I love teaching the single-event memoir to students because they learn how to look at times in their lives when they changed. Great stories show transformation. Something happens to you, and it impacts you in such a way that it becomes a powerful story to tell. The reader experiences that transformation along with you, and perhaps they change a little themselves.
Someone has to change. And normally, change happens because the character conquers an opposing force. The opposing force represents anything that destabilizes identity, both in a negative sense and also a beautifully positive one. Students write about encounters with overwhelming beauty as often as overwhelming hardship.
But something changes them. You read a before-and-after account. We learn how experts in story tell us that the brain is hard-wired for transformation. We love it. We look for it. We expect it.
So I invite students to think about transformative moments. They write them down. They realize they have wisdom to share. I cannot wait to read them. I will change as well.