Memoir to Fiction ~ Diane Wilson

Telling True Stories: Memoir to Fiction

What makes a compelling memoir? Why do some novels keep us reading obsessively until the last page? In this class, we’ll explore the elements of authentic and compelling stories that are foundational to both memoirs and novels. Through in-class writing exercises and short homework assignments, participants will explore three elements that are critical to story: character development, world building, and form. This class is intended to support writers working on book-length manuscripts in strengthening their own writing process, finding inspiration through exploration, and deepening their understanding of the stories they want to tell.

Diane Wilson (Dakota) is a writer and educator, who has published four award-winning books as well as essays in numerous publications. Her first picture book, Where We Come From, co-written with John Coy, Sun Yung Shin, and Shannon Gibney, is a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, which will be announced on May 2.

Wilson’s 2021 novel, The Seed Keeper, (Milkweed Editions) received the 2022 Minnesota Book Award for Fiction. Her memoir, Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past (Borealis Books) won a 2006 Minnesota Book Award and was selected for the 2012 One Minneapolis One Read program. Her 2011 nonfiction book, Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life (Borealis Books) was awarded the 2012 Barbara Sudler Award from History Colorado. Wilson’s middle-grade biography: Ella Cara Deloria: Dakota Language Protector, was an Honor selection for the 2022 American Indian Youth Literature Award. Her essays have appeared in many anthologies, including: Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations (2021); We Are Meant to Rise (2021); and A Good Time for the Truth (2016).

Wilson has received a 2013 Bush Foundation Fellowship as well as awards from Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, and a 50 Over 50 Award from Pollen/Midwest.

Wilson is the former Executive Director for Dream of Wild Health, an Indigenous non-profit farm, and the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, a national coalition of tribes and organizations working to create sovereign food systems for Native people.

Wilson is a Mdewakanton descendent, enrolled on the Rosebud Reservation.