Allison Williams

Memoir Bootcamp

A three-session class on how to plan, plot, and write a sellable memoir


Allison K Williams


Live on Oct. 19, Oct. 26, and Nov. 2 (or watch the recording)


Writers working on their first memoir


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

What often sells memoir now is cultural relevance—that your story reveals deeper truths about a widely important issue or idea—and a specific audience that you already know how to reach.

But this doesn’t mean “pandering to the market” or “going viral.” Writing your memoir needs a plan. By clearly defining your concept, your structure, and the exact readers who need your words, you’ll learn whether your book is right for Big Five, literary or independent publishing—and exactly how to write and revise your story.

In this three-part webinar, taught by Allison K Williams, you’ll identify your memoir’s dramatic arc and structure; learn what events belong and how to write them more deeply; and discover how to use writing craft and research to fill in alternative points of view and missing memories. You’ll also dive deeply into your goals, and discover the right kind of platform to find and establish the audience that needs your book. Total live instruction time: 6 hours, all recorded and available for replay.

Also, each week includes take-home exercises to fully plan your manuscript draft or revision and chart your course to a memoir that sells.

Week One (Oct. 19): Your Story and Why It Matters

  • Identifying your purpose and exactly who needs your book
  • Five types of story arc—which one are you writing?
  • Writing a powerful opening that starts your story in the right place
  • Defining your own character through passion and foible
  • Examining your main antagonist’s true motivation (everyone’s the hero of their own story!)
  • Your story’s cultural relevance, and exactly who needs your words
  • Reader takeaway—what’s in it for THEM?
  • What key element of story, plot, voice or platform is going to sell YOUR book
  • Setting your publishing goal—traditional, self or hybrid, and why?

Week Two (Oct. 26): Write Faster with Structure, Purpose and Craft

  • Finding your voice
  • Using a dramatic structure to make plotting easier (and five structures to choose from!)
  • Structuring a “quiet” memoir where the action is largely internal
  • But/Because/Therefore: how writing your synopsis NOW keeps your draft moving
  • Key strategies for recalling times, places, characters and scenes
  • Navigating real-life relationships with tact and confidence while getting the details you need to tell your story
  • The turning point—writing your book’s most important scene
  • Simple craft techniques to improve your writing while you draft (practice makes perfect!)
  • Writing on a schedule whether you’re inspired or not—and how to make that sh*tty first draft worthwhile

Week Three (Nov. 2): The End? Selling Your Memoir with Proposal and Platform

  • The dramatic question: setting up your ending from the beginning
  • Getting Chekhov’s Gun onto the wall: creating tension with foreshadowing and theme
  • Ending your memoir with satisfying closure—and what to do if you haven’t reached closure yet.
  • How marketing starts while writing the book—and can make you a better writer.
  • How knowing your “comp authors” illuminates your publishing path (knowing where you’ll be shelved helps you finish the book!)
  • Finding and connecting with groups directly interested in reading and buying your work (it’s NOT through clicks or likes)
  • Identifying and embracing your own writing process to set deadlines and finish your book

Who should take this class

  • Writers with an idea who need a plan
  • Memoirists with an early draft looking for guidance on revisions
  • Essayists/bloggers working towards a unified collection and needing a dramatic arc
  • Book coaches and editors working with memoirists
  • Creative writing students and MFA graduates ready to write memoir but unsure where to begin
  • Writers hearing feedback that their book lacks tension, needs a stronger hook, or the story is “hard to follow” or “didn’t grab the reader”
  • Nonfiction writers and memoirists getting rejections for “not enough platform” or the agent “doesn’t know how to sell this book”
  • Writers planning to self-publish or publish with a hybrid press
  • People with a powerful story who want to know how to tell it

Supplemental materials all students receive

  • Weekly take-home exercises to plan your memoir manuscript and your writing process
  • Interview tip sheet for approaching others with information about your story
  • Start Your Memoir worksheet with three ways to gather and organize material
  • Memoir structure worksheets to plot your story against traditional structures

Looking for additional guidance? Consider the premium level ($749)sorry, sold out

A total of eight seats are available for writers who want to meet with Allison for additional live, small-group coaching each week. These sessions will take place on Sundays after the live webinar: Oct. 23, Oct. 30, and Nov. 6, from noon to 2 p.m. Eastern. They are privately hosted by Allison. Here’s what the small-group coaching sessions will consist of:

  • You will review and discuss the take-home exercises each week, with shared-screen “live editing” and Q&A with Allison
  • You will receive written feedback on your synopsis, with questions and comments to deepen your story
  • You will receive written feedback on your first 10 pages, with 1-2 pages of line edits to strengthen your writing craft
  • You will have “hot seat” time during the final group coaching session to define and discuss your audience and platform

What’s included in all of Jane’s classes

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology (see system requirements). You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Wednesday, Oct. 19 | Wednesday, Oct. 26 | Wednesday, Nov. 2
  • Time: 1:00–3:00 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Registration fee: $249 ($749 for premium)

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.

Allison Williams

About the instructor

Allison K Williams is the author of Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro From Blank Page to Book. She has edited and coached writers to publishing deals with Penguin Random House, Knopf, Mantle, Spencer Hill, and St. Martin’s Press as well as hybrid and independent presses. She’s guided essayists and humorists to publication in media including the New Yorker, Time, the Guardian, the New York Times, McSweeney’s, Refinery29, Hippocampus, the Belladonna and TED Talks. As Social Media Editor for Brevity, she inspires thousands of writers with weekly blogs on craft and the writing life.

As a memoirist, essayist, and travel journalist, Allison has written craft, culture and comedy for National Public Radio, CBC-Canada, the New York Times, the Christian Science MonitorCreative Nonfiction, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Kenyon Review Online, the Prairie Schooner blog, the Drum and Travelers’ Tales and Flash Nonfiction Funny. 

Allison holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and spent 20 years as a circus aerialist and acrobat before writing and editing full-time. She leads the Rebirth Your Book writing retreats series.

I am so glad I attended Allison’s webinar. It is exactly what I needed. I don’t need a cheerleader to tell me my story is important, I need no-nonsense how-to. This was that! THANK YOU!!!!

Jamie Beth Cohen

You’re the best presenter I’ve seen in quite a while: efficient, clearly knowledgeable, pleasant to listen to, and provided great value.

Dawn Lybarger

Allison, working with you has totally transformed me as a writer. I wake up in the morning and I am ITCHING to write. I feel like I have to get all of this out of me, and I’m enjoying the process for the first time, really…at last, I know where I’m going with this book.

Amy Evrard Young

All students receive the following

  • Access to the live class. Each live session is 2 hours long. Allison will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. If we can’t get to all of the questions live, Allison will answer them in writing and you’ll receive the answers with the recording.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for six months. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive the slide presentations in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
  • Additional worksheets and exercises from Allison, as described above

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.