November 18, 2017

Mastering Memoir—a 10-Week Advanced Intensive

Mastering Memoir meets for 10 consecutive 1-hour sessions at
3 pm PT | 4 pm MT | 5pm CT | 6pm ET 

Mondays in 2018: Feb 5, 12, 19, 26, March 5, 12, 19, 26; April 2, 9

ExpertIn this 10-week intensive focused on the craft of writing memoir, Linda and Brooke will help you deepen your understanding of memoir writing by diving deeper into specific craft points, complete with examples from published memoirists and student examples. We will hold group laser coaching sessions every other week (five total) at which point you’ll have the opportunity to have your work critiqued by Linda or Brooke (who will each lead one of the coaching groups). Laser coaching gives you an opportunity to get one-on-one coaching on your work in a group setting. Each class is focused on a particular craft point, and we will drill down into specific elements—scene, takeaway, narrative arc, flashback and memory, etc.—to help you hone the elements you’re comfortable with and get a firmer handle on those you may wish you understood a little better.

Your coach will read 1,000 words of your work each week and give you overarching comments (not line edits) on each submission. Starting February 13, your mentoring group (five students each) will meet following class every two weeks for a total of five laser coaching sessions. The work of two students will be the focus of each discussion. Come prepared with the questions you need to ask if you are “on,” and take notes if you are listening. Everyone on the call benefits from learning about the issues the writer is struggling with.

 

Syllabus

CLASS 1: February 5. Structure—braided, associative, framed, linear, circular
Structure is one of the most challenging elements of writing a memoir. Choosing the structure that best fits your story is a challenge that involves a writer needing to uncover a deeper understanding about how structure works and how to think about it. We will present examples of specific structures and teach you how to best tune into which one that will highlight your own story. Even if you’ve already chosen a structure, you will learn how to think about structure in a way that will help you hold the big picture of this fundamental craft point.

 

CLASS 2: February 12. Arc
You’ve heard us talk about the narrative arc, but the question remains—how do you apply it to your own work. The narrative arc is a kind of energy and shape that propels a story forward, picking up threads seeded earlier and deepening the reflection and themes that have already been established. In this class we will dive deep into arc so that you’ll leave with a firm understanding of what it is and how it’s functioning in your own memoir.

Group coaching call follows class at 4.15 pm PT.

 

CLASS 3: February 19. Scene 1—Building Blocks
By now you know what scenes are composed of: sensual details such as sight, sound, texture, and smell, and that a scene is grounded in a certain place and time. And yet, writing scenes takes practice, and it’s a big learning curve every writer undergoes as they truly “feel” how and when a scene works. We will offer examples of good scenes that accomplish what the writer set out to do—to show you their world. Remember, a scene is like the pearl on the necklace of narration, and in a scene the camera lens focuses in to bring the reader, and you, the writer, close in to the unfolding moment.

 

CLASS 4: February 26. Scene 2—Transitions
Though scenes are the building blocks of your book, they are not solely about sensual detail and creating your world. They also involve transitioning—moving from one place to another, or from one train of thought to another. Some memoirists do this seamlessly without line breaks; others make use of line breaks to separate out their thought processes. No matter what, you must be in control of your transitions, and in this class we’ll be talking about how to weave a story without losing your reader, and how incredibly important transitions are to keeping a tight rein on the unfolding scene.

Group coaching call follows class at 4.15 pm PT.

 

CLASS 5: March 5. Flashback & Memory
A flashback is a full scene in the past, while a memory is a line or two in the “now” of a scene that brings us back in time. But how to decide which to use and when can be a dilemma for many memoirists. We will give examples of how other writers have used flashback and memory in their works, and help you to consider how flashback and memory develop the layering of meaning and takeaway in your memoir.

 

CLASS 6: March 12. Narrative Voice
Everyone struggles with narrative voice at some point in their writing process. While it’s your natural style of writing and talking, it’s also a kind of persona you develop and/or create on the page. Your narrative voice is and isn’t who you really are; and the narrator also has a job to do: to guide the reader through time and the meaning of the story you are telling, and to hold all the elements so the reader can follow you and stay with the story. In this class we will explore the power of the narrative voice and help you to feel empowered in it so that you can harness your authority as well as your voice.

Group coaching call follows class at 4.15 pm PT.

 

CLASS 7: March 19. Character & Characterization
“Characters” are the foundation of any kind of storytelling, but memoir writers are challenged by the fact that their characters are real people, and the protagonist is themselves. Studying how characters are developed both in memoir and fiction will help you go beyond the simple description from a photograph or the color of someone’s hair. We will be encouraging you to get into the nitty-gritty of your “characters” personalities, mannerisms, and psychology to create people on the page who are as real for your readers as they are for you.

 

CLASS 8: March 26. Dialogue
If you have not gotten comfortable using dialogue yet, this class will be about breaking through and learning a new skill. If you are already pretty comfortable with it, we’ll be taking it to the next level. Writing good dialogue is fundamental to characterization, and we’ll be building upon the previous week’s class to talk about how to allow your reader to feel like they’re there with you in a given scene. This is where the juice of good story-telling really flows!

Group coaching call follows class at 4.15 pm PT.

 

CLASS 9: April 2. Takeaway
Takeaway is the reward memoirists give to their readers—the thing they want their reader to leave with, to ponder after they’ve left the page. Implementing takeaway into your writing opens up your individual “happenings” to the universal lessons that make the world a different and better place. You need to understand the layers of meaning and transformation in your story, however, in order to deliver something universal and meaningful to your reader. You also have to give yourself permission to own these takeaways, and to have the confidence to believe that you have something to say that falls beyond direct experience. In this class we will talk about what it means to be an expert in something from having lived it. Deepening your relationship not only with your story, but with your ability to share it with the world is part of learning how to offer takeaways that readers will love.

 

CLASS 10: April 9. Language Development
As with any art, there are many colors, paint strokes, and textures that form the “whole” of a story. For writers, these tools are all the skills we will have covered up to this final class. The last day will be dedicated to the art of good writing, something that all writers must finesse and sit with and develop over the course of writing a book. We will be teaching best practices for combing through your own work and self-editing, as well as using elements of speech to deepen your work and complete a more sophisticated memoir in the process.

Group coaching call follows class at 4.15 pm PT.

 

Group Coaching Calls

Five half-hour-long calls will be held at 4:15 PM PT on February 12, February 26, March 12, March 26, and April 9. You will be selected to have your work highlighted on two of the five group coaching calls and it’s therefore required that you be at those 2 sessions, though we encourage you to attend all group sessions for the insight you’ll gain from listening to other students’ work get workshopped.

Class Details

  • Class is limited to 10 students.
  • There will be 5 group coaching calls (every other week) of five students each. One group will be led by Linda Joy and one group will be led by Brooke.
  • Each student will have their work be the focus on two separate coaching calls which will be determined in advance of the class start date.
  • Whoever leads your group coaching call will also be your mentor (either Linda or Brooke) and we will read 1,000 words and give overarching feedback prior to each coaching session.

REGULAR PRICE: $1650

DISCOUNTED PRICE for Write Your Memoir in Six Months Alum: $200 off.

Contact Brooke directly if you have questions! Recently another MFA grad told us that our classes are better than getting an MFA. Cheaper too. 🙂

 

Claim your spot with a $300 deposit. Enroll today!

 

Cancellation Policy

After the course begins, there is no cancellation policy unless there’s a serious emergency; we make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Consider your deposit a full commitment. We do this for a reason. People get stressed about their writing and the inner critic can come up to tempt writers to stop. We know that if you keep going, you will be glad you did. The structure of the course is built on supportive sessions and conversations about your work, along with the weekly workshops. It’s important to maintain the stability in the course so you can move forward to revise and develop your memoir to the next stage.

 

Book steps leading to door against sky

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