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Start Your Memoir: A Weekend Intensive. Robert Anthony Siegel, Instructor is a Course

Start Your Memoir: A Weekend Intensive. Robert Anthony Siegel, Instructor

Jun 2, 2023 - Jun 4, 2023

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Full course description



Spring, 2023



Start Your Memoir (Weekend Workshop)


Anthony Robert Siegel, Instructor




Friday, June 2nd–Sunday, June 4th, 2023


Introductory Meeting and Overview, Friday on Zoom:


  • 7:00–8:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time
  • 8:00–9:00 p.m. Eastern Time
  • 5:00–6:00 p.m. Pacific Time
  • 6:00–7:00 p.m. Mountain Time


Workshop Meetings, Saturday & Sunday on Zoom:


  • 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time
  • 12:00–5:00 p.m. Eastern Time
  • 9:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Pacific Time
  • 10:00 a.m.–3:00 a.m. Mountain Time


Saturday and Sunday meetings include a one-hour break. Class meets for four hours each day.



Course Description 

 You have a memoir to write—a true story seized from the beautiful chaos of everyday life. The question you face now is how to uncover its shape and give it full-throated voice, the ability to sing. Do you just start at the beginning and write through to the end? What is the beginning, anyway? And once you’ve finally got moving, how do you keep going?


This weekend course is for beginning memoirists. It introduces students to the basics of memoir writing, including scene, structure, and narrative arc. Classes combine lecture, discussion, and short exercises that we will write on the spot and share with the group, reading aloud. There will also be some (completely optional) homework on Saturday night, to keep you thinking between classes.


Friday night we meet for an hour to go over the schedule and introduce ourselves; Saturday and Sunday we meet for five hours: four hours of instruction with a one-hour break in the middle.


What you will learn:

·      How to discover and explore your material

·      How to do research

·      How to articulate the conflict at the heart of your story

·      How to envision your narrative arc

·      How to explore your themes

·      How to think about structure, create an outline, and compile a scene list

·      How to write scenes

·      How to create a writing schedule and set goals


What you will take away:

·      A short synopsis (including conflict, character, settings, and themes)

·      An outline

·      A scene list

·      A writing schedule and set of goals





Robert Anthony Siegel is the author of a memoir, Criminals (Counterpoint,) and two novels. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian Magazine, The Paris Review, The Drift, The Oxford American, Tin House, and Ploughshares, and has been anthologized in Best American Essays 2023, O. Henry Stories 2014, and Pushcart Prize XXXVI. He has been a Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan, a Mombukagakusho Fellow in Japan, a Writing Fellow at FAWC in Provincetown, and a Paul Engle Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a BA from Harvard. His website is



Registration & Fees


The fee for this course is $350. Payment in full is required to register.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class size is limited to 10.


Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center.”


Refund & Cancellation Policy


If you need to cancel your enrollment, please let us know as soon as possible. We can only offer full refunds if you cancel one week prior to the start of class. After that, before the start-date of class, we can offer a 50% refund. We cannot refund day-of cancellations, and we cannot refund or partially refund registration fees once the class has begun.


Terms & Community Policy


1.  The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a program for adults. You must be at least 18 years old to enroll in Festival workshops.


2.  The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others. Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person.




Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.


Our tiny staff is out and about. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a detailed message!




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