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Brain on Fire Audio and Transcripts

Brain on Fire—My Month of Madness is a powerful memoir by Susan Cahalan about a mysterious illness that ended up being a brain disease. Her memoir is written using various techniques, from journalistic reporting to subjective moments where memory and reality blur. Reading Brain on Fire can teach you about structure and narration—from short chapters to writing from various “I” narrators to the story arc that makes this book such a page-turner. Journalistic techniques: Susanna researches everything that had to do with her breakdown and medical recovery and educates us in a contained way. She weaves telling with showing, and writes in scene –sometimes what she remembers, other times through the POV of someone else. In this course you learn about powerful techniques that make your memoir reach the hearts of others.


Audio Downloads 



Class 1 Writing What You Don’t Remember–techniques for writing what you remember, and how to write a memoir even if you don’t remember everything.

Class 2 Characterization of the Self in the Narrative Arc—character development, the unreliable narrator, and writing about uncertain story lines.

Class 3 The Power of Showing– How to make your reader feel what you feel by tracking the intensity, discomfort, physical reactions, and other visceral experiences in Brain on Fire, and the importance of showing broader cultural issues in your era.

Class 4 Takeaways and Other Devices to Create Meaning–How to get at the heart of what matters in your own memoir to write a book that changes lives and a dive into the different ways of writing takeaways. Learn about unconventional narrative techniques and how and why they create meaning