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Block 2 [clear filter]
Friday, April 3

10:15am EDT

2F: From Personal History to Social History: How to Get Beyond the ME in Memoir
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Every writer of memoir and personal essay is at some point dogged with the question: who cares? As creative nonfiction writers, we can see beyond this question by locating socio-historical stories within our personal narratives, uncovering tales that are about much more than the individual narrator.

In this session, we’ll offer tips and techniques for identifying larger themes in your work, including how to avoid common pitfalls, and how to incorporate reporting techniques (such as interviews, historical research, and old advertisements and commercials) without losing your engaging personal voice. We’ll also provide examples from authors like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nick Flynn, and Jesmyn Ward, examining how personal narratives are often inseparable from larger histories, communities, and movements. You’ll leave with several examples and take-home writing exercises that will jump-start your efforts to expand the scope of your nonfiction narratives.

avatar for Alysia Abbott

Alysia Abbott

Alysia Abbott’s memoir, Fairyland, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice, and was named Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and Shelf Awareness. It’s been translated into Polish, Spanish, Italian, and French and has been awarded the ALA Stonewall Award and the... Read More →

Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

2G: It’s All in the Details
Limited Capacity filling up

How do we write fiction and creative non-fiction that makes our readers feel love, hope, dread, sadness, and the whole range of emotion embodied in our work? While pacing, setting, and structure all come into the play, one of the most powerful (and often overlooked) techniques for any writer is the use of specific and significant details. But too much detail can backfire, and too little can take the reader out of the "dream." 

In this session, we will learn how to use details effectively so our readers share our characters’ emotional worlds. We’ll look at how specificity, filtering, and use of the active voice can build meaning for the reader. We’ll discuss examples from R.O. Kwon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison and end with a short writing exercise that will help us apply what we’ve learned.

avatar for Marjan Kamali

Marjan Kamali

Marjan Kamali was born in Turkey to Iranian parents and spent her childhood in Kenya, Germany, Turkey, Iran and the United States. She is the author of the novels The Stationery Shop (Gallery/Simon&Schuster), which was an Indie Next Pick, one of Newsweek’s Best Summer Books, and... Read More →

Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor