Memoir Writing I — Syllabus

Introduction to Memoir: The contemporary memoir defined. Short and long memoirs. Finding the “who cares?" in your story. Focusing on an aspect of your life. Types of memoirs—coming of age, adversity, relationship, career, travel.

Mining Your Memory: How “true" must it be? Researching your past. The balance of being “actor" and “observer." Not using memoir as therapy. Facing the truth.

Character: Thinking of real people as characters. Making characters dimensional through desire and contrasts. Creating character profiles. Showing vs. Telling. Methods for showing characters.

Plot: Finding a major dramatic question. Shaping a beginning, middle, and end. The difference between short and long plots. Pros and cons of outlining.

Description: Using the senses. Specificity. Techniques for creativity. Finding the right words. Merging description with point of view.

Dialogue: The importance of scene. Turning real life conversations into dialogue. Quotation marks and tags. Stage directions. Summarized dialogue. Characterization through dialogue. Subtext.

Point of View/Voice: Point of view defined. First person and other memoir alternatives. Voice defined. Exploration of the various types of voice. Tips for finding your voice.

Setting/Pacing: Creating setting through time, place, and weather. Description of setting. Mood and emotion of setting. How to manipulate time through pacing. Flashbacks.

Theme: Theme defined. Types of theme. Weaving theme into a story.

Revision: Exploration of the various stages of revision.

The Business: Proper format for manuscripts. How to target publishing houses, literary magazines, and agents. How to send your work out. Query letters.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.