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Writing Your Story

with Joyce Maynard

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  •   11 The Importance of Economy


Class duration: 5h 19m

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About The Class

Learn to Translate Your Experiences into a Memoir That Captivates Readers

Everyone’s got a story to tell. Some are funny. Some are inspiring. Others are tragic. But no matter how compelling your story might seem, it won’t resonate with readers unless you’re able to effectively translate your concept onto the page.

Celebrated journalist, novelist and memoirist Joyce Maynard will give you the tools you need to transform your brilliant idea into an absorbing memoir that readers won’t be able to put down.

Maynard will begin by walking you through the process of identifying your story and how best to tell it. She’ll then help you develop your story through language, story structure, dramatic tension, dialogue, description and editing. Finally, she’ll address the challenges of the writing life, such as how to create a productive practice, design a comfortable writing space, deal with rejection and find an audience.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Understand the difference between telling what happened and exploring your journey.
  • Figure out what to include in your story and what to cut out.
  • Decide on a point of view, a point of entry and a structure.
  • Get over your fears of revealing embarrassing truths about yourself.
  • Stop worrying about being judged.
  • Deal with loneliness and find your tribe.
  • Develop the arc of a sentence, a paragraph and a story.
  • Listen to the sound and rhythm of your sentences.

Lesson Plan

  1. 01

    Class Introduction: What Happens When We Keep Secrets?

  2. 02

    Name Your Obsessions

  3. 03

    Stick to Your Story

  4. 04

    Identify Your Journey

  5. 05

    Identify Your Journey Take Your Story Apart

  6. 06

    The Landing Place

  7. 07

    The Honesty Question

  8. 08

    What's the Worst That Can Happen?

  9. 09

    Descriptive Versus Interpretive Language

  10. 10

    Diagramming the Sentence

  11. 11

    The Importance of Economy

  12. 12

    Dialogue and Rhythm

  13. 13

    Six Common Mistakes Writers Make

  14. 14

    The Paragraph

  15. 15

    Building the Arc

  16. 16

    The Test of a Good Memoir

  17. 17

    The Container

  18. 18

    Two Containers From Scratch

  19. 19

    Developing Your Container

  20. 20

    Dissecting a Good Container Essay

  21. 21

    The Writing Life

  22. 22

    Creating a Writing Practice

  23. 23

    What Gets in Your Way?

  24. 24

    The Non-Writing Process

  25. 25

    Criticism and Rejection

  26. 26

    What Happens When We Tell Our Truth?


Meet Your Expert

Joyce Maynard

Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story, “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life”, in 1972, when she was a freshman at Yale. ... read more

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Bonus Material

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  • pdf Container Essay by Joyce Maynard

100% of students recommend this class.
See what some of them have to say.

  • Annie Y

    Annie Y

    February 2018

    Joyce Maynard will meet her writing students exactly where many of us find ourselves stranded: at that point in the road where our creative impulse and need for expression begins to lose breath but our sense of story and good writing habits may falter. Her teaching is a glorious, energetic, engaged alchemy of encouragement, permission for wild creativity, and feet-on-the-ground, pencil-to-paper, lessons for organizing and writing your own story. I left this incredible day empowered to tell mine, and totally unafraid to let go of what does not fit into the narrative. She gives concrete examples of good writing, shows you exactly why it's good, as well as hilarious bits of not-so-good writing. Yes, this is a memoir class, but the lessons are simply excellent rules for good writing. The syllabus is ambitious, but Ms. Maynard's practical magic is her gift to render all of this utterly do-able. I loved every minute, left inspired by the entire experience, and profoundly grateful for her wisdom and humor. Thank you!

  • Diane Shipley

    Diane Shipley

    February 2018

    This was a wonderful class, the best I’ve taken, even though I wasn’t there in person! Joyce is an inspiring teacher who makes you feel like your stories matter and guides you toward identifying which narratives to tell and how best to tell them — very few writing classes delve into the mechanics in this way and I really appreciated it. I also appreciated some of her more unusual advice — like that it’s important to think about what you want to write, sometimes for a long time, before you start. By going through students’ stories and providing lots of examples of the principles she teaches, you can see how to adapt the lessons to your own work, and I’ve already started doing so. I also found Joyce very compassionate about issues around privacy and shame and everything that comes up when people share personal stories, and very generous in sharing her own experiences so it’s clear she knows what she’s talking about. I recommend this class wholeheartedly.

  • user-ae9a88

    February 2018

    I haven't finished this course yet - but already know that Joyce has helped me. She gives a lot of examples that explain the concepts she's suggesting that we writers use. I especially appreciated the container part where she helped members of the audience narrow down their big story. I also appreciate Creative Live & Joyce allowing a 'free' viewing of this course because not everybody has the savings to spend on this. Even though it's worth the money - many of us are going to feel that the money should be spent on food or bills. Right? So the fact that we could sit in on this with no costs is beyond wonderful. It puts a smile on my face and let me have a relaxing day that I saved for just my own enjoyment. Learning is something I enjoy and learning how to write my own story better, might even turn out to change my life. Thank you very much. - Christie in Maryland

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