Memoir Writing Prompts: Coming to a Theater Near You

by Matilda Butler on July 26, 2011

Writing Prompt LogoPost #97 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompt – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Memoir Writing: Using Movies to Mark Our Life Changes

Times change. Our lives change. It’s surprising how often these changes are etched in our memory by pop culture. Movies, especially popular or iconic ones, often co-occur with certain events in our lives and continue to be pegged to our memories of them.

memoir, memoir writing, memoir writing prompts, writing prompt, journaling, autobiography, how to write a memoir, lifewritingThe last of the Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, is now being released in theaters. This is ten years after the first one, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (as it was named for audiences in the US and India but otherwise known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone).

I picked up a copy of The Oregonian newspaper recently and saw that the editors put out a challenge to their readers to write how their lives had changed in the ten years between 2001 and 2011, the start and end points of the Harry Potter films. The newspaper invited 200 word submissions and said they would publish some of them.

That gave me an idea for this writing prompt. Of course, the first and last Harry Potter films are not significant markers for some of us so I’ve added a couple more movies.

MEMOIR WRITING PROMPT:

1. From the list below, choose one of the three movie series shown. Then either choose the first and last dates or the dates between two of the episodes. Then write about how your life changed between those two dates. Did you become a grandparent? Did you marry? Divorce? Did someone close to you die? Did you get a new job? Retire? Buy a home? Sell one? Take up a new sport? Or exercise? Gain a personal insight? Start your memoir? Finish it?

These questions are just the surface. Dig down and think about the ways in which you have changed over one of these movie-punctuated periods. I’ve added a single quote from each of the three series. Perhaps that will help to inspire you.

Write 200 words about how you changed between the two dates.

Star Wars — American space epic. First movie in 1977 and final episode in 2005

QUOTE:
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Yoda

Star Wars May 25, 1977
The Empire Strikes Back May 21, 1980
Return of the Jedi May 25, 1983

16 years later, the prequel trilogy

Phantom Menace May 19, 1999
Attack of the Clones May 16, 2002
Revenge of the Sith May 19, 2005

Rocky. First movie in 1976 and most recent episode in 2006.

QUOTE:
Adrian: Why do you wanna fight?
Rocky: Because I can’t sing or dance.

Rocky 1 1976
Rocky II 1979
Rocky III 1982
Rocky IV 1985
Rocky V 1990
Rocky Balboa 2006

Harry Potter. First movie released in 2001 and the final episode currently in theaters as of July 2011.

QUOTE:
“It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.” Dumbledore

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 2001
Harry Pottery and the Chamber of Secrets 2002
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 2004
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 2005
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 2007
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 2010
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 2011

2. Don’t identify with any of these dates or movies? Think of two dates in your life that mark a period of significant change. Then think of a movie you saw during the first year and a movie you saw during the second year. Thinking about the movies — who you were with when you saw them — that may help bring back memories of the period and the change in your life.

Write 200 words about how you changed in that time.

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