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Nahid Rachlin

Fiction and Memoir Writing: the Differences and Similarities

June 3, 2021
4 PM PDT  | 5 PM MDT  | 6 PM CDT  | 7 PM EDT

Our guest Nahid Rachlin is a fiction author, and the author of the memoir Persian Girls. She is going to talk with us about both genres, how we think about them and how we write, and the kinds of choices we have to make for each genre.

We’ll discuss her memoir Persian Girls and how she made the choice to write a memoir after being a fiction author. Join us for an interesting discussion that will address why we write, choosing our genre, memoir or fiction, and the craft issues we need for both.

From Nahid:
There is a fine line between writing a personal memoir and writing fiction. A memoir has to stay with the essence of the truth, but in fiction we can make up and add to what is often based on our own experiences or what we know about others.

If you are a famous person people might be automatically interested in the facts of your life. But if you are not famous, you need to engage the reader the same way you would with writing fiction by paying attention to craft — dialogue, point of view, pace, character development, structure, voice.

A memoirist is always juggling the craft challenges while digging deep to find the truth, often many layers of truth, to write an authentic memoir that brings the reader into the protagonist’s world.

We will discuss:

  • How to think about the story you want to tell—are you leaning toward memoir or fiction.
  • Why would you choose one over the other? What about your story makes you lean more toward memoir? Or toward fiction?
  • How are you learning your craft? What craft issues challenge you the most?
  • What is your strongest skill in writing? What do you need to work on?

Nahid Rachlin went to Columbia University Writing Program on a Doubleday-Columbia Fellowship and then went on to Stanford University writing program on a Wallace Stegner Fellowship. Her publications include a memoir, PERSIAN GIRLS (Penguin), four novels, including FOREIGNER (W.W. Norton ), MARRIED TO A STRANGER (E.P.Dutton-Penguin) and a short story collection, VEILS (City Lights). For more click on: http://www.nahidrachlin.com/index.htm.

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