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

Writing Great Scenes for Your Personal Essay and Memoir

No Longer Enrolling

  • $150.00 Non-Member
  • $130.00 Member

Class Description

The filmmaker Howard Hawks once said, "A good movie is three good scenes and no bad scenes." Substitute "essay" or "memoir" for "movie" and we might have a prescription for how to beef up your writing. In this course, we'll look at great examples of scenes in personal essays and memoirs—what I call "live moments" and "close-ups"—where things are happening, characters are interacting, stuff is being said, action is going on, and big things change. Writers examined include Bill Bryson, Cheryl Strayed, Junot Diaz, Meredith Maran, Lee Martin and others. We'll show how to shape your scenes so they have a beginning, middle, and end, as well as a turning point that ups the drama. We'll also look at how to deftly interweave necessary expository information. During in-class exercises, we'll practice some techniques and write new scintillating scenes you can apply to a current nonfiction writing project.

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. 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!

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!