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Writing Workshops

NYC & Me: Exploring the City’s Famous & Forgotten History to Inspire Personal Narratives with Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons


6 Sessions

In stock

Once a week Thursdays, 7:00 pm EDT - 9:00 pm EDT July 25 to August 29, 2024

Online via Zoom

Want to write personal narratives? Interested in learning more about NYC history? Do both! Join Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons, producer of the nonfiction series No, YOU Tell It!, to write a personal narrative inspired by the city’s rich and, at times, unknown history.

Interact with historical resources and artwork created for No, YOU Tell It! shows produced in partnership with the Greater Astoria Historical Society to inform and, if desired, incorporate into your personal story. During this six-week interactive workshop, you will generate multiple story ideas and pick one to develop into a solid draft of a personal narrative (approximately 1600-1800 words). Participants will also swap drafts and read each other’s words aloud to hear their stories from a new perspective and provide group feedback.

NYC & Me combines historical facts, visual art, and personal stories to provide a more profound engagement with our individual and shared histories of the city.

Course Outline
  • Session I: Begins with a visual prompt based on a once-famous but often-forgotten NYC figure to inspire a personal story. Then, participants will explore assigned pieces of the city’s history (1964 World’s Fair, Green-Wood Cemetary, forgotten figures, and more) in pairs and present them to the group. Next is a brainstorming exercise to help participants generate additional story ideas and make personal connections to the pieces of history they presented or heard about. For homework, participants will answer a list of historical questions they created together and identify two story ideas for their personal narrative.
  • Session II: Review the homework in small groups to further explore the pieces of NYC history. Then, participants will share answers and discuss connections to the personal stories they are considering. We will read example narratives, and then participants will pair up and help each other identify the “What?” vs. “Why?” of their story ideas and move forward with one. Developing a first draft is the homework.
  • Session III: Starts with a “Sensory Blitz” writing prompt to help develop and add sensory details to the drafts. Next, participants will learn and practice different story starter techniques to strengthen the historical and narrative hook. The homework is to revise the draft in preparation for peer review and bring reading suggestions for personal narratives with strengths and similarities to the ones they have been working on.
  • Session IV: Small group check-in on participants’ draft status and share the personal narrative examples they’ve found. We’ll come back together for a group activity to identify turning point moments and how to land on an endnote that reflects the “Why?” of their personal narrative. Then, participants will pair up and provide each other with feedback on their drafts to prepare for culminating story swaps. Revising and submitting drafts to be swapped and read aloud in either Session V or VI is the homework. Participants will receive individualized instructor feedback to support their revision.
  • Session V: Story swaps of parts or the whole narrative with facilitated group feedback and next steps for revision.
  • Session VI: Story swaps of parts or the whole narrative for remaining participants with facilitated group feedback and next steps for revision. The workshop will conclude with a reflection exercise to meditate on participants’ new connections with the pieces of NYC history they explored together.
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Led by

  • Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

    Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

    Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

    Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons is a writer, educator, and storyteller. Her recent work has appeared in HiLoBrow, Marie Claire, Hippocampus magazine, and numerous anthologies. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Fairleigh Dickinson University and is the creator and producer of No, YOU Tell It!—a nonfiction series where storytellers develop true tales on the page and then swap stories to embody their story partner’s culture, identity, and life experience on stage. Kelly Jean is also the editor of the No, YOU Tell It! Ten-Year Anthology, available from Palm Circle Press. Visit and follow @noyoutellit to learn more!