My own mother used to be a talented artist and when telling me her childhood stories for Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, she often doodled to help explain her words. Fortunately I kept those sketches and was able to use many in the book – a picture is worth a thousand words, you know, and especially valuable as part of the essence of the person who created it.
Visuals in a memoir are a wonderful addition, from photos of artworks or craft pieces to the scanned handwriting from letters or recipe books to little scribblings or doodles. They illustrate more fully who the person is in ways that mere words cannot. Of course, photos of the memoir subject and their family are wonderful to see included. Most of us use the camera to document important events, but perhaps the most important events are the everyday ones. Those are the ones that really capture the personality and loves – a mother cooking, planting flowers, playing the piano or a father grilling a steak, sitting in a favorite car or kids sitting on the porch eating popsicles. Don’t forget the photos of a pet cat purring in a lap or a beloved dog getting his ears scratched. With a little extra thought, a memoir might expand into quite a three-dimensional picture.