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Start writing your memoir

Start writing your memoir and master the tools used by successful memoirists.

This course is for anyone who dreams of writing a memoir, but doesn't know how to go about it. The course offers expert, one-on-one training, line by line, from a professional writer, and provides a foundation in the craft of memoir. Learn how to set up a writing schedule, plan your memoir and start the process of putting your life story into words.

Course Details:
Modules: seven Modules
Duration: six months
Course Fee: R4995
Start date: At any time; applications all year round

Student completes several writing exercises and a preliminary start of at least 10,000 words with one-on-one instruction from a tutor

Lisa Lazarus has co-written her memoir The Book of Jacob (Oshun) with her husband about the first year with their son, Jacob. Julia Denny-Dimitriou, writing for the Natal Witness, regarded this memoir as "the book that affected me most [in 2009]...A courageous and beautifully written book."
She also works as a freelance journalist for a variety of publications, including Men's Health, Femina, Psychologies, Shape, Cosmopolitan, Femina, Healthy Pregnancy and the Mail & Guardian.
She has a Masters Degree in Educational Psychology. She is currently completing her Masters in Creative Writing at UCT.

Admission Requirements:
• Students must be proficient in the English Language
• E-mail and Internet access required
• No previous tertiary qualification required


Module One - an introduction to memoir
• What is memoir?
• Why do people write memoirs?
• How to overcome some common fears about writing memoir
• What you can expect from this course?
• Exercise: Construct a schedule, your expectations for the course, and warm-up writing exercises.

Module Two - the basics
• Different types of memoir
• Understanding theme and point of view
• Finding your voice
• Reading memoirs
• Exercise: Your memoir proposal, and discuss voice, theme and point of view in a memoir of your choice.

Module Three - characterisation
• The narrator versus the protagonist
• Getting to know your protagonist
• The central character - you
• Memory triggers
• Other characters
• Assembling a cast of vivid, believable major and minor characters
• Exercise: Using memory triggers and a brief scene in which two of your characters interact.
• Text instalment: 700 words

Module Four - plot
• Plot versus story
• The key elements of plot
• Classic and alternative plot structures
• Sub-plots
• Exercise: The plot outline of your memoir.
• Text instalment: 1 500 words

Module Five - setting
• The environment: place, weather, light, sound, textures = atmosphere
• Exercise: The setting of your memoir
• Text instalment: 2 000 words

Module Six - putting scenes together
• Scenes, chapters and paragraphs
• Transitions, beginnings and endings
• Exercise: Practise writing transitions
• Text instalment: 2 000 words

Module Seven - writing style
• Good and bad style tips
• Finding your own style
• Exercise: Examine your own writing style.
• Text instalment: 2 500 words
• Final text instalment: 10 000 words

How Does The Course Work?
Students will receive a 100-page course manual consisting of seven modules, either in MS Word or PDF, depending on the student's preference. These modules will be e-mailed to the student as he or she progresses through the course.
Each module will contain:
• Relevant theory pertaining to the field
• Practical and writing tips
• Practical assignments that build towards the word count of the manuscript
Once the writing assignment has been completed, and e-mailed to the tutor, an assessment and feedback will be sent to the student, and the module will be considered complete.
Students can also participate in ongoing online discussions by posting comments about the materials covered in the course, as well as give feedback to students who have posted their pieces in the Discussion Forum.

Conditions of Certification:
Students will receive a SA Writers' College Certificate upon successful completion of the course, provided they meet the following conditions:
• Students must have completed all assignments
• The course must have been completed within six months of registration.
• Students are expected to attain a minimum average of 50% for the course

Minimum Estimated Time Commitment:
This is hard to predict, as some people are simply faster writers than others. However, for each 1000 words of your memoir, you could calculate on spending about an hour writing and at least the same amount of time in revising. The exercises should each not take more than two hours to complete. And finally, you should expect to spend some time at the end of the course, giving your manuscript a final polish. This gives a rough estimate of 45 hours over the course of 7 modules, or round about seven to eight hours a month.

Date: 02 July 2015
Venue: Online correspondence course, Countrywide
Cost: R 4995.00

Date: 23 July 2015
Venue: Online correspondence course, Countrywide
Cost: R 4995.00

Date: 30 July 2015
Venue: Online correspondence course, Countrywide
Cost: R 4995.00

Date: 06 August 2015
Venue: Online correspondence course, Countrywide
Cost: R 4995.00

Date: 20 August 2015
Venue: Online correspondence course, Countrywide
Cost: R 4995.00

Date: 27 August 2015
Venue: Online correspondence course, Countrywide
Cost: R 4995.00

Contact: Koos Turenhout
Company name: SA Writer's College
Email address

SA Writers' College
Our courses offer one-to-one support, guidance and mentoring from experts every line of the way.