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Writing the Taboo in Memoir: Bring Your Most Vulnerable Stories to Life

December 13, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm EST

Virtual Event Virtual Event
ancient art,imitation,learning craft


At their best, personal narratives about “taboo” topics speak to our darkest truths and teach us what it means to be vulnerable.

Topics like mental illness, sex, and violence are often branded “taboo” and can be some of the most difficult material to write about. But at their best, these narratives speak to our darkest truths and teach us what it means to be vulnerable. Even the most stigmatized topics can be made approachable if you know how to pull the reader in and give your story universal resonance. No matter how difficult the subject matter, memoirists can keep readers engaged by using craft techniques like worldbuilding, identifying universal truths, and exercising narrative control.

This webinar will explore the challenges and opportunities of writing honestly about taboo topics. We’ll discuss why it’s so important to give voice to unsayable truths, and how to use craft tools to create unforgettable memoirs and essays. We’ll also address self-care strategies, how to know when material is “too” explicit, and how and when to exercise narrative restraint.

In this webinar, you will:

  • EXPLORE why certain topics are “taboo” in personal narratives–and why you should write about them anyway.
  • LEARN craft tools for making such stories feel resonant to readers, including worldbuilding, identifying universal truths, and exercising narrative control.
  • ADDRESS the practical challenges of writing about taboo topics, including self-care strategies, knowing when material is “too” explicit, and how to use narrative restraint.

This webinar is ideal for:

This webinar is ideal for a memoirist or personal essayist who is tackling topics often considered taboo or stigmatized in society. Examples of these kinds of topics include mental illness, sex, and violence.

Closed captioning is available. ✔
All registrants receive the recording. ✔


ancient art,imitation,learning craftKATIE BANNON is a writer, editor, and educator whose work has appeared in The Rumpus, ELLE Magazine, Narratively, and more. Her memoir manuscript, which charts her journey as a compulsive hair puller, was a finalist for the Permafrost Nonfiction Book Prize. A graduate of GrubStreet’s Memoir Incubator, she holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Emerson College. She is a developmental editor who loves working with memoirists and essayists on how to write and revise their most vulnerable, taboo stories. She teaches at GrubStreet and lives in Central Massachusetts with her partner and two cats.


Questions? Please email


December 13, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:15 pm EST
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Zoom Webinar


Katie Bannon
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