The Art of Revising Memoir
Determine a revision approach that will bear fruit
Dinty W. Moore
Live on Feb. 8, 2023, or watch recording
Writers revising their first memoir
Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording
Capturing our memories—vividly, thoroughly, and carried along by palpable emotion—takes skill and concerted effort. But the task of writing compelling memoir does not end there. Once we’ve given the story our best shot, once we’ve powered our way through an early draft or two, how do we take what we have created and use the powerful tools of revision to make the memoir shine?
Revision, many have said, is where the hardest part of writing begins, but this stage can also be the most rewarding and pleasurable. The key to effective revision—whether you are writing a book or a six-page memoir essay—is having a plan, having a goal, and understanding that revision can have multiple approaches.
Absent that, writers too often find themselves floundering: blocked, paralyzed, or perhaps just overwhelmed. “There is too much to do here,” we say. “I don’t even know where to start.”
Well, contrary to common wisdom, this is one task where it is often not productive to start at the beginning. An active story has multiple moving parts: sentences, paragraphs, sub-sections, chapters, the beginning and the end, to name just a few. Successful revision means taking a step back and determining where to intervene. And when? And in what fashion? We learn this partially by experience, but there are key questions every writer can ask after the rough draft is completed to determine where to place our revision efforts first.
In this 90-minute webinar taught by noted editor and memoirist Dinty W. Moore, we’ll focus on the questions we can ask of our work to determine which revision approach will bear the most fruit, acknowledging that each piece of writing, each rough draft, is unique. This is not a “one size fits all” determination.
We will look as well at ways we can acknowledge and sidestep the predictable obstacles. Why, for instance, do some writers feel as if they have been “revising forever”? Maybe they have, and maybe it is taking so long because they’ve been doing it wrong.
And finally, we will explore how a writer can not only enjoy revision but look forward to it. For some writers, this is precisely where the fun begins.
We will also explore:
- When is the best time to polish sentences? When is polishing sentences a waste of a writer’s time?
- How can polished sentences get in the way of effective revision?
- How do we identify the “big ticket” issues?
- How do we know what should be included in the memoir and what should be left out?
- When do we throw out our outline?
- What does it mean to read our own work through the eyes of a ‘stranger’?
- How do we learn to stop listening to ourselves and instead listen to the story we are writing?
After class, you’ll also receive a handout with specific questions to ask at various stages of revision, as well as helpful revision prompts.
Who should take this class
- Writers working on memoirs, either essay-length or full book projects
- Writers who have a rough draft of a memoir essay or a partial or full draft of a book project
- Writers who have felt stuck in revision (or are feeling it currently)
This class isn’t suited for
- A writer with an idea for a book or essay who has not yet started drafting pages
- Though there is considerable overlap in the revision process between fiction and nonfiction, this class will definitely lean in the direction of memoir.
- Any writer who is entirely happy with the first draft and would rather not change anything
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, Feb. 8, 2023
- Time: 1:00–2:30 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
- 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 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.
About the instructor
Dinty W. Moore is author of the memoirs Between Panic & Desire, and To Hell With It, the writing guides The Story Cure, Crafting the Personal Essay, and The Mindful Writer, among many other books. He has published essays and stories in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere. Moore is founding editor of Brevity, the journal of flash nonfiction and co-editor of The Best of Brevity: Twenty Years of Groundbreaking Flash Nonfiction. He teaches master classes and workshops across the United States as well as in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, and Mexico.
One of the best webinars I’ve ever participated in. Dinty Moore was delightful, but more to the point, he had a lot of wisdom and knowledge. He opened my mind to a whole different way of thinking.
Dinty is a quick-footed and excellent teacher. Excellent suggestions given with kindness, directness, and humor. He was the right and perfect teacher for me and where I am with my writing.
Dinty provides a wise, calm, and penetrative perspective on the writing craft. Don’t spend time ruminating over taking this course. Your only regret will be why you didn’t take it sooner.
All students receive the following
- Access to the live class. After roughly 75 minutes, the instructor will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 90 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 access the recordings.
- Presentation slides. All registrants 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.
- Handouts. After class, you’ll receive a handout with specific questions to ask at various stages of revision, as well as helpful revision prompts.
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.