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Writing Workshops

How to Start and Revise a Memoir or Series of Personal Essays by Finding a Compelling Structure with David McLoghlin


8 Sessions

In stock

Once a week Thursdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 8:00 pm EDT March 21 to May 9, 2024

Online via Zoom

Whether you’re getting started or are mid-draft, this class will help you map and clarify your structure. This class takes a process-driven approach via discussion of different aspects of craft and a series of in-class writing and story-mapping exercises that will give you a condor-eye perspective on the story you want to tell. During our time together, you will generate new work, study your current draft and get a handle on the “story within the story” of your work in progress. The workshop portion of class will assist you in the art of positive and supportive critique, leading you to form literary friendships and find future readers for your work. I have two goals for you in this class: that by the end of our time together, you will have thoroughly mapped your project, and connected with classmates with whom you can share future work. If you want to learn how to create a macroscopic view of your project that you can use as a compass for future drafts, then this class is for you.

Course Outline

Although learning to read as writers is vital, this class will not give you excessive homework. Rather, we will divide our class time between learning about and then practicing important craft elements. These will include:

  • Implementing a three-part structure that works for you
  • Mapping your main plot points, obligatory scenes and characters
  • Learning how to hook the reader and make them want to keep reading
  • Identifying your genre, and throughline / central narrative thread.
  • Working with leitmotifs, by implementing recurring images, or thematic elements
  • Working with time in memoir.
  • My teaching is influenced by books like
    • The Art of Time in Memoir by Sven Birkerts
    • The Anti-Racist Workshop by Felicia Rose Chavez
    • The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne
    • Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos
    • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
    • The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick
    • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
    • Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John Mcphee
    • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
    • One Continuous Mistake by Gail Sher.

Led by

  • david portrait1web - David McLoghlin

    David McLoghlin

    David McLoghlin

    David McLoghlin is a prize-winning poet and writer of memoir and personal essay. His books are Waiting for Saint Brendan and Other Poems and Santiago Sketches. His third book, Crash Centre, will be published in May 2024 by Salmon Poetry, one of Ireland’s most international and innovative poetry presses. Apart from a major bursary (grant) for memoir from Ireland’s Arts Council, and a personal essay published in the anthology Others Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on Poetry, Influences, and Writing in America (Black Lawrence Press), he has published personal essays, short stories and memoir extracts in the Stinging Fly, Poetry Ireland Review, New Hibernia Review, and other journals. An essay on being mentored by poet Sharon Olds is forthcoming in This Glistening Verb (University of Michigan Press) as part of their “Under Discussion” series. A personal essay on the Irish writer Philip Casey was published in Distant Summers by Arlen House in January 2024. He is currently at work on a book about his grandfather, the golf architect, Eddie Hackett, widely considered “the Father of Irish Golf Design.” In November 2023, as a complete novice he played one of his grandfather’s designs, Connemara Golf Links, and is writing an immersion piece for Golfer’s Journal in the USA. He has previously taught memoir for The Center for Fiction, and teaches creative writing in Ireland with a number of organizations, including Writers in Schools and the National Mentoring Scheme. While living in New York between 2010 and 2020 he was Resident Writer at Hunts Point Alliance for Children in the South Bronx, and an NYU Teaching Fellow at Coler Specialty Hospital; and is a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship Recipient (2023).