Judith Conte: Memoir Matters

Memoir is a true story that unfolds in
scenes with characters, dialogue and a reliable narrator who sets up the story
and directs the readers’ way. A well-written memoir provides a glimpse into the
author’s unique experience and offers an opportunity for readers to shift their
own world view. As good as it is to read memoir, it’s even more rewarding to
write your own. Fortunately,  you can
write your own memoir story with me as guide and instructor beginning on
October 14 in Memoir Matters, one of 49 Writers’ upcoming Fall classes.
What’s the
difference between autobiography and memoir? How do you wade though a stockpile
of memories to find the evocative images that best tell the story? What if you
don’t remember everything that happened? We’ll discuss the answers to those
questions and more in Memoir Matters.
Alice Sebold,
keynote speaker of this year’s Kachemak Bay Writer’s Conference, said that
memoir is a literary endeavor which must skillfully present characters readers
want to follow and create enough tension to unveil an arc in both the story
line and in the narrator. In Memoir Matters, we will focus on the craft
skills necessary to write true stories that engage readers. You’ll come to
understand what’s needed to define character, script effective dialogue, and
describe setting and place. If you don’t yet know what you want to write about,
no worries — the classes will help you find the story.
In class, we
will examine the opening scenes of successful memoirs, including those written
by your favorite Alaska authors, to identify what makes them so compelling. And
because not every memoir is book-length, we’ll look at memoir essays and a few
mini-memoirs. POV (point of view) is important, too, and you’ll see that not
every memoir is written in first person, though that’s most often the case.
Perhaps most
important of all, you’ll have time to write in each class. Time to write the
opening scenes of your own memoir story. Or if you’ve already got a story on
paper, you’ll have time to edit and fine-tune the memoir. Time to write — how long have you yearned for
some of that? Now’s the perfect time to pick one of the many stories you’ve
been holding onto all these years and write about it.
My own memoir
story begins in 1984, when I escaped my New York Italian family and moved to
the US Virgin Islands where I lived for 13 years until I relocated to Alaska.
What’s your story?
Join me next
month to write memoir that matters to you. To register for Memoir Matters,
visit http://49writingcenter.org/Instruction/classes.php.
I hope to see you all in class!

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