Online | Nonfiction | Memoir | Workshop

6-Week Online Advanced Memoir Workshop

"Allie has a real talent for teaching; her lessons are always lucid and illuminating. She is able to break down storytelling in a way that shows not only what is working in a piece, but why it is working and how. Her feedback is always insightful and generous, and it's obvious she really cares about both her students and their work. Allie's careful edits, personalized reading recommendations, and genuine encouragement have been invaluable to my writing practice long after workshop's end." - former student

Memoir comes in many forms. It also often concerns itself with transformative or traumatic events, occurrences from the writer’s life experienced as pivotal, and oftentimes painful, either retrospectively or in real-time. But how to render these traumas and transformations? How to identify the form best suited to the content at hand? How to write, but not over-write, the naturally dramatic? How to dramatize the mundane? How to treat non-fictional material with the delicacy, as well as the honesty it deserves?

In this six-week workshop we will attempt to answer these questions through online group discussion, supplemental readings, and, most importantly, active engagement with each other’s work. Writers will leave this class armed with the tools to transform their personal stories, even the most difficult ones, into clear and compelling memoir of any length. Each participant will have the opportunity to workshop twice, as well as meet once with the instructor via phone, Skype, or Gchat to discuss their work in greater detail.

This class will meet over our text-only chat platform. There will not be any video or audio component to class.


- Intensive peer and instructor feedback on two memoir submissions

- One private conference (via phone, Gchat, or Skype) with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement

- The support of a nurturing community of writers and readers and access to an engaged, passionate, mentor

- Greater familiarity with contemporary memoirs and the various craft elements employed in their writing.

- More confidence as a writer, on and off the page, and more confidence in the shape of the story you wish to tell


Week One: Intros and Workshop Group One

Week Two: Form and content, how to decipher the structure your story wishes to take; Workshop Group Two

Week Three: Inclusion, omission, and time travel; Workshop Group Three

Week Four: Scene; Workshop Group One

Week Five: Description and sentences; Workshop Group Two

Week Six: Submitting, publishing, applying to MFA/residencies, and general advice; Workshop Group Three

Allie Rowbottom

Allie Rowbottom is the author of Jell-O Girls, a 2018 New York Times Editor's Choice.  Her essays can be found in Vanity Fair, Salon, The Florida Review, The Rumpus, No Tokens and elsewhere. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from Disquiet, Summer Literary Seminars, Inprint and Tin House. Allie holds a PhD from the University of Houston and an MFA from CalArts and lives in LA.


"A book that alternately surprises and mesmerizes. Despite its title, this isn’t a bland tale that goes down easy; JELL-O GIRLS is dark and astringent, a cutting rebuke to its delicate, candy-colored namesake."


“Allie is a thoughtful, compassionate, and generous educator and person. She empowers her students through a feminist pedagogy that respects difference and encourages formal experimentation and creative risk-taking. As a practiced teacher and editor and a well-read student of literature, Allie is knowledgeable of and open to a wide variety of aesthetics and styles, and she treats her students' and peers' writing with respect and care as she guides it to its full potential.”

University of Houston teaching colleague

“Allie is a smart reader, a tough editor, and a brilliant writer, but above all she is a kind and thoughtful teacher. She meets stories and writers where they are and guides them with grace and good humor through the wild and thorny place known as the writing process. She has an eye for what is elegant in prose, what is revealing and fresh, and she is just as bold in nurturing the seeds of what is working as she is in pulling up the weeds of what is not.”

CalArts teaching colleague

“What really worked about this workshop was the insight and monitoring of the teacher. Allie was able to ensure everyone felt comfortable sharing their work and also provided really helpful feedback. I’ve never had a teacher give such attention to my work. It was obvious she genuinely cared about our stories and our success. Best workshop ever!”

former student

"[A] devestating memoir...the mother daughter portrait that emerges here melts the heart."


"Allie Rowbotton is a talent not to be overlooked! I love this book with all my heart. I couldn't put down this strangely sparkling cultural and family history"

Porochista Khakpour author of SICK

"JELL-O GIRLS is an artfully crafted feminist excavation of an American legacy and its dark underbelly by a tender and perceptive memoirist, a keen cultural critic, and a deserving chronicler of her mother's legacy. Jewel-toned as its subject, Rowbottom's prose brings into crystal focus the lacerating toll of patriarchy in our media, our homes, and our own bodies. She is a talent to be heralded."

Sarah Gerard author of SUNSHINE STATE and BINARY STAR