When Memoir Becomes Autofiction 8-Week Zoom Workshop, Starts Wednesday, January 24th, 2024
Begins Wednesday, January 24th, 2024
This course meets Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. ET on Zoom beginning January 24th, 2024.
Open to All writers!
Any questions about this class? Use the Chat Button (lower left) to talk with us.
Taught by Victoria Costello, an Emmy Award-winning writer, teacher, and the author of six published non-fiction books, including her memoir, A Lethal Inheritance. Her debut novel of autobiographical fiction, Orchid Child (June 2023).
Learn more about Victoria in our Meet the Teaching Artist series.
The autobiographical novel or autofiction is an increasingly popular literary form for authors and readers that still doesn’t get much attention from the MFA and literary establishment. This workshop — offered again after a successful first run in the Spring of 2023 (see testimonials)—fills that gap for writers who want to use both their memory and imagination to find and write a deeper truth.
This workshop is for you if you’re considering fictionalizing important aspects of a story about something that happened to you. That is, you’re writing a true story which—if it didn’t include these departures from memory and known facts—would fit neatly in the category of memoir. In other words, this is a workshop for both memoirists and fiction writers who want to use both genres in a single piece of writing. This workshop will also be useful for memoirists who wish to learn more fiction writing craft to apply to a memoir in progress.
Writers taking this class should begin with a least a tentative idea of their subject and a first draft of minimum ten pages. They should plan on revising this draft, perhaps also their premise, based on constructive feedback received from the instructor and fellow writers.
There are a variety of practical and creative reasons for a memoirist to go the autofiction route.
- You have parents, siblings, or adult children who would be hurt, possibly never speak to you again, if you told a story involving them as straight memoir.
- You’re missing large parts of your family story and have no choice but to speculate on what happened and why.
- Your research has led you to ancestors you never knew whose voices you can’t get out of your head.
You want to write a novel featuring a version of you that doesn’t match who you are in real life.
Instructor Victoria Costello, a published author and teacher of memoir and autofiction, will discuss how and why a writer chooses autofiction over straight memoir. Differences will be discussed, including creative choices, critical conventions, and readers’ expectations for each genre.
Every class will include a brief lecture covering a single aspect of craft that applies equally to memoir and autofiction, including voice, characterization, point of view, s structure, scene, setting, and dialogue. Each class will also contain a generative writing exercise, such as switching the point of view of your WIP between its main and secondary characters. Selected readings from published authors of autofiction, including the instructor, will be read and discussed.
By the end of this class, participants will draft, workshop, and revise a ten to fifteen-page chapter that will serve as the prototype for chapters in a longer work of autofiction. You will learn how to:
- Create a main character who begins as you but then significantly departs from you and your life.
- Put that character in a situation to tell a story that insists on being told by you.
- Create a coherent plot with a beginning, middle, and end that tests your main character and brings about significant change.
- Construct a narrator and a point of view that best serves your narrative.
- Choose a piece of this story to write as a ten-page first draft
- Balance telling and showing
- Write scenes with believable dialogue
- Revise these pages to find the deeper truth of your story.
- Workshop your story
Thank you so much for your encouragement and excellent suggestions and revisions, Victoria! —Diane G.
“Thank you, Victoria. You have given me the encouragement I needed to feel like this is a worthwhile project.” —Pat S.
“Victoria is dedicated to instructing her students. She offered honest, valuable feedback along with a personal touch. Her insight and sense of humor made the group comfortable and rewarding. I appreciate the encouragement she gave me and others throughout the course.” —Paul B.
“I had a really monumental class experience. I walked away with a solid start to a first chapter, and, for the first time, concrete ideas on how to plod forward.” —Sonya C.
“I got so much out of the class. It was informative and so much fun! It really infused some life back into me, which was the hope." —Alison L.
I had no idea what to expect from this class and was very pleasantly surprised when it felt like the right fit. The depth of the classes and the feedback from the classmates and your critique was insightful and helpful. Thank you for giving me a pleasing experience on my journey of writing. —Jonette S.
Thank you so much, Victoria! Your notes have been of great help to me. I also thank you for your warm words at the end. It was a pleasure for me too to be in this class. —Anca P.
Thank-you for all that you have shared. I have learned a lot and appreciate your time and mentoring. — Cynthia S.
As the author of an autobiographical novel in process, I've been greatly helped by Victoria's teaching on questions like how to portray living people, how to maintain dramatic tension, and who this story belongs to. She is a perceptive reader whose taste encompasses literary fiction and more popular work. As an instructor, she provides specific constructive suggestions on framing and word choice as well as pacing. She develops an esprit de corps within the class and encourages supportive yet discerning feedback on one another's work. —Diane Crothers, Brooklyn, New York
Our lives hold stories waiting to be told, and Victoria is helping me tell mine. She brings her professional experience as a memoirist and novelist and empathy born of her own life’s experiences to her teaching. With an eye for innovative details and suggestions for new approaches to bring a character to life, Victoria skillfully guides her students through the storytelling process, whether they be seasoned writers or newcomers to the craft. —Deborah Rothschild, Talent, Oregon
Victoria obviously knows her stuff! I found that the space she created in our class, and her guidance, to be supportive, insightful, and very helpful. As an author of memoir trying out new material, the class was invaluable. —Donna M. Thomas, Ashland, Oregon
This online class will be taught via Zoom and is limited to 12 students.
This course meets on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. ET on Zoom beginning January 24th and ending March 6th, 2024.
If you have questions, please us the Chat Button or contact us via email HERE.
Instructor Victoria Costello is an Emmy Award-winning writer, teacher, and the author of six published non-fiction books, including her memoir, A Lethal Inheritance, and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Memoir. Her debut novel of autobiographical fiction, Orchid Child, is forthcoming in June of 2023. She teaches writing at Southern Oregon University and for the online platform, Memoir University. See more of her work at victoriacostelloauthor.com