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Workshop Spotlight: the Full Story

Most Jersey City Writers workshops feature a handful of writers sharing short stories, poems, and excerpts of larger works. These workshops help writers take a closer look at a piece of their work. But what about the big picture?

In 2014, Jersey City Writers launched its Full Story program. This unique workshop series gives authors the opportunity to receive critique on a full-length manuscript. Authors send out their manuscript to interested readers a month in advance of the discussion group.

Imagine a book club where the author is listening in. For the first half of a Full Story workshop, the author is a fly on the wall, observing the critique without speaking. They can specify discussion questions beforehand, or just allow readers to take the lead. Which scene did readers find most exciting? What chapter left them bored? Which characters were their favorites? What left them confused? What left them wanting more?

In the second half of the meeting, the author responds to readers’ questions, and asks their own. They use this time to clarify readers’ comments, compare reactions, and start putting together a detailed plan for revision.

The Full Story was designed by JCW moderator (and regular workshop attendee) Allison Goldstein. Allison realized that writers needed a special workshop for longer pieces. Since 2014, The Full Story has workshopped novels, short story collections, poetry chapbooks, and memoirs, in a wide range of genres.

In 2018, The Full Story expanded to meet its growing demand. Mary Fan and Kevin Singer joined Allison as Full Story moderators. Each of the three moderators specializes in specific forms and genres. 

In 2019, The Full Story hit another growth spurt. JCW has always run occasional specialty workshops on topics like plotting and publishing, but our Full Story Crash Course program unified these workshops under one banner.

JCW now offers a series of meetings over the course of a year that walk writers through every step of the manuscript-writing process. We start with foundational topics like plotting and character development, then continue all the way through revision and editing, seeking agents, and pitching ideas. Crash Course meetings include a presentation segment on the topic at hand, followed by one-on-one consultation and group discussion.

At Jersey City Writers, our motto is: Write, Share, Grow. The Full Story program pushes its authors to write more than they knew they could, share their work and their plans for improving it, and grow their manuscript from a first draft into a publishable work.

For more information on how to get involved in The Full Story, as either an author or a reader, contact us at thefullstory@jerseycitywriters.org.

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Jersey City Writers  is a (JCW) 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Hudson County, NJ

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