What is Camp Structure?

Camp Structure is a comprehensive, systematic, proven program designed to help you understand the story you want to tell as you build the map that will help you finish your book. Plus, the skills you learn are translatable to all genres, so you’ll have a head start when you start your next book.

Just imagine a writing life filled with more…


You know how stories are built and how to turn your life experiences into one.


You have the skills to complete this project and build something you’re proud of.


You have a clear vision of the way forward and how to get there.

“A story structure guru, Lisa’s feedback is brilliant and her workshops come with loads of valuable supplemental material. I highly recommend Lisa’s courses for writers of every experience level”

Andrea Lankford

Camp Structure Alumni and author of the New. York Times bestseller Trail of the Lost

Learn how stories work.

Identify your story’s beats.

Discover what truly belongs in your book.

Find your memoir’s essential question.

Build a map of your book.

Plan the next steps in your revision process.

How does Camp Structure work?

Camp Structure is a 14-week program where you’ll work through five exercises that will help you explore your memoir from various angles. Because every writing life is different, you can work through them at your own pace and in your own way. But while the pace is yours, you’re not going through this alone. You’ll benefit from the synergy of a motivated cohort of writers who will cheer you on and keep you accountable.

You’ll also receive expert guidance during seven group coaching sessions held over Zoom on the following Tuesdays from 1:00 PM EDT – 3:00 PM EDT: 9/10/24, 9/24/24, 10/8/24, 10/29/24, 11/5/24, 11/19/24, and 12/10/24. During our sessions, we’ll explore select pieces* generated during our program so can see how others are applying these exercises to their work. I’ll also take time to answer questions about the lessons in our program. All sessions will be recorded, so you’ll never miss a thing.

I’ll also offer four drop-in office hours sessions during camp where you can chat with me specifically about your project on the following Tuesdays from 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT: 9/17/24, 10/15/24, 11/12/24, and 12/3/24.

Plus, you’ll get access to the group Slack so you can connect with your peers along the way.

And as an added bonus you’ll receive access to The Most Common Memoir Structures.

“Lisa creates safe and generous spaces in which to grow, while also providing the right nudges and guidance to advance. I went from a lonely writer blindly pressing towards a dream to a confident memoirist with a clear vision for the road ahead”

Tia Levings

Author of the up-and-coming debut, A Well-Trained Wife (starred Kirkus review, published by St. Martin’s Press, August 6, 2024)
“The materials presented are essential for any author regardless of genre. I especially appreciated how Lisa gently encouraged us to stretch and look at things we hadn’t considered before. The course was rich in material that I know I will return to again and again. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this class and Lisa as a coach, teacher, and writing guide.”

Laurie Riedman

Author of Diamonds in the Dirt: Stories from a Junkyard Girl

About Your Instructor

I’m Lisa Cooper Ellison, a trauma-informed writing coach, speaker, and writer just like you. I’ve spent the past two decades helping students and clients turn difficult experiences into art. Camp Structure is one of the signature classes I designed to help you do this. During this course, I’ll walk beside you as you make sense of your experiences and decide the best way to structure and organize your material. Previous students have not only completed this course, they’ve gone on to publish their books. Some are now bestsellers or up-and-coming debuts. But don’t take my word for it. Hear what former students have to say about these strategies and this course.


The following five self-study modules will begin to drop on 8/26/2024–that way you have a TWO WEEK headstart on the exercises before the first coaching session begins.

Here Are Camp Structure’s Five Modules:

Module One: Discovering Your Memoir’s Beats

In this module, you’ll learn about the major beats in all stories and identify what they are in your project. This exercise will help you identify the key moments in your book and how they work together to create a propulsive story. By the end, you’ll understand what belongs, what to repurpose, and how to slant your material to engage readers.

Module Two: Exploring Your Chapter Synopsis

In this module, you’ll learn how to create a synopsis that ensures you don’t fall into the very common “and then this happened, and then this happened” trap that happens when writers string together interesting but unrelated events. Best of all, you can apply what you learn to writing your book proposal when you finish your manuscript.

Module Three: Navigating Your Misperception Matrix

This powerful tool will teach you how to craft a narrative arc that reveals your narrator’s transformation and connects it to the issues readers care about. Not only will you build a better, more marketable book, but you’ll learn how to talk about it with confidence.

Module Four: Building Your Backward Outline

Many writers wander through a quagmire of scenes and situations, uncertain about what belongs–even after building a beat sheet. That’s because we can get attached to life experiences that are important to us, but may not have much impact on our stories. Crafting a backward outline will help you weed out tangents that water down your project or bloat your word count.

Module Five: Designing Your Chapter Summary Project

Now that you know not just what belongs but why, you’re ready to build a comprehensive map for your project that will guide your next draft. Knowing where to go, you’ll stay laser focused on your goal as you ensure every scene does the appropriate work.

Check out the program’s FAQ page.

Lisa Ellison is very knowledgable about the craft of writing and teaches from the heart. I felt very safe sharing my work in the online space she created. Her workshop was informative, engaging, and fun. I learned a lot and also made valuable personal connections with some of the other students. Everyone participated and seemed very comfortable. I look forward to taking more classes with her in the future.

Christa Hillhouse

Writer and bassist for Four Non Blonds

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