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Story Structure for Memoir Writers | A 4-week Memoir Intensive by Jerry Waxler

 April 1 – 22, 2014, 4 weeks (Tuesdays) 4 PST, 5 MST, 6 CST, 7 EST

$125 for non-members

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$110 for members

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To write a memoir, you need to translate unstructured memories into the structure called “Story.” In this four session teleclass, Jerry Waxler will break the form of a Story into simple elements. Then we’ll walk together step by step through the process of translating your life experience into a form that readers won’t want to put down.

What you will learn

  • Importance of a protagonist and how you will become one in your memoir
  • The importance of the inner as well as the outer story
  • How to set up the beginning of a story so the reader wants to know the end
  • How to energize the middle so it drives the reader to the next page
  • How to create a satisfying ending
  • How to turn life lessons into a crucial element of a good story


How it works—From Jerry:
We’ll get together for four 90-minute telephone sessions. During each session, I’ll offer a lesson to help you organize your structure. Then each of you will have an opportunity to share your project. By exploring your story in this virtual classroom, we build a trusting, mutually supportive atmosphere. Between each session, you wijerry-head-28ll write brief assignments and email them to all in the class. Because we will be able to read your pieces on our own, you won’t need to read them aloud. We can use class time to work through issues and offer feedback. At every step, during and between classes, I will offer guidance to help you discover the story structure that best expresses your unique life experience.


Jerry Waxler M.S. is a workshop leader and writing coach, with a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. He is the author of the blog, Memory Writers Network, which contains hundreds of essays, book reviews, and writing prompts about reading and writing memoirs. Mr. Waxler is the author of Memoir Revolution, about the cultural passion for lifestories and Learn to Write Your Memoirs a step by step guide. Jerry is a board member of the Philadelphia Writers Conference, is on the faculty at Northampton Community College and on the advisory panel of the National Association of Memoir Writers.



This was the second time I took Jerry’s class and I’m sure, I’ll be a regular as long as he teaches this workshop. His guidance is very valuable and helps structuring the many “shimmering images” I’m carrying around about my childhood, my younger years and occurances in the recent past that need to be written down to make sense.
Thank you, Jerry! You’re a gem!
~Evie Sullivan
Dear Jerry:  Thank you for helping me to see the “puzzle pieces” of my story through your story structure class.  Your assignments and feedback helped me see myself for the first time as a character on a journey in my own memoir (and on a journey in writing my memoir.)  The way you structured the class had me visualize and actually write crucial parts of my story — a beginning, two parts of the middle and the all important ending (or potential ending).  It changes everything to have these bookends in place.  It makes it seem possible to actually accomplish telling the story in between.  I know these may change as my story and structure evolve, as you said, but I have a very basic arc to hang the rest of my story on and to evolve from.  This is an invaluable step forward and in such a short time — the four week class.
Thank you also for using the stories that we each wrote for class and pulling out teaching points from the stories.  We not only enjoyed sharing our stories and kindly critiqued each other’s work, thanks to the tone you set for the class, but we could actually learn from each other’s weekly assignments. 
Your class and your encouragement throughout have been an important step for me and I want you to know it and to properly thank you.  Please consider teaching other classes through NAMW.  You are a kind man which makes you a great teacher for such a sensitive subject as memoir.  Your have a vast body of knowledge, always able to point students to a memoir that uses a method or technique that might work for us.  I would definitely take another class you taught and, indeed, may take this class again in April after my memoir and I have evolved further!  Thank you so much for your help. 
Frances A. Rove
Hi Jerry,
Thank you so much for your invaluable feedback and wonderful class.
I also would be interested in your class in April. I think Frances said it all in her email to you!
Jerry you are a great teacher, and you do so in a way that the student is not aware of it until  after the class is over.
Your teaching is subtle and supportive, which is what is needed in writing memoir due to its highly charged emotional memories that live in each of us.
I have a direction and structure now to move my memoir move forward!
Thank you so much for this wonderful class and the opportunity to get to know the other writers life stories and struggles to fulfill their dreams of writing their memoirs.
Warm Regards,
Lilly Gwilliam
This course is a great way to get your memoir on paper and straight in your head. It helps you locate the story you are telling with your memories — and you will find yourself humbled and awed by other people’s stories and how they can help you write your own. Jerry, your instruction was straightforward, but kind and generous. You kickstarted my confidence. 

~Dr. Danna Walker

Many of us have stories about our families, ourselves, that we want to write about but don’t know how.   I encourage anyone wanting to turn his/her life experience into a memoir to sign up for Jerry’s workshops. His classes provide a safe and encouraging environment in which we can explore and find structure for our stories. Jerry is one of the best teachers of memoir development I’ve encountered. His coaching is insightful and inspiring.
~Lorenzo Martinez
I would highly recommend anyone who is interested in writing their memoir take this class, regardless of where they are in the writing process.  Jerry is a gentle and compassionate guide to your memories and their placement process.  I have worked on my memoir for several years, never getting pass the first few pages.  During this class I realized why I couldn’t.  I was trying to tell the wrong story.  Thanks to Jerry’s insight, I learned what my real story is as did several others in our class.  
~Betty Kurecka
To anyone looking for direction in their pursuit of writing a memoir, I highly recommend this class. Jerry’s familiarity with memoir writing and his expertise in the field is exactly the right foundation needed to help, not just the seasoned writer, but the beginner as well.
Having just birthed the idea of writing a memoir within the last few months, this class was such a joy to me.  I came away feeling exuberant and encouraged.  We all have areas of our writing which need to be polished.  My area of weakness is with ‘showing, not telling’.  Through the help of others in the class, I have the determination to pursue the skills necessary to become better at describing scenes in my writing.
~ Don


  1. Penny Parkin says:

    There was an error (page not found, etc.) after I paid for the Memoir Structure class just now. Can you verify that I am, in fact, registered for this teleseminar? Thanks!

  2. Richard Marcott says:

    My memoir structure dilemma is building a bridge between basically stand alone stories. I am writing a number of stories of my Coast Guard experiences. I have worked hard to write them in creative non-fiction style. When I have a really good ending sentence or paragraph of one story, and the following one has a really good hook. How or where should I build the connecting bridge that is often needed to put some of my own thoughts, feelings, and reactions, or to move ahead in time.
    I hate to disrupt the ending of one and the hook for the other. Stories are basically in chronological order, but often a year or more apart and at a different duty station. Any references that would help?

  3. Gulara says:

    I just came across this course. Is it too late to join? Also, I am based in the UK and won’t be able to take part in classes ‘live’. Will I get the recordings afterwards?
    Many thanks

    • Hi Gulara, No it’s not too late to join. We record the classes and you can access them by dialing in to the same phone number you will use to attend the class. Do you have the ability to dial in on skype? This is on I can check to see if they have an access number in UK. I’ve never tried that. Let me see if I can figure it out.


    • I did a little research on calling in from UK. According to the FAQ for

      Can international callers participate?
      Anyone who can dial a US telephone number should be able to dial a FreeConferenceCall ® number.


  4. Debi Martin says:

    I’d like some clarification on the “tele class.”
    Is it 90 minutes interactive on the phone each week with each student or is it 90 minutes during which we listen to just to the teacher? I’m having trouble visualizing how this works.


    • To the question about the teleclass, it’s a 90 minute teleclass each week with the whole class, during which I teach and then we go around the room and discuss each student’s project. It’s a small class so everyone has the chance to raise issues about their projects. The interaction during the class combines with the email interaction between classes to help each person figure out how to apply the ideas of beginning, middle and end to their own memoirs.

      I hope this helps.


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