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 About Intimate Moments Print E-mail


Writing About Intimate Moments

Rendered in prose, intimacy uses physical details not mental statements; intimacy occurs in actual or clock time, not psychological or internal time. We may internalize it briefly and, more strongly and with more length, later.

Intimacy involves bodily proximity with another—a kiss, a slap, an arm wrestle, a lifting off the ground, moments of shared awe, fear, joy, ecstasy, sex, triumph, loss when bodies are close.

Something passes between people in such moments. The experience may be deeply shared or differently felt.

How do we know how intimate (or the degree of intimacy) the other person feels? Does he/she share it with us? We don’t know. We can ask and include the answer. But try to let his/her actions show the feeling, the closeness, the thwarted closeness. Show us yours as well.


These people with whom you want to explore this intimate contact are often those main characters in a memoir or personal essay you’re writing.


Make a list of several significant people with whom you’ve had intimate moments. Or if you remember the moments, list them. From the long-ago or recent past.


Choose three off your list—perhaps a beautiful moment,, a difficult moment, a thwarted moment of physical closeness.

Now choose one of the three.


Make a list of details about the actual time and the immediate setting: describe where you and the other person were; note the physical movement; note the touch, the textures of touch; recall any smells or sounds; describe how the setting may contrast or mirror the moment; show us the approach, the contact, and the letting go.

Write the moment up in about 500 words. Make it a scene in which you extend the intimacy as long as it feels right. You may also, briefly, reflect on its power, its meaning, its lastingness.

An example.

A paragraph from Jill Ciment’s Half a Life (1995), pages 136-137. The adolescent Ciment has just tried and failed to seduce her art teacher, a much older man. This is the moment of their leave-taking, made intimate.

He insisted on walking me to my car and opened the door for me. When I slid behind the wheel, he let his hand trace the breadth of my cheek, linger by my ear. I sank my face into his touch. Then I turned over the ignition and drove off, parking a couple of blocks away. I pressed my brow against the steering wheel, so embarrassed by what I’d done that the burn seemed to rise off my scalp. But I also felt a mad, thrilling power.

If you want to have your readers feel human closeness in its many manifestations (that is, not as a thought but as an action), then people need to get close to one another via physical and sensory details, and they need to linger on that closeness in action: this is the secret to having people feel what you are writing when you are writing to show people’s emotions.

Assignment: take any moment of intimacy in your work and linger on it more with physical action and sensory detail. Sometimes just a sentence or two more will do it. Try.