Tag Archives: Memoir Writing Class

What Made Love Warrior a Best-selling Memoir?

An Examination of a Memoir That Bares the Soul (And Spares No One)

Class dates (Mondays): April 24, May 1, May 8, May 15
4pm PT | 5pm MT | 6pm CT | 7pm ET

Classes are one hour long and we record all sessions so that you can watch the recordings if you have to miss a class.


EARLY REGISTRATION: $75 through April 17th

Regular registration: $89

Go to this page to register.


love-warriorLove Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton, has the kind of elements of pain that most memoirists struggle to write. She grapples with addiction, painful insecurities, her husband’s infidelity, maternal overwhelm, her rocky marriage, and questions about her own lack of sex drive. Tackling a single one of these issues is tough; to expose all of them and handle them with care is enormously brave. In this free webinar, memoir experts Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner will address the fears that invariably come up for writers looking to write their deepest truths and expose their most intimate—and often shameful—secrets. This webinar will address the fallouts too—and touch upon how sharing your truth has a way of both leveling everything and setting you free.


Class 1. Why Theme Is Memoir’s North Star (April 24)

  • How theme informs your scenes and why to keep your themes front and center while you write.
  • How to use through-threads to highlight your themes.
  • Tracking Glennon Doyle Melton’s hard themes of infidelity, eating disorders, and sexual dysfunction juxtaposed against the hopeful ones of healing, commitment, and love.
  • Tips for how to think about theme in your own writing, and why nailing down your own themes is the best gift you can give yourself as a memoirist.

Class 2. The Singular Power of a Clear Narrative Voice (May 1)

  • A look at Glennon Doyle Melton’s use of the Voice of Innocence vs Voice of Experience and how to integrate both of these narrative techniques into your own writing.
  • The power of sequencing—keeping your reader on track with what you knew when to create a more intimate and compelling narrative.
  • Pacing 101—tracking Love Warrior’s timeline and structure to showcase how to control your pacing, and why it matters in good storytelling.
  • Outlier narrative techniques in Love Warrior—and how they support the story and add to good storytelling.

Class 3. Reflection and Takeaway—Bringing Home Why Any of It Matters (May 8)

  • Understanding the difference between reflection and takeaway, using examples from Love Warrior.
  • Why takeaway can elevate a good memoir to a great memoir.
  • How Glennon Doyle Melton uses takeaway to pierce the hearts of her readers and invite them more deeply into an exploration of their own lives.
  • How and where to integrate reflection and takeaway into your own memoir so it’s both seamless and packs a punch.

Class 4. Baring It All and the Fallout (May 15)

  • The real-life fallout of writing about intimate and personal topics and family.
  • Glennon Doyle Melton in the news following the dissolution of her marriage after writing this memoir—and what she’s had to say about it.
  • How to decide what you’re going to share, and how to float test bubbles to see if you’re ready for the consequences.
  • The payoff of baring it all.


EARLY REGISTRATION: $75 through April 17th

Regular registration: $89

Go to this page to register.

What Can You Learn from Mary Karr?

Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers talk about The Liars’ Club  

Liar's ClubBrooke Warner and I are offering the next installment of our New York Times best-selling memoir series starting next week, April 7, for four consecutive weeks.

This time we are teaching The Liars’ Club, by Mary Karr, and we will focus, as we always do in preparation for these courses, on how Karr uses craft and technique, and we’ll show you exactly how to implement these skill sets into your own writing.

Here are a few questions attendees of the free webinar last week posed that we thought might interest you.


What’s one of the most important things a writer can take away from studying Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club in depth?

Brooke: I see a lot of authors failing to slow down their writing—moving through scenes too quickly and not giving their readers enough sense of place and space. Mary Karr moves a quick pace at times, but then also slows way down, “showing” so effectively in her writing (as opposed to “telling”). Memoirists often get this feedback from readers that they are not showing enough, and so reading Mary Karr can help you understand exactly how to do this in your own writing.


Karr’s book was one of the early memoirs to reveal the “dysfunctional family.” Do you think this is still a relevant issue that writers need to learn about?

Linda Joy: Family dysfunction and trauma are evergreen topics. Many memoir writers we work with are writing about family issues that include loss, divorce, abuse, and mental illness—topics that are not generally welcomed by society and most families. The rule we hear—”don’t air your dirty laundry”—can slow down the process of revealing deep personal experiences for most writers, but Mary Karr shows us another way by putting it all out there. She uses humor, irony, and vivid descriptions to reveal the layers of her characters, who are close family members. Everyone’s family is unique, and each person has the blessings and the wounds from growing up in their family of origin. Your reader wants to know how you translated your experiences, and how you learned from them. When we teach these courses, we work to uncover the universal messages the authors are sharing, to showcase why a memoir like this would resonate with readers everywhere.


Karr’s book is complex in its construction, but what can we learn from seeing how she created a complex weaving of layers of her story and her family’s story?

The Liars’ Club has a complex structure, but what’s wonderful about it is that in its complexity, it shows writers of memoir how they have freedom to explore within their chosen structure. There is no one right way to write your book. Sometimes you need to just go with the flow; sometimes a rigid, formulaic structure makes the most sense. You won’t know till you’re in it, and feeling whether the container you’ve created is working, or whether your failure to create a container is hindering your progress. The structure of your memoir is something you must have a handle on in order to complete your book, but not to start it. Looking at Karr’s structure can help writers grasp the importance of scope. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself why a writer included what they included. Why did they start where they started, and end where they ended—even if you can’t know the reasons why. These questions inform your own writing process, and help you get a firmer handle on the scope of your own work.


What does Mary Karr do that every writer can learn to do better?

Karr paints vivid pictures using detailed descriptions. We open to a scene of chaos, where the doctor has been called and the sheriff is holding Mary’s sister. Mary’s nightgown had Texas bluebonnets “bunched into nosegays tied with ribbon.” The bed frame tilted against the wall with a “scary spidery look.” The character descriptions show the particulars, and drops the reader right into a time and a place with a clear depiction of who’s all there.  She begins the book with a scene that she is trying to understand, to unpack, as many memoir writers are trying to do, especially in a first draft. In every class we teach we touch upon the elements of scene, but to recap here, a scene takes place at a particular moment in time, and in a specific location. A good way to manage your scenes is ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where are you?
  • When does this scene take place?
  • What year is it, and how old are you?
  • Who else is in the scene?
  • What sensual details can bring your scene alive? Note sounds, smells, colors, and texture.
  • Why is everyone in this scene-what significant event is taking place?
  • What will the reader take away from this scene?
  • How does this scene relate to your overall theme?

Brooke Warner and Linda Joy MyersWe hope you’ll join us for our four-week course about Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club. We focus both on the craft of the writer, but also how understanding what they did will make your writing shine brighter.

Check out the syllabus, and remember, NAMW members always get a discount, so you can join us for these four weeks for just $75.




New Memoir Writing Class: Writing Your Memoir One Story at a Time Tele-class

Fall Memoir Writing ClassNational Association of Memoir Writers to Offer New Memoir Writing Tele-class this Fall

6 Memoir Writing Tele-classes with Online Writing Support Component

Writing Your Memoir One Story at a Time

Instructor:  Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D.

When:  6 Fridays Beginning October 1st (class will not meet October 15, 2010)
Time: 1 PM PDT | 2 MDT | 3 CDT | 4 EDT
Cost: $175 for NAMW Lifetime Members / $190 for NAMW Annual members / $325 for non-NAMW members | Become a NAMW member to receive a discount!

Writing a memoir is fun, challenging and…it asks you by the nature of being what it is, to dance with your memories, to dig into the images in your mind, and to relive them by recreating them on the page. Most of the time, this is enjoyable. How I enjoyed capturing some of the special moments of my life with people I loved—my great-grandmother in her garden, Mr. Brauninger my music teacher skipping into the fourth grade class, soaring on his violin. Other memories were more challenging—my mother coming and going on the train, the family struggles that I witnessed, my pounding heart.

This six week course will address both the emotional and the technical aspects of writing a memoir from truth and secrets to the reasons for writing in scene and learning about plot. You will be able to share vignettes from your own life in the workshop and receive feedback and support from your fellow writers.

Join us for “school” this fall in a memoir workshop that anyone can join. You do not need to already have a memoir started. You can begin now or come with your work in progress.

Class Outline:

Week One
Secrets and truth. Family conflicts. Having a Beginner’s Mind. Mining Your Memories

Beginning means to be open to what needs to come. Sometimes we need to figure out how to deal with the secrets and family issues before we can feel free to write. We will talk about truth, secrets, how to begin, and how to create a safe writing world for yourself in this first meeting. You will begin to list the memories and snapshots you want to capture.

Week Two
Themes of your Life and Your Turning Points

We will talk about the importance of finding your themes; the turning points exercise helps you to do this. The themes of your work are a thread that continues throughout the piece, a path through the forest of ideas and words. Dark and light stories in your memoir—keeping the balance.

Week Three
Scenes; Sensual Details, and Creating Memories on the Page

Scenes are important building blocks of stories. We will talk about what makes up a scene, and learn about using sensual details of sight, sound, texture, and taste.

Week Four
Dialogue and setting; Character Portraits; Painting with Words

Creating worlds with words. Painting with words. Word play by writing quick flashes to capture moments. Experimenting with language, imagery, and snapshots.

Week Five
The narrative arc; how to understand what it is and how to use it to help you craft your memoir. The narrative voice, narrative arc, and plot create a structure for your work.

Week Six
The Power of Writing a Memoir

We will wrap up the course by listing the ways you can keep your writing life going, finding a schedule and developing a plan for your memoir. The benefits, challenges and rewards of writing a memoir and keeping your writing life supported are all part of being a writer. Issues such as healing, resolution, and forgiveness are part of this week’s discussion.

FREE Preview for Mini-Workshop Teleseminar: Top Three Reasons to Write Your Memoir as a Story

NAMW Honors National Life Writing Month and Family Story Month

Date: Tuesday November 3, 2009
Time: 3 PM PST | 4 PM MST | 5 PM CST | 6 PM EST
Call Focus: Top Three Reasons to Write Your Memoir as a Story
Cost: FREE

November is an exciting month at NAMW as we honor National Life Writing Month and Family Story Month. NAMW has developed a special Memoir Mini-Workshop Teleseminar for the month of November. This two session workshop teleseminar will be held on November 10th & November 17th.

NAMW is also offering a FREE Memoir Mini-Workshop Preview Teleseminar on Tuesday November 3, 2009.  This Workshop Preview Teleseminar will focus on the Top Three Reasons to Write Your Memoir as a Story. Again, this free teleseminar is open to everyone, so feel free to pass the details along to friends that might be interested in participating.

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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