Memoir Writing Workshops:

"Writing the Spiritual Memoir"


"Seven Types of Memoir"


"Writing the Memoir"

Thomas Larson has given two-hour, all-day, and weeklong workshops at bookstores, writing centers, libraries, writers' guilds, private groups, and universities for beginning and advanced memoirists throughout the United States.

From 2007 to 2019, venues include:

Cuyahoga Library, South Euclid Branch (Cleveland, OH)

Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference (Homer, AK)

Santa Fe Summer Workshop (Santa Fe, NM)

Hudson Valley Writers' Center (Sleepy Hollow, NY)

MFA Low-Residency Program (Ashland, OH)

The Writers' Center (Bethesda, MD)

The Writers' Workshoppe (Port Townsend, WA)

Warwick’s Bookstore (La Jolla, CA)

Ghost Ranch (Santa Fe, NM)

Ghost Ranch Fall Writing Festival (Abiquiu, NM)

St. Louis Writer’s Guild

Lancaster (PA) Literary Guild

Writers’ Center of Indiana (Indianapolis, IN)

Mobile Writers Guild (Mobile, AL)

Bookpeople (Austin, TX)

Houston (TX) Public Library

Palm Springs (CA) Public Library

Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA)

Margaret Mitchell House (Atlanta, GA)

OLLI Memoir Writers (Auburn, AL)

Clemente Program (Port Hadlock, WA)

Wordstock (Portland, OR)

Kansas City (MO) Public Library

Columbia (MO) Public Library

The Loft (Minneapolis, MN)

Worthington Library (Columbus, OH)


"Writing About Illness"

An Annotated List


Price: email me

Writing Workshops
Some Suggestions for Beginning Memoir Writers Print E-mail

Some Suggestions to Prime the Memoir Pump:

Emotionally, what would you like to know or learn about others or yourself by writing this memoir?

What was your emotional condition during the phase or period you want to write about? How have you changed since then?

Think of three different people with whom you have had intimate relationships during your life and write a page about each one but in a voice or tone (angry, sad, comic) that expresses the essence of that relationship—the goal is that the three voices are different.


What scares you or excites you in writing about intimate relationships?

What is it that will be universal about your story and what is it that will be individual, that is, yours and yours only?

What kinds of material can you and can you not read to a class? What kinds of material can you or can you not read to your family or friends? Why?

What kind of hero are you of your life? Are you someone else’s hero? Is someone else the hero and you are part of his or her story?

How are you today similar to or different from the person you were at the time you’re recalling?

Describe in detail one mistake or hardship that you once lived with?

What kinds of regret or anger or blame or self-pity or embarrassment do you feel today about the subject you want to focus on?

To what degree is this memoir about you and to what degree is this memoir about others who influenced the person you’ve become? Who are these people and why are they so important to you? (Some memoirists share their stories with another.)

Choose one or two of the larger political, cultural, ethnic, or social events of the time or phase you are recalling and write about them factually but in your own voice.

Mark Doty begins his memoir, Firebird, with a quotation from Hugo von Hofmannsthal: "Where is your Self to be found? Always in the deepest enchantment that you have experienced." Write about your deepest enchantment. Would it make a good subject for a memoir?

Make a list of three things that you have experienced in the last five to ten years which you will not write about because . . . because . . . why would it be a good idea not to write about them?

The Narrative Elements of Memoir Print E-mail

The Narrative Elements of Memoir

First, some definitions. Memoir (or autobiography) contains stories about one’s life, usually on a very particular focus—a pivotal year after college; an affair and its aftermath; a relationship between mother and daughter. It’s impossible to write one’s whole life story; instead writers find a focus and then tell stories about people, events, or phases within that focus. Narrative refers to telling a story, the temporal sequence of how events are related to one another in time. Pacing is the technique by which we vary the passage of time, that is how slow or how fast we make the time pass dependent on the particular element of narrative writing we use, page by page.


In Autobiography: A Reader for Writers, Robert Lyons says that autobiographers and memoir writers choose from a spectrum of possible ways to represent the passage of time when writing about experience. The spectrum has two poles which are far removed from each other: “narratives that comment extensively on experience and narratives that present experience directly.” This is a good definition for our purposes here in discussing memoir and narrative time. It says basically that most memoir writers in order to tell about their experience must use narrative but they can use it in different, sometimes radically different, ways.

The rest of this essay is available as an eBook for $2.99.

What Exactly Happened: Four Essays on the Craft of Memoir.

The rest of this essay is availably on Kindle: What Exactly Happened: Four Essays on the Craft of Memoir, $2.99.
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