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"Craft Essentials: Memoir" 3-Class Package

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St. Edward's University, Trustee Hall 303
3001 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704


$147, Members Only

(Members: Sign out to receive member pricing. To become a member, click here.)

This package is sold out.

There are certain challenges that memoir writers face that are particular to the genre. For example, memoir writers can't change what happened to make it more exciting or fit a particular narrative arc. They also sometimes must work harder than fiction writers to put their readers in the story; we've all had the experience of describing a situation that happened to us and then saying, "Well, you had to be there." And, certain types of memoirs, like excerpts from books or personal essays, must fit narrow structural and length requirements in order to be published.

The classes in this package directly address all of these common issues faced by memoir writers.
They'll be held in Austin at St. Edward's University.

Everyone who registers for the package will also receive one complimentary online class of your choice (to be taken between January 1, 2018 and June 30, 2018). The deadline to register is January 18, 2018. Before purchasing, be sure to check the dates. As always, there are no refunds on classes.

Here are the three classes:





"Finding a More Natural Structure in Creative Nonfiction" with Rachel Starnes

     Saturday, February 17, 2018, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

     St. Edward's University, Austin, TX

For many stories, the structure of building suspense that pivots on a moment where the main character makes a life-changing decision doesn't really fit. Rather than escalating, events and conflicts often follow a pattern of history repeating itself. In this class, a critically-acclaimed memoirist will explore how to develop a narrative structure that underpins many modern essays and memoirs, one that allows you to escape the Hero's Journey and move back and forth in time.

This class could be a game-changer when it comes to point of view with difficult characters. Expect to come away with practical exercises for mining prose from your family patterns and a list of recommended reading and resources for further exploration.

Rachel Starnes is the author of the critically-acclaimed memoir The War at Home: A Wife's Search for Peace and Other Missions Impossible. She received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from California State University, Fresno and her BA from the University of Texas. Her essays have appeared in The Colorado Review, Front Porch Journal, and O Magazine. Born in Austin, Texas, she has lived in Scotland, Texas, Saudi Arabia, Florida, California, and Nevada, and is currently on the move again with her husband, two sons, and a puppy.


"Crafting Prose for Memoirs that Brings Your Memories to Life" with Katherine Catmull

     Saturday, April 7, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

     St. Edward's University, Austin, TX

Whether you want to provoke chills, tears, anger, tenderness, or the thrill of the chase, your memoir must use visceral prose to make the reader’s body believe--or their imagination never will.

All stories, even memoirs, must have the tingly quality of a ghost story: the ability to make readers feel the emotions in their bones. If they don't have a physical effect on the reader’s body, then your reader will never emotionally engage. In this hands-on workshop, participants will learn and practice the difference between writing in-scene vs. writing in summary, work with details from all the senses--not just the eyes (sometimes how things smell can pull the reader in fastest), write description that makes your story fly rather than clogging it up, and explore a useful trick stolen from filmmaking.

This half-day class will focus on teaching participants techniques for diving deep into their own sense-memories to pull out the most effective details. 

Katherine Catmull is the author of two books, Summer and Bird and, most recently, the YA novel The Radiant Road. She is also one of four co-authors of The Cabinet of Curiosities. Besides her decades as a stage actor in Austin, she also does voice acting for games like DC Universe Online (Oracle) and Wizard 101 (Myrella Windspar) and also written numerous short plays. 


"How to Conceive and Structure Personal Essays" with Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

     Saturday, May 12, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

     St. Edward's University, Austin, TX

One of the most popular and innovative forms of writing today is the personal essay. In this class, students will learn to pair traditional journalistic methods and structures with the narrative energy of short fiction and memoir in order to craft compelling essays.

The class will focus on basic elements and structures, figuring out the frame of the essay, what to summarize and what to put into short scenes, how structure changes depending on length (800 words versus, say, 2000), and expectations of fact-checkers and how to fact check your own memory.

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho was born and raised in Toluca, Mexico. His debut story collection Barefoot Dogs won the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Book of Fiction and was named a Best Book of 2015 by Kirkus Reviews, San Francisco Chronicle, Texas Observer and PRI's The World. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Texas Monthly, The Millions, and elsewhere.



St. Edward's University, 3001 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, Trustee Hall 303. You can find a St. Edward's University campus map here.



$147 members only (sign in for member pricing)

Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

Registration will close at the end of Thursday, February 15. After that you can register for the classes individually at the regular member rate - $49 for members and $109 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click here for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it.

Once a purchase has been made, tickets are not refundable and registration cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster.



Our classes offer a combination of lecture and practical exercises, determined by the individual instructor, on focused aspects of the craft and business of writing. Your fellow participants will come from a range of writing experience, from beginners to people with MFA degrees and published books. WLT instructors, participants, and administrators all work together to create a welcoming, supportive environment.

If you haven't taken a class with us in recent years, feel free to give us a call at 512-499-8914 if you'd like to discuss whether our programming is the right fit for your needs.


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at


Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to


This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit


The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit