Craft Essentials for Memoirists
6 Weeks. 6 Experts.

The Heart
of Memoir


The Heart of Memoir:
Craft Essentials for Memoirists

6 Tuesdays: April 5-May 10
3pm PT | 6pm ET

Featuring Kiese Laymon, Ashley C. Ford,
Joshua Mohr, and Anna Qu

Early-bird price: $249

What Made Heavy a
Best-selling Memoir?

4 Tuesdays: May 17-June 7
3pm PT | 6pm ET

“I live better if I’m playing the writing game better.”
—Kiese Laymon

Early-bird price: $125

Bundle Offer: Register for
both classes for $325

 
++ These are online courses and will be recorded! ++

The Heart of Memoir

6 Tuesdays: April 5-May 10 3pm Pacific | 6pm Eastern

For six consecutive weeks, you’ll be treated to a buffet of craft classes taught by memoir teachers who are at the top of their game. Each of the topics explored over these six weeks speaks to the heart of memoir because your better understanding and execution of any one of these concepts gets you closer to the emotion of the story—and therefore your heart and your readers’ hearts. Memoir is a genre of the heart. It asks so much of you, and readers of memoir are in it for the emotional experience—to make sense of their own experience through shared experience. Memoir is powerful. Memoir is deep. Memoir changes lives, even saves lives. This course was designed to go straight for the heart, to invite you and to challenge you to go deep and to write that book that will touch your readers’ hearts.

• Sessions are on Zoom.
• Each session is 1 hour—40-minute teaching and 20-minute Q&A.
• All sessions are recorded.

Week 1 - April 5

Ashley C. Ford

Your Protagonist

You are the protagonist of your own story, and yet, because it’s you, feelings come up. Are you really going to write that? What will people think? What happens if you can’t remember every detail of what you’re trying to put on the page? And what about those moments when you did something you’re not proud of?  How do you cultivate self-awareness—to show who you are, and also how others see you? These questions are at the heart of writing a story in which you are cast in the central role. Memoir is about you and your story, and yet your reader comes to the page not for you, but to learn or understand something about themselves or about the world through your story. In this class, Ashley C. Ford will teach what she knows about writing YOU, and support you to consider how you show up on the page and what your responsibility is to your reader. Memoir is about you, but it’s more than that, too. This class will help you see your own role in a bigger and more universal human story—no matter what your story might be.

Week 2 - April 12

Brooke Warner

Your Lens

In memoir, the lens is a great visual because you are like a cameraperson, directing the depth of field, the distance, the angle, the shot. The better control you have over your camera, and the more comfortable you feel directing those shots, the better in control of your memoir you’ll be too. This class, taught by Brooke Warner, is a visual guide to consider where you are in your story, and from what lens you’re writing a given scene. Brooke invites you to inhabit your scene by imagining yourself the director of your life story—your memoir. This class will explore time, place, and details—in essence, the building blocks of scene, but Brooke will show you why it matters what your angle is. What your shot is. And how, just like a movie, your memoir is a series of shots that can be expressive, reflection, summary, experimental, and so much more. This class aims to help you to see the wide range of what’s available to you as a writer when you consider and choose your lens when you come to the page. 

Week 3 - April 19

Joshua Mohr

Your Arc

It can be hard to hold the arc of your narrative because it often feels so big. You might be writing over decades. You might be asking yourself whether your life story has rising conflict, or even grappling with how to choose an inciting incident or climax. Few writers of memoir consider the importance of the arc of their narrative because it’s the view from above the canopy of trees, and when you’re writing, you’re more often down on the ground, inside the forest of your story. In this class, Joshua Mohr will invite you to consider that view from above, and give you tools to work with your arc. Tracking your narrative invites you, as the memoirist, to consider stepping outside of your own work from time to time. You might stop to take an inventory, or do an outline, or name your conflict, your rising action, your resolution. Taking these sorts of actions supports you to understand your own life as a story that others want to read, and always offers an opportunity to better understand your own story as it unfolds on the page.

Week 4 - April 26

Linda Joy Myers

Your Message

What’s in your heart that you need to share in your memoir? Without a clear emotional message, your memoir can turn into an accounting of “what happened.” Some writers worry that identifying their message and speaking directly to it can sound “preachy.” And yet, if you’ve immersed yourself in this genre, you know that the reader is looking for emotional connection. A lesson. A way to understand life in a new way. Your message is the very thing that will draw a reader to pick up your memoir. Your message—your theme—also provides an organizing principle: How does what I’m writing support and connect to my message?  In this class, Linda Joy Myers will show you how to convey what you care about, stay on point, and keep attuned to your message without it overpowering you or your story.

Week 5 - May 3

Anna Qu

Your Conflict

Conflict shapes our experience. It’s also a compelling entryway into your story. In memoir, conflict can be subtle. It is often internal. It shows up in our family dynamics, our interactions with institutions, society norms, and internally—within ourselves. Of course conflict is often central to our stories, too—a turning-point moment, a tragedy, something terrible that happened to us. Memoirists know conflict is important, but how to harness it, orient our process to it, and mold it to fit the story we’re telling is a whole other consideration. In this class, Anna Qu will walk you through  the types of conflict there are and how to use micro and macro conflicts to propel your story and keep readers engaged. This class will support you to dissect and reimagine the space between tension and conflict, and consider the ways conflict can actually be a guiding craft tool for your book.

Week 6 - May 10

Kiese Laymon

Your Cast

Your family and friends, teachers and colleagues, and all the other folks who show up in your memoir are people you know, but they’re also your characters. As such, it’s your job to help your readers get to know them as you do. Too many memoirs end up casting characters as one-dimensional. People show up in your memoir because they impacted you. They might be protagonists or antagonists, people who saved you or mistreated you—and sometimes they’re both. Memoir challenges you to write characters who are just as complex as they are in real life, and Kiese Laymon will teach you what he knows about doing just that. This class will encourage you not to lose sight of how important your characters are to your story, to the lessons you share through them, and to remember to shape them into dynamic human beings who the reader actually gets to know—and care about in one way or another—over the course of your story.

What Made Heavy a Best-selling Memoir?

4 Tuesdays: May 17-June 7
4pm Pacific | 7pm Eastern

“I live better if I’m playing the writing game better.”
—Kiese Laymon

Class 1. Language (May 17)
In Heavy, Kiese’s conscientious use of language, in addition to his emphasis on words and meaning, stands out for the way he points readers to consider language, its intentionality, and its impact. In this class we will look at language choice, at intentional repetition, and language as a theme. Kiese’s work shows us about the power of language and how to harness words to make an impact on your reader.

Class 2. Characters (May 24)
For those students who join us for The Heart of Memoir, we’ll have experienced the privilege of being taught about characters by Kiese prior to this four-week course. This is session we’ll unpack some of Kiese’s teachings, and delve into the many ways you can create more dynamic and complex characters. We’ll talk about the importance of secondary and tertiary characters, and the interdynamics between you create between you and your characters are stand-ins for your readers’ relationships, too. Characters are yet another way for your readers to relate to you—and giving plenty of attention to character development and characterization deepens your readers’ loyalty. 

Class 3. Reflection (May 31)
The skill of reflecting on the page is where heart meets story, and where you connect to your reader emotionally. Without reflection, readers are led to sort out what your scenes mean based on their own reactions to what you experienced. With reflection, you invite the reader the sense you make of your own lived experience. This matters because your reactions—and thereby your reflections—provide the context and create the meaning. We’ll show examples of Kiese’s brilliant reflections and how these moments in the book invite heart connection.

Class 4. Meaning-making (June 7)
Kiese is a master at extracting meaning from scenes. If there’s an agenda in Heavy, it’s to give readers a glimpse into Kiese’s upbringing and to show, with complete honesty and unveiled, what it feels like to live in his mind and in his body without any pretense. Informing his understanding of the world are the pressures he faces from his mother, from society, and by merit of his race and his existence as a heavy Black boy in the South. He never flinches. If anything he challenges the reader to flinch—and in reading his work you come out the other side altered. How he does this will be the central focus of this final class.  

• Sessions are on Zoom.
• Each session is 1 hour.
• This course is taught by Brooke Warner & Linda Joy Myers
• All sessions are recorded.

$125

YOUR TEACHERS

Kiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. He’s the author of Long Division, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and the bestselling memoir, Heavy, which won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. The audiobook, read by the author, was named the Audible 2018 Audiobook of the Year. Laymon is the recipient of 2020-2021 Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard and the founder of “The Catherine Coleman Literary Arts and Justice Initiative,” a program aimed at getting Mississippi kids and their parents more comfortable reading, writing, revising and sharing.

Ashley C. Ford’s New York Times best-selling memoir, Somebody’s Daughter, was published by Flatiron Books in June 2021. Ford is the former host of The Chronicles of Now podcast, co-host of The HBO companion podcast Lovecraft Country Radio. Ford has written or guest-edited for ELLE Magazine, Slate, Teen Vogue, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Domino, Cup of Jo, and various other web and print publications. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband, poet and fiction writer Kelly Stacy, and their chocolate lab Astro Renegade Ford-Stacy.

Joshua Mohr is the author of the memoirs Model Citizen (2021) and Sirens, as well as five novels including “Damascus”, which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.” He’s also written “Fight Song” and “Some Things that Meant the World to Me,” one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, as well as “Termite Parade,” an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times. His novel, All This Life, won the Northern California Book Award. He is the founder of Decant Editorial.

Anna Qu is a Chinese American writer. Her critically acclaimed debut memoir, Made In China: A Memoir of Love and Labor, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice pick. Her work has appeared in Threepenny ReviewLumina, Kartika, Kweli, and Vol.1 Brooklyn, among others. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College and teaches at New England College and Monmouth University. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner and her cat, Momo.

Linda Joy Myers is the president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, and the author of two award-winning memoirs Don’t Call Me Mother and Song of the Plains. Her three books, The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, Becoming Whole, and Journey of Memoir, guide writers through the stages of creating a powerful, truthful, and universal story. Together with Brooke Warner, she teaches memoir intensives here and at WriteYourMemoirinSixMonths.com.

Brooke Warner is publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of Write On, Sisters!, Green-Light Your Book, What’s Your Book?, and three books on memoir, including How to Sell Your Memoir, and two books co-authored with Linda Joy Myers: Breaking Ground on Your Memoir and The Magic of Memoir. She is committed to helping writers become creative entrepreneurs and thought leaders, a message conveyed in her TEDx talk, “Green-Light Revolution.” Together with Linda Joy Myers, she teaches memoir intensives here and at WriteYourMemoirinSixMonths.com.