Special May/June Online Memoir Class Offering:

MONSTER MEMOIR MANUSCRIPT CLASS: Everything You Need to Move from Middle Stage to Finished Book

This class will take place entirely online, in a video classroom called ZOOM.

Four Sundays, 2-4 p.m. Pacific Time: May 14, May 28, June 11, June 25.

Cost: $595.

Limited to three committed memoirists; email Rachel at rachel.howard@gmail.com to inquire about registration.

Are you deep into writing a memoir and tired of having it critiqued in 20-page snippets? Ready to get bigger-picture response to issues like structure and narrative arc, but not quite at the stage when you need a full manuscript review? This is a memoir workshop for writers at that rich but tricky middle stage when piecemeal feedback no longer cuts it.

In this class, limited to three committed students, writers will submit a long section of their memoirs-in-progress—between 75 and 100 pages–along with a projected book outline. Our first session will be dedicated to a comprehensive lecture on big-picture craft concepts for memoir: Setting up the story engine, interplay of scene and reflection, character development, lines of tension, finding the narrative “turn,” and more. In subsequent sessions, we’ll workshop your manuscripts, one writer per week, following a guided process. You’ll learn a wealth about memoir by critiquing fellow workshop members, and benefit from a thorough discussion of your own work. You’ll emerge with a clearer sense of your memoir as a whole, and clear steps for taking it towards completion.

NOTE: This workshop is limited to three members. A firm commitment to reciprocating feedback and attending all sessions is required.

Unsolicited feedback from the previous session’s Monster Memoir Manuscript students:

That you could see the arc and the themes that I thought were there was so gratifying and encouraging to me. Now, no matter how much more work I need to do on this, I feel that I actually have a book with an arc that works here, and that is enough to keep me going for as long as it takes! Rachel, thanks for setting up the questions and the writing and discussion process that brought out so much positive encouragement as well as such thoughtful helpful suggestions. It really worked! 


I was really impressed with your comments . . . it’s a huge talent to be able to see the depths of possibility for a story in progress.


I would like to express my gratitude for your support over the past several months.  I enjoyed working with you and the group and even though there is still a lot of work ahead before I can call it a book, I am energized and excited to get it done. 

Email Rachel at rachel.howard@gmail.com to inquire about registration.


Other Upcoming Teaching Engagements:

I’ll be on staff this July 9th-15th at the extraordinarily supportive and stimulating Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Applications due March 28th.

I’ll be teaching Writing About Spirituality for Stanford Continuing Studies’ online program for Summer 17. I’ll post registration information here as soon as it’s available.


Recent Past Classes:

Three-D Writing: How to Go from “Flat” to Wow

SUNDAY, MARCH 12 | “Flat” writing hands off lifeless information in a two-dimensional exchange between reader and writer. Three-dimensional writing places the reader in a charged space of heightened experience, renewed perspective, and active meaning-making. How is that three-dimensionality created, and what do you do when you find your language stuck in 2-D? This combination lecture and workshop for writers of fiction and literary nonfiction examines specific strategies for three-dimensionality drawn from contemporary writers like Sheila Heti, Jo Ann Beard, and Maggie Nelson, and classics by Marguerite Duras and Bruno Schulz. We will try out new techniques and tricks—but ultimately what you will achieve is a shift in consciousness that will help make your writing spacious and transporting.

Rachel Howard is the author of a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder, The Lost Night, described as “enthralling” by the New York Times. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Zyzzyva, Gulf Coast, Waxwing, the Hudson Review, the Arroyo Literary Review, the New Yorker Online, and the New York Times. This lecture/workshop is adapted from the craft talk she delivered as the fall 2015 Distinguished Visiting Writer in the M.F.A. Program of St. Mary’s College of California. More on Rachel at www.rachelhoward.com.

Contact: rachelhoward@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Date: Sunday, March 12

Course fee: $88


For Winter 2017, I taught:

Mastering the Personal Essay with the Masters

The personal essay allows us to take a small moment of life and use it as a portal into deep questions of human experience: No wonder the genre is in a moment of high renaissance! In this course, we will approach the personal essay the way painters approach their discipline: by first analyzing, then “copying” our forebears. To accomplish this, we will devote one full week to closely reading short essays by such diverse writers as Grace Paley, Ann Daum, Dinty W. Moore, Joan Didion, and James Baldwin. The following week, you will draft one “imitation”—an original work that borrows the published writer’s structure or style—for feedback from your classmates and the instructor. By week six, you will have written three personal essays. Then, for the final month, you will tap your own personal mix of influences to produce an essay that will be workshopped by the entire class. Along the way, you will learn to mine your richest material, make the most of thought-provoking images, and craft endings that resonate. By “imitating” the masters, you will, para- doxically, find your unique voice.

Although the time commitment for an online writing course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to gain substantial benefit from the course.



Rachel Howard is the author of a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder, The Lost Night. Her personal essays have appeared in Gulf Coast; Waxwing; O, the Oprah Magazine; the San Francisco Chronicle; Berfrois; Canteen; The Arroyo Literary Review; and The New York Times’ Draft series. She received an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College, and later served there as interim director of undergraduate

CNF 01 W

10 weeks, January 9 – March 17
3 units, $850 Limit: 17
Special refund deadline: January 17 Format: Online course


creative writing.

CNF 23 W

10 weeks, January 9 – March 17
3 units, $850 Limit: 17
Special refund deadline: January 17 Format: Online course

You can read a sample syllabus for the previous version of the course here.