If you can tell your own stories skillfully in an entertaining voice, you’ll find opportunities to publish short essays in magazines and newspapers. You’ll also have a shot at publishing book-length memoir. This presentation will teach you how to identify a particular time period and/or theme in your life on which to focus your memoir. We’ll talk about the structure of short memoir and the various forms it can take, including essays, social commentary, and slice-of-life vignettes. The course will cover characterization, plot, setting and theme. We’ll discuss how to craft a book-length work, and we’ll pay particular attention to the challenges of memory, dialogue, hyperbole, and responses from family members and friends. Participants will receive a bibliography of current books on crafting memoir, as well as a list of magazine and newspaper editors particularly interested in the genre. You’ll come away with a new-found respect for the stories that only you can tell, and a solid sense of where and how to market them to editors.
Melissa Hart is the author of the memoir Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood (Seal, 2009). Her short memoir has appeared in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Mothering, The Advocate, Hemispheres, Fourth Genre, Woman’s Day, High Country News, Orion, and various other publications. Melissa teaches journalism at the University of Oregon, and memoir writing for U.C. Berkeley’s online extension program. She’s a contributing editor to The Writer Magazine.