Now that you’ve got your thoughts and ideas down on paper, here are a few more things to consider before starting your outline.
Choosing a format is important so your outline and story are cohesive. The most popular formats are an autobiography that covers the life span of an individual, divided into chapters and usually including photos and memorabilia. A memoir is another form, which is about a particular time or event in a life, such as career, military, or particular life experience. And nostalgia, stories of “way back when” or the “good old days” about occasions like when your family first got a TV, or when you lived without air conditioning and used a wringer washer, are always popular.
Most story writers use the computer and include photos, documents, and genealogical information. While it isn’t necessary or required, such memorabilia helps bring your story to life. If you aren’t computer savvy, enlist the help of someone who is, or write your story out by hand. Either way works.
It’s important to think about your audience because that could determine how you’ll write your story. Ask yourself: Will your story be given to only close to you? Will you want to copy it and distribute among all your relatives? If you have no descendants, will you share it with other family members? Are you writing for yourself to have a record of your life? It’s your story, so you get to decide. Looking at some published life stories will give you some ideas.
Never think your life is too boring, dreary, or uninteresting to write. Every life has times of challenge and celebration. Think about the gift of what your words would bring to others. Allow yourself to do it.
Creating an outline puts order to your story. Most stories are written chronologically, beginning with childhood and continuing up to the present time. Another way to do chapters is to arrange by topic, like school days, career, mission, family (which could include parents, siblings, and grandparents). School days could include school events and memories from elementary, high school, and college all in one chapter, regardless of the time period.
After using a brainstorming method mentioned in Part II, organizing your chapters is much easier by taking the topics and ideas and putting them in your outline where you want them. A good way to do that is going over your brainstorming paper and numbering the topics in the order you’ll want your chapters.
It is important to include full names included in your story. Include dates, and for locations put city and town or state, such as Payson, Utah, since there is also a Payson, Arizona. You know to whom and where you are referring, but your readers may not.
Lastly, start by setting some realistic goals and focus on them. One might be a date you want to have your first draft finished. Ask the Lord for help. Then start writing!