Free Memoir Telesummits

FREE Memoir Webinar: Truth in Memoir: A Journey of Healing and Transformation

May 19, 2017

Free Day Long event: 10 AM/1PM to 2 PM/5 PM

We’re very excited here at NAMW to offer a day long discussion about truth in memoir–one of the hottest topics memoirists discuss online, in forums, and in running Facebook posts!

As memoirists, we have to struggle with “the truth.” When we write our stories, we search to discover and reveal various angles of the truths in our lives. As complex humans, there are multiple and sometimes paradoxical truths—love and hate, letting go/holding on, attraction/repulsion desire and rejection of intimacy, and countless other opposites that are part of life. In our stories, one scene may highlight one aspect of truth, and then in another we’re someone else. The characters in our stories may have conflicting presentations   and we feel complex emotions about these real people who become our “characters.” In a world that asks for us to have a single opinion or reaction that defines, writing a memoir and facing its complexities can get challenging. Sometimes we’re tempted to give up. As one of my students said, “I keep changing my mind about what I think and feel each time I write my story. I need to know what position I should take. Shouldn’t I have this all sorted out by now?”

The secret to writing a memoir is that it’s more of a journey and a process than a single destination. We are always becoming and learning as we write. In writing a memoir we uncover surprises, some of which we don’t want to know about. As I wrote both Don’t Call Me Mother and my new memoir, Song of the Plains, I encountered bumpy emotional rides. In my new memoir, I tried to pull back even deeper layers of truth that I either couldn’t write about yet in my first one, or I couldn’t bear to share with the world. By investigating our story, new truths were revealed. Today we are going to investigate truth—how to find it, why we try to avoid it, and what to do when it speaks deeply to us, body and soul.

Join this FREE special webinar on May 19 with these deep and engaging presenters who have agreed to spend time with us. The day will be one of exploration and insight, and I hope you will find support and inspiration for your own work through this special event.


Mark Matousek

Transformation through Telling Your Truths: Memoir as a Healing Path

10 am PDT  11 am MDT   12 pm CDT  1 pm EDT

When you tell the truth, your story changes. When your story changes, your life is transformed.  Radical truth telling and self-inquiry in writing are incomparable tools for personal healing, creative expansion, and spiritual insight. Over the past 30 years as a memoirist and teacher, I’ve come to see that the narratives we use to describe our lives are frequently more fiction than fact. Once we begin to examine these stories, and tell the whole truth as we know it, these narratives begin to collapse, revealing the falsehoods we’ve carried, and giving us enormous freedom as writers of memoir.

But how to we learn to tell our whole truth? How do we separate fact from fiction? What is the role of imagination in unlocking preverbal experience?  Is it possible to heal personal trauma by changing the story we tell ourselves, as some psychologists suggest? How do we avoid the danger of triggering old trauma when exploring it?  What tools and practices are useful in helping to explore shadow material in memoir?  Finally, how is healing facilitated through the process of radical truth-telling?

These are some of the questions we’ll be exploring together during this thought provoking session. You will come to understand the importance of taking the witness perspective as a memoirist in order to step beyond your personal fiction. This gives you enormous freedom as a writer and demonstrates – beyond any doubt – that you are the storyteller not the story, the mythmaker not the myth.

During this webinar, you will learn:

  • How to use radical truth telling in memoir
  • How to use writing as a path of healing
  • How to explore shadow material
  • How to distinguish your wounds from your gifts
  • How to cultivate witness consciousness
  • How to change your trauma story

Mark Matousek is the author of two acclaimed memoirs, Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story (an international bestseller) and The Boy He Left Behind: A Man’s Search For His Lost Father, as well as When You’re Falling, Dive: Lessons in the Art of Living, and Ethical Wisdom: The Search for a Moral Life.. A former editor at Interview Magazine, he is a featured blogger for and the Huffington Post, and has contributed to numerous anthologies and publications, including The New Yorker, O: The Oprah Magazine (contributing editor), Harper’s Bazaar, Yoga Journal, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and The Saturday Evening Post. A popular speaker and teacher, he offers courses in creativity and spiritual growth in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe, based on his book, Writing To Awaken: A Journey of Truth, Transformation, and Self-Discovery.  He is a founding member of V-Men (with Eve Ensler), an organization devoted to ending violence against women and girls. His new book, Mother of the Unseen World, will be published in November. He lives and works East Hampton, New York.


John Evans

11 am PDT  12 pm MDT  1 pm CDT  2 pm EDT

Flourish: Writing for Resilience after Challenging Times

Expressive Writing heals and builds resilience through a process focusing on feelings related to a trauma, by imagining a fresh perspective about that trauma, and by creating a meaningful narrative about the trauma.

John Evans has taught expressive writing for over thirty years and believes that it may provide a ready springboard for memoir writing because it allows for the detailed connection of events with emotions that can be shaped into a complex, coherent story that moves experiences out of the body and mind connections on to the page.

If you have been touched by a life-changing event, diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, job loss, divorce, separation, death of spouse, death of a parent, you know the mind/body connection first hand.  It is never more apparent than when we experience a significant emotional event in the form of such traumas.  We don’t sleep well, we stop eating or we sleep all the time or we eat everything in sight.

In this webinar you will learn how expressive writing leads to helping you:

  1. Create your vision of vibrant wellness,
  2. Set intentions and clarify values
  3. Change perspective and remove obstacles
  4. Build confidence and resilience
  5. Express joy and optimism
  6. Stimulate thinking that leads to insights and understanding.

Flourish is an evidence-based, expressive writing approach and includes seven types of writing to heal: mindful writing, HEALing writing, as well as expressive, transactional, poetic, affirmative, and legacy writing.

Evans works with groups, individuals, and health care professionals, teaching them how to use writing for better physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  He has authored five books and has taught journaling and writing for self-development for over thirty years. With James Pennebaker, Evans co-authored Expressive Writing: Words that Heal (2014). His book, Wellness & Writing Connections: Writing for Better Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health (2010), is a collection of essays from the Wellness & Writing Connections Conference Series (2007 – 2010).  Evans is a faculty member of 1440 Multiversity in Santa Cruz, CA and is leading a year-long online expressive writing project, Pen My Path, for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society sponsored by Pfizer.  At Duke Integrative Medicine, Evans teaches Transform Your Health: Write to Heal, Leading Patients in Writing for Health, and Writing as a Tool for Integrative Health Coaches.


Mark Wolynn

12 noon PDT  1 PM MDT  2 PM CDT  3 PM EDT

It Didn’t Start With You

How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

We’re very excited that our guest Mark Wolynn, author of the book It Didn’t Start with You, is going to talk with us about how trauma affects the generations, and what to do to create a new legacy. He reveals the science about how we inherit trauma and how we unconsciously are carrying patterns from our parents and grandparents. What has happened in the past lives in the present unconsciously within us, creating pain and problems in our own lives that mirror similar issues that faced the generations before us.

The good news is that there are ways to break these patterns, and it has to do with becoming aware of what they are, and finding ways to dig into the story of your family and understand how it affects you.

We have learned in other seminars about how writing helps to heal, and in this presentation we will learn why and how discovering the family story and using it to unlock generations of trauma and pain is so important to all of us.

You will learn:

– How trauma is passed from a parent to a child.

– The scientific research that supports inherited family trauma in humans and animals.

– How people can tell if they are suffering from inherited family trauma. What are the signs?

– How a person suffering from inherited family trauma can heal.

– Tips on how to break the cycle of inherited family trauma.


Mark Wolynn is a leading expert on inherited family trauma. As the director of The Family Constellation Institute in San Francisco, he trains clinicians and treats people struggling with depression, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive thoughts, self-injury, chronic pain, and persistent symptoms and conditions. A sought-after lecturer, he leads workshops at hospitals, clinics, conferences, and teaching centers around the world. He has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the Western Psychiatric Institute, Kripalu, The Omega Institute, The New York Open Center, and The California Institute of Integral Studies. His articles have appeared in Psychology Today, Mind Body Green,, Elephant Journal, and Psych Central, and his poetry has been published in The New Yorker.


Transformation and Forgiveness: How I Uncovered New Truths in My Second Memoir

Linda Joy Myers

Interviewed by Brooke Warner

1 PM PDT  2 PM MDT   3 PM CDT   4 PM EDT

When I wrote my first memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother, I thought I’d cracked my family story. I believed I’d come to understand and forgive my grandmother and mother for the abuse and rejection in my life. I’d written the story that I’d carried since I was a child, and enough time had passed that I felt I had perspective and distance from the daily sting of abandonment and loss that marked my early years. But that story was written and lived before I myself became a grandmother. When they were born, I had new reasons to investigate our family legacy and offer up a well-researched and documented family story. Of course, the deeper reason I wanted to write another memoir was about me.

About three years after I published Don’t Call Me Mother, I started noticing a longing to further explore and research the histories I’d gathered in courthouses and local libraries in Iowa where my mother’s family was from. I got only a few stories from family members—they seemed dedicated to stay silent about a number of important family stories.

These unfinished threads wouldn’t leave me alone, nor would the poetry, stories, and histories of the Great Plains that I’d collected over the years. I noticed the heartache I felt whenever I saw photographs of my mother when she was young. My discovery of was another huge impetus to explore my story from a new point of view, that of myself as an older adult. From this vantage point, I discovered that the road to healing is not a straight line, and the beckoning of new stories is not a force to ignore, no matter how impractical it might seem.

In this interview with Brooke Warner, my colleague and publisher of She Writes Press, we’ll explore the seeds that led me to dig deeper into my new memoir, the themes that make Song of the Plains a hybrid memoir of sorts, and why I think it’s important to allow the creative process to unravel in its own time.

You will learn:

  1. Why I threw away 85,000 words of my first draft and started over again.
  2. The process—and problems—of writing a second memoir.
  3. How truth has different angles depending on your point of view, and how to find them.
  4. How to write an authentic story about family in their points of view.
  5. The importance of place and poetry in the healing process.

Linda Joy Myers is the author and co-author of several books about memoir, and the founder and president of the National Association of Memoir Writers. Her first memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother, won several awards, and her Power of Memoir has been used to teach writing as healing techniques. Linda Joy grew to love stories in a featherbed with her eighty-year-old great-grandmother, and since then has pursued family history, secrets, and research to understand the lives of her family, and to find the keys to unlocking the past and creating a positive present and future. Her passion for stories drives her love of teaching memoir.  She leads a biannual intensive course, Write Your Memoir in Six Months, with Brooke Warner. She shares her love of reading with her three children and three grandchildren, her two kitties, and her friends. A great day includes reading a book and watching a good movie. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Twitter: @memoirguru


Free Memoir Telesummit

May 15, 2015

10 AM PDT-1:45 PM PDT

what's Your Story photo1 PM EDT-4:45 PM EDT

The Power of Story: Write a Memoir with Heart and Craft  

In my work with memoirists through the years, I continue to be impressed and awestruck by the ways I see story carry the power to touch lives, to present the truths of how we live, love, are born and die—the universality of the human experience. Memoir, along with other literary and art forms, serves to illuminate and connect us all in ways that can be amazingly transformative. In this era of social media, we can see how much it’s possible to connect with people all over the world through words and pictures. Being on Facebook and Twitter is like “reading” many mini-memoirs!

In this free Telesummit, The Power of Story, presented by the National Association of Memoir, you will deepen your knowledge about what a story is, discover how story works on us emotionally, and learn new ways to get your story out into the world even before you have a published book.

flying books for TS

I’m so pleased to present some of our favorite people to you during this telesummit, each of them with new things to share and new ways you can develop your memoir writing life.

Lisa Cron, the author of Wired for Story, is back with us to give a preview of her new book, and teach some time-honored ways to create a memoir that no one can resist.

Denis LeDoux, an old friend of mine in memoir-writing-land, will talk about creative and innovative ways to draw from your stories to create your platform through writing small and short pieces. Publishing shorter pieces helps not only you to get out in the world with your stories, but your readers too as they can connect with your wisdom and life experience early on as you develop a longer book length work.

Amy Ferris, the amazing author of Marrying George Clooney, editor of Dancing at the Shame Prom and Shades of Blue to be released in October by Seal Press is back by popular demand to deepen our conversation into the ways that memoir can reach into the heart and draw out the pain, and can help us connect with our broken and our best selves.

Brooke Warner, my teaching partner in Write Your Memoir in Six Months, and I are teaching a series of ever deepening memoir courses, and we want to bring you the latest insights we have in how memoir can connect us all through the heart.

Each discussion is 45 minutes, with 15 minutes for direct questions and comments, so please join us live if you can! All sessions are recorded and if you sign up, you will receive the recordings.


What Your Reader Really Wants: 5 Steps to Writing an Irresistible Memoir

Lisa Cron 

10 am PDT  11 am MDT  12 CDT  1 pm EDT  

Lisa Cron-Photo hi-resEvery writer wants two things: to tell a story that hooks readers and never lets them go, and to find a way to accomplish that without going through the long slog of writing draft after draft. In this teleseminar we’ll examine the five steps to take before you start writing that will save you months (or years) of hard work, not to mention heartache and frustration. You’ll unearth the key story elements beneath the plot that bring it to life, drive it forward, and give it meaning. These elements have little to do with the surface events or “writing well” and everything to do with what we’re hardwired to respond to in every story we read.  Learning what your reader’s brain craves, and why, will allow you to zero in on what your story is really about before you write word one.  You’ll not only produce a more powerful memoir, chances are you’ll drastically reduce your rewrite time.

  • Why story isn’t about what happens externally, but about an internal change.
  • How to avoid the reason most memoirists fail – i.e. they tell us what happened, without realizing that the story is really about how what happened changed them. St
  • The need to be vulnerable, and go deep. If you don’t have something to learn when the memoir begins, you have nothing to teach us. The reader doesn’t care about what happened to you, they care about how the lessons you learned along the way can help them navigate their own life.
  • How to figure out what your memoir is actually about by zeroing in on the point you’re making.
  • How to pinpoint the internal change you’ll make based on what events will force you to deal with.
  • How to isolate the specific story you’re telling from the rest of your life.
  • How to use backstory to create the lens through which you’ll evaluate what happens to you in the moment, on the page, as you make sense of what’s happening to you

Lisa Cron is the author of Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers From the Very First Sentence (Ten Speed Press), and her video tutorial Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story can be found at Her TEDx talk, Wired for Story, opened Furman University’s 2014 TEDx conference, Stories: The Common Thread of Our Humanity. Her new book, Story Genuis: How to Use Brain Science to Crack the Code of Your Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere) will be released in August, 2016. She’s a story coach helping writers, nonprofits, educators and memoirists wrangle their story onto the page.


Choose the Form for Your memoir—Book, Mini-Memoir, Flash Memoir, Anthology

Denis LeDoux 

11: 15 am PDT  12:15 pm MDT  1:15 pm CDT  2:15 pm EDT

Denis-Ledoux (1)A memoir allows you to leave a legacy, and there are many choices for how to fulfill that desire. You can write a long-form book, which as you know takes a lot of time, even years. But while you are writing your book, you can select sections to publish as an eBook, or send out to literary magazines, or publish in an anthology. You can even choose to write a very short flash memoir. All forms of your memoir are acceptable. In this teleseminar we’re going to look at the choices you can make to not only get your legacy written, but published and shared with the world.

You will learn:

  • How to think out of the box about your life story.
  • What a memoir anthology is and how to focus your work toward that goal.
  • The short memoir, often called a mini-memoir –different from a flash memoir, which is another form you can choose.
  • The personal essay—how it is similar and different from a memoir “story.”

Each of these forms presents you a choice for your writing and publishing life, and helps you to think bigger than the book. During this teleseminar you will find out more about how to think about your life story in new ways and choose how you would like to implement these ideas.

Denis Ledoux grew up in a three-generation home with paternal grandparents who lived upstairs. Stories have always played an important role in Denis’ life. As a child, he heard tales of his extended family and their history recounted by the family storyteller, his memere. He directs the The Memoir Network, an international group of life story writing teachers who use his methods and materials.

Denis holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Education. As a short story writer, he drew on family characters, settings, and stories for his fiction. In 1989, he won the Maine Fiction Award for Mountain Dance & Other Stories. His other titles include What Became of Them and Other Stories from Franco-America, and Lives in Translation: An Anthology of Contemporary Franco-American Writings which he edited. Denis’ short fiction has twice been honored with the Maine Writing Fellowship Award (1991, 1996), an NEA-based merit award.


Saving our Lives through Writing

Amy Ferris 

12:30 pm PDT   1:30 pm MDT  2:30 pm CDT  3:30 PM EDT 

Amy FerrisAmy Ferris and I have something in common: we have seen how powerfully story acts as a witness to our lives, there on the page, there with words and sentences. We have observed firsthand how writing helps to save people’s spirits from being lost in depression, and acts as a guiding light to help create a path to fullness and joy. Hope is an important part of survival and for becoming who we were meant to be. Join us in this inspiring conversation about how important it is to get your story on the page, first for you. Then you can think bigger—how do I connect with others with my story? Maybe we all don’t have to be so alone with the truths of our lives.

You will learn:

  • How the power of story to create a new foundation for our souls and create a bridge to others.
  • About the healing power of story and the research by Dr. James Pennebaker
  • How story helps to change the brain and heal the body
  • Techniques that you can use to tease out and invite your hidden stories to be revealed.

amy ferris is an author, screenwriter, essayist, playwright and editor. She edited the upcoming new anthology Shades of Blue, to be released October, 2015. her memoir, marrying george clooney, confessions from a midlife crisis (seal press) was adapted in an off-broadway play in 2012. she has written films (mr. wonderful, anthony minghella, director and funny valentines, julie dash, director), tv, and has contributed to numerous anthologies, including the one she co-edited, dancing at the shame prom (seal press). she was guest editor-in-chief for two magazine, glossies, where she created the annual all women’s issue. amy lives in pennsylvania with her husband and two cats. she is very content on most days.


How to Make People Fall in Love with Your Memoir

Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers 

1:45 pm PDT  2:45 pm MDT  3:45 PM CDT 4:45 pm EDT

Brooke Warner and Linda Joy MyersYour main job as a memoirist is to give something of value to your readers as you tell your story. To do that, you need to know about voice, the narrative arc, writing a great scene, and how to create a takeaway for your reader. We are excited to share with you the latest craft information that we have gleaned from analyzing The Liars’ Club, The Glass Castle, Angela’s Ashes, The Tender Bar, and the new memoir, H is for Hawk. 

  • Why will the reader care about your story?
  • Scenes, the building blocks of great storytelling.
  • Making a connection with the reader by keeping an eye on takeaway.
  • Creating a narrative voice with authenticity and personality.
  • Guiding the reader deep into the meaning and emotions of your story through solid story-building.

Brooke Warner is publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of What’s Your Book? and How to Sell Your Memoir. Brooke’s expertise is in traditional and new publishing, and she is an equal advocate for publishing with a traditional house and self-publishing. She sits on the board of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and the National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW).  Her website was selected by The Write Life as one of the Top 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2014. She lives and works in Berkeley, California.

Linda Joy Myers is president of the National Association of Memoir Writers, and a therapist for 35 years. She’s the award winning author of Don’t Call Me Mother—A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness, The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, The Journey of Memoir and Becoming Whole—Writing Your Healing Story. Don’t Call Me Mother and Becoming Whole were finalists in the ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. Linda co-teaches the program Write Your Memoir in Six Months, and offers editing and coaching for writers.  Blog:

Sign Up Here for Our FREE Memoir Telesummit 

Date: May 15, 2015

Time: 10 AM PDT-1:45 PM PDT

The Power of Story: Write a Memoir with Heart and Craft


Spring 2014 NAMW Memoir Telesummit |Angles of View

National Association of Memoir Writers Telesummit

Angles of View–Writing and Sharing Your Memoir

Free to All—Sign up to get your free audio download of the whole day

May 9, 2014

10 AM-4 PM PDT

Sue Silverman

Memoir writers need to gather skills from a variety of sources– finding inspiration and motivation to write and to keep writing, discovering your unique point of view, shaping your work, and discovering the best angle to present to the world in your marketing and publicity efforts. We have to juggle so many skills as a memoir writer.

I’m so excited to spend the day of this year’s memoir Telesummit for the Spring of 2014 with these amazing writers and marketers who are experts in the field.

As you may know all writers have to become good marketers as well as writers. We have to learn how to focus our message in our book—and as we share our message. Please join us for these amazing and illuminating discussions about memoir writing.


Sue William Silverman Session One

10 AM PDT  1 PM MDT  12 PM CDT  1 PM EDT

The Serial Memoirist: How Many Memoirs Does it Take to Tell Your Story?

Sue William Silverman

As a woman I live one life. As a writer of memoir, however, I live several. With each book, I observe myself as if through a different lens of a camera, each revealing its own story. In my new memoir, The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew, I’m a Pat Boone groupie seeking to pass as Christian – refuge from my abusive Jewish father. In my first memoir, I explore this childhood incestuous relationship, while in my second memoir I write about 28 days I spent in rehab for a sexual addiction. But isn’t there more to me than an incest survivor recovering from sex addiction who is also a Pat Boone groupie? Yes! And I’m now at work on a new (untitled) memoir. So how many memoirs does it take to tell the story of one woman?

In this telesummit we’ll discuss:

  • How to find and define your various stories, so you aren’t trying to cram your whole life into one book.
  • How to write each book without repeating yourself, so each book can stand on its own.
  • But when do you have to repeat yourself in order to provide a solid context for each story?
  • How to discover the theme, the voice, the metaphors, the structure for each book.
  • How to turn an essay collection into a seamless whole.

Sue William Silverman’s new memoir is The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew. Her two other memoirs are Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction, which is also a Lifetime TV movie, and Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, which won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs award in creative nonfiction. Her craft book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir.  As a professional speaker, Sue has appeared on The View, Anderson Cooper 360, and CNN-Headline News.  She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   John KremerSession Two

11:15 AM PDT  12:15 PM MDT   1:15 PM MDT  2:15 PM EDT

How to Market a Memoir as a Bestseller

John Kremer

Yes, memoirs can be bestsellers, not only on Amazon, but in real world
bookstores as well. You can sell the story of your life without having to
sell yourself.

  • Learn how other memoirs have become bestsellers.
  • Learn the four best ways to market a memoir.
  • Learn how to use social media to sell a memoir.
  • Learn what you need on your website (and what you don’t!).

John Kremer is the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book as well as the developer of the Book Marketing Magic multimedia course. He has never written a memoir (and probably never will), but he has worked with many memoir writers to help them sell more books.


CHouser_TwitterPortraitSession Three

12:30 PM PDT  1:30 PM MDT  2:30 PM CDT  3:30 PM EDT

Write Your Flash Memoirs

Christine Houser

What are flash memoirs, you ask?  They are very short, personal stories – vignettes of roughly 300-2000 words.  If you are struggling with getting your memoir started or are daunted by a book length project, writing vignettes can make it easier.  Good flash stories are in high demand so they are also an additional route to getting published. Or, they might just be the change of pace that injects new vigor in your writing practice.

In this telesummit, we’ll look at a couple of great examples and have a lively, interactive discussion that explores:

– What makes a good flash memoir?
– Where can you read and/or submit flash nonfiction?
– How do you get started?

Christine Houser reads, writes, studies, and teaches flash-length creative nonfiction in Seattle. Her stories have been published in a variety of anthologies and magazines, and she writes a how-to blog at For story fodder, Chris travels widely and often eavesdrops while riding the San Juan Island ferries.  Find her on Twitter @flashmemoirs and #cnf (creative nonfiction).


martha_aldersonSession Four

1:45 PM PDT  2:45 PM MDT  3:45 PM CDT  4:45 PM EDT

How to Pre-Plot Your Transformation in Your Memoir: Yes, Even Memoirs Have Plots!

Martha Alderson

One of the most difficult elements of memoir writing is determining what life events to include and what memories to leave out. The benefit of pre-plotting is that by identifying key scenes needed at the beginning, the middle, and the end of every great memoir before you begin writing, you save yourself the pain of having to cut carefully crafted and written scenes that do not fit thematically with the deeper meaning of your memoir.

A memoir with a plot is exciting, emotional and meaningful. Character transformation, dramatic action and thematic significance are the three plot threads in every great memoir. Today, our focus is on the plot element of the main character — you. Life events are meaningful when they impacted you in such a way as to change you over time and led to an ultimate transformation. Pre-Plot your growth and transformation based on the actions that forced, caused, created a change in you and the deeper meaning of your transformation.

Of course, no one says you have to pre-plot first before you begin writing. Start writing scenes for your memoir now. Pre-plot as you write. Schedule time for each task. Each supports the other.

We will discuss:

  • The definition of plot and pre-plot
  • The three plot threads in every great memoir
  • How to pre-plot your own personal transformation
  • Essential transformational elements necessary in the beginning of your memoir, the middle, and the end
  • Identify where the emotion is going to be in your memoir — the heart of your own personal story

Martha Alderson, AKA the Plot Whisperer, has been deconstructing memoir, novel and screenplay plots for fifteen years. She leads transformational workshops for people privately and teaches plot workshops to novelists, memoirists, and screenwriters privately, at plot retreats, Writer’s Digest, and at writers’ conferences. She takes writers beyond words into the very heart of a story.

She has written several books as part of her Plot Whisperer series: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing , The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories, companion workbook to original The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (Adams Media, a division of F + W Media), Blockbuster Plots Pure & Simple (Illusion Press) and several ebooks.

As the founder of International Plot Writing Month, Martha manages the award-winning blog The Plot Whisperer  which has been awarded top honors as a top writing advice blog by Writers Digest 2009-2013. Her vlog, “How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay” covers 27 steps to plotting your story from beginning to end and playlists to help writers create a compelling plot for their novels, memoirs and screenplays.

Martha, in collaboration with literary agent Jill Corcoran, teaches a series of online, live video plot chats with writers through A Path to Publishing. In collaboration with author Jordan Rosenfeld, Martha offers a series of Plot, Scene & Transformation retreats beginning in May, 2014,  Mt. Madonna Center.



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Spring 2014  Memoir Telesummit

Angles of View

Free to All


Myers makes a compelling case for the power of words as a form of healing and growth.

James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. professor of psychology, The University of Texas at Austin and author, Opening Up and Writing To Heal

...the NAMW memoir classes with Linda Joy Myers are wonderful

Kathy Pooler