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Diving For Pearls

Online writers' resources by Ingrid Bruck


Ingrid Bruck is an editor at Between These Shores.  She was a featured writer in BTSA Issue #2. Her column is devoted to online writer resources. She found her own writer support community online. Writing this column is one way of "paying it forward". 

Diving for Pearls: Online Writers Resources

BTS Books strives to be a writers resource. Toward that end, we invite writers to share their information, link, and news of interest for the literary community. 

Email your pearls of resources for writers to:

Ingrid Bruck, Network and Resource Editor


February 2024

Resources for Memoir Writing



Memoir is a popular genre of writing that explores personal history. The author writes a factual, truthful account taken from personal life and includes reflections about the experience.  


There are many forms of memoir writing. A successful memoir usually includes these common characteristics: 


1- Tell a factual, true (to you) life story. In exposition of a narrative memoir, the story, introduces the main player, setting, and time frame and basic conflict. 


2- Topics for memoirs are as different as people are. Be short and clear. Some examples of memoir topics: Overcoming adversity. Rags to riches. Coming of age. Childhood trauma. Sexual abuse. Drug addition and recovery. Gambling. Racial injustice. 


3- Specify a timeline. The timeline provides a story focus. It can be one day. A week. The eight months your mother was dying. The three years you fought cancer. Your teen years. A decade. A timeline guides what scenes to include (and exclude) in telling the story.  


4- Make a list of scenes. This list provides an outline for your story, much like a storyboard does for cinema. A scene list guides the development of your memoir. Start with a long list. You need 28 to 56 scenes for enough content to write a book.  


5- Select a frame to unify the content in the book. Be cognizant when a particular image reappears over and over. You can identify a frame to use when you look for a dominant or reoccurring image in your writing. For a memoir, the frame could be: An open window. An empty room. The reoccurring dream. The color red. A  garden.The frame creates a running thread to holds the story-scenes together and help unify the story line of the memoir.


6- Arrange scenes in a dramatic arc. The arc forms the the story's path: Rising action, Climax, Falling Action. Resolution. Rising and falling action creates tension and holds the reader's attention. Organize scenes, build suspense to a crisis, move to resolution. 


7- Reflect on what happens. Your reflections contrast the present-you with a younger, less experienced you. Be honest. Admit your mistakes. Show how you've changed.  Reflections mine the gold in each scene, chapter or part of the book.


8- Transformation. The memoir tracks how you face a problem, change and grow. The element of transformation is a major reason why the reader takes the memoir journey with you. Give them tips about how to change. Shake up your writing, learn from yourself as you write. Writing a memoir can change you. 


9- Use compelling language. Use active and muscular verbs. Use concrete details about shape, color, weight, size. Avoid generalization and cliches. Engage the senses: sight, sound, smell, hearing, feeling, touch. Rewrite a scene from the past in the present tense. Rewrite a scene in the first person (for intimacy). Or third person (to create distance).


10-Consider hybrid forms to surprise and engage the reader. Select a literary structure for a scaffold. Some examples: Mixed media for a mosaic. Arrange scenes as pearls on a string. Present in straight chronological order. Or take time leaps. The memoirist can combine prose with various writing hybrids. Hybrid variations add interest to the prose. Some examples include: poems, a dated diary or journal entry, email, old letter, family photo.



Some Good Memoir Resources


Writers Block Party - Check out the CRAFT articles for great essays by authors and publishers: setting, arc, writing in first person.


How to Start Writing a Memoir: 10 Tips for Starting Your Memoir, Written by MasterClass, Last updated: Aug 30, 2021 


How to Write a Memoir: 7 Ways to Tell a Powerful Story by Brooke Warner | The Write Life, Sep 4, 2023.


What is a Narrative Arc? || Oregon State Guide to Literary Terms.

The Ultimate-Three Act Structure Worksheet. AssetsGlobalWebsite.



May your writing in February & March 2024 prosper, memoir and otherwise!  


Recently received from a loyal reader:

I volunteer with a creative writing club for children and we wanted to let you know how helpful the Between These Shores web page, , has been for us!

We meet once a week & work on various writing prompts, and the kids bring in short stories & narratives that we all go over... It's a lot of fun! For National Poetry Month were working on a lot of poetry, and we got a ton of new ideas from the poetry month resources you have on that page.. I have a girl in the group (Chelsea, one of the youngest we have, actually) who suggested we thank you! She's already quite a gifted writer, and she wanted me to share this awesome poetry resource that she found. She brought it to our meeting and we all thought it was really informative.. she thought you'd be interested in it too:

Michele Wilson and the CPL Young Writers Club

Young Businesswoman
Sketching Pencils
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