Autobiographical Fiction: Write a Short Story from Personal Experience staff pick badge

Adam Janos, Writer/Reporter

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9 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Turning Life Into Fiction

    • 3. Brainstorming

    • 4. Turning Yourself Into a Character

    • 5. Example Reading

    • 6. Pacing

    • 7. Golden Details

    • 8. Exposition vs Scene

    • 9. Editing Down & Outro

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About This Class

Plenty of great writers admit to basing their fiction on their own experiences. As such, their fiction can come across as effortless: as if all Hemingway did was type out his memories. But there’s a big difference between writing down what happened and writing a story that’s true. In this course you’ll hone your skills in autobiographical fiction writing, culminating in a short work that is both true to your lived experiences and yet untethered from the constraints of a memoir.

You’ll learn how to brainstorm short story ideas from your life, how to turn yourself into an engaging character, and how to effectively write details. You’ll also learn about focusing on a central conflict, and balancing exposition and scene, which—together—will help ensure your story is properly paced. This class is great for aspiring writers taking a first crack at putting together a short story, as well as for more experienced memoir and fiction writers who want to dip their toes in the other genre.

The class will reference two short stories: “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” by Junot Diaz, and “Cat Person,” by Kristen Roupenian. While you can still take the course without reading these stories, having done will help clarify some of the points being made. They are available for free online.