Such a Character! Writing Family
Who, reading Mary Karr’s memoirs, could fail to imagine her knife-wielding, smart-talking Texan mother? Who, reading Patricia Lockwood, can forget her father, the Rush Limbaugh-quoting, Arby’s-snarfing, farting priest? When we write memoir or autobiographical fiction, our characters are drawn from the people we love, the people we know best—those about whom we may have said our whole lives, “They’re such characters!” So why is it that sometimes those characters appear the blurriest in our drafts? Is it possible that how close we are to someone might be the very thing that complicates turning them into an effective character? In this class, we'll use daily writing and revision exercises to develop the characters that just happen to be our family members. We'll also discuss exceptional examples of family member characterization in published memoirs and autobiographical novels. Come prepared with family stories and ready to write!
Alexandria (Alex) Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir (Flatiron Books, 2017), which received the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir, the 2018 Chautauqua Prize, and the 2019 Prix France Inter, and was named to “best of the year” lists in the US, UK, and Australia. They live in Portland, ME, and are an assistant professor at Bowdoin College.