According to Annie Dillard, “memoirists tell true stories about actual people.” Yet, it’s hard to tell a true story, and easy to get lost. It’s even easier to pile incident upon incident until the whole thing topples over in a shapeless mass. How do you determine in which direction you should move? What’s your story, the one you most need to tell? In this class, we’ll help you find your narrative through-line, the core that pulls it all together. We will work together workshop style: each writer will bring in a one-page description of his or her project plus 2-3 pages of the work in progress. We will work collaboratively and constructively to help you find your true story. This class is ideal for nonfiction writers, those who have started a memoir, and those who are thinking about it. You should be far enough along in your project to describe what you are trying to do. The class is appropriate for beginners and for those with some writing experience. It would not be a good choice for writers with finished drafts.
Fritz McDonald (M.F.A., The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop) has been with the Festival since 1990. He edited Peg Mullen’s memoir, Unfriendly Fire, and is a contributor to The Workshop: Seven Decades of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (Hyperion, 1999) and to Now Write! Memoir, Journalism, and Creative Nonfiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers (Tarcher/Penguin, 2009). His fiction has been published most recently in Confrontation, and he is the writer behind the PBS documentary North Carolina. His novel Woods will be published in 2017.