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Writing Workshops

Writing Meaningful Short Essays: From Anecdote to Memoir with Leia Menlove


2 Sessions

Out of stock

Saturday & Sunday 11:00 am EDT - 2:00 pm EDT March 23 to March 24, 2024

Online via Zoom

We’ll examine the short memoir essay and how to write one using one or more of your anecdotes. Whether it’s moving or shocking, frightening or sad, hilarious or embarrassing, you can turn any kernel of experience (or two or three) into something larger than the sum of its parts. You might even learn something about yourself! Everyone has anecdotes they like to cart out once in a while (and some we hide complete). How do you transform these random nuggets of life into meaningful works of nonfiction? How can anecdotes work together to form a larger, more cohesive narrative? Dive in with me to start working on your own memoir essay.

Course Outline

A. We Are All Storytellers

  1. What is a memoir essay, and how does it relate to creative nonfiction? How does memory relate to truth?
  2. What are anecdotes, really? Is an anecdote a complete story
  3. How writers have used anecdotal sources to create incredible works of nonfiction and fiction.

B. Using the Anecdote as a Focal Point

  1. Memoir Essay Structure
  2. Explore the organic and associative process of memory and reflection
  3. Surprising yourself
  4. Examples: How writers have used anecdotal sources to create incredible works of nonfiction and fiction. (Take home reading and anecdote writing assignment)

Assignment: Just the Facts First: Briefly write down an anecdote from your life. Work without embellishing too much, without adding any reflections or thoughts that occur to you now about it. (But don’t worry, this is your draft and you don’t have to share it.) Now, look at what you’ve written. Identify the beginning, the middle, and the end. Is there a surprise or change that takes place in the anecdote? Now write down why this is important to you, why you remember it, and what it changed in. your life or someone else’s.

C. Connective Tissue

  1. How background and interiority function in rounding out an anecdote.
  2. Uncovering (or assigning) the meaning and implication of your anecdote.
  3. Writing the short essay
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Led by

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    Leia Menlove

    Leia Menlove

    Leia Menlove’s writings have been published in Guernica, Fiction Magazine (CUNY), Narratively, the Harvard Review, the Evergreen Review, Catapult, Joyland, and others. She was a featured artist of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Series, “Conversations with Contemporary Artists,” discussing her fabulist erotic work, How to Train Your Virgin. HTYV was released by Badlands and ArtBook in 2015, and was covered in BOMB, T magazine, Vogue, MSNBC’s Chrystal Ball Show, Hyperallergic, Sluttist, and many other forums. She is editing her first novel and beginning work on her second.