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CNF 05 W — Taming Truth: The Essentials of Memoir Writing

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 21—Aug 27
Refund Deadline: Jun 24
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Robin Romm
Limit: 20
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jun 21—Aug 27
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jun 24
3 Units
Robin Romm
Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Often, we know we have a story, but when we sit down to write it—if we sit down to write it—the details all come rushing forward, jumbled and tangled. Which scene is actually important? Do we need all of these characters? And what about the issue of chronology? What about all that research? How do memoirists write such shapely prose when the world is such an unruly and complicated place? This course will focus on how to isolate the most interesting stories and then hone them, so they come across to the reader as interesting stories. How do we choose details that will evoke an emotional response? How do we write our difficult material without becoming maudlin or sentimental? How do we write complex human dynamics or fold in factual information without becoming wonks? What is the role of plot in nonfiction? Each week, students will be presented with a structured exercise that will explore issues of craft: dialogue, detail, character, story arc. Our goal will be for each student to come away with at least one finished memoir excerpt or essay, which we will discuss in a supportive workshop. Exercises and workshops will be supplemented with readings from some of the most engaging writers of our time.

Author; Faculty, Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers

Robin Romm is the editor of the essay collection Double Bind: Women on Ambition; author of the story collection The Mother Garden, a finalist for a PEN Center USA (now PEN America) fiction award; and author of the memoir The Mercy Papers, which was named a Notable Book of 2009 by The New York Times and a best book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and Entertainment Weekly.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Sarah Sentilles, Stranger Care (ISBN 978-0593230039)
(Required) Samantha Irby, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (ISBN 978-1101912195)
(Required) Vivian Gornik, The Situation and the Story (ISBN 978-0374528584)