How To Write About Yourself…so that someone else wants to read it! This is the heart of this Coursera specialization in Memoir and Personal Essay. Masters of both genres share tips, prompts, exercises, readings and challenges to help every writer imagine, construct and write compelling pieces of non-fiction’s most popular form: the personal narrative.
Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader
The blank page can be the most daunting obstacle in writing. In this course, aspiring writers will assemble a “starter kit” for approaching the blank page by developing constructive ways to think about the writing process as a whole. While subsequent courses in this series will focus on the mechanics of good writing, this course offers ways to think about the writer’s relationship to her material, and ultimately develop a writing style that is uniquely her own.
Writing in First Person Point of View
If you have always wanted to tell your own story—in a memoir, first-person essay, or any other form of autobiographical non-fiction—but felt you lacked the tools or the framework, this is the class for you. We will learn how successful first-person writing is structured to offer the reader a sense of propulsive motion, and is guided by a narrator who is deliberately crafted. We will explore the ways in which language can be used to create tone, so that the emotional freight of your words is as potent as the storytelling. And crucially, we will consider the writer's responsibility to the reader: the importance of being a guide who includes the reader in the sensory, emotional, and intellectual experience you mean to share through your writing.
Writing a Personal Essay
This class is the chance to create your personal essay or extend into a full memoir -- from planning and structure to bold narrative brushstrokes to the layering of significant detail. You will develop the opportunity to find your voice and see it come alive, amplified and improved, on the page. This is the chance to tell your story in a way that invites readers in; your story, written to be read. The memoir and personal essay are two of the best-selling and most universally acclaimed genres in the world of modern creative writing. Welcome to your story.
Writing Stories About Ourselves
In this course, creative nonfiction writers will explore traditional storytelling methods, especially those which overlap between fiction and memoir. By looking at examples from a wide range of genres, including film, song, painting—even the theme music for Jaws!—we’ll practice exercising the creative muscle that sees ourselves as characters and the experiences we’ve had as tales. We’ll focus on critical elements, like how to begin a story, what makes for worthy content, the essential use of detail, the strengths and limits of dialogue, the power of the white space. The ultimate goal is for us to become aware of an “audience” when we write, so that the documentation of our lives will begin to resemble a “performance” crafted onto paper rather than a private entry in a journal.