Memoir Unit


With memoir ideas growing in their notebooks and published memoirs feeding their visions, students will soon be ready to write drafts. As with other genre studies, we devote only 1-2 days to drafting.

Writers might want to spend part of a day planning the draft—creating outlines, timelines, storyboards, or diagrams to help them think about how they will organize the content of their drafts. These tools are temporary and should not be viewed as a rigid plan that must be followed, as the shape of the memoir will likely change during the actual drafting and/or revision. This work might also be the last part of the “nurturing an idea” phase discussed on the previous screen. There is a lot of overlap between “stages” of a professional writer’s process.

Drafting should take place outside of the notebook, on a clean sheet of paper or word processing software. This is when all the thinking the writer has been doing about his/her project comes together for the first time.

Many beginning writers struggle to understand the difference between notebook entries and drafts. One primary difference is the author’s intentionality. When freewriting about memories in a notebook, for example, the text is largely “accidental.” We write what we remember as the ideas come to us. In a draft, however, the ideas are expanded, complementary material is inserted, and events are arranged in an order that may or may not be chronological or mirror our recollection process.

Teacher Try-It:

Look again at your own notebook entries, including “try-its” of craft strategies, and write a clean draft of your memoir.


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