Hybrid Session. Registration will be enabled at a later date.
Well before we're tussling with an essay or memoir, sweating over word choice and searching for fresh metaphor, we must first have decided what it is, exactly, that we're attempting to write about. In my workshops on the craft of personal narrative, one of the most frequent questions I'll ask of an author when a piece is giving them trouble is: What is your truest subject? As with any other kind of writing, for an essay or memoir to be any good, for it to be clear and compelling and vivid, requires that you have thought deeply and with precision about WHY this piece of writing needs to exist, about how YOU are the writer to tackle it, and about HOW this essay or passage, this story or reflection is needful, clear, and truthful to your individual experience and beliefs. The more deeply and precisely you think through the WHAT and WHY of what you wish to say, the HOW of it is certain to become more lively and vivid and compelling to a reader. This class will provide you with tools to help you sharpen the WHY of your personal narratives and essays, and together we'll examine passages of published work to "reverse engineer" them to deepen our understanding and appreciation of the throughline from an author's inspiration to the final form their work takes.
Ian Belknap is a Chicago writer, performer, and teacher whose work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Reader, New City Chicago, American Theatre Magazine, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He is the founder of WRITE CLUB, a live lit show with chapters in Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Denver. He has taught storytelling, personal narrative and essay, and humor writing at Second City Training Center, StoryStudio Chicago, Northwestern University's Summer Writers' Program, and independently.
Ian will accept prose fiction and nonfiction manuscripts for critique. Please see the manuscript section on our website, ocww.info for details.
We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
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