Who’s Telling Your Life Story?

Narrating Your Memoir

Who’s Telling Your Life Story?

The memoirist is asked to play many roles simultaneously—that of the author (you, sitting at the keyboard), the character (younger you, in the scenes you are recollecting), and the narrator. This last role is both the slipperiest and perhaps the most important. 

Phillip Lopate tells us that the narrator must deliver to readers what they’ve come to the book for: the sense that an active, searching mind lies behind the memoirist’s inquiry. But how do you find your narrator and make them work for your story?

Through a combination of instruction, writing exercises, and guided study, participants will discover what a strong narrator can give an author—and, equally important, when the narrator should step back and allow the character to come to the forefront.

Over the course of the workshop participants will:

  • Revise their work under the direction of a published author;
  • Analyze craft essays to better navigate the balance between scene and narration;
  • Create a voice that can sustain a full book or essay and practice putting it to use;
  • Learn tricks to make writing more vivid, inject personality when things fall flat, and turn memories into the stuff of art.

Alexandria’s new book The Fact of a Body has received praise from reviewers for its skilled balance between narration, memory, and fact. In a review for NPR, Emily Avery-Miller says, “[Marzano-Lesnevich] alerts us to the narrator who is crafting the story and who is an active, questioning presence.” And Vogue says,

“[T]he book is actually something of a tribrid, with a third strand that’s about the act of braiding itself: how a story evolves in the telling; how each storyteller decides which facts are important, projects her experience onto the events and the characters.”

Come study with Alexandria to find your voice, meet your inner narrator, and put them to work in this day-long, hands-on writing workshop.

*Attendees should bring up to 10 printed pages of memoir or personal essay writing to work on during revision exercises.

Saturday, September 30, 2017
9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Advance registration strongly recommended. 
Space is limited for this exclusive day-long workshop.

Location // 5119 Coral Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Free on-street parking is available. Doors open at 8 am; event begins at 9 am. Breakfast and coffee will be provided. At noon, the workshop will break for lunch at the surrounding restaurants. A small kitchenette is also available for those who would prefer to bring a lunch from home.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir. A 2014 National Endowment for the Arts fellow, she has received a Rona Jaffe Award and has twice been a fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Oxford American, and the anthologies True Crime and Waveform: Twenty-first Century Essays by Women, as well as many other publications.

She received her JD from Harvard, her MFA at Emerson College, and her BA from Columbia University. She now lives in Boston, where she teaches at Grub Street and in the graduate public policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Questions? Please call us at 412-404-2975 or email our events manager, Lauren Boehm, at boehm@creativenonfiction.org