Narrative Engine: The First Ten Pages (with Rachel Howard)

Rachel Howard

Rachel Howard




SATURDAY, MAY 4  |  Why do some memoirs take off from the first page, while others stall out before the end of chapter one? More importantly: How can you make sure the memoir you’re writing gets all the necessary gears lined up on those all-important first ten pages?

In this combination craft lecture and trouble-shooting workshop, you’ll learn the three Cs of narrative engine: Character, Conflict, and Clock. What’s clock, you say? Glad you asked. It’s a simple but elusive element that’s crucial to your story’s drive—but many memoir writers don’t realize their pages are missing it. Character and conflict are also more complex than they first appear. Drawing from the teachings of novelist David Haynes and Lisa Cron’s excellent book Wired for Story, this class will demystify all three Cs, then lead you through exercises and instructor feedback to identify Character, Conflict, and Clock in your narrative. Does your character have a compelling inner issue? Is your conflict harnessed to a theme that makes it meaningful? You’ll leave this class with the major story elements of your memoir clarified, and your narrative engine ready to rev.

Rachel Howard‘s novel, The Risk of Us, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April. She is also the author of a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder, The Lost Night. Her personal essays have appeared in Gulf Coast, Waxwing, Arroyo Literary Review, O, The Oprah Magazine, Berfrois, Canteen, The New York Times Draft series, and elsewhere. She received an M.F.A. in fiction from Warren Wilson College, and later served there as interim director of undergraduate creative writing. She has also taught in the M.F.A. program of Saint Mary’s College. More on Rachel at 


Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Date: Saturday, May 4

Course fee: $95


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