Memoir Writing

Tell -- and sell -- the story of your life

  • sections:
  • Discussions Wednesdays 8-9pm ET, 10 weeks full schedule

Life stories like Orange is the New Black and The Glass Castle sell copies. Memoirs can be tear-jerkers, but they can also be fun, funny, and heart-warming. It's time for you to write your New York Times bestseller.

This class is strongly focused around literary structure. You'll create a story arc designed to keep your reader glued to the page. You will also learn how to define a unique "narrative want" for each chapter, the backbone that will connect all of your scenes.

You will receive extensive written feedback to each of your assignments and benefit from personalized time with the instructor during weekly discussions.

In this class, you will learn how to:

  • Create your story around a marketable premise
  • Hone your narrative voice
  • Write a memoir with a solid structure
  • Write interesting chapters that stay on track
  • Sell your memoir before you've finished writing it

By the end of class, you will have:

An outline, 50 pages of a memoir, and a plan for approaching literary agents and publishing houses.

Wendy Dale is the author of the travel memoir Avoiding Prison and Other Noble Vacation Goals: Adventures in Love and Danger and Guerrilla War for Extra Credit, the first of two young adult novels scheduled to be published by Dutton. Her work has appeared on Public Radio International, in newspapers, magazines, and on television. The TV special she co-scripted, The New Adventures of Mother Goose, was nominated for an Emmy. She recently returned to her first love, memoir writing, with American Wetback: An Immigrant in My Own Country.

  • "I can't give enough praise for Wendy Dale and the content for this class. The experience was truly transformative. Wendy took a kind but no nonsense approach to constructive criticism, and had the most astute ability to improve the content of my book with very specific guidance and feedback. This class is a must do for talented writers who need help taking their manuscripts to the next level."

  • "Wendy was motivating and critical, pushing me beyond my comfort zone to explore new territory. She encouraged collaboration and with her feedback, I dug deeper to find the voice to complete assignments."

    Natalie Crate

  • "Wendy encourages her students to dig deeper -- and the results show. I highly recommend her. She is insightful, conscientious, and supportive. I couldn't ask for more."

    Michele Meek

  • "Wendy is that tough critic who can be the best thing that happens to your manuscript."

    M Lucey Bowen

  • "Wendy is phenomenal! I've taken dozens of writing courses and completed an MFA in creative writing. Never have I received such useful instruction. I'm happy that I'll be starting her advanced course next week."

    Mary Rowland

  • "Wendy exceeded my expectations. I was stunned by how much practical information I learned and by how much I grew as a writer. The class was, in a word, invaluable!"

    Carly Van Thomme

  • "Wendy is the best instructor I've had, bar none. She continually pushes you and never lets you settle for good enough. She is knowledgeable, patient, helpful, and has an excellent sense of humor! I would take a class again with her anytime."

    Sandra Carpenter

  • "Wendy has a knack for seeing what direction your writing should take before you do. She seemed to effortlessly guide everyone in just the right direction. She has a talent for pulling out deeper and richer writing from her students."

    Katherine Tolford

  • "Wendy is one of the most dedicated teachers I've ever had. And I went to medical school, so I've had a lot of teachers. She is smart, funny, precise, and went out of her way to make us better writers. She is truly a gem!"

    Linda Dahl