Helping Writers to Rise and Thrive

Memoir Master Class with Joyce Maynard

Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Joyce Maynard
10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ($125) /10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ($175). See details below.


Join extraordinary memoirist Joyce Maynard at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio for a one-day Master Class devoted to the art and craft of personal storytelling.

Joyce is the author of the bestselling memoir At Home in the World and, more recently, of The Best of Us—as well as hundreds of short-form essays featured in The New York Times, NPR, Vogue, Salon and countless other publications.

Beginning by examining the raw material of our experiences, Joyce will look at the difference between simply reporting the events of our lives and creating a story arc that takes the reader on a journey and explores not simply what happened, but what it meant.

Some of the issues Joyce promises to explore: point of entry, landing place, structure, descriptive language, point of view, dialogue, voice, and the core question “What is my story really about?” She’ll examine a writer’s personal responsibility and issues of ethics that emerge when telling stories from his or her own life, and look at how to establish a daily writing practice. 

This Master Class will be capped at twenty participants, in an effort to ensure that Joyce will be able to address the concerns of all writers in the group. She asks that each writer who attends submit, in advance of the class, the first 750 words of a work of first-person memoir/essay, which will form the basis for a significant portion of the day. While the words do not need to be perfect, this workshop is not for people who are brand new to the genre. Submit work by January 3, 2020, to, with the subject title Maynard/followed by your name.

Although in this session, time won’t allow for Joyce to individually workshop each writers’ work, count on some tough-love critiquing of “dead language”, hands-on examples of how skillful editing can transform your work, and white-boarding of story beats. She’ll deconstruct one of her own “Modern Love” columns, examining the kinds of choices required to create a powerful (and possibly publishable) 1700-word personal essay, and send each writer home with an assignment for what might be her/his/their next essay.

NOTE:  The Master Class will conclude at 2:30 p.m. Writers interested in continuing the work may meet with Joyce from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and may submit a longer piece of work—up to 1700 words—for more in-depth discussion. This workshop addendum is limited to four participants, though all writers from the earlier session are welcome to stay and observe for free. 

Logistics and info: Complimentary coffee, tea and refreshments will be provided beginning at 9:45 a.m. We will break from noon to 12:30 for lunch. There are plenty of awesome places to grab lunch within walking distance of the Studio! You may bring your own lunch. (We are happy to supply you with a boxed lunch for an additional $20 paid at the time of your registration.)

All-day parking can be a challenge in downtown Saugatuck. We suggest using day parking at one of the train station lots. Cost is $5. Info here. Better yet, since we are located one block from the Westport train station, consider taking the train.

An awesome P.S.: Joyce’s Master Class will be followed by a conversation and Q and A at the Westport Library from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Forum! Following the conversation, Joyce will sign books and chat with writers at a reception in the library. Info here.


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