Memoir Writing II

Memoir Writing II Book

Nonfiction Pathways
If you’re not sure what kind of nonfiction to write...
If you know what kind of nonfiction to write...
If you want a rather short course...
Next Steps
After completing a Level I ten-week course...
After completing Memoir II, if you want to write a book...
Selling Your Work
If you hope to get published somewhere...
Memoir Writing II Book

Memoir Writing II Book is a 10-week workshop, which includes lectures, exercises, and the critiquing of student projects. The focus is on writing a book-length memoir. The prerequisite is Memoir II; Level II courses work best when students know the fundamentals and have experience with the workshop process.  Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

Every life holds many tales. Whether your life is wildly unconventional or relatively normal, there’s bound to be something fascinating about it. That’s why the contemporary memoir—everyday people telling their stories—has become such a popular phenomenon. A memoir covers an aspect of a life, whether it’s a short piece about, say, a bicycle ride with a friend, or a book about, say, your entire childhood.

To make readers care, your memoir must be told with the finesse of fiction. Here you will learn techniques for focusing your life stories, as well as well as writing craft and how to market your work.

Whether you seek to write essay-length pieces or a book, we’ll show you how to best tell the stories from your life.

About Memoir Writing
Memoir Writing II Book

It is invaluable in conceptualizing a full book and taking it from the abstract to the actual.

Gina Carrano

court reporter

Upcoming Classes

Masks are not required, but we’ll provide masks for those who want them. We are no longer requesting proof of vaccination.

More Covid details
  • You can still enroll in this class.
    Starts Wednesday, July 17
    Online, anytime
    10-Week Workshop


Registration fee $25, paid once per term

See Payment Options

To register for a 10-Week course, you need to pay in full to guarantee your place in class. Or you can pay a $95 deposit plus a $25 registration fee (total $120) to temporarily hold your place, but tuition must be paid in full 10 business days before your class starts or you risk losing your spot.



This course focuses on book-length memoirs, helping you sharpen your skills at memoir craft and work toward completion of a book. Writers often repeat Memoir II to continue their projects. Course components:
     Workshopping of student projects (each student presenting work three times)

New York City/Zoom classes
The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. Many topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes
Week 1
Who Cares?: How to make readers care about your story. Finding the right focus. Ways to entice—literary finesse, time/place, wisdom, humor. Finding the universality.

Week 2
The Journey: Finding the journey of the protagonist (you). Protagonist’s desire. The arc of the protagonist. The climax.

Week 3
Designing Your Life: Structuring the book. Chronological structure. Collage structure. Organizing principle structure. How to find the right design.

Week 4
Playing with Time: Finding the right time frame. Flashbacks. Flash-forwards. Fluidity.

Week 5
The Narrator: Importance of the narrator. Exploration of voice. The youthful voice. Action and reflection. Non-first person strategies. Tense. Eccentricities.

Week 6
The Cast: Choosing the cast (who will appear). Bringing characters to life. Relationships. The tribute memoir.

Week 7
Family Memoir: Exploration of the family memoir. Bringing broad appeal. The role of family. The role of you. Strategies for structuring the family memoir.

Week 8
Tributaries: Subplots. Background information. Specialized information. Managing the tributaries.

Week 9
Plumbing the Depths: Delving into memories. Delving into pain. Dealing with the issue of hurting people in your memoir.

Week 10
Publishing a Book: When you need a book proposal. Basics of the book proposal. Soliciting agents and publishing house. Tips for maximizing your chance of publishing a book.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.


Elizabeth Cohen
Elizabeth Cohen

Elizabeth Cohen is the author of the memoir The House On Beartown Road (Random House), the short story collectionThe Hypothetical Girl (Split Oak Press), and the poetry collections The Economist's Daughter (Ecstatic Utterance), What the Trees Said (Split Oak Press), Bird Light, The Patron Saint of Cauliflower (both Saint Julian Press), and Wonder Electric (Kelsay Books). She is also co-author of the nonfiction book The Scalpel and the Silver Bear (Bantam). Her nonfiction and poetry have appeared in Newsweek, People, the New York Times Magazine, and Yale Review, as well as the anthology Walk on the Wild Side. She has taught at SUNY Plattsburgh, Binghamton University, University of New Mexico, the New School for Social Research, and Western Connecticut State University. She holds a BA from University of New Mexico, an MA in Documentary Filmmaking from Temple University, and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University.

Read more