Guided by author Melanie Brooks, this generative nonfiction workshop helps writers dig into their memories to create meaningful stories.
Jun 17, 2024 - Jun 21, 2024
Workshop Fee: $1150
Workshop Duration: 1-week (Monday-Friday)
Workshop Location: On-campus
Class Size: 10
The storage shelves of our minds are filled with memories. Whether in a momentary snapshot or a full film reel, life’s collected scenes can be the raw material for compelling stories. The challenge for any aspiring memoirist or personal essay writer is to figure out how to sift through those memories, re-enter those scenes, poke around, ask questions, and shape them into something accessible and meaningful on the page.
In this workshop, we will rise to that challenge, and through writing exercises and prompts designed to tap into remembered experiences, we’ll reconstruct scenes from the past and write into the stories they hold. We will spend time examining craft topics central to memoir and essay, including sensory details and descriptive language; vivid, cinematic scenes; realistic dialogue; narrative tension; and authentic voice. We’ll read passages from a range of writers and discuss how they invite us into their experiences in ways that make us feel what it was like. We’ll also unpack some of the complicated topics that emerge when writing memoir and personal essay, including how to handle memories that intersect with the lives of others, and ways to navigate the potentially painful emotions that surface when digging into our pasts. Those with moderate writing experience are welcome.
Though the focus of this workshop is to generate new material, we will spend some time discussing revision and offering feedback on one piece of writing submitted prior to the workshop’s start of up to 1500 words.
Instructor: Melanie Brooks
Melanie Brooks is the author of the memoir A Hard Silence: One daughter remaps family, grief, and faith when HIV/AIDS changes it all (Vine Leaves Press, 2023) and Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma (Beacon Press, 2017). She teaches creative nonfiction in the M.F.A. program at Bay Path University and professional writing at Northeastern University in Massachusetts. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast writing program and a Certificate in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University. She has had numerous interviews and essays on topics ranging from loss and grief to parenting and aging published in The Boston Globe, HuffPost, Psychology Today, Yankee Magazine, The Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, and other notable publications. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, two children (when they are home from college), and two Labs.