Amber Lea Starfire – From Memories to Memoirs
  • Amber Lea Starfire – From Memories to Memoirs

Amber Lea Starfire – From Memories to Memoirs


  • Description


Amber Lea Starfire - From Memories to Memoirs1Amber Lea Starfire – From Memories to Memoirs

Turn Your Memories into Compelling Memoirs

I believe that everyone’s lives, however “ordinary,” are filled with experiences that speak to universal human experience and are therefore interesting to other people. Learn how to record your memories as engaging stories and create a legacy of memoir during this fun, ten-week, moderated self-study course.

From Memories to Memoirs is based on Bill Roorbach’s book Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature and is designed to help students convert memories into compelling narrative prose.

Using a variety of memory-triggering and writing exercises, we will explore the stories that our memories have to tell and learn writing techniques to help tell them most effectively.

In this class you will:

  • Define and discuss the nature of memoir and story.
  • Learn techniques to trigger memories and challenge their limits.
  • Explore and discuss the nature of memory.
  • Discover how different types of research can enhance memories and the experience of writing about them.
  • Write scenes that incorporate elements of creative writing while remaining true to the remembered facts.
  • Understand the differences between scene, summary, and exposition, and when to use them.
  • Learn how to develop true-to-life characters on the page.
  • Complete a 1,500-2,000 word memoir or narrative essay.

NoteWriting Life Stories by Bill Roorbach is a required text for this class.

Your Instructor

Amber Lea Starfire

Amber Lea Starfire is an author, editor, teacher and writing coach whose passion is helping others tell their stories, make meaning of life, and access inner wisdom and creativity through the act of writing. She earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from San Francisco University and an MA in education from Stanford University. Recent memoirs include Accidental Jesus Freak: One Woman’s Journey from Fundamentalism to Freedom and Not the Mother I Remember: A Memoir. Her Journaling for Transformation series includes Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations, Journaling the Chakras, and Journaling Through Relationships. Amber is also editor of several anthologies, including the award-winning, Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the 60s & 70s.

Course Curriculum

Introduction & Overview
  • Introduction and course Goals
  • Introduce Yourself
  • General Guidelines for Responding to Others’ Writing
  • Introduction and Overview: Downloadable PDF
Week 1: Defining Memoir
  • What is Memoir?
  • Writing Prompts
  • Discussion
  • Exercise One: Mapmaking from pages 28-29
  • ​Exercise Two: Map Story on page 32.
  • ​Optional & Recommended
  • Week 1 – PDF Download
Week 2: Making Scenes
  • Introduction to Scene
  • Reading About Scene
  • Discussion Questions
  • Dead Frog Exercise
  • Write: Cracking Open Your Scene
  • Optional & Recommended
  • Week 2 PDF Download
Week 3: Writing the Senses
  • Writing the Senses
  • Discussion
  • Reading the Senses
  • Writing the Senses Exercise
  • ​Remembering the Senses
  • A Scene List
  • Burning Moments
  • Week 3: Downloadable PDF
Week 4: Real Life Characters
  • Portraying Characters
  • Characteristics
  • Writing Your Character
  • Optional and Recommended
  • Week 4: Downloadable PDF
Week 5: Dialogue and Drama
  • Characterization Through Conflict and Drama
  • Pre-Writing
  • Characterization Through Dialogue
  • Writing Dialogue
  • Don’t Skip This Exercise!
  • Dialogue With Action and Description
  • Characterization Through Description
  • Week 5: Downloadable PDF
Week 6: Emotion and Voice
  • Emotion and Voice
  • Emotion and Voice Continued
  • Back to the Letter
  • Get Pissed on Paper
  • Selecting Your Final Project
  • Week 6: Downloadable PDF
Week 7: Fact Finding
  • A New Adventure
  • Types of Research
  • The Half-Hour Year
  • Face-to-Face Research
  • Week 7: Downloadable PDF
Week 8: Employing Metaphor
  • Introduction to Metaphor
  • Metaphor, the Source of All Meaning
  • Adding Figurative Language and Symbols
  • Week 8: Downloadable PDF
Week 9: Saying it Right
  • Saying it Right
  • On Being Clear
  • Prose in Motion
  • Rhythm, Density, Texture & Precision
  • Week 9: Downloadable PDF
Week 10: Structure
  • Introduction to Finding Your Structure
  • Finding Your Form
  • The Basic Structure of Nonfiction
  • Ways to Structure Memoir
  • Structuring the Personal Essay
  • Week 10: Downloadable PDF
Wrapping Up and What’s Next
  • The Final Steps (0:42)
  • Course Evaluation

Proof Content

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