Nail Your Memoir Structure By Thinking Like a Novelist

Nail Your Memoir Structure By Thinking Like a Novelist with Allison K Williams. $25 class. Wednesday, October 21. 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Eastern.

This class is now over and is unavailable for purchase. Sign up to receive announcements about upcoming classes.

How to Write and Revise a Powerful and Engaging Memoir by Understanding Story Structure

Where should your memoir begin? How should it end? What’s an “inciting incident” or a “climax” when you’re looking at real life?

Or maybe you’ve got a big, messy pile of personal history to sharpen and focus. Or something amazing happened, but you’re not sure it’s enough for a whole book.

In this Wednesday, Oct. 21 live class, taught by Allison K Williams, you’ll learn how to structure a memoir to engage readers, agents and publishers. We’ll cover where to start and how to decide what events belong in your book. Suitable for those with an idea, a draft, or a terrifying pile of material, you’ll discover how to tell the right story about the story you need to tell.

This workshop will cover:

  • How to know if you’re telling the right story
  • Starting your memoir with an engaging hook in the very first pages
  • Three types of structure you can use for memoirs, essays and even blog posts—and how to know when to violate the structure you’ve chosen
  • Structuring a “quiet” memoir where the action is largely internal
  • How to create tension when readers already know the narrator survived to write a book
  • The difference between a dramatic action and a dramatic situation (tip: your story is about what you did and how you changed)
  • What makes a meaningful event belong in your memoir and what to leave out or save for the next book
  • What to do if your memoir doesn’t yet have a strong ending (tip: the answer may be in your life instead of on your pages!)
  • How thinking about your readers can help you figure out your memoir’s plot

Who should take this class

  • Writers who’d like to write a memoir but aren’t sure what part of their life to focus on
  • Memoirists with an early draft looking for guidance on revisions
  • Writers who know “something’s missing” to make their memoir a satisfying story
  • Creative writing students and graduates of MFA programs interested in learning how to write a memoir
  • Writers with essay collections or blog posts they want to unify into a memoir
  • Querying writers hearing agent feedback that their book lacks tension, needs a stronger hook, or the agent “doesn’t see wide reader appeal” or “doesn’t know how to sell this book.”

How do I know if this webinar is worth the cost?

This is an important question, and it’s a tough one to answer—especially since so much online education is available free of charge. Furthermore, every student is different, and a valuable webinar for one person can end up being a disappointment to another. For this reason, we offer full refunds if you register, attend the entire class, and fail to get the information you were looking for. Please email us directly to request a refund.

Do I have to attend the live class?

No. Everyone who registers will get access to the recording. However, if you’d like to attend live, keep reading.

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology. 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, October 21, 2020
  • Time: 1 p.m.–2:15 p.m. Eastern Time / 10 a.m. Pacific Time
  • Fee: $25

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 Rev’s automated closed caption service, which is about 80%+ accurate. For students joining the class through the Zoom app on a mobile device, you can disable the closed captions by going to your settings and turning off closed captions.

Allison Williams

About the instructor

Allison K Williams 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 Monitor, Creative 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.

Her book, Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro From Blank Page to Book will be published by Woodhall Press in March 2021. 

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

It is no exaggeration to say that my work with Allison Williams was life-changing. As a result of my manuscript revision, an agent who had given me a “Revise and Resubmit” with my earlier query offered to represent me! 

Karen Fine 

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

You’ll receive the following

  • Access to the 75-minute interactive class. After 60 minutes, Allison will take questions using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes.
  • 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 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation 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.
  • Supplementary worksheets: After the class, you’ll receive worksheets to help you understand how to begin gathering and organizing material, and how to plot your manuscript with four traditional structures.

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.

System Requirements to Join the Webinar

We will be using Zoom webinar technology.

You’ll need:

  • An internet connection: broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
  • Speakers: built-in or USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth

Recommended bandwidth:

  • 600kbps (down) for high-quality video and 1.2 Mbps (down) for HD video
  • If you connect through audio only: 60-80kbps (down)

Supported operating systems:

Supported tablet and mobile devices:

  • Surface PRO 2 running Win 8.1
  • Surface PRO 3 running Win 10
  • iOS and Android devices
  • Blackberry devices

Supported browsers:

  • Windows: IE 11+,  Edge 12+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Mac: Safari 7+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Linux: Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+

For a detailed listing of system requirements, check Zoom’s site.