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IndieMFA: 9-Month Program for Advanced Writers of Memoir & Autofiction with Michelle Kicherer and Guest Faculty, Starts Thursday, September 19th, 2024
Regular price
30.934,00 kr

IndieMFA: 9-Month Program for Advanced Writers of Memoir & Autofiction with Michelle Kicherer and Guest Faculty, Starts Thursday, September 19th, 2024


Unit price per

This 9-Month IndieMFA Program Starts Thursday, September 19th, 2024

The class will meet weekly via Zoom (Thursdays, 4:00PM PST - 5:30PM PST / 7:00PM - 8:30PM EST)

This IndieMFA program is limited to 9 writers.

Any questions about this class? Use the Chat Button (lower left) to talk with us.

Click Here to Apply


This is a 9-month alternative to a traditional MFA program designed for advanced memoirists and autofiction writers interested in using
levity (weirdness, humor, metaphor, touches of the surreal, etc.) to tell stories that tackle hard topics. 

About the Instructor

Led by Michelle Kicherer, book critic and arts journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Willamette Week, Portland Monthly and others. 

Michelle’s writing has been published in The Masters Review, The Berkeley Fiction Review, The Sierra Nevada Review, 580 Split, The Deli, The Bay Bridged, Forbes, SF Station, The Cutaway, Into The Void, Portland Monthly and many others. She occasionally co-writes books, has ghostwritten several memoirs and nonfiction books, and a novel. Her novella Sexy Life, Hello will be released in audiobook Fall ‘24 and in print Winter ‘25.

About the Guest Faculty

This program will feature guest appearances from writers like Tessa Fontaine, (The Red Grove, Electric Woman), Susan Ito (I Would Meet You Anywhere), Diane Goettel (publisher of Black Lawrence Press), the Books editor at Portland Monthly and more! Past guests have included Pulitzer-nominated writer and McSweeney’s editor Andrew Leland (Country of the Blind) and Diana Goetsch, amongst many others. More featured guests to be announced, including industry professionals from the publishing world (small presses, publicists, media outlets, etc!).

Application Instructions

Applications close on September 1st, 2024, though early applications are encouraged. Writes will be accepted on a rolling basis on the merit of their work. Please send up to 20 pages of your work (12 point font, double spaced, word doc/x) and a brief cover letter explaining where you’re at in the writing process and what your goals are over the course of this program. 

Click here to apply.

Program Description

One of the hardest parts about writing a complex story is figuring out the main plotline, then infusing it with “aboutness.” What scenes are we seeing on the page and why? What is this story about aside from the events that are happening? What emotional journey does your narrator go through? This 9-month program is geared toward memoir and “autofiction” (aka: novel inspired by your life), and will focus on using levity in all its forms (weirdness, humor, metaphor, touches of the surreal, etc.) to tell stories that tackle hard topics. 

The goal is to leave this program with:

  • A clearer understanding of your story’s plot and aboutness.
  • To have the first third of your manuscript edited.
  • To have a plan for how to revise and complete the rest.
  • And to understand more about how the publishing industry works, and what plan of attack you want to make for your project.

Workshop & Feedback

Space is limited to 9 students in this workshop so that each writer gets up to 6 opportunities to receive written and verbal feedback from their peers and instructor. Each writer will have the chance for up to 90 pages (25-30k words) of work reviewed, and by the end of the program, to revise those pages and have a plan for moving forward toward completion.  

  • Each workshop session allows for up to 15 pages of work for review (approx. 4,500 words).
  • Instructor feedback includes: comments throughout the excerpt for areas to improve, with a focus on:
    • Moments where the story could expand or contract.
    • Parts that felt confusing.
    • What is working well and would be great to see more of.
  • Each student will receive two (2) one-on-one sessions with Michelle:
    • 1 at the end of the fall session to review where you’re at and what your goals are for moving forward.
    • 1 at the end of the spring session to review where you’re at now and how to march toward completion.
  • Note: Writers are encouraged to provide feedback to their peers. Reading and editing each other’s work.

Program Goals:

  • Hone your voice: how to listen to your weird and your humor.
  • How to strike boring from the page.
  • Get inspired by the stuff we’re reading.
  • Generate new material.
  • Understand the publishing industry, including:
    • How and where to publish your work.
    • Audiobooks, film rights and licensing.
    • Marketing and media coverage.
  • Refine existing material and look for ways to expand or contract certain elements of your existing plot (or how to shift your plot into something more interesting to you).
  • Look for your story’s moments of tension and where you can bring in moments of levity.
  • For the weird and funny parts: how are these functioning in your story? (can they do more “work” for the story?).
  • Understand how much (and when) to share scenes with difficult material.
  • When and how to use a child’s perspective in storytelling.
  • Find creative community with a supportive group of writers!

Remember, you don’t need permission to do something different. Story can take a lot of different shapes! The goal is for your reader to never be lost, and never be bored. This class tackles a lot, but it is also fun and exciting and productive! 

What you will receive: 

  • A lot of real-world mentorship we (for some reason) don’t get in MFA programs, such as:
    • Access to published, established writers for craft talks about their book as well as craft-focused Q&As.
    • Q&A sessions and guidance from industry professionals like magazine and newspaper editors and book critics.
  • Consistent verbal and written feedback on your work; up to 6 opportunities for workshop.

General Course Outline:

Fall: Defining and redefining plot, aboutness and how to use the right voice for the hard scenes.

  • Fall will focus on reading and dissecting how great writers wrote great stories.
  • We’ll hold our first few workshop sessions. 
  • Have guest appearances and Q&A’s from writers whose stories we love {full list TBA}.

Winter: Workshop Season

  • After the winter break we’ll start the new year with more workshops.
  • Learning new editing tools inspired by short excerpts from stories we love.

Spring: Writing time and Planning for Completion

  • During March and April, writers will take time to do what writers do: write! The goal with spring is to refine your existing material and to generate new pages based on your more clearly defined writing goals.
  • Writers are encouraged to meet during class time sans instructor for accountability writing time. 
  • We’ll reconvene in May for three more sessions to include a final round of workshop and making plans for beyond the class. 
  • Each writer will end the program with a one-on-one session with Michelle to review their plan moving forward.

The goal is to end this “school” year with a refined draft, a plan forward and a clearer understanding of the publishing industry and what your goals are. This program is fun, supportive, inspiring and meant to fill in all the gaps MFA programs miss. Michelle can’t wait to meet you!

Program Schedule: 

September 19, 2024 thru May 15, 2025 with a virtual reading May 22

Note: Spring session is designed for productivity; we will not meet every week in Spring but writers will be encouraged to save that same block of class time for writing time. Some elements of the schedule pending due to guest speaker availability. Some books will be selected to cater to student’s story topics.

No classes on October 31, November 28, December 15 & 12, January 2

See below for full schedule.

Fall 2024 Session

Defining and redefining plot, aboutness and how to use the right voice for the hard scenes.

Week 1 (September 19): Intro + Openings. A look at 3 different story openings: how to write an opening that’ll give readers the right kind of curiosity to keep reading.

Week 2 (September 26): Creating a world. Using surreal elements to say something more. Short story discussion: “Los Angeles” by Ling Ma.

Week 3 (October 3): Opening Chapters: In-class deep read (books TBD).

Week 4 (October 10): Workshop Session #1

Week 5 (October 17): Book Talk: Guest Author TBD.

Week 6 (October 24): Workshop Session #2

  • [No class October 31] 

Week 7 (November 7): Book Talk: Grief is for People, by Sloane Crosley 

Week 8 (November 14):  Workshop Session #3

Week 9 (November 21):  Workshop Session #4

  • Schedule one-on-one sessions for December 12 

[No class November 28]

Week 10 (December 5): Guest speaker: TBD 

Week 11 (December 12): One-on-one meetings with Michelle (in lieu of class) 

  • Review work from Fall and set goals for during the break and moving into the Winter session. 

[No class December 19, 26, or January 2]

Winter 2025 Session

Continue to generate material and looking at tools for refinement 

Week 12 (January 9): In-class deep read: Opening pages (books TBD) 

Week 13 (January 16): Workshop Session #5 

Week 14 (January 23): Workshop Session #6

Week 15 (January 30): Guest speaker: Industry professional: Books editor at Portland Monthly to talk about what he looks for in a pitch and how to get coverage.

Week 16 (February 6):  Book Talk:  (TBD)

Week 17 (February 13): Workshop Session #7

Week 18 (February 20): Workshop Session #8

Week 19 (February 27): Guest speaker about subrights: Audiobooks, film rights and licensing.

Spring 2025 Session

Writing time and Planning for Completion

Note: We’ll meet every other week in Spring, with the idea that students are writing and editing during the 2-hour block in which we usually have class.  

Week 20: (March 6): No class: Student writing time*

Week 21: (March 13): Guest speaker + Q&A: Indie press publisher Diane Goettel of Black Lawrence Press on how to pitch a manuscript without an agent and “a perfect manuscript.” 

Week 22 (March 20): No class: Student writing time*

Week 23: (March 27): Workshop Session #9

Week 24: (April 3): No class: Student writing time*

Week 25: (April 10): Workshop Session #10

Week 26: (April 17): No class: Student writing time*

Week 27: (April 24): Workshop Session #11

Week 28 (May 1): Workshop Session #12

Week 29 (May 8): One-on-one meetings with Michelle (in lieu of class) 

  • Review work from the last year and set goals completion and moving forward.

Week 30 (May 15): Conclusions, Planning and Review for next week’s reading 

May 22: Graduation and Virtual Reading Event: Online at 4 pm PST / 7 pm EST 

NOTE: Dates subject to shifting depending on guest speaker availability. Updated syllabus will be sent accordingly. 

Application Instructions

Applications close on September 1st, 2024, though early applications are encouraged. Writes will be accepted on a rolling basis based on the merit of their work. Please send up to 20 pages of your work (12 point font, double spaced, word doc/x) and a brief cover letter explaining where you’re at in the writing process and what your goals are over the course of this program. 

This IndieMFA program is limited to 9 writers. Click here to apply.

TESTIMONIALS: 

"This class is a road map of how to go about creating a story and an opportunity to actually do it, and to witness what writing stories feels like and see where that leaves me. In other words, the class is a direct opportunity to engage in a process and witness that process work through me on many levels." - Tanna B, student

"Before taking the fiction workshop with Michelle I didn’t think I could write a story. I wrote sermons, poetry, legal briefs, lectures, etc. but never a story. Writing these sort stories no matter how bad they are has been a real treat and new experience for me…The editing of my stories was spot on and very helpful. It taught me how not to get defensive of my work and accept what others see when they read it." - Kittye, student

Michelle was super easy to work with and was able to intuit my needs as well as understand how I best receive feedback. Her insights and suggestions have been spot-on and in tune with my ‘voice’.” - Jennifer L. McBride McNamara

"I gained confidence. I became aware of some of my strong points, the details of writing conversation, the scheme of plot and theme in developing a story, and the importance of considering less rather than more when editing one’s own work. These were all elements of writing that Michelle taught. I know my skill in writing has improved… I was amazed that so much could be covered in two hours of Zoom!” - Beverley C. Writing Student

"Michelle's class on memoir writing exceeded my expectations. Michelle's feedback on my work is so valuable, as was the feedback I received from my peers." - Cindy J.

"Michelle, thanks again and again. It’s delightful to work with you and receive helpful suggestions, skilled editing, and ongoing encouragement. You’ve fed my writing in more ways than you could ever know, or imagine.“ - Geri O. Writing Student

"I loved this class. I found Michelle's lectures, reading lists, and comments on my work particularly valuable. Thank you, Michelle!" - Robert L.

"Michelle was so easy to work with. She was able to provide new ideas, to focus my thinking, and to generate a structure and a way forward that I couldn’t see because I was too close to the material.” - Peter Novak

ONLINE COURSE STRUCTURE:

This class meets weekly via Zoom. Come prepared for an engaging course with live interaction on Zoom each week and plenty of writing, reading, and talking!

PAYMENT OPTIONS:

Tuition is $4,455. You can pay for the course in full  or use Shop Pay or Affirm to pay over time with equal Monthly Payments. Both options are available at checkout.
  • Instructor: Michelle Kicherer + Guest Instructors
  • Limited to 9 students
  • Starts September 19th, 2024, and ends May 22nd, 2025
  • Class meetings will be held via Zoom from 3-5 pm PST / 6-8 pm EST.
  • Course is fully ONLINE.
  • Tuition is $4,455.