Instructor: Ryan Britt
Date & Time: Wednesdays, January 23 – March 27 | 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Location: USM’s Glickman Library, Portland
Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Maximum Attendees: 12
Fee: MWPA Member $450 [+ $5 materials fee] | Nonmember $600 [+ $5 materials fee]
Registration Closes: January 14 January 21

Like good novels, good memoirs give the reader a compelling narrative sweep that keeps them turning the pages, hungry for what happens next. Of course, the writer of the memoir knows what happens next, because the story being told comes from their own life experiences. But creating that narrative sweep can be challenging for the writer who is trying to complete their first book-length memoir.

This 10-week master class is designed to answer the hard questions writers face when structuring their first book-length memoir. How much of a time span should the book cover? Does one story need to be told, or many? Should the narrative be sequenced chronologically or thematically?

Through close readings of contemporary memoirs, writing exercises, lectures, and workshopping of participant’s manuscripts, this course will help writers understand how their memoir will unfold. Writers will also feel empowered to try out structural approaches that reject the notion of a beginning, middle and end—just like the lives they reflect, memoirs need not be structured like a fairy tale.

Participants should have some specific ideas of what their memoir will be about, and may be underway with their writing, but do not need to have completed a book-length manuscript.

This class will study selections from the memoirs of Dani Shapiro, Patti Smith, John Hodgman, David Sedaris, Michael Chabon, Baratunde Thurston, Nicholas Meyer, Gary Shteyngart, Etgar Keret, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Westmore, Chuck Klosterman, Rob Sheffield and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

+ SUBMIT After registering, participants are asked to submit a manuscript (a memoir excerpt, ideally from the beginning of the manuscript, but this is not required) of up to 5,000 words by no later than 9:00 AM on January 14. Please email the manuscript to with the subject line: “BRITT WORKSHOP MSS.” Please help MWPA conserve paper by using standard formatting (1” margins, double-spaced, 12 pt Times New Roman) and keeping spacing between sections to a minimum (e.g. no title page). *Word docs (ideally) or PDFs only, please.

DATES The workshop will meet every Wednesday between January 23 and March 27, unless unforeseen scheduling issues should arise. 

PAYMENTS MWPA members may pay for this workshop in one payment, or may pay in three installments of $151.70, due at registration and the 20th of each month (February, March). *PLEASE NOTE If you have selected to pay for this multi-week workshop on the installment option, once registration for the workshop has closed, you are responsible for paying all of the remaining installments. If you should, for any reason, leave the workshop after registration has closed, you are still responsible for paying all of the remaining installments. 

CEU The MWPA is proud to offer Continuing Education Units (CEU) for this workshop. The CEU is a nationally recognized method of quantifying the time spent in the classroom during non-credit learning. Ten hours of instruction equal one (1) CEU. (*Please note that by definition, CEUs are non-credit continuing education and therefore not transferrable as academic credit.)

BrittRyan Britt is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. His first book, the essay collection Luke Skywalker Can’t Read was published by Plume (Penguin Random House) in 2015 and was praised by Vanity FairPaste, and many others. Ryan’s writing has been published in the New York Times, VICE,, CNN Style, The Morning News, and numerous online outlets. Ryan was a senior editor at Inverse and is currently a senior editor at the parenting lifestyle Fatherly. He has taught writing courses for over seven years at Gotham Writers’ Workshop, Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, and Catapult. He is represented by The Fischer-Harbage Agency and lives with his wife and daughter in South Portland.

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 January 7 at 9:00 a.m.

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