Nonfiction | Memoir | Workshop

6-Week Memoir Workshop: Structure & Shape

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“I have taken a handful of writing classes in NYC, and Mike's memoir workshop was hands-down the most valuable (and the most fun).” - former student

You’ve got a story to tell, but what shape should it take? Should it be chronological, or free-flowing? Narrative or lyric? In this six-week workshop, we’ll look closely at memoir across several genres—prose, graphic, cinematic, and more—then collaborate to build a literary rubric for how personal stories take shape. Through weekly workshop discussions, one-on-one meetings with the instructor, and guest lectures from award-winning memoirists, we’ll talk intensively about how our structural rubric applies to your own, book-length memoir. Whether you’re midway through writing your memoir draft or just beginning one, by the end of the course you’ll have a solid sense of not just what your story is, but how to make it fit.


- A collaborative, literary rubric for how memoir structure works across different modes

- Intensive peer and instructor feedback on two memoir submissions

- One private conference with the instructor to discuss your writing and structure goals and how to meet them

- The support of a nurturing community of writers and readers and access to an engaged, accessible mentor

- Greater familiarity with book-length narrative structures and influential voices on the craft of memoir

- Strategies for publicly unveiling personal information, dealing with responses to personal writing, and how to navigate the difficult terrain of writing about loved ones

- More confidence as a writer, on and off the page

Mike Scalise

Mike Scalise’s memoir, The Brand New Catastrophe (Sarabande Books), was the recipient of The Center for Fiction's Christopher Doheny Award. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, AGNI, Indiewire, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. He’s an 826DC advisory board member, has received fellowships and scholarships from Bread Loaf, Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, and was the Philip Roth Writer in Residence at Bucknell University.


“I have taken a handful of writing classes in NYC, and Mike's memoir workshop was hands-down the most valuable (and the most fun). Mike's thorough and spot-on insights on my writing inspired solutions for my biggest challenges, allowing me to make significant progress on my first manuscript.”

former student

“Mike is the rare kind of teacher who not only gives lucid, gentle, yet incisive feedback, but also guides the workshop in such a way that students can fully contribute to each other's work. I have never seen anyone else drive the discussion as deeply as Mike does—he taught us how to pinpoint the core of every story and analyze inconsistencies from there. I left every week with new insights on how to structure my memoir, and I've become an infinitely better reader. Plus, he's really funny, so class is a joy.”

former student

‘[Scalise’s] way is with humor, optimism, courage and probing introspection, the very characteristics—combined with crisp prose and a rare and innately interesting medical condition—that make this a winning literary debut.”


“As funny as it is smart about the mortality, the fragility of our bodies, and understanding the worst things that happen to us.”


“A very funny book about the frailties of the flesh, the absurdities of modern medicine, and how to stay sane amid it all. Scalise’s voice is fantastically entertaining, unfailingly honest.”

Dave Eggers author of A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING

“Mike Scalise gives incredibly smart editorial feedback, and excels at delivering that feedback with wit and grace. He has a gift for seeing right to the heart of a book.”

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich author of THE FACT OF A BODY: A MURDER, A MEMOIR