How to Prepare an Outline for Your Memoir Ghostwriter

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Not all writers love outlines, but all of them will agree that outlines are a great way to stay organized and on track when working on a big project. A full-length book is a major undertaking, and the sheer amount of information packed between the covers can make such a writing project unwieldy without a well-defined outline. 

An outline provides the foundation for a book—a roadmap, if you will—and though some writers feel it stifles their creativity, ghostwriting a non-fiction book such as a memoir requires a solid foundation and a clear narrative direction before any actual writing can start. Of course, you shouldn’t get too detailed in your outline as you may inhibit your ghostwriter’s creativity, but you want to clearly communicate your vision to them.

As the client and the author, you can do a few things to facilitate the work of your ghostwriter. Besides being mentally and emotionally prepared to work on your memoir, you can also share with them any relevant materials that shed light on who you are and what your story is. In addition, you can tell your ghostwriter what exactly you want to get out of your memoir and how you want it to represent you. These are things you should contemplate long and hard before your first conversation with your ghostwriter since it’s your job to come up with the ideas—your collaborator will just take your ideas and weave them into a coherent and compelling narrative in keeping with your vision.

Preparing an outline isn’t mandatory, but it’s helpful to create one so your ghost knows what outcome you expect. If you’re worried about being too imposing, don’t be—it’s your book, and creating your own outline will help your ghostwriter compose a book that effectively delivers the message you want to convey.  If you’re ready to start working with a professional ghostwriter, check out our memoir ghostwriting services and get a free consultation today! 

Let’s now take a closer look at outlines and what they can include.

Decide what you want your memoir to say about you

The first step to writing an outline—and eventually a memoir—is figuring out what you want the book to say about you. Memoirs require that the author dig deep into their memories, experiences, and emotions, and a good ghostwriter will ask the hard questions to get the best stories out of you. So, why not get a head start by writing down how you want to be portrayed in the book? This will take a great deal of introspection and honesty, and it’s worth it to think these topics through before you first speak to your ghost. 

You can ask yourself the following questions: What do you want the reader to take away after finishing your memoir? How do you want them to see you? Would the people closest to you agree that your vision is a faithful representation of who you are? What themes are you looking to explore? Which anecdotes or insights would you like to share? The deeper you go, the better the final product will be. 

Define the main message of your memoir 

Your memoir is about your life story, but that doesn’t mean it can lack a narrative thread or point of view. You’re sending a message with the book, whether it’s about you as a person, society as a whole, or a specific historic or cultural event or era. So, what are you saying beyond “This is my story”? Why is it something people would want to read? 

Keep in mind that your memoir doesn’t have to cover your entire life. You can focus on a single period of your life as long as you can derive enough high-quality content from it to craft a compelling read.

List the anecdotes you want to include in your memoir

Consider how the anecdotes you want to tell might either support or detract from your message, what lessons can be derived from each of them, and how they relate to who you are as a character within your story. Think about what you want to leave out and why, and jot those ideas down because your ghostwriter might find the tidbits you want to exclude the most interesting ones. 

If you want to leave out certain details that you find embarrassing or unflattering, keep in mind that a willingness to be vulnerable will make you appear more honest, trustworthy, and likable to readers—after all, no one is without flaws and failures. Of course, it’s ultimately your book, so you never have to include information you don’t want to share.

Going through your own materials—old photos, journals, music, articles—will help jog your memory and bring back details from your past that are integral to writing a juicy, authentic book. If it’s easier, record yourself talking while you comb through your mementos and share the recording with your ghostwriter. 

Don’t get too attached to your outline

Any extra work you do before sitting down for the first interview with your ghostwriter will facilitate the process—it will make the writing go more smoothly and quickly and give your ghost a solid roadmap to writing the memoir you’ve been dreaming of. However, don’t get too attached to your outline. It is like a rough draft of the rough draft, and the final product is likely to differ considerably from the outline you’ve drawn up.

You’ve hired a professional because of their skills and expertise, and you want to let their creativity shine, so don’t constrict them with an outline that’s set in stone. They know the market and readers’ preferences, which is why you shouldn’t be afraid to let them take your memoir in a somewhat different direction to enhance your marketability. Write your outline to get your thoughts in order and make it easier to communicate your vision to your ghostwriter, but be open to their ideas, especially when it comes to weaving the story together into a compelling narrative. That’s their area of expertise, after all. Your expertise is your story, so make yourself available to share any relevant information they might need. 

If you keep an open mind but still find that you dislike some of the ideas your ghostwriter puts forward, say so—you don’t want to plaster your name on a memoir you’re not proud to publish. It’s all about striking a balance between trusting your ghostwriter’s expertise and sticking to your vision.

Writing a memoir can be an incredibly fulfilling and cathartic process, but only when you’re paired with the right ghostwriter. To start working with a team of professionals, contact our memoir ghostwriters today!

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