The most powerful memoirs balance the use of vivid scenes, or “close-ups,” with engaging summaries, or “long shots.” When scenes and summaries are used effectively, both can propel the narrative forward. But how do memoirists decide which pieces of their story to render in scene, and which to present in summary form? And how do they ensure that both scenes and summaries contain only the most essential and engrossing material?
In this memoir workshop, we will review the guiding principles for balancing scene and summary while reading and discussing selections from memoirists who have successfully mined the threads of their past to craft compelling narratives. Participants will be asked to share a draft essay or memoir excerpt in advance of the first class and spend time reading one another’s submissions. The majority of our time together will be spent workshopping participants’ essays with an eye toward deepening and enriching our prose. All levels of experience are welcome.