Allison Williams

Writing Memoir for Young Adult and Middle Grade

Learn where to situate your work in today’s children’s market—not the one you grew up with


Allison K Williams


Live on March 9, 2022, or watch recording


Memoirists wondering if their younger years are their best stories


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

Young adult and middle-grade memoir are growing and popular categories. But how can we bring a younger generation into our own past—and write a sellable, readable manuscript? We’ll look at memoirs in prose, verse, and graphic novels, discuss whether your story should be presented as fact or fiction, and how to appeal to the age your readers will be. You’ll also learn techniques to recover memories—and what to write when you can’t.

In this 75-minute live webinar with Allison K Williams, you’ll learn how to structure a YA or MG memoir to engage readers, and how to find the best agents and publishers to represent your work. We’ll cover publishing trends and the roles librarians, parents and teachers play in selling books. This workshop will cover:

  • What’s happening in YA and MG publishing, and what agents are seeking
  • Where to situate your work in today’s children’s market (not the one you grew up with!)
  • How to know if you’re telling the right story for your target age group, and what form that story should take: memoir or novel, prose or poetry
  • Three sensory writing techniques to help you remember events clearly—and dredge up moments you didn’t know were there!
  • What’s legit to just leave out because you don’t feel like writing it—and how to tell if you should overcome that block
  • Four ways to bridge memory gaps on the page (if you can’t hide it, tie bells on it!)

Finally, we’ll look at what you should be reading, watching, and listening to now, to discover what young readers need from your story.

Who should take this class

  • Writers who love reading young adult or middle grade, and want to try writing it
  • Memoirists wondering if their younger years are their best stories
  • Book coaches and editors working with memoirists
  • Writers having a hard time accessing childhood or young adult memories for a work-in-progress
  • Creative writing students and MFA graduates ready to write memoir but unsure where to begin
  • Writers with an idea, a draft, or a terrifying pile of material

This class isn’t suited for:

  • Writers working on a novel; however, this class does touch on auto-fiction and novelizing one’s experience (and when to make that choice)
  • Writers working on a memoir that features an adult protagonist

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, March 9, 2022
  • Time: 1:00–2:15 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.

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. After roughly 60 minutes, Allison will take questions during class 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 access the recordings.
  • 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.
  • Workbook with writing exercises: these will help you access your own memories plus offer three ways to start writing your memoir
  • Optional opportunity: join a low-key accountability group with other writers

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.