How do you write a good memoir? You apply the narrative techniques of fiction and poetry: you take the fascinating, messy raw material of your life and build a frame for it. You distill. You find a voice that’s all you but that also offers you flexibility, perspective and the right counterbalance to the story’s content. You tap into your emotions to give your story energy and urgency.

What’s the best way to start? In this six-week class, we will do close readings from an assortment of wildly varied but equally powerful memoirs – by memoirists ranging from Claude Brown to Annie Dillard — to see how authors have solved these problems for themselves. Then you will try out these methods for yourselves to see which ones fit you best.

All the readings and exercises will be provided in the online classroom. You will write two double-spaced pages every week and provide weekly feedback to your classmates. Everyone will receive a weekly critique from the teacher. The final week you’ll have a chance to continue one of the exercises. There will also be an optional weekly one-hour video chat reserved for reviewing the next assignment, talking about writing and asking questions of the teacher.

Taught by Michele Herman, one of our long-time online teachers. In addition to years of experience teaching fiction and poetry using The Writers Studio’s methods, Michele holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University and divides her writing time among fiction, poetry and nonfiction.


Writers Studio Teacher

Michele Herman

Michele Herman writes poems, stories and essays, and her work has appeared widely in publications including The New York Times, Ploughshares, The Sun, The Hudson Review and Diagram. Her first novel, Save the Village, was published in early 2022 by Regal House Publishing, at about the same time as her second poetry chapbook, Just Another Jack: The Private Lives of Nursery Rhymes (Finishing Line Press). Her first chapbook of poems, Victory Boulevard, was published in 2018 by Finishing Line. In 2018 she also won the New York Press Association award for best column for her work in The Villager. She is a two-time recipient of the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize for her new English versions of Jacques Brel songs, and she has won recognition in several recent writing contests including the Raymond Carver Prize and Glimmer Train contests. Sometimes she performs her own work in theatrical and cabaret settings in New York City, often alongside her singing husband. She is a devoted teacher of Level 1, Memoir, and Tutorials.

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