Cinelle Barnes

The nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center will host a virtual workshop on Writing Family Stories on October 19 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Learn more and register for this $75 class at

Led by memoirist, essayist, and editor Cinelle Barnes, this two-hour class for writers at all levels of experience will include three in-class prompts that build on each other, a PDF handout with text and illustrations, and a short listening exercise and reading from Monsoon Mansion, the instructor’s family memoir on love, loss, and survival, described by Susan Tekulve as “a woven family tale that is both delicate and electric.”

In this generative workshop, participants will learn strategies for writing nonfiction stories on family: research and reporting, ideation, pacing, narration, organization, voice and tone, and creating an ensemble of “characters” who are specific to our origin stories but recognizable to any reader. We’ll break down family memoirs into the who, where, and when, making the unwieldy task of writing about those we know more manageable.

As a value-added bonus for the first five writers to register, the instructor will also offer to critique their short “elevator pitches” for their family stories-in-progress during the workshop.

Instructor Cinelle Barnes is a memoirist, essayist, and educator from Manila, Philippines, and is the author of Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir and Malaya: Essays on Freedom, and the editor of A Measure of Belonging: 21 Writers of Color on the New American South. Her work has appeared or been featured in the New York Times, Longreads, Garden & Gun, Electric Literature, Buzzfeed, Catapult, Literary Hub, and CNN Philippines, and has received support from the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund, the Focus Fellowship, and the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. She’s a contributing editor at Catapult.