We all have a story to tell. Learn to tell yours in a way that will captivate complete strangers.

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We all have a story we want to tell. The real challenge is how do we turn our personal drama into something that will captivate complete strangers, our readers. That our stories happen to be true is important, but what’s crucial is that the stories be dramatic, taut, and compelling. That they have energy, light and depth. That happens not so much as a result of what we are writing about, as how. 

During the week I will provide suggestions and ideas for the best way for you to start, improve, brighten and dramatize your memoir—depending on where you are with your work.  No matter where that is, we’ll discuss elements of craft that will apply to any, and all, stages.  We will discuss finding a unifying idea behind your memoir, as well as structure, flow, drama, the organization of time, character, dialogue and other aspects of writing and techniques.  We will workshop as much of each person’s work as possible, with feedback from fellow writers and from me.  We will have readings, and we will have writing exercises to best exemplify these ideas.  Mornings will be devoted to craft, readings and exercises.  Afternoons will be devoted to workshopping an individual student’s work. Each day there will be time allotted for your to write on your own.  I will also meet individually with students briefly to gauge progress and to address specific concerns. Depending on time, will also revise work as the week flows.  Open to writers who are just beginning the journey of telling their story to those who have already begun.

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Instructor: Richard Goodman

Richard Goodman is the author of French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France, A New York Memoir and The Soul of Creative Writing.  His book, The Bicycle Diaries: One New Yorker’s Journey Through 9/11, with original wood engravings by Gaylord Schanilec, is part of the permanent collection of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Of French Dirt, the San Francisco Chronicle said, “It is one of the most charming, perceptive and subtle books ever written about the French by an American.”  He co-edited The Gulf South: An Anthology of Environmental Writing.  Richard Goodman has written on a variety of subjects for many national publications, including The New York Times, Harvard Review, Creative Nonfiction, River Teeth, Vanity Fair, Saveur, Ascent and Michigan Quarterly Review. He wrote the introduction for Travelers’ Tales Provence and has been a frequent contributor for the Travelers’ Tales series of books. He lived for many years in New York City where, among other things, he worked as a landscape gardener an as an editor at Random House. He is Associate Professor of Creative Nonfiction Writing at the University of New Orleans.