Memoir Writing II-a — Syllabus

This course is for writers working on either essay-length (short) memoirs or book-length memoirs.

New York City classes

The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. But many of the topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes

Starring You: Putting yourself at the center. Creating a persona. Ways to reveal yourself on paper. Your distinctive voice.

Describing Your Life: Conveying your view of things. How quick or lingering your views should be. Effective description.

Story Construction: Story devices—desire/change, inciting incident/climax. The single event story. The chronological story. The collage story. Techniques for putting the story together.

Action & Reflection: Finding the balance of action and reflection. Using action—scene and narration. Using reflection—present and past perspectives. Broader reflection. Blending action and reflection.

Going Short: The really short memoir. Finding ideas. Short piece, big meaning. Analysis of a really short piece.

Making Scenes: The importance of scenes. Veracity. Connecting scenes. Scene dynamics—conflict, dialogue, direction.

Alternative Strategies: Alternative forms of memoir. Memoirs that don't just focus on you. Family history. Not first person. Unusual forms. Not just prose. The deliberate experiment. Memoir hybrids. Autobiographical fiction/fictional memoir.

Openings/Closings: Strategies for opening a memoir. Strategies for closing a memoir.

Humor: Using humor in memoir. Funny situations. Human folly. Writing humor. Exaggeration.

In Print: The benefit of publishing short pieces (even if you're writing a book). Literary magazines. Mainstream and niche magazines. Newspapers. Guidelines for sending out work. Responses, rejection, contests. Other avenues to publication.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.