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WSP 03 — Kickstart Your Memoir: How to Expand Your Personal Essay into a Book-Length Project

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Saturdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 2 days
Date(s): Aug 11—Aug 18
Time: 10:00 am—4:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Aug 4
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $355
Instructor(s): John W. Evans
Limit: 21
Status: Open
10:00 am—4:00 pm
Aug 11—Aug 18
2 days
Drop By
Aug 4
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
John W. Evans
How do authors who have written powerful personal essays turn those essays into memoirs on the same subject or topic? In this course, we will do just that. We will spend more than half of the course doing timed writing prompts on a variety of craft topics that will help you mine your life story for a powerful personal essay. Then, we will make a plan to expand that essay into the outline of a book-length memoir. We will look together at examples from published authors, including Cheryl Strayed, Joan Didion, Andrew Solomon, Tobias Wolff, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and Tina Fey, who have expanded their own successful essays into compelling memoirs. Working individually and together, we will utilize the concrete strategies that these authors used to turn their essays into memoirs. You will leave this workshop having done three things: written and received peer feedback on a personal essay, made a detailed plan for a book-length memoir, and written several beginnings of chapters for that memoir.

You do not need to have already written a personal essay in order to take this course.

Grade restriction: No letter grade

John W. Evans, Draper Lecturer of Creative Nonfiction and Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

John W. Evans is the author of three books. His latest, Should I Still Wish: A Memoir, was selected for the American Lives series. Young Widower: A Memoir received the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize and a Foreword Reviews INDIES. The Consolations: Poems was named the 2015 Peace Corps Writers Best Poetry Book. His work has appeared in Slate, The Missouri Review, Boston Review, Zyzzyva, Poets & Writers, and The Best American Essays. Evans is the author of the chapbooks No Season and Zugzwang.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.