Okay, once you have collected, what next? Organize! Think subject matter not chronology. When I wrote Farm Girl, the organization fell into place since my mother's memories covered the same topics over and over. School, Home, Family, the Community, the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression. And because it was about her growing up years, the chapter organization could be somewhat chronological without being the dull routine of born in 1917, and then what happens each year after bla bla bla.
And this brings me to my next subject-- go for the gold, which in literary terms according to moi means to go for the story. Information is all very important, but only as it is useful for the story. I just finished reading the memoir, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. She does an incredible job of drawing characters, creating tone and setting, giving background-- all leading to the story of her and her sister's imprisonment at Ravensbruck and what they learned there. And up until that point, she tells story after story to draw you in and keep you reading. Not in a random way, but brilliantly designed so that each event, story, chapter, and character in her narrative is necessary to the whole.
So there you have the three steps. One Two Three!
- Collect information
- Organize it
- Build a story
Sounds so easy doesn't it? Well, I never said it would be easy. I only said it would be worth it!