Sometimes memoirists can feel as if we have very few choices about our stories. Bound by truth and memory, we can often conclude there’s not much room for our creative selves to have a say. But here’s a secret—we don’t have to pin down a narrative in the order that events occurred. We can switch things around, pair things together, and work associationally. Isn’t that exciting?
The key to memoir is finding the right “slant” from which to tell your story, as Louis C.K. has found in the hit series based on his life, “Louie.” Using what I’d call an “episodic” structure, each installment revolves around some kind of narrative punch-line that’s funny, sad, troubling, insightful, or all of the above. By fashioning his life into episodic nuggets (much like memoirists Nick Flynn and Anne Lamott), Louis C.K. gives writers an example of how we might find a possible structure out of the mess of stories that make up our lives.
In fact, there are so many options for “memoiristic” structure, it can get overwhelming. So let’s consider a few of those choices to help you think anew about how your story might best be told.