An Introduction to the Memoir – register your interest
12-week online writing course.
Email email@example.com to be added to the waiting list for when the next course goes on sale.
Do you want to tell your own story? Life stories have resonance for others and are a gift to be shared. In this course, led by award-winning writer Lucy Hughes-Hallett, you’ll gain the confidence and the skills to transform your own private experience into a work others will love and learn from.
You’ll be reading extracts from a wide variety of memoirs. Discussing them will help you understand how they are put together. The course will lead you through the essentials of story-telling – narrative structure, voice, time-scheme. Carefully planned exercises will help you develop the tools you need to make your own life into a compelling narrative.
Some of the writers whose work you’ll encounter have extraordinary adventures to relate. Some have harrowing or sublime experiences to share. But you don’t have to be an explorer or a rock-star to write a wonderful memoir. Many of the best memoirists celebrate the beauty and tragi-comic drama of everyday life.
A substantial portion of the texts used in this course were their authors’ first books. Whether you’ve got previous writing experience or not, you’ll find work to inspire you by people in a similar position.
Most importantly this course is focussed on you and your writing. You’ll be creating your own work, and getting feedback that will encourage and help you to refine and strengthen your own unique voice.
Classes are capped at 15 places to ensure a high-quality experience. Book quickly to secure your place.
This course is designed for writers aged 18+. If you’re looking for courses suitable for younger writers, check out these online workshops!
Special offer: All creative writing online courses include a free 12-week digital subscription to Granta Magazine!
What the course covers
- Where to begin? Identifying your story and shaping it. Getting started. Truth-telling.
- Finding your voice. Tone, word-choice, point of view, dialogue (includes online discussion via Zoom).
- About time. Tenses, pacing, looking back.
- Finding your place. Setting, location, period and social context.
- Other people. Characters and relationships (includes online discussion via Zoom).
- Composition and Form (includes one face-to-face tutorial)
About your tutor
Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, which won all three of the UK’s most prestigious prizes for non-fiction – the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award – and the Political Book Awards Biography of the Year. The Sunday Times has called it ‘the biography of the decade’. Her other non-fiction books are the acclaimed cultural histories Heroes and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. In 2017 Lucy published her first novel Peculiar Ground – described by reviewers as ‘subtle’, ‘compelling’, ‘powerful’, ‘almost Tolstoyan in its sly wit and descriptive brilliance’ and a ‘wonderful book’. It has been shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Her collection of short stories, Fabulous, was published in June 2019. Website
How it works
All you need is a computer and an internet connection. You can find out more about the requirements here.
The twelve-week course is divided into six fortnightly modules. Participants will analyse extracts from a range of memoirs – including graphics memoirs to memoirs told in snapshots, montage, and verse – before discussing them with the tutor and fellow students.
The modules are posted fortnightly. Every two weeks you will submit an assignment to your tutor, who will then respond with constructive feedback and advice.
Modules two and five will take place as live discussion held over Zoom. There will also be a one-to-one live feedback session, to have over the phone or via video chat and to be arranged with your tutor for module six.
This is a practical and engaging course with direct, expert tutor feedback.
Designed by the University of East Anglia and the National Centre for Writing.