This is the year to write your memoir

Our Memoir in a Year program will help and support you during the long road from plotting to composition to revision and beyond. It’s a unique opportunity to join a writing cohort, study craft, workshop key scenes, measure your progress, and meet deadlines.

It’s a chance to devote an entire year to your project, giving it the attention and effort your work deserves. Memoir writer Nadine Kenney Johnstone will help you through the drafting process, whether you want to complete a draft, make revisions, or push yourself toward your own page goals.

Writing a memoir can be tough. You explore the past, examine your experience, write about the people and places close to you, overcome doubts or fears, and shape all of this into a narrative that connects with readers…

Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone!

WHO SHOULD APPLY

Students at any stage of memoir drafting are encouraged to apply. You may be anywhere in the first draft – some students may have 200 pages; others may have nothing more than an idea and a first sentence. Work of any length is welcome. 

Participation in a workshop is not a prerequisite for this course. If you are newer to this process, but feel you have the ability, submit your writing and let us decide. We will work with you if you are ready to take the leap, and have a strong voice and POV.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

Specific topics covered during the class sessions include:

  • Plot and structure
  • Physical and emotional journeys
  • Beginnings
  • Voice
  • Objects and obsessions
  • Building the tension
  • Endings
  • Revision and publication

PLEASE NOTE: This application-based class is selective. We are looking for students with talent and drive, though familiarity with the workshop process or previous experience writing a book is not mandatory. This program is for memoirists who are ready to make a strong commitment to their work, and our waitlist for the course is typically very long. Students will be expected to participate in the full program.

HOW IT WORKS

Students will meet monthly for three-hour sessions to discuss craft, tackle the challenges of writing about our lives, workshop scenes, and share some snacks and beverages. In between class sessions you’ll have plenty of time to write and generate new work while still staying in touch via StoryStudio’s private online class forum.

We’ve structured this program to provide maximum benefit without demanding too much time away from focusing on your own work. In addition to workshopping short scenes in class, participants will meet individually with Nadine for 100-page manuscript reviews.

Students enrolled in this course will receive 2 complementary admission and early registrations to classes from our acclaimed Master Class series. (Recent and upcoming writers include Alexander Chee, Pam Houston, Vu Tran, R.O. Kwon, Sara Paretsky, and Garth Greenwell, among others.)

The class also includes a one-day offsite spring writers retreat, where you can spend the day writing and thinking, with breaks to mingle at lunch and over drinks with students in our other novel workshops. Additionally, throughout the year we will organize two optional evening social gatherings.

Throughout the course, you’ll have access to a private online forum for exchanging additional work and sharing articles and links of interest. And most importantly, these courses provide accountability check-ins to report your progress and struggles, and keep you writing.

YOUR WRITING COMMUNITY

Whether you’re already drafting query letters to send to literary agents or just focusing on revision, your cohort will provide the structure, companionship, feedback, good humor, and emotional support to help you see your project through.

You’ll also join StoryStudio’s larger community—in person and on social media—where you can connect with students from other classes, receive “first chance” invitations to special programming, and stay informed about literary events around the city.

The Novel in a Year program has been going for seven years strong, and you will have the opportunity to benefit socially and professionally from a wonderful network of alumni, many of whom are experiencing publishing success.

The program fee is $2,350. 

This tuition includes:

11 sessions, meeting once per month for 11 months
A manuscript review with Nadine Kenney Johnstone
A half-day retreat at Ragdale with your cohort
2 comped passes to our Master Class series
A private online chat forum
VIP status at the Studio
A literary community to take well beyond this program

HOW TO APPLY

APPLICATION WINDOW IS CURRENTLY CLOSED

This course is limited to 12 students and is submission based.

  1. You will be asked to submit a 10-page writing sample in a .doc or PDF. The sample can be a short story or chapter/excerpt.
  2. Someone who submits on the first day has the same chance as someone who submits on the last day, so don’t worry, and don’t rush.
  3. Payment isn’t due until after the application period is closed and acceptances have been sent out. We are happy to discuss payment plans with students who are accepted.

The 2019-20 cohort is currently underway. The next cohort will begin in fall 2020, and applications will open in the summer of 2020. Please subscribe to our newsletter to get the most up-to-date information. When applications open, we will update this page as well. To be notified when details are available, please put your name on our waitlist and we’ll contact you.