one-dimensional, orstereotypical depictions of people. Strive to show how you and others change over the course of the tale.
Literary conflicts make for a good story, or memoir. Conflicts, those trials of the heart and clashes of wills, can be good things. They bring body to the story and build suspense. They make you ask, ‘howcan she succeed against such odds?’ Major conflict is the result of an external force putting pressureon the goals and motivations of the main person in the story. So much so that the person feels there’sno easy way out.Conflict can be grouped into four categories: man vs. God (or nature); man vs. society; man vs. man;man vs. self. Conflict can also be seen as either internal or external. The interplay of internal andexternal conflict moves the story along, giving it a life of its own. The stronger the two are, the better the story.
This is the point of highest emotion or drama in your story. All the conflicts and complications come to a head at this moment in the story. The tension falls away after this point and the story line movesquickly toward resolution.
The resolution ties everything together and answers all questions (directly or indirectly). This ending should be logical and satisfying. Your resolution doesn’t have to give solutions necessarily justanswers to the questions raised in your beginning.
©2006 Linda Leigh Hargrove | Linda@LLHargrove.com