Free writing course: The Shape of Me: Exploring Structure in Memoir with Sarah Clement


Sarah Clement will be running a free self-led course all about structuring your memoir in early 2023. 

In this four-session weekly email course we’ll delve into the structure of memoir, looking at chronology, form, story, beginnings and endings. We’ll explore and think about published memoirs and memoirs you might be currently writing or planning. When we write about ourselves, how might we handle time and combine the Now Story, Main Story, Under Story? Will our ‘story’ shape be the well-known arc or an alternative? Where might we start and end a memoir? And what form – the classic, woven, mosaic, borrowed shell, or hybrid – will our memoir take? Studying published memoirs can illuminate options for our own writing and help us to think about the structure of our memoirs-in-progress. And exploring these issues through exercises can help us find a shape for the memoir we are writing or planning. 

What can you expect from taking part? 

Each of the four emails will discuss different aspects of memoir structure. We’ll look at chronology, form, story, and beginnings and endings in various diverse contemporary memoirs. Participants will do several exercises exploring these same aspects in either the participant’s own memoir-in-progress or in a favourite memoir they have read. We will also consider the matter of planning vs finding a structure, and practical ways of playing around with different possible shapes for a memoir. 

Who is this for?   

The course is for people working on, or planning, a memoir. It is suitable for those new to memoir writing as well as those with more experience whose memoir is well underway. People writing other long-form narrative nonfiction, essay collections, and autobiographical novels are also very welcome. 

Email Dates 

This writing course will be delivered via e-mail. It’s self-led and designed for you to complete in your own time.

You’ll receive emails on the following dates:

Course Email 1 – Tuesday 21 February 2023 

Course Email 2 – Tuesday 28 February 2023 

Course Email 3 – Tuesday 7 March 2023 

Course Email 4 – Tuesday 14 March 2023 


This course is designed with creativity and accessibility at its heart; it is free to take part in, optimised for screen reading, and includes transcriptions.

If you know someone who would like to take part who doesn’t have a computer or internet access, you can contact us and we can print and post the courses (UK only).

About Sarah 

Sarah Clement received a London Writers Award in 2021, and completed the manuscript of her memoir during the London Writers Award development programme. Her writing has been published in Liars’ League, the Mechanics Institute Review, Reflex Fiction, The Selkie and LossLit and has appeared in four anthologies including A Wild and Precious Life (Unbound). Sarah’s work has been shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize and the First Pages Prize and in 2018 she received a Creative Future Literary Award 2018. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths. Sarah is a research psychologist by background, now writing about her own inner life. 

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Published 8 December 2022