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Memoir writing course on line









Having taught creative writing for many years now, I realise that in a crowded workshop writers get very little individual attention. That’s why I’m offering personalised writing workshops on line.


The course is designed for those of you who want detailed, one-to-one encouragement and advice from a personal tutor and the chance to discuss your work further. Unlike other writing courses, there is no time limit for completion, and I don’t ask you to watch videos or join in group discussions via the internet. This is a personalised course that you can do at your own pace, in your own way.


Before you begin the course I will ask a little about your hopes for your memoir, so that where possible I can modify the sessions to suit your particular interests.


Shrewd, well-informed and fun to work with, Rebecca draws on long
experience as a biographer, journalist and broadcaster.
A great help to aspiring writers. I warmly recommend her.”

Jeremy Lewis, biographer and former director of Chatto publishing.


The course is made up of six sessions, with the additional option of having the first 5,000 words of your memoir critiqued at a later date.  There are a variety of sessions to chose from.  Here is just one possible outline for a course. If, as your writing progresses, you find you want to work on one area more than others, then I re-design the programme to accommodate your particular interests.


SESSION ONE: Where to begin

It’s true that Salmon Rushdie began his epic fictional memoir with the exact time of his character’s birth, but as a general rule, the very beginning is not the place to begin. So in this first session we’ll be looking at beginnings. How to start, where to start and how to set the tone and framework for the narrative that is to follow.


SESSION TWO:  Kick starting the memory

quote1One of the arts of writing memoir is to write about people, places and events as you experienced them at the time; to live again in those moments so that your readers can feel what it was like to be you at any given time. There are many triggers we can use to dig deeper into our memories, the most evocative being the use of the five senses. So in this session we’ll tackle a series of writing exercises that take you through various periods in your life.


SESSION THREE: Characterisation – getting under their skin

Memoirs are obviously not all about us. They are also about all the people – the major and minor characters – who have woven their way in and out of our lives – for better or for worse. There can be a tendency, when writing autobiographical material, to write vignettes about the people we know well, rather than drawing three dimensional characters whose personalities unfold as our story continues. In this session we’ll be thinking about how to reveal the complexity of character and to write about relationships and events from different points of view.


” Rebecca is a terrific and knowledgeable mentor.   I have learnt so much in such a short space of time. She has been an inspiration. I can’t wait for the next lesson and the challenge it will bring. ” 

John Zimnock


SESSION FOUR:  “He said she said”, he said – getting dialogue right

All narratives need dialogue, and this applies to your memoirs just as much as to a work of fiction.  Dialogue changes the pace of a story, heightening emotion, revealing relationships and individual character. It also conveys information obliquely, which is important. But written speech, while needing to sound real, is not the same as conversation in everyday life, so in this session we’ll be looking at ways to bring your characters and their relationships alive through the art of good dialogue.


SESSION FIVE: Yourself as character

And lastly, of course, there is you. When writing your memoir, you too become a character on the page. Thinking of yourself objectively in this way can be a liberating experience, giving you a useful sense of distance from the events that take place and your responses to them. In this session I’ll be asking you to write about yourself, not just as others may see you, but as you see yourself, with your writer’s eye.


Out of a tangle of thoughts and words, Rebecca has taught me to find my voice and begin to craft my story” 

Jenny Caven

SESSION SIX:  The art of descriptive writing

A  subtitle for this session could be, THE EDITORS PEN. We’ll be looking at what constitutes good descriptive writing and then applying it to some of the work you have done in previous sessions. It will be an opportunity to think about how we edit our own work and develop style.



 Each session will involve the following:

A written introduction.

A brief look at how other authors tackle the subject.

A choice of two or three written assignments of up to 500 words each.

A detailed feedback on your work with the opportunity to discuss it further if you wish.


 PRICE:  The six session course will cost £250.00 to be paid in advance.

If you would like to have a chat about this course, and your ideas, do contact me either by email: or by phone on 01892 512323. 


“The personal support has been incredible.  Rebecca has taken the time to understand me and develop my writing.  This is not a series of formulaic tutorials – it’s a programme for growth, tailored to your needs.” 

Esther Arnott

ADDITIONAL CRITIQUE: There will also be the option of having a detailed critique of the first 5,000 words of your memoir for an additional £300.00. This must be sent within 6 months of your starting the course.


“Rebecca de Saintonge is an acute and insightful literary critic. Her eloquence and love of the written word combined with the expressive creativity of her own work make her a lucid and experienced guide through the writing process.”

Professor Tina Beattie, Roehampton University