Jillian Schedneck

Class Title: Travel to Memoir: Transform Your Journey Into Story
Instructor: Jillian Schedneck
Class Term: September 17-October 15, 2018
We are not accepting any more enrollments for Jillian's class; the class has started.


You've always wanted to write about that summer in India, or that year in Paris, or wherever you may have roamed. But when you finally sit down to write, you just don't know how to get started. How are you supposed to put all those events, feelings, discoveries and epiphanies into a satisfying story? The Travel to Memoir: Transform Your Journey Into Story program will answer this question and more through my step-by-step training. I'll guide you through finding the story in your travel experience, and telling it powerfully. By the end of this 4 week course, you'll have created a travel memoir story you love so much that you'd be proud to post it on your blog, submit it for publication, or use it as a chapter in your travel memoir book.

Class Description

When you join the Travel to Memoir program, we'll roll up our sleeves and apply each of the 3 core steps to get you from travel experience to memoir story you love.
  • Step 1. Create Your Invitation to the Reader:
    The first step we'll create together during the first week of our program is your Invitation to the Reader. We all worry about coming up with a compelling opening to hook the reader onto our story. And we should: one of the biggest reasons powerful stories don't get written is because writers don't know how to start. Equally important, your opening is the make or break moment for your reader. It doesn't matter how compelling the rest of your story is, a reader of your blog or an editor considering your story for publication is going to click away or decline your submission based on the opening paragraph alone. I have a two-part formula to ensure that your readers and potential editors will be desperate to find out what happens next. We'll look at many examples, and choose the kind of invitation you want to give to your reader: the Question or the Evocation.
  • Step 2. Make Meaning of Your Quest:
    Whether you knew it or not, your journey was a quest. Every story is. Whether large or small, readers will find your quest compelling if you can convey its meaning. In this step, I'll help you identify your quest and break down the steps to writing about it. I'll show you many examples of how other authors have illustrated their quests for you to follow as models. By the end of this step, I'll make sure you've portrayed your quest as compelling and meaningful. You also make your quest meaningful by writing about the Stakes of Your Journey. It doesn't matter if these stakes are high or low, what matters is how you convey the details of the juicy middle of your story. How much should you include and what should you leave out? How can you weave in pertinent backstory alongside informing your reader about the new place you've journeyed to? These important questions will be answered in this next step. I'll show you targeted examples and how to use them to recall the important, evocative details of your story. Because this is the most complicated step, we'll work on it for two weeks of the program. We'll break this step down into smaller ones so that you steer clear of a "murky middle" and instead produce something crystal clear.
  • Step 3. Evoke Change:
    And the final step during the 4th and last week of our program is Evoking Change. No matter how big or how small, travel changes us. By the time we get to this step, the ending to your story will seem inevitable. Each step will bring you closer to completing one of your travel memoir stories, and call to mind other stories that you want tell. I'll be going through these steps right alongside you, writing my own travel memoir, and share my results with you during each training. Once you've gone through these steps, you'll have written a travel memoir story, blog post or chapter from your travel memoir book that you love. Take this process with you to write more and more stories about your journeys, near and far.

At the end of this class, students will be able to:

  • complete one travel memoir piece (whether a stand alone essay or a chapter of a book)
  • use the method taught here to write more travel memoir pieces
  • learn how to read like a writer
  • use the techniques employed in published travel memoir stories in your own writing

Instruction/Communication Method: I will deliver my instructional material through my website, where I have the course set up. I will give each student that signs up the unique links to the video instructions for each week of the course. These instructions are also provided as audio, and I also provide a transcript and the PowerPoint slides I use in the videos. Students will communicate with me through email. I will provide unlimited feedback. Each week, I provide targeted exercises and encourage students to send me what they've written for my constructive feedback.


  • Unit 1: Invitation to the Reader: This week we will learn all about how to write a great opening to your travel memoir story. We will go over examples and try out two formulas to begin your own travel memoir story. You will send me what you've come up with via email, and I will provide constructive feedback.
  • Unit 2: Making Meaning of Your Quest: This week we will learn all about signalling your quest, or desire, to the reader to gain their interest. Your quest is simply the thing you want out of your trip, whether it be something tangible, like a gold ring, or something abstract, like, 'find yourself.' We will look at many examples of how to do this, and go over how to write scenes that connect to your quest. Students will email me what they've written to signal their quest, and the scenes connected to it for my constructive feedback.
  • Unit 3: Building the Stakes of Your Journey: This week we will learn all about backstory. Your quest will only be meaningful to the reader if they understand why it is meaningful to you, and that meaning resides somewhere in your past. We'll drill down into examples of how to do this. We'll also discuss how to provide your own interpretation of events so the reader sees everything from your particular perspective. Students will send me their backstory connected to their quests, and I'll provide my constructive feedback.
  • Unit 4: Evoking Change: This week is all about endings. We'll go over three formulas to writing a good ending, and look at a lot of examples. Students will send me their entire travel memoir story and receive my constructive feedback.
Each week, students will also receive my bonus series: "How to Read Like a Writer." Here, they will be given a short travel memoir piece to read, and then listen to me analyze the techniques used in the story. Then, students can begin to use these techniques in their own stories.

Student Skills, Equipment, and Time Required

Beginner to intermediate. Word, Internet, email.

Time Commitment: 2-3 hours

Tuition/Fees for this course

SCN members: $128. Non-SCN members: $160.

Instructor Bio

Jillian Schedneck is the author of the travel memoir Abu Dhabi Days, Dubai Nights. Her travel memoir essays have appeared widely, in magazines and journals such as Brevity, Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel, and The Manifest-Station, among others. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction writing, and a Ph.D. in Gender Studies. Jillian runs the travel memoir website Writing From Near and Far. She currently runs the Writing Centre at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.

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Praise for Jillian's Classes

  • Jillian Schedneck: Your editing suggestions were right on. Your thoughtful reflections help me understand exactly where I needed to go for a better piece of writing. A big take-away for me is the importance and the extent to which I need to bring myself into the piece. Both my reading and my writing are improved forever! —Lauren R., Austin TX