Creative Writing and Memoir Class Notes

Nov. 4, 2020 Carol Brennan King

Note class changes next week: Creative Writing will be from 9-11am and Memoir will be from 2-4pm.


Creative Writing: We talked about seven emotions: joy, anger, worry, anxiety, sadness, fear, and fright. For next week, write a short piece that shows your character(s) experiencing emotions. The point is you don’t tell how the character(s) feel. You place them in a situation that shows what provokes the emotion. Under 200 words

Memoir: Choose an event from your memory, and write it four times, each time from the perspective of a different person involved. Think yourself, a sibling, a parent, and an un-involved observer. Remember, one or two of these people may not have seen what happened, but be told about it. And they have an opinion on what they heard happened. Under 200 words. I will choose one of your perspectives for you to read in class.

Now for our class notes:

Getting Yourself Organized

If you really want to be a writer, then you must get yourself organized. Today we talked about five things you should consider doing to reach your goals as a writer.

  1. Set yourself a deadline, a word-count every day, and stick to it. It might be as few as 250-500 words, but stick to it. If you are stuck, then write about anything that comes to you. Consider writing about the day before. The point is to keep writing.
  2. When you write about people, you can make it up. But if you spend time talking to someone and examining what it is you want to write about, you discover a level of detail that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. Consider visiting places where you will see and hear people who are not just like you. Sit for a couple of hours in a mall, a park, a hospital waiting room, a library, or a church different from the one you attend. Be a fly on the wall. Watch and listen to how these people communicate. See what you can learn that you can use in a writing project. Be Curious!
  3. Don’t ever feel like you can only focus on one of your writing projects at a time and not move onto the next one until you finish the last one. If you get stuck on one project, begin or continue another one. Do feel free to work on two projects or more at the same time, as long as you commit to finishing them all.
  4. Get a head start on the blank page, the next page you will be writing.  Never start with a blank page unless you’re really inspired. You might write a heading with three sentences or create a bullet pointed list of ideas. You could lead with a piece of interesting research. It doesn’t need to be much, the main thing is: The Page Is Not Blank. There is an idea waiting for you to develop.
  5. Don’t get stuck. When you do get stuck for an idea, a word, the perfect phrase, or need a piece of research or a quote, do this: //////////  or this ( quote about hope) or (city that starts with an M and has three syllables)  to hold the space and remind you to fix it later. The point is don’t stop writing. Leave yourself a note about what you need, and continue writing.

Audience: who are you writing for?

When you go to all the work involved in writing a book, you must have an idea of who it is for, who you want to read it.

If you want to write a memoir for your family, self-publishing might be the way to go. A memoir written for your family will have a different and more personal tone and and voice.

If you want to write a memoir that would have a wider appeal, like overcoming fear or living with grief, you might consider a commercial publisher.

If you are writing a book that has regional appeal, the mysteries of your county perhaps, self-publishing might work.

If you are writing a fiction book that falls into one of the genre below, you might consider a commercial publisher.

The point is you must know who you are writing for and what kind of book you want to write. This helps keep you focused and gives you direction as you outline and write your book.

Types of Books or What do you want to write?

Books fall into three general categories:

Fiction books contain a made-up story – a story that did not actually happen in real life. These stories are derived from the imagination and creativity of the authors and are not based on facts.

Nonfiction books are factual books. Unlike fiction books, they are based on facts and information that can be verified to be true.

Historical or semi-fiction books are taken to be fiction. Apart from the made-up story, these books also include some factual information.

We are dialing in when we talk genre – getting more specific about the type of book.

Action and Adventure





Comic and Graphic Novel

Crime and Detective



Fairy Tale



Historical Fiction   Historical fiction is a genre of book that includes writings that reconstruct the past, like Gone With The Wind or A Tale of Two Cities  by Dickens



Legend   The Mists of Avalon Marion Zimmer Bradley

Magical Realism  Gabriel Garcia Marquez




Realistic Fiction


SatireScience Fiction (Sci-Fi)

Short Stor


Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

Five reasons to Outline Your

Memoir – also helpful for fiction might write

  1. An outline helps you know where to start. Think about starting in the middle of the scene, of something that happened to your character. This will help you and your reader know what is ahead.
  2. An outline will reveal the key story points or beats. An outline can help you recognize the pivotal events or turning points in your life.
  3. An outline highlights the important events. It will help you identify the important seasons in your life – like high school, college, significant influences, marriage, first home, all meaningful periods in a person’s life.
  4. An outline helps you to select and turn stories into chapters. You may discover, as you reflect on your life, that several people showed up in your teen years who influenced you. Those stories could turn into a single chapter if not a book on its own.
  5. An outline emphasizes recurring themes. Don’t worry about this as you write the outline. Look at the outline after you have completed it, filling it in with supporting points. This is when you might see themes. For instance, you might see people reaching out to you as a theme. You might see failures as a theme. You experienced a number of failures, but you learned through those painful times.
    • Once you see those themes emerging, you have found tools that will help you organize the memoir.

We had two great classes today, and if you missed us, know that we missed you and look forward to seeing you next week.

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