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ENG 1510 Memoir

—A memoir is a personal story centered on one theme or question—


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The assignment is to tell a story that introduces, explains, and resolves a complicated situation that you were in, and then derive a moral from that story (a lesson that you learned). These should be engaging tales with tension and drama that hinge on a complication that is introduced at the end of body one: Will I make it out of this alive? Will my parents find out about this? Is that kid I hit with my BB gun going to turn me in? Is this the end of a relationship? Etc.  The details should include insight into the author’s (your) perspective, thoughts, feelings, etc. This situation should be interesting and unique (this is not about a trip to the grocery store), and, as the word “complicated” above suggests, there should be a very clear problem that arises at the end of body one that must be resolved in body three.


(Follow all guidelines for MLA. This piece follows the layout guidelines in the “AT-A-GLANCE” section in the chapter titled “Memoirs.”)


Your paper should include the following information in this order:

Introductory Paragraph:

  1. Use General-to-Specific layout and move into your topic before thesis.
  2. Give a lead-in thesis statement (at the very end of your intro) that foreshadows (hints at) the complication and sets the tone of the story.

Body Paragraphs 1-3 (with topic sentences):

  1. Body 1: Describe/set-up the complicated situation (How does it all start? What happened? To whom? When? How? Why? Etc.). The last sentence/s of body one must introduce a clear complication (a problem) that needs to be resolved.
  2. Body 2: Evaluation and advancement of the complicated situation. This is best done by offering internal dialogue as you react to the complication: What were you thinking/feeling during that time? How did you react? How did others feel and react? Etc.)—or build the suspense (…things just got worse/more complicated after that…). This is typically the part where the reader gives introspection, builds tension, and explains what is at stake if the complication is not resolved—or the possible outcomes (good or bad). Typically ends with an impasse.
  3. Body 3: Resolution of the complicated situation introduced at end of body one (How did it all end? Did the cop let you go? Did you survive? Did you escape with the gold? Etc.).

Conclusion Paragraph:

  1. The Moral of the Story – What did you learn, and what is the moral of your story?

Best of luck!