Memoir or Fiction: How Should I Tell My Story?
This workshop is designed to give experienced writers a way to assess whether their personal story would be better told through memoir or fiction. Tim O’Brien’s memoir If I die in a Combat Zone and his award-winning novel The Things we Carry are both based on his experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam war and include many of the same scenes. We will begin with an overview of the elements of memoir and fiction—their similarities and differences—and through a close reading of each of these works, class discussions, and journal/response writings, participants will assess the strengths and weaknesses of each genre in terms of their own work. Writers will have the opportunity to write pieces of their story in both genres and receive feedback from the group. Writers should expect to devote 1 - 2 hours of reading/writing to the course each week. For experienced writers in both genres at the intermediate/advanced levels
Pre-Class Work: Participants will be expected to have read both O'Brien books, and to be working on a writing project based on a personal story (either memoir or fiction).
WHEN: 6 Weeks: Tuesdays, September 14 - October 19 (6 - 8pm EST)
WHERE: Online, via Zoom video conference (live)
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
CELIA JEFFRIES holds an MA from Brandeis and an MFA from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in numerous newspapers and literary magazines including Westview, Solstice, and Puerto del Sol, as well as the anthology Beyond the Yellow Wallpaper. She has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Turkey Land Cove Foundation, and La Muse. Her debut novel Blue Desert was published in spring 2021. She is currently at work on a memoir.
GOALS OF THIS COURSE
• Understand the essential differences between memoir and fiction.
• Read and discuss those differences in Tim O'Brien's two books.
• Generate new writing or experiment revising writings in both genres.
• Receive thoughtful, supportive, and insightful feedback from the group and instructor.
• Decide which genre--memoir or fiction--is best suited to your story.
6-WEEK COURSE OUTLINE
We will discuss the difference between memoir and fiction, both historically, and in terms of today’s literary world.
Through discussion of O’Brien’s memoir and novel, we will explore the different ways he presented his personal story, paying particular attention to how, and in which genre, certain elements of the story are more emotionally resonant for the reader.
We’ll examine the literary elements used in both memoir and fiction, and discuss how they can be used effectively in participant’s own work.
We’ll focus on structure and theme. Is memoir more flexible in putting together a story? does fiction allow the writer to express a theme more fully?
Participants will be asked to choose which form they feel has worked best for their story and discuss with the group how and why they will use that form.
RECEIVING THE ZOOM LINK: For one-day workshops, we send out the link to attend the Zoom session 1 - 2 days before the event, via email. For multi-week workshops, you should receive info and the link about 3 - 5 days before. Please mark your calendars when you first register and look for our emails. If you don't see the email in your inbox on the day before the class, please check your spam and junk mail folders (and search all folders) for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org before contacting us. We have found that very often our emails end up in those folders. This is based on your own email settings, and you can prevent this by adding our email as a contact.
ONLINE SESSIONS happen remotely, via Zoom video conference. All you need is a laptop, computer, or phone with functioning audio and a webcam. Those who RSVP receive directions and a link to "join" the session via email (please see above note about receiving the Zoom link). All online instructors will log on to the video conference a few minutes before the start of the session, so please plan to log on early if you'd like assistance! We'll do everything in our power to help you get comfortable with the Zoom format, though we are not able to offer technical assistance beyond basic Zoom orientation.
REFUND & CREDIT POLICIES AT PVWW
If you withdraw from a workshop ten days or more before the start of the class: You'll receive full credit toward another workshop OR a full refund. If you withdraw from a workshop nine days before the start of the class up until 48 hours before: You'll receive a refund minus 20%. If you withdraw from a workshop less than 48 hours before the start of a class or after the class has begun: We are not able to offer you credit toward another class or any refund, unless in the case of a medical emergency, or if we are able to fill your spot. If you are absent on the day of your workshop or miss it for any reason, we are unable to offer any kind of refund. If we have to cancel a class for any reason, you will receive a full refund, or if you choose, credit in the amount of your payment, to be used for any future PVWW class. Anyone who does not specify whether they would like a refund or a credit for a cancelled class will automatically be refunded. Please contact Joy (email@example.com) for all matters concerning credit and refunds.