Instructor: Melanie Brooks
Date & Time:
Saturday, September 22 | 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM
USM’s Glickman Library, Portland
Maximum Attendees:
Member: $75 | Nonmember: $130
Registration Closes: September 13

Memoir can fall flat when readers feel detached from important events unfolding on the page. To connect a reader to one’s experience, a writer has to do more than simply narrate it. She or he has to pull readers in close, anchor them in time and place, and zip them into our skin, to paraphrase memoirist Mary Karr. Incorporating vivid, well-crafted scenes can do just that.

In this workshop, participants will look at examples of how memoirists use scene to help readers see, hear, and feel the action, and know what it was like for the writer in a particular moment. Attendees will engage in writing prompts and exercises that help them flesh out important moments in their own stories by drawing on scene-building techniques such as detail, description, character development, action, dialogue, thought, and reflection.

In addition, each participant will also have the opportunity to share a scene from a memoir-in-progress or narrative essay and receive constructive feedback from the class. 

+ SUBMIT After registering, participants are asked to submit a piece of writing of up to 1000 words (in standard formatting: double-spaced, 12 pt font, 1″ margins) that focuses on a particular moment in time by no later than 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 13. Please note that these manuscripts will be distributed in advance via email to the other workshop participants. Please email the manuscript to with the subject line: “BROOKS WORKSHOP MSS.”

BrooksMelanie Brooks is a freelance writer, college professor, and mother living in Nashua, New Hampshire with her husband, two children and yellow Lab. She’s the author of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma (February 2017, Beacon Press). Melanie received her master of fine arts in creative nonfiction from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program. She teaches at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, Merrimack College in Andover, Massachusetts, and Nashua Community College in New Hampshire. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bustle, The Manifest-Station, Hippocampus, the Huffington Post, Modern Loss, Solstice Literary Magazine, the Recollectors, the Stonecoast Review and Word Riot. She received the Michael Steinberg Prize for Creative Nonfiction in Solstice Literary Magazine’s annual contest. Her almost-completed memoir explores the lasting impact of living with the ten-year secret of her father’s HIV disease before his death in 1995. Her writing is the vehicle through which she’s learning to understand that impact.

All MWPA workshops require advanced registration. We accept registration by phone, mail, and online via PayPal. We cannot guarantee registration in the final 24-hours before a workshop, and can rarely accommodate day-of registration.

If you need to withdraw from a class after registering for any reason, please email or call the MWPA immediately. You may be eligible for a partial refund or credit, depending on how far in advance you cancel.

For any questions regarding this workshop, please contact Hannah Perry at

Call 207-228-8263 and register with your VISA or MasterCard.

If you prefer to pay by mail, please print this registration form (downloadable PDF) and mail it to the MWPA with a check or credit card information.


The MWPA is proud to offer one full scholarship to this workshop for members-only. Scholarships are awarded on a combination of need and merit. Application Due in the MWPA office on September 10 at 9:00 a.m.

Registration in any MWPA workshop, program, or event constitutes your agreement to our terms and conditions.