How to Write a Family Memoir

Do you have a family story that you’re bursting to tell? This course will guide you through a series of stimulating writing exercises to help you tell the tale.

Learn how to make use of photos, memorabilia and heirlooms, and explore your family’s culture and recurring themes.

The course dynamic often creates a community of memoirists who continue to support each other after the course is over. It attracts a variety of writers, some of whom intend to write for their family and friends, and others who have publication in mind. Former students have gone on to publish essays and stories. One writing assignment for this course turned into a book.


Location: Online
Duration: 6 weeks
Tuition: $567

Upcoming Offerings

Currently not available for registration.

What you will learn

By the end of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Examine different memoir forms
  • Recognize the elements of a story
  • Identify ethical issues that writing a family memoir raises
  • Acquire a basic understanding of research tools that can help you
  • Differentiate a non-fictional account from a fictional treatment based on fact and evaluate the advantages/disadvantages of these two approaches for your project
  • Gain confidence in receiving feedback about stories that are, by their very nature, quite personal
  • Revise and improve first drafts
  • Write an enticing opening
  • Create suspense so your readers will want to keep turning the pages
  • Develop a theme and focus your writing

How you will learn and be evaluated

  • You will complete weekly assignments.
  • Your instructor will provide comments and suggestions on each piece that you write.
  • Your classmates will divide into smaller groups of writers, who will provide additional feedback to one another.

You will not receive a grade; however, you will receive comments and feedback on your writing.

Learning Materials

Course fees do not include textbooks. We recommend you purchase your textbook as soon as you’ve registered. We will provide additional course materials online.

Required text:

Zinsser, William. Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, Revised Edition. Mariner Books, 1998.

Technical Requirements

For online courses, you will need a computer with audio and microphone that is connected to the internet. Canvas is the online system that will be used for the course. For more information and online support, visit Online Learning.

Note: To participate in this course, please be sure to use a computer capable of running Office 365.