book inc  –  journal  –  Mapping My Memoir

Mapping My Memoir

By Nancy Francese

July 18, 2022

As a memoir writer, I rely on accessing memories and linking these memories together to form a cohesive story. I’ve always been a visual person so, to help me in this process, I create a map.

I start by drawing circles on a blank page with one driving memory in the center. From that one core circle, I let my mind wander to see where that one memory takes me. Whatever comes into my mind, I write the character, place, and event into its own circle. After letting all my memories surface from my one core memory, I’ve got a page of circles.

The beauty of this method is that I can see an entire scene forming on the page all at once, including all the secondary and tertiary links. By opening my mind, I allow buried memories, with all their sensory details, to float up to my conscious awareness. These sensory details such as something I ate or saw or smelled add depth to my scenes.

I’ve found it useful to draw one memory map for each one of Blake Synder’s Save the Cat! beats. In some cases, each beat has led me to draw more than one map. This gives me the ability to branch out and see more connections within each map and from one map to the next. I find this memory mapping a very worthwhile tool as I draft my memoir in progress. You should give it a try too!

A student at Project Write Now for the last four years, Nancy’s work has been published in Bright Flash Literary Review and Sad Girls Literary Magazine.