Class Title: Let Cheryl Strayed's Wild Serve As Your Guide In Writing Memoir
Instructor: Liz Beaty
Class Term: April 2-May 7, 2018
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Reading is a writer's secret weapon. The more you read, the more tools you have at your fingertips when you start writing. In this class, to practice using these tools, we will use imitation. Imitation will allow you to determine whether the tools feel right in your hands. If they do, you can use them to help strengthen your voice. If they feel phony and inappropriate, don't. Through trial and error, you'll able to find writing styles that you want to use more and those that you want to avoid.
Over the next 5-weeks, we will read Cheryl Strayed's New York Times Bestseller Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. The reading assignments will be approximately 70 pages per week. The writing assignments will be geared toward exploring your personal writing style and trying out different methods of storytelling.
At the end of this class, students will be able to read a book and explore your personal writing style.
Instruction/Communication Method: Everyone will work on their own time during the five weeks of the class posting their writing and responses to others in a private Yahoo Group. The instructor's lessons and responses to participant writing will be posted there, too.
- Unit 1: Reading assignment: Prologue and Part I
Writing assignment: Meaningful Quotes—Each section of the book opens with a literary quote or two. Choose a quote (or two) that means something to you and write a story, poem, or song that relates back to the quote. The quote can be from anywhere, it does not need to be from the book. (limit to 1,000 words or less)
- Unit 2: Reading assignment: Part II
Writing assignment: Marathon stream-of-consciousness—Set your timer for 30 minutes, once you start the timer, the only rule is that you cannot stop writing until the timer goes off. Don't overthink, don't edit, and don't stop. Your only goal is to keep writing, even if what you're writing stops making sense. You can continue writing after the timer goes off if you feel inspired to do so, but please only turn in what you completed within the time limit.
- Unit 3: Reading assignment: Part III
Writing assignment: Copy change—Select a favorite passage from the story and rewrite it. In doing so, you should try to keep the structure the same while changing the content (e.g., change the character's feelings, the setting, the point-of-view) (limit to 600 words or less).
- Unit 4: Reading assignment: Part IV
Writing assignment: The Talisman—Write a story about a talisman (a physical object) that means something to you. What does the object mean to you? Why is it important? What is the story behind it? (limit to 1,000 words or less).
- Unit 5: Reading assignment: Part V
Writing assignment: A Mostly True Story—Write a short story about an experience you had. Include as many details as possible. If you don't remember specifics, research them (e.g., Google an image of the place, look at a map, look back at a journal entry/Facebook post/email you wrote after it happened, talk to another person who was there and have them help you remember details of the event/dialogue/place, etc.) (limit to 1,200 words or less).
Student Skills, Equipment, and Time Required
All writing levels are welcome. Basic Internet and computer skills, such as word processing, web browsing and e-mail are needed. Participation in Yahoo group is required.
Time Commitment: This would depend on how quickly you read, but this book reads fairly fast. I would estimate 2-3 hours per week for reading and writing.
Tuition/Fees for this course
SCN members: $160. Non-SCN members: $200.
Liz Beaty is a Juris Doctor with a Master's Degree in Anthropology who lives in Ojai, California. She is an avid reader who loves to learn. Liz invites you to join her Reading for Writers 'Book Group' where you will read best selling novels and hone your writing skills through imitation.