If you’re writing a memoir, read this. In this post, we suggest how you can use the 7 deadly sins to define your memoir.
I have written about why the most important part of writing a memoir is all about the how. What happened is obviously vital, but how it happened is why people read memoirs.
One of the most powerful ways to show the how, is by showing our weaknesses and lapses of judgement. I thought using the 7 deadly sins could be a powerful way to define this in your story.
You could be guilty of committing the sin or you could be the victim of somebody who committed the sin. It reminds us to show ourselves and our adversaries as real people with flaws and not as unrealistic heroic or evil figures.
In fact, one of the sins is usually the reason for your memoir, and you can use it to work out the theme of your memoir. [We teach you how to identify your theme on our Secrets of a Memoirist course.]
What Are The 7 Deadly Sins?
The seven deadly sins are Christian vices.
‘Most of them, with the exception of sloth, are defined by Dante Alighieri as perverse or corrupt versions of love for something or another:
- lust, gluttony, and greed are all excessive or disordered love of good things;
- sloth is a deficiency of love;
- wrath, envy, and pride are perverted love directed toward other’s harm.’ (via)
Each of these sins can be overcome with the seven corresponding virtues of humility, charity, chastity, gratitude, temperance, patience, and diligence.
Use The 7 Deadly Sins To Define Your Memoir
You can use the sin as a starting point. The corresponding virtue could be part of the lesson you learn in the course of your story.
- Greed: Greed is the selfish urge to want more than you could ever use or need. The corresponding virtue is charity.
- Lust: Lust is commonly the sexual desire for another, but it can refer to a desire for things like power, knowledge, and respect. Like greed, lust is seldom satisfied. In a memoir, lust could result in adultery. The corresponding virtue is chastity.
- Envy: Envy is a covetous longing for somebody else’s possessions, successes, advantages, qualities, or luck. Jealousy and envy are the most common motivations for crimes in real life. The corresponding virtue is gratitude.
- Pride/Vanity: Pride can be positive and negative. It’s good to think of yourself positively, but you can take it too far and develop an inordinate sense of self-esteem. This makes you feel better than you really are. The corresponding virtue is humility.
- Sloth: Sloth is extreme laziness and apathy. The corresponding virtue is diligence.
- Wrath: Wrath is defined as an uncontrolled feeling of violent rage. It is the desire to do harm. The corresponding virtue is temperance.
- Gluttony: Gluttony is overindulging in, and over-consuming, anything to the point of waste. The corresponding virtue is patience.
Which of the 7 deadly sins are part of your memoir?
Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a memoir, look into our Secrets of a Memoirist course.
© Amanda Patterson
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