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  • Seminar
  • Online: Zoom
  • Adult (18+)

Personal Narrative Essentials: Finding Your Narrative Arc - Remote!

No Longer Enrolling

  • $150.00 Non-Member
  • $130.00 Member

Class Description

In fiction, a narrative arc means there’s a plot. Same for writing nonfiction — whether narrative essay or memoir, stuff needs to happen. Not only should your narrative include a beginning, middle, and end, there should also be a sense of change and movement for the main character (which is likely the character you). In this one-day intensive seminar, you’ll learn how to apply this idea to your own work. We’ll look at how to build stakes, rising tension, climax and resolution. We’ll also examine the relationship between the narrative arc (“plot” on a grand scale”) and character arc (inner journey of a character over the course of that plot). We’ll look at writers such as Jeannette Walls, Cheryl Strayed and Mathew Polly for inspiration, and work on writing exercises to help you map your own narrative arcs. Feel free to bring drafts or outlines of short or longform works to which you can apply the class lessons immediately.


Part of The Personal Narrative Essentials series taught by Ethan Gilsdorf. Take every class in the series or simply choose the craft topics that are relevant to the challenges you face in your work. Classes include:

Personal Narrative Essentials: Finding Your Narrative Arc

Personal Narrative Essentials: Structure and Form

Personal Narrative Essentials: Using Research and Immersion

Personal Narrative Essentials: Playing With Voice

Personal Narrative Essentials: How to Publish

This class will be hosted using live Zoom meetings! You will be able to participate in class via Zoom videoconference from wherever you’re most comfortable. All you’ll need is a laptop or a phone! About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting via Zoom–no need to download anything or sign up for Zoom in advance! If you have questions about remote learning, please feel free to reach out to [email protected] for more information.

For a glimpse at how remote learning works, look no further than the deep Zoom discussion of writing and literature below:

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

Scholarships Format/Location

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. Please visit the Resources tab to access the video-conference link.

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!