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Scene and Being Seen in Memoir and Creative Nonfiction

Memoir and creative nonfiction early drafts are often heavily narrative, but as we revise and further craft our stories, we often discover we have to recreate the significant scenes of our lives to enrich and vary those narratives. Creating scene in nonfiction causes the self to be seen in a different way from strict narrative and often causes writers to feel particularly vulnerable; sharing those scenes in workshop is often a significant step in preparing for the reception of our stories by a public audience.
In this workshop:

1) We will discuss the benefits of scene in narrative nonfiction in relation to purpose and audience;
2) Participants will identify feedback and publication goals for the piece they submit to workshop; and
3) Participants will submit up to 2,500-word drafts for feedback from participants and the instructor.
In this narrative building and nurturing workshop, the emphasis will be on developing and polishing a drafted memoir excerpt, creative nonfiction essay, or equivalent collection of short or flash nonfiction.
Instructor: Deirdre Fagan is the author of a poetry collection, Phantom Limbs (Finishing Line Press, 2023), an award-winning memoir, Find a Place for Me: Embracing Love and Life in the Face of Death (Pact Press, Regal House Publishing, November 1, 2022), a short story collection, The Grief Eater (Adelaide Books, 2020), and a chapbook of poetry, Have Love (Finishing Line Press, 2019). Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared widely in literary journals and anthologies. Fagan is also the author of the reference book, Critical Companion to Robert Frost (Facts on File, 2007) and has published critical essays on poetry, memoir, and pedagogy. Notably, her essay on Emily Dickinson’s dash was included in Harold Bloom’s Modern Critical Views. Fagan holds a doctorate in Humanistic Studies (English and Philosophy) and a master’s in English from University at Albany, SUNY, and a bachelor’s in English from University at Buffalo, SUNY, and has taught university courses in writing and literature for over two decades. She is a native New Yorker who has also lived in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Maryland, and currently resides in Michigan where she teaches and coordinates the creative writing program at Ferris State University. For her memoir, Fagan is a National Indie Excellence Awards gold medal winner, Readers’ Favorite gold medal winner, Living Now Awards bronze medal winner, Shelf Unbound Indie Notable 100, American Writing Awards finalist, and American Bookfest finalist. For her short story collection, she is an Eric Hoffer Book Award category finalist and Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist. For her poetry, a Best of the Net finalist and Pushcart Prize nominee. Fagan is also the poetry editor at Orange Blossom Review. She is currently in the process of revising a second memoir.


Details: Scene and Being Seen in Memoir and Creative Nonfiction meets Tuesdays May 7, May 21, and June 4 from 6:30-9:00pm remotely online via Zoom.

Prerequisites: None

Genre: Nonfiction

Level: All Levels

Format: Generative workshop with writing in class and outside of class and group sharing.

Location: This class takes place remotely online via Zoom.

Size: Limited to 12 participants (including scholarships).

Suggested Sequence: Follow this class with another generative nonfiction writing workshop or a feedback course.

Scholarships: Two scholarship spots are available for this class for writers in Northeast Ohio. Apply by April 15.

Cancellations & Refunds: Cancel at least 48 hours in advance of the first class meeting to receive a full refund. Email

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