March 30, 2017

What Made Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club a Best-selling Memoir?

9780143035749Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club is one of the classic memoirs that started the Memoir Revolution. This is one of those books that’s so engrossing that anyone who’s read it has the same reaction: I LOVED THAT BOOK! As a reader, you identify with her raucous, dangerous family. Her honest exploration of sex, guns, and alcohol pushes the boundaries of what we might think we’re allowed to write, giving the rest of us creative inspiration and permission around what’s possible for us with our own writing. Karr’s a trustworthy narrator of tragedy and trauma, sprinkling hope and compassion throughout—the perfect recipe for a compelling memoir.

This course covers the following:

Class 1. Creating Unforgettable Characters

• Writing and relaying your characters’ behavior
• Creating unique voice in dialogue
• Using quirky details as character tags
• Using wounds to drive psychology

Class 2. How Voice Shapes Memoir
• Mary Karr’s storytelling voice, and how her voice drives the story
• Poeticism and language in memoir
• Blending the direct and reflective voices
• Pros and cons of fragmented narrative (including jumping timelines, circular plotlines, and parenthetical asides)

Class 3. How Much Is Too Much—Secrets, Confessions, and Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone
• How to write scenes that stir up emotional turmoil—and what does the reader really need to know?
• How to write troubling scenes—how specific should you get?
• Two ways of writing outside your comfort zone—walking the radical edge and coping with the realities of discomfort
• What Mary Karr Says about her own “radical edge”?

Class 4. The Journey from Trauma to Transformation in Memoir
• Trauma as a central and circular theme, and how Mary Karr established it early in the narrative and why
• Exploration of memory, and how to use “associative” techniques in your writing
• Where to end your story—do you need to let your reader know that you turn out okay?
• Mary Karr’s legacy, and the current publishing climate for trauma and abuse books