WriterHouse

Writing Classes

Memoir in a Year

January 2015-December 2015
22 Class/Workshop Sessions
Thursday Mornings, See Schedule Below
Individual Consultation and Group Writing Sessions
Instructor: Sharon Harrigan
Cost: $1,249

SharonPortraits0055-LWhether you've already written some scenes or chapters or are starting with just an idea, "Memoir in a Year" will help you turn your dramatic real-life events into a compelling story that has the arc of a novel. It takes hard work and courage to record your experiences on the page, and a book-length manuscript poses extra challenges. How do you structure a longer work? How do you capture the people you know and the difficult moments in detail? And how do you keep yourself at the desk writing through it all?

Here's the good news: You don't have to do it alone.

Memoir in a Year is an opportunity to join a writing cohort, study memoir craft and technique, workshop key scenes, measure your progress, meet goals and deadlines, and give and get support for the long slog from plotting to composition to revision and beyond.

This will be an MFA-level class. Class size is limited to 8, and participants must apply for admission. 

Read more: New! Write Your Memoir in 2015

Class Size

Our workshops are capped at 12 students, and the minimum to hold a class is 5. We've been in workshops elsewhere that had 16 or more students, so we feel 12 is a reasonable size. A few of our classes are designed to have smaller groups and that number is specified in the description. The prices of these are increased accordingly. Most of our seminars are capped at 12 students; a few seminars are capped at 18, as noted below. 

Inclement Weather

If the weather is questionable, we will send an email to your class list. We will also change our outgoing voicemail message, put a notice on our home page, and post messages to Facebook and Twitter. Here is the complete policy from our FAQ.

If you have other questions about our class policies, please see our FAQ.

Refund Policy

If you need to cancel your enrollment for any reason, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Our refund policy for cancellations is as follows:

3 weeks before the class or seminar start date: Eligible for a full refund.

1-3 weeks before the class or seminar start date: Eligible for a full credit towards a future class or seminar.

Less than 1 week before the class or seminar start date: Not eligible for credit or a refund.

In the event that we have to cancel a class or seminar for lack of enrollment or any other reason, you are eligible for a full refund or credit towards a future class. If your payment was made via PayPal, you will be eligible for a full refund, minus the nonrefundable PayPal fee.

For Winter 2015 classes and seminars, if you register by 9 PM on Monday, November 24, 2014, and pay by cash or check, you can take an additional 5% early registration discount. The discount is not available when you pay via PayPal. Winter 2015 seminars begin with Don Fry's January Coaching Session; earlier seminars are not included in the early registration discount.

We have a limited amount of funding to help those who want to take a class or seminar but can't afford it. In order to apply, please download and fill out our Scholarship/Subsidy Form and send it to us with your class registration and partial payment. We ask that anyone who receives subsidies please remember us with a donation when you are able.

In addition to our regular eight-week classes, we have half-day, one-day, and two-day seminars. See the current list below.

Deborah Prum SQ Instructor: Deborah Prum
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, November 8, 2014 | 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Do you have ideas you'd love to see in print? Perhaps you'd like to write humorous essays, political commentaries, articles on health, human interest stories, or something else that makes your heart beat a little faster. Participants in this seminar will identify their personal goals for freelance writing and come up with a plan for how to implement these goals. We'll discuss generating ideas, creating a good query letter, using social media efficiently, networking, and self-publishing.

Read more: Seminar: Getting Started with Freelance Writing

Don Fry new Instructor: Don Fry
Cost: $10 Members | $25 Non-Members
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | 6:00 PM-7:00 PM

Limited to 3 students.

Work with writing coach Don Fry in a three-on-one coaching session. Each writer gets 20 minutes while the other two listen. (The secret is that you learn most by listening to the other two writers' sessions.) We will explore your writing process to help solve your biggest problem. Don does not work with text; writers' problems occur not in the text, but in the process that produced the text.

Read more: Small Group Sessions with Writing Coach Don Fry (November)

ed falco Instructor: Ed Falco
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, November 15, 2014 | 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Writing fiction based on historical events has its own set of rewards, headaches, and responsibilities. We’ll discuss creating characters and developing plots based on historical figures and events. We’ll also talk about the writer’s responsibility to a constructed character and narrative versus the accurate representation of events and people. We won’t be able to solve every problem that arises in our discussions, but with luck we'll learn a thing or two about writing historical fiction.

Read more: Seminar: Writing True Crime Fiction: Narrative, History, and the Elements of Fiction

Jay Varner SQ Instructor: Jay Varner
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, December 6, 2014 | 1:00 PM-5:00 PM

Limited to 18 students. This seminar will take place in the expanded main event space.

Nonfiction author Philip Gerard says, "We write out of mystery, looking for an answer we don't have, trying to resolve what troubles us, to understand what seems beyond comprehension." Has any quote better encapsulated why we write about our family? Over a few hours, through writing exercises and group discussions about selected reading, we’ll come to understand how to approach what can be one of the trickiest but also one of the most rewarding things in a writer's life: putting your family on the page.

Read more: Seminar: Writing Your Family Story

Christine Stoddard Instructor: Christine Stoddard
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, December 13, 2014
9:00 AM-1:00 PM -  New Time! 

Limited to 12 students.

The magic of Virginia lies in its stories, from textbook legends taught across America to neighborhood tales passed down for generations. Do you love Appalachian yarns or have an ancestor worthy of a biography? Bring your nonfiction Virginia story, including any research or drafts you may have. You will have the chance to share your ideas, try out several writing exercises, learn about Virginia history and folklore resources, and receive feedback on any work you've completed thus far.

Read more: Seminar: Creative Nonfiction: Writing About Virginia History

Don Fry new Instructor: Don Fry
Cost: $10 Members | $25 Non-Members
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
2:00 PM-3:00 PM

Limited to 3 students.

Work with writing coach Don Fry in a three-on-one coaching session. Each writer gets twenty minutes while the other two listen. (The secret is that you learn most by listening to the other two writers' sessions.) We will explore your writing process to help solve your biggest problem. Don does not work with text; writers' problems occur not in the text, but in the process that produced the text. Open to all writers at any level.

Read more: Small Group Session with Writing Coach Don Fry (January)

Hannah Barnaby Instructor: Hannah Barnaby
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, January 24, 2015 | 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Want to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the young adult genre? Want to get your novel off the ground? This seminar will explore questions of craft as well as current trends in the marketplace. We'll kick off with a discussion of YA titles that define the genre, followed by a first pages critique session. Then we'll engage in a series of writing exercises that will clarify and re-energize your work, and conclude with a Q&A on everything from plot structure, style, character development, audience, and paths to publishing. I'll share my experience as a children's book editor, bookseller, and graduate-level writing instructor to give you a whole new perspective on what it means to write for young adults. Please bring a copy of the first page of your YA novel, or an idea for what you want to write about.

Read more: Seminar: Young Adult Fiction

Mary Carroll-Hackett Instructor: Mary Carroll-Hackett
Cost: $90 Members | $100 Non-Members
Saturday, January 31, 2015
9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

In this one-day seminar, we'll explore writing methods, prompts, and journaling, allowing us access to our personal definitions of a "spiritual life." Examining the spiritual genre in terms of craft and technique, we'll ask questions such as: "How do I write spirituality without preaching or falling into dogma?" and "How can writing offer guidance—for others and for myself?" We'll explore what makes compelling spiritual writing—writing that opens the ordinary yet sometimes difficult tensions between faith and human life.

Read more: Seminar: Writing the Spiritual Life

rufi thorpe Instructor: Rufi Thorpe
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, February 14, 2015
9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Want to learn how to write memorable characters? This seminar will cover all the basics of character design so you can build your own unique, compelling, alive-feeling characters that are strong enough to carry a novel or story. In-class readings will be taken from both great literary fiction and great genre fiction; you'll also get a chance to start working on (re)writing characters of your own. Narrative poets and screenwriters are welcome, too!

Read more: Seminar: Writing Rounded Characters

Amie Whittemore Instructor: Amie Whittemore
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Sunday, February 22, 2015
1:00 PM-5:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

What makes a piece of writing a prose poem and not poetic prose? In this seminar, we'll explore how prose poetry is informed by the qualities of both poetry and prose, and how those qualities intersect. We'll closely read and dissect prose poems by authors such as Carolyn Forché, Robert Hass, and James Wright, and we'll experiment with writing our own. Participants are encouraged to bring in a draft of a prose poem for discussion. This seminar is appropriate for poets of all levels, but curious fiction writers are welcome, too!

Read more: Seminar: Prose Poetry

Chloe Benjamin Instructor: Chloe Benjamin
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Friday, March 20, 2015
9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

During the publication process, literary agents act as middlemen, matching manuscripts with publishing houses—but how does an author find an agent? In this seminar, we'll explore each step of the process, from effectively targeting agents and writing query letters to crafting synopses and writing samples. This seminar is open to writers at all stages, both those with book projects and those who would simply like to learn more about the agenting process.

Read more: Seminar: Finding an Agent

Bella Stander SQ Instructor: Bella Stander
Cost: $90 Members | $100 Non-Members
Friday, March 20, 2015
9:00 AM-12:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Learn about setting realistic goals; making a marketing plan; pitching your book; dealing with publicists, booksellers, and media; bookstore events, and readings. Not suitable for self-published authors or those whose books are produced by subsidy publishers. Attendees must have a forthcoming or recently published book from a commercial trade publisher, a publishing contract, or a literary agent.

Read more: Seminar: Book Promotion 101

Jane Friedman Instructor: Jane Friedman
Cost: $65 Members | $75 Non-Members
Sunday, March 22, 2015
1:00 PM-5:00 PM

Limited to 18 students. This seminar will be held in the expanded WriterHouse main event space.

Get an unbiased, in-depth look at the e-book publishing scene, when you should consider self-publishing, and if you do, how to be effective in your efforts, without damaging your credibility or investing more money than you should. Learn about the most popular services available to distribute your e-book (Amazon, Nook, Apple, Kobo, and more), plus what you can expect from these services, and how they turn a profit. Technical information on formatting e-books, uploading to major services, and dealing with digital files will also be covered. Please bring a laptop with you.

Read more: Seminar: The Basics of Independent E-Book Publishing

Don Fry new Instructor: Don Fry
Cost: $10 Members | $25 Non-Members
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
10:00 AM-11:00 AM

Limited to 3 students.

Work with writing coach Don Fry in a three-on-one coaching session. Each writer gets twenty minutes while the other two listen. (The secret is that you learn most by listening to the other two writers' sessions.) We will explore your writing process to help solve your biggest problem. Don does not work with text; writers' problems occur not in the text, but in the process that produced the text. Open to all writers at any level.

Read more: Small Group Session with Writing Coach Don Fry (March)

Joan Mazza Instructor: Joan Mazza
Cost: $45 Members | $50 Non-Members
Sunday, April 12, 2015
1:00 PM-4:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Whether you write a blog, journal, poetry, fiction, or memoir, you can develop habits for writing every day and find the time to do so. In this seminar, we'll discuss strategies to stay in your “writing mind,” how to catch ideas and track them, and how as little as fifteen minutes a day can keep you writing. We’ll do some writing in class to prompts and explore creating your own for times when you feel dry.

Read more: Seminar: The Secrets of Writing Every Day