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"Finding a More Natural Structure for Memoir" with Rachel Starnes

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

2/17/2018 From 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

This class is sold out. No walk-ins will be accepted. There will be an online version of this class held Wednesday, March 21. You can find more information here.

$49 for members (sign in for member pricing)

 *This class can also be purchased as part of the Craft Essentials: Memoir Package. You can find more information about it here. This package is sold out.

What if your memoir doesn't follow the narrative path of the Hero's Journey?

For many memoirs and personal 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 writing about and describing challenging individuals. Through a few focused readings and some deeper digging writing prompts, class participants will map the terrain of families and relationships in their many forms and how the unspoken contracts within them define the boundaries of their existence. These boundaries create opportunities for plot lines that either subvert or repeat these patterns. This can be challenging material, and often the best writing comes from the places where many possibilities for "truth" converge. Expect to come away with practical exercises for mining prose from your relationship patterns and a list of recommended reading and resources for further exploration.



  • You've tried writing a memoir but struggled to make it fit the classic rising-action narrative arc.
  • You're writing complicated, 3-dimensional people and emotionally charged subject matter.



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.



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.



$49 members (sign in for member pricing)

$109 nonmembers

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

Online registration will close at the end of Thursday, February 15. After that you can pay admission at the door with a check for the walk up rate - $59 for members and $119 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