When Memoir Becomes Autofiction 8-Week Zoom Workshop, Starts March 1st, 2023
Begins Wednesday, March 1st, 2023
This course meets Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. ET on Zoom beginning March 1st, 2023.
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, is forthcoming in June of 2023.
The autobiographical novel or autofiction is an increasingly popular literary form for authors and readers that doesn’t get much attention from the MFA and literary establishment. This new workshop fills that gap for writers who want to learn the art and craft of autofiction as a distinct literary genre.
This workshop is for you if you plan to fictionalize 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 memoirists and fiction writers who want to use both genres in a single piece of writing.
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 an aspect of craft that applies equally to memoir and autofiction, including characterization, point of view, plot, scene, setting, and dialogue.
Class readings and discussions will include excerpts from published autofiction by Yiyun Li, Rachel Cusk, William Sebald, Akwaeke Emezi, Ocean Vuong, and Sigrid Nunez.
By the end of the class, participants will draft, workshop, and revise an original story of ten to twenty pages that will either stand alone or be part of 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
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 10 students.
Meets weekly for two hours over eight weeks
Wednesdays 6-8pm ET Begins March 1, ends April 19
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