Finding Structure & Story in Your Memoir
with Seth Fischer in Miracle Mile
7:30 to 9:30 pm
May 6 to July 1, 2019 (with no class on May 27)
When sitting down to write memoir, most writers quickly find themselves overwhelmed with the prospect of making a story out of their lives. Sure, we may have the urge, as Joan Didion said, to “tell ourselves stories in order to live,” but how do we know which of our many stories to tell? How do we tell these stories in a way that can invite readers into our lives while sustaining their attention? How do we decide what elements of our lives speak to the themes we are most interested in? How do we understand the difference between plot and structure, and how do we use this to improve our story?
This eight-week workshop will give writers an opportunity to workshop 25 pages and to work together and with the instructor, a professional editor, to plan a structure for their manuscript. We will also discuss and practice using tools and ideas such as story mapping, character sketches, and narrative theory. This class is open to experienced writers and enthusiastic, experienced beginners. It will take place in Miracle Mile, where wine, sparkling water, and the occasional gourmet snack will be served.
Enrollment limit: 8 students
$420 for new students; $380 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)
Seth Fischer is the current nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown and was the first Sunday editor at The Rumpus. His writing has appeared in Guernica, Joyland, Gargoyle, Best Sex Writing, and other journals and anthologies. His essay “Notes from a Unicorn” was also selected as notable in The Best American Essays 2013, and he was awarded residencies at Ucross, Lambda Literary, Jentel, and elsewhere. He is also a professional developmental editor of novels and memoirs, editing books that have been or will be published by FSG, MIT Press, Cornell University Press, Rare Bird Lit, and others. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, where he also teaches.
“I’ve taken writing workshops with many talented and prestigious people. Seth Fischer ranks up there with the best of them. His funny, warm and self-effacing personality creates a relaxed creative atmosphere. Seth doesn’t merely critique our work, he pairs relevant readings with constructive and detailed methods we can use to improve it. By actually demonstrating these methods in class, Seth involves us all in the editing process and makes the prospect of revision a lot less lonely and daunting. I trust Seth as a teacher because he is both generous and rigorous. He’s always reading, writing and carefully studying texts to see how they work, and he brings that insight to his teaching. Highly recommended!” —Jocelyn Heaney
“I’ve been the biggest novice in Seth Fischer‘s workshops but I keep coming back because of the encouraging environment he creates. We all have a story to tell. Seth helps you tell it.” —Pedro Torres
“Seth Fischer has been a really valuable part of my growth as a writer. His familiarity with contemporary memoirs enables him to choose readings that help me to see the various ways I can tell my story. He’s generous, funny and his criticism of my work is always done in a nurturing and supportive manner with notes that give me the tools to fix it. Seth has instilled in me the belief that it really is possible for me to see my work in print one day, that’s amazing. Thank you, Seth!” —Candace Wilson Culp
“I recently finished Seth Fischer‘s Nonfiction II class and had a completely positive experience. Seth has an amazing eye for structure and a gift for identifying how to improve a story regardless of the writing level of the author at hand—which is no small feat. I am not exaggerating when I say that he is the editor I have been waiting to meet for years. I will definitely take another of his classes. As for the workshop structure, of course there will be some variation depending on who signs up for your particular class; our group was great.” —MR Branwen