Workshop Focus:

This workshop is sold out, but we are accepting submissions for a waiting list. Please email [email protected] for more details.

“Writing the Book-Length Literary Memoir” is for writers who have a book-length memoir underway, with at least some chapters or pieces drafted. Memoir, as it is used here, has a subject and theme, and is concerned not only with what happened, but what the writer makes of what happened. It usually deals with a portion of a life, such as childhood (Angela’s AshesThe Liar’s Club), or has a focus, such as mental illness (Girl, Interrupted), or a mother-daughter relationship (Fierce Attachments). The challenges facing the writer of a literary memoir involve such issues as from what perspective in time to tell the story, where and how to begin, how to structure and shape the material, how to hold the reader’s attention, and questions of relevance—what to put in and what to leave out.

The group will explore these aspects of memoir through readings, exercises, and discussion. The instructor will help participants grapple with both the “forest” and the “trees,” trying to access the big picture of the book as well as developing skills in writing scenes, exposition, summary and dialogue. In addition to one-on-one conferences with the instructor, the members of the group will have the opportunity to get helpful feedback on their writing from other members of the group. Because of the nature of this workshop, the class size will be limited to 12.

Workshop Requirements:

This workshop is open to writers who are currently writing or planning a book-length memoir. It is intended for people who want to write literary memoirs as opposed to family histories.

The cost is $450.00. To reserve your space, click here.

Instructor Biography:

Paulette Bates Alden is the author of two critically acclaimed books:Feeding the Eagles, a collection of short stories published by Graywolf Press; and Crossing the Moon, a memoir published by Penguin. Her work has appeared in The New York Times MagazinePloughshares, Mississippi Review, The Antioch Review, and elsewhere. She has recently completed a novel, The Answer to Your Question, about the unlikely relationship between the mother of a serial killer á la Ted Bundy and the young, pregnant, Southern waif who is kidnapped by the son.

Paulette was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where she received her masters degree in creative writing and where she taught for three years as a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing. For many years she taught undergraduate and graduate level courses in memoir and fiction writing as an Edelstein-Keller Writer-in-Residence at the University of Minnesota, receiving a University College Distinguished Teaching Award. She has also taught creative writing at Carleton College as a Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professor and at St. Olaf College. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Bush Foundation Fellowship, a Loft-McKnight Award, and three Minnesota State Arts Board grants. For the past nine years she has worked with many individual writers on their novels, short stories, and memoirs via her website,

About our Program

The Key West Literary Seminar Writers’ Workshop Program provides writers at all stages of development with various opportunities to explore the craft of writing. Each workshop has its own focus and eligibility requirements; each class is limited to between 8 and 12 participants. Workshops generally take place in the morning, and may include optional afternoon and evening activities, including manuscript consultations, informal talks, and open readings. The Workshop Program is distinct from the Seminar; you may attend either or both. A $50 discount is available for most workshops, when taken in combination with the Seminar.

Our Scholarship & Financial Aid Program provides financial assistance to writers, teachers, and librarians who would otherwise not be able to attend the Seminar or Writers’ Workshop Program. For information about where to stay in Key West, see our guide to discounted lodging. To stay informed about new workshops, scholarship opportunities, and other KWLS news, visit our online journal Littoral, sign up for our email list, or join us onFacebook or Twitter. If you have any questions, please please call us, toll-free, at 888-293-9291, or write us at [email protected].