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Life writing with Anne Karpf

Guardian Masterclasses

Sunday, March 16, 2014 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (GMT)

Life writing with Anne Karpf

Ticket Information

Ticket Type Sales End Price * Fee Quantity
Life writing with Anne Karpf EARLY BIRD PRICE Ended £199.00 £0.00
Life writing with Anne Karpf STANDARD PRICE Ended £229.00 £0.00
* Prices include VAT

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Event Details


Ensure your memoir or biography enhances all the beauty, drama and poignancy of real life, while making sense of its messiness

While real life is the source of an endless number of great triumphs and tragedies, capturing the essence and significance of these events in prose is fraught with challenges. The greatest of these is how to relate a story in a meaningful, true-to-life way that remains compelling to read.

Whether you want to write a feature, an essay or a full book, this course will teach you the practical and theoretical mechanics of translating the messiness of real life into print.

Led by award-winning journalist and memoir writer Anne Karpf, this Sunday course explores areas such as crafting a narrative, maintaining a consistent and engaging point of view, establishing a historical vantage point, and how to know what to leave out extraneous information while retaining all the intimate detail that makes the story a rich experience for readers. With individual practical exercises and tailored feedback, you'll leave the course with a greater understanding of how life works on the page, and knowing how to build on your own strengths.

Course description

This class is for those interested in producing, or already embarked upon, a piece of life writing - whether a memoir, autobiography or biography. It will introduce participants to some of the challenges involved in turning life experience, whether their own or someone else's, into a compelling narrative. As well as receiving theoretical tutoring in techniques used to turn life experience into narrative, attendees will put their new skills into practice with intensive writing exercises. For this reason, participants should have some existing experience of writing, and will asked to bring along a 750 word piece of original life writing to work on during the course. The class will cover:

  • Life writing as story-telling
  • Life writing as creative non-fiction: using techniques of plot, scenes, characters
  • The narrative: who is telling the story, and from which historical vantage point?
  • Dialogue: to reconstruct or not?
  • What to exclude?
  • Ethical dilemmas of life writing

This course is for you if…

  • You are interested in writing a biography of a historical figure, or have embarked upon one
  • You are planning to write, or currently writing, a memoir or autobiography
  • You're a writer or journalist interested in writing biographies, or ghostwriting autobiographies
  • You're a journalist who wants to improve your writing of real-life stories

Tutor profile

Anne Karpf is an award-winning journalist, writer and broadcaster, contributing columns and features regularly to The Guardian and many other publications. Her books include an acclaimed family memoir, The War After: Living with the Holocaust and How to Age. She is Reader in Professional Writing and Cultural Inquiry at London Metropolitan University.


Date: Sunday 16 March 2014
Times: 10am-5pm
Location: The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU
Early bird special (a limited number of places at a reduced price for people who book in advance) £199
Regular price £229
(all prices include VAT, booking fee, lunch and refreshments)
Maximum course size: 16

To contact us, click here. Terms and conditions can be found here.

Returns policy
Tickets may be refunded if you contact us at least 7 days before the course start date. Please see our terms and conditions for more information on our refund policy.

Full course and returns information on the Masterclasses website

Have questions about Life writing with Anne Karpf? Contact Guardian Masterclasses

When & Where

The Guardian
Kings Place
90 York Way
N1 9GU London
United Kingdom

Sunday, March 16, 2014 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (GMT)

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Guardian Masterclasses

Welcome to Guardian masterclasses – a unique programme of learning embedded within one of the world's most forward-thinking media organisations.

Masterclasses offer a broad range of short and long courses across a variety of disciplines from creative writing, journalism, photography and design, film and digital media, music and cultural appreciation.

Harnessing the expertise and specialisms within the organisation, our courses are led by first class and award winning guardian professionals whilst also drawing on the skills and expertise of other leading figures at the forefront of the creative and digital industries.

The programme is aimed at anyone interested in personal or professional development whether that be refining your skills, focusing your ambition or simply broadening your mind and gaining inspiration.

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Life writing with Anne Karpf
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