Join author Alan Close for three terms of writing classes spread over the year. During each term, the small group will meet for 4 x 2 hour workshops, with Short YouTube lectures uploaded between sessions. The aim of the course is to support writers working on a book-length memoir or autobiographical novel, from first ideas to finished manuscripts.
When: Wednesdays in March, June & September, 6pm – 8pm (12 sessions total)
Term 1: 9, 16, 23 + postponed session
Term 2: 25 May, 1, 8, 15 & 22 June 2022
Term 3: 7, 14, 21 & 28 September 2022
Where: Hybrid format: in-person at the Byron Writers Festival office with remote attendance option available Cost: $950 members/$1050 non-members
Term One – Finding your story
How to turn the germ of an idea into a plan. How do you find the story you really want to tell – and then be sure that the story you want to tell is the story you really need to tell? How do you decide whether to tell your story as ‘truth’ or ‘fiction’?
Term Two – Telling your story.
How to write your story. Finding structure. Using the strategies of fiction to write memoir. Using the lessons of memoir to write fiction.
Term Three – Getting your story right.
Welcome to the wonderful world of rewriting – let the real work begin!
Who are you writing for? Family and friends or a wider readership? You might simply want to tell an interesting yarn, or you might have a deep need to heal and ‘set the story straight’. And which will better suit the writer you are and the story you have to tell – fiction or memoir?
The Questions: Every memoir has a series of questions at its heart. Try to locate the questions you are trying to answer.
Plot map: Literally draw a map of the big events in your story. Make a plotline between these points. Explore how to connect the dots. The start of a structure.
Setting the bookends:
Where to start and where to finish. Searching for a beginning, a middle and an end.
The first draft: Freewriting. Vomiting onto the page – not literally! Getting everything out. Don’t stop till there’s nothing left inside.
The Who, the Where, the What: Character, Place, Action
The Limits of Memory: Reconstructing events and conversations from long, long ago.
Action, Summary, Reflection: The building blocks of writing.
Memoir vs Fiction: Earning trust vs constructing believablility.
Reading memoir. Close reading and discussion of four memoirs.
The workbook: Your companion. What you think and feel as you do the writing. Ideas, found quotes, lost memories, things to add later.
Ethical concerns. How do we write honestly about our lives without hurting those closest to us? Will my friends still talk to me? (Yes.) Will I be sued? (No.) Fairness. Honesty. Authenticity.
The second draft. Searching for the hidden gems. What can I leave out, what should I leave in and what have I forgotten?
…and the third and the fourth and the fifth…
And a word on publishing. Writing a book is not publishing a book. Oh no, not another mountain to climb! Where to start, what to wear and which route is best.
Alan Close has been writing for over forty years, during which time he has published fiction, poetry, short stories and creative non-fiction. He has written widely in the national print media, including a column on men and relationships for Good Weekend magazine. His most recent book is Before You Met Me: A Memoir Of One Man’s Troubled Search For Love. He edited the anthology Men Love Sex, which remains a benchmark of men writing about love, sex and relationships. He lives in Mullumbimby and earns a living working on other people’s manuscripts and as a writing mentor and teacher, both face to face and online.