December 3, 2023

Addiction Memoir 4-Week Class


How Do Issue-Driven Memoirs Work, and What Makes Them Sell? An Examination of Smashed and Drinking: A Love Story.

Class dates: April 18, April 25, May 2, May 9
Classes are one hour long and we record all sessions so that you can watch the recordings if you have to miss a class.



41R8vz3gLML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_imagesAt the heart of addiction memoirs is a single issue—the dependence on a substance that impacts everything. Whether you’re writing about alcohol or drug addiction, love or sex addiction, or even surviving abuse (because it similarly seeps into every aspect of life), understanding how the issue-driven memoir works will help you get a better handle on your story-telling to make it more appealing to publishers and relevant to your readers.

We are spotlighting two best-selling memoirs—Smashed and Drinking: A Love Story—to show how each of these issue-driven memoirs handle craft and takeaway, and how the writers tackle cultural observations, revelations, and self-exposure. There’s something in this course for any memoir writer, whether addiction is a primary or secondary theme, or even if they’re not, but you feel you have a substantive issue you’re grappling with in your memoir. Join us for this four-week class to uncover tools to deepen your storytelling and self-understanding alike.


Class 1. Issue-Driven Memoir and Its Personal and Cultural Impact (April 18)
• Coming of age and identity crisis—parallels between now and then and looking at these two books through a Gen X vs. Baby Boomer lens
• Tackling gender-specific experiences in memoir
• Bringing awareness to deeper cultural issues through the issue-driven memoir
• Why writing the dark stories matter (including addiction, abuse, and other trauma memoir)

Class 2. All about Craft (April 25)
• Tenses—flash forward, future tense, alternating tenses, speculation
• Structure and arc—writing a linear memoir that’s heading for rock bottom, followed by resolution
• The value of repetition in scenes—showcasing obsession; re-enforcing theme; building toward climax
• Character dynamics—using interaction to develop both primary and secondary characters in memoir

Class 3. Takeaway: What’s in it for the Reader? (May 2)
• Journalism in memoir: other people’s stories; citations; footnotes; facts; statistics
• What are “universalisms” and how do you use them in memoir?
• Cultural commentary: opening a window for the reader to observe the issues at the heart of these memoirs
• Memoir as a cautionary tale and how this ties into takeaway

Class 4. Revealing and Exposing Yourself: Whether to, How Much, How Often? (May 9)
• How to approach the writing of the most shameful scenes
• Readers’ expectations about self-revelation
• How to handle the urge to self-censor
• Write it no matter what—the value of writing all the way through your first draft (knowing you can edit out later)



Are you an NAMW or WOW member? We always extend discounts to you. Register here for just $75: