Register for both classes: $399
++ These are online courses and will be recorded! ++
6 Mondays: Sept 18, Sept 25, Oct 2, Oct 9, Oct 16, Oct 23 at 4pm PT | 7pm ET
Coming back by request, we’re bringing you more craft—Craft Essentials—this fall with another all-star teacher roster poised to support you to reach new heights in your memoir-writing.
During these six consecutive weeks, you’ll learn to:
• write with all your senses (Janet Fitch)
• show your reader so they feel like they’re inside your story with you (Rebecca Carroll)
• harness the power of narration (Jeannine Ouellette)
• honor subtext and subtly in your story (E.J. Koh)
• track the many ways context is necessary for your readers (Linda Joy Myers)
• unlock the ways in which aboutness holds the key to a more contained story (Brooke Warner)
With over a decade of memoir offerings under our belt, Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner (who host these biannual programs) have both seen in students’ writing and heard from memoirists themselves that the thing they’re most yearning for is more craft. Craft makes you a better writer. Practicing your craft is what makes your memoir sing—but also connect. The goal of this course is to support writers to excel in this genre, to craft books that readers love and recommend to their friends, and to be in community with like-minded writers in order to be buoyed through the inevitable choppy waters of personal storytelling. Each of the teachers guiding you through these classes is a class act supportive teacher bringing everything they know and everything they’ve learned to support you on your journey. We’d love to have you join us.
• Sessions are on Zoom.
• Each session is 1 hour.
• All sessions are recorded.
Week 1 - September 18
Writing Through the Senses
Taught by Janet Fitch
Week 2 - September 25
Show, Show, Show
Taught by Rebecca Carroll
We all know the maxim, Show, Don’t Tell, but what does that really mean, and how do we show more when we’re so focused, especially in early drafts, on just trying to sort out what parts of the story most matter. When we tell, we inform the reader of what we want them to know, but when we show, we invite our readers to walk alongside us, to re-experience with us the events central to our story. The reason that showing matters so much in memoir (and writing more broadly) is because it welcomes readers to fully immerse themselves in your story. Painting a picture—through sensory details, through specificity, through authentic truth-telling—is a gift to your reader because it takes them out of their thinking brain and into their full-body experience. In this hour, Rebecca Carroll will share what she learned about showing from writing her own memoir, and how for her it opened up opportunities to speak to both the personal and the socio-political lenses through which we write our stories.
Week 3 - October 2
Harnessing Your Trinity of Narrators
Taught by Jeannine Ouellette
To narrate a memoir is to experience yourself as a trinity: you, the author at your keyboard; you the “narrator” as a constructed persona; and you the character whose experience you’re attempting to portray. Understanding this threefold perspective is key to prose that embodies both experience and meaning. It’s also a superpower that will elevate your work and amplify its resonance. In this session, Jeannine Ouellette will walk you through concrete ways to think about scene-writing when you are 1) a character in the original action; 2) a constructed narrator with a more mature or nuanced perspective on the events, and 3) a right-now writer who knows “everything” about the story you’re telling. Understanding how to activate yourself as character and narrator in your memoir (without letting your right-now writer on stage uninvited) will unlock new depths in your writing.
Week 4 - October 9
Context Is Everything
Taught by Linda Joy Myers
Everything we know and have experienced is part of the context of our story. And yet, too often memoirists forget the fact that readers don’t know what you know/knew—unless you weave your knowledge and understanding into your scenes. Context includes: 1) Setting—where your story takes place in all the timeframes—landscapes, houses, cities, states, and countries; 2) Time—where the narrator is in time and space; 3) Characters—you know everyone whose name you drop into your story and how they’re related to you and your life, but the reader doesn’t, so remember to inform the reader of their previous histories with you and invite the reader to understand your backstory more deeply; 4) Family history and dynamics—what you know about your family, how you know what you know, considering points of view and interpersonal connections and grievances and triggers, are all necessary to support your readers to know what you need them to know. Context is about revealing what your reader needs to know. Your reader is a stranger, after all, with whom you are sharing the intimate details of your life. Like a net of understanding that helps your readers to decode your story, context supports those walking the journey alongside you never to get lost and to stay with you all the way to the end.
Week 5 - October 16
Less Really Is More
Taught by E.J. Koh
Lots of memoirists will find that they have so many memories and so many potential scenes that it feels hard to wade through what to include and what not to include. The trend in memoir these days is to pack a punch with meaning. To do so, you need to write scenes in which things happen, but you also need to home in on the underlying purpose for including a given scene. In this session, E.J. Koh will walk you through why you don’t want to show everything, and how to exercise the art of restraint on the page. This class is a reminder that less really is more, that good memoir writing doesn’t entail loading your reader up with way more than they need, and that your reader will get immense satisfaction from the interpretation that surfaces in the white spaces of your work.
Week 6 - October 23
All About Aboutness
Taught by Brooke Warner
Aboutness is multilayered and important to all memoirists as you think about what you’re writing and what you want your reader to get from your book. Understanding aboutness and its value helps you hold a broader container for your work, giving you a measure for what scenes belong and why. Too often in memoir, in the early days, memoirists launch into the story of a life, where anything and everything that happened is a potential scene. But memoir is a story from a life, and as such it requires the writer to know what’s underneath the “what happened.” Aboutness is connected to purpose, takeaway, and meaning, and best accessed when you’re clear on your themes and how those these offer prisms from which to reflect on the plot (“what happened”) Understanding aboutness carries with it broader implications as well. It will support you to talk about your work with others, to write your back cover/Amazon copy, to consider the best title/subtitle for work, and to fully step into the expertise publishing a memoir (that is about something particular or specific) ultimately requires you to own.
++ These are online courses and will be recorded! ++
Love Your Book Proposal &
Let It Love You Back
2 Mondays: November 6 & 13
4-6 pm PT | 7-9pm ET
This two week course splits the book proposal into two halves—editorial and marketing, and walks memoirists through each element, why it’s important, and how to approach the darn thing with a bit of loving kindness.
Even if you don’t intend to traditionally publish, a book proposal should be an essential item on your to-do list as an aspiring author. Its gifts are many! It provides clarity and purpose; it supports you to think about who your audience and competition are; and it gives you a cheat sheet to your narrative arc—something you’re going to turn back to for years to come and thank yourself for having completed.
This class is about giving the book proposal some love so that it can love you back—and you may be surprised by how rewarding the exercise actually is. Doing a book proposal is a bit like getting your house in order in that it’s a lot of work but so worth the payoff. And Brooke and Linda Joy will be there to guide you each step of the way, showing that it’s actually easy—and fun—to pull off this feat of creating a robust and impressive showcasing of your book project.
Each class we’ll be joined by an agent who will offer her favorite tips, best practices, and a few ideas about things not to do too.
This session comes with samples proposals to use as templates or inspiration, as well as a downloadable copy of Brooke’s HOW TO SELL YOUR MEMOIR.
• Sessions are on Zoom.
• Each session is 2 hours.
• All sessions are recorded.
Janet Fitch is the bestselling author of White Oleander, an Oprah book club pick, Paint it Black, and the historical novels The Revolution of Marina M. and Chimes of a Lost Cathedral, set during the Russian Revolution. Her short stories and essays have most recently appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Noir and Palm Springs Noir. She teaches creative writing at the Community of Writers, the Esalen Institute, UCR Palm Desert Low Residency MFA program, and through her popular Writing Wednesdays on Facebook. Discover more at www.janetfitchwrites.com.
Rebecca Carroll is a writer, cultural critic, and host of the podcasts Come Through with Rebecca Carroll: 15 essential conversations about race in a pivotal year for America (WNYC Studios), and Billie Was a Black Woman (an Audible original), a companion podcast to the 2021 film, The United States Vs. Billie Holiday. She’s also the creator and curator of the live event and audio series, In Love & Struggle, which shares the lives and experiences of Black women in America through monologues, stories, music and humor. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Essence, Glamour, New York, and The Guardian, where she was a regular columnist for two years. Rebecca is the author of the critically-acclaimed memoir, Surviving the White Gaze.
E.J. Koh is the author of the memoir The Magical Language of Others, the poetry collection A Lesser Love. She is the co-translator of Yi Won’s poetry collection The World’s Lightest Motorcycle and has received the National Endowment of the Arts, American Literary Translators Association, MacDowell, and Kundiman fellowships. Her poems, stories, and translations have appeared in AGNI, The Atlantic, POETRY, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. Koh earned her MFA at Columbia University in New York for Creative Writing and Literary Translation. Her debut novel The Liberators is forthcoming this November.
Jeannine Ouellette’s memoir, The Part That Burns, was a 2021 Kirkus Best Indie Book and a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award in Women’s Literature, with starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. Her essays and fiction appear widely in literary journals including Los Angeles Review of Books, Narrative, Masters Review, North American Review, Calyx, and more, as well as in her Substack, Writing in the Dark. She teaches writing at the University of Minnesota and through the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop and Elephant Rock, a creative writing program she founded in 2012. She is working on her first novel. Find her at jeannineouellette.com.
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. She is also the author of a debut novel, The Forger of Marseille (July 2023). 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.