Unfortunately, due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 conference. We hope you will consider applying for the conference in 2021.

Can Factory

Summer Writers Conference

July 19th - 24th, 2020
Application Fee: $20
Price: $1,550
Member Price*: $1,475

This summer, One Story will offer our annual week-long writing conference for fiction writers, hosted in our home, the historic Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn.

The twenty conference participants will be divided into two intimate ten-student workshop groups, each of which will be led by workshop instructor Will Allison or Maaza Mengiste. Each day will begin with a two-and-a-half-hour intensive writing workshop. Afternoons will focus on writing exercises and craft lectures led by established writers and editors, exploring fiction’s most important elements. Evenings will feature panel discussions with agents, editors, and industry professionals. Over the course of the week, students will work toward completing a publishable manuscript, create new work, and build long-lasting ties with the New York literary community.

“What made this workshop special was the sense of purpose the folks running the workshop had, how much they cared about the writing life and seeing us grow in that direction.”
—Aaron Cohen, Summer Writers Conference, 2019

“The advanced lectures made it apparent that I was in a group of working writers who already possessed a foundational knowledge of craft. I left the conference knowing that the One Story editors and staff truly care about my writing career, which gives me the confidence and energy to work hard.”
—Laura Green, Summer Writers Conference, 2018

Other than the act of writing itself, this conference was the best gift I could give myself as a writer.”
—Beth Levine, Summer Writers Conference, 2018

“I learned so much not only about craft but also about the business of writing. I loved every minute of it!”
— Diana Quiñones, Summer Writers Conference, 2017


Will Allison Will Allison: Former executive editor of Story and former editor-at-large for Zoetrope: All-Story, Allison is the author of the novels What You Have Left and the New York Times bestseller Long Drive Home. His short stories have appeared in One Story, Glimmer Train, the Kenyon Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. He has taught at Columbia University, The Ohio State University, Butler University, Indiana University, Purdue University, and elsewhere. Since 2011, he has served as a contributing editor and workshop teacher for One Story. He lives with his family in South Orange, New Jersey, and is the recipient of a 2019 Individual Artist Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. For more information, please visit

Maaza Mengiste Maaza Mengiste is a novelist and essayist. She is the author of the novels, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, selected by the Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books; and The Shadow King, called “a brilliant novel...compulsively readable” by Salman Rushdie. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Scholar Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Creative Capital. Her work can be found in the New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Granta, the Guardian, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and BBC, among other places. Maaza’s fiction and nonfiction examines the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile, and considers the intersections of photography, memory, and violence. She was a writer on the documentary projects, Girl Rising and The Invisible City: Kakuma.

Sample Conference Schedule:

9:45am - 10:00am
Coffee, Tea, and light snacks will be served

10:00am - 12:30pm
Workshop with Maaza Mengiste or Will Allison
Every morning, you will read and constructively talk about one another’s work, while Maaza Mengiste or Will Allison leads the discussion and teaches you how to make good writing great.

1:00pm - 2:00pm
Choose your lunch from a menu with a variety of options. Each meal is catered by a different local Brooklyn restaurant.

2:30pm - 4:00pm
Craft lecture with Guest Author/Editor
Afternoon craft lectures will be given by guest authors and editors. Past craft lecturers have included Rakesh Satyal, Myla Goldberg, Victor LaValle, and Julie Buntin.

4:30pm - 6:30pm
Break/Student Free Time
There’s plenty to explore in Brooklyn! During the break, you are encouraged to visit some of the local coffee shops, bookstores, bars, and museums outlined in a guide provided (and made) by One Story staff. This is also a good time to catch up on some reading or take a walk in nearby Prospect Park.

6:30pm - 8:00pm
Agent panel
This evening will offer you the opportunity to meet with some of New York’s finest agents. Past guests have included Sarah Burnes, Claudia Ballard, Renée Zuckerbrot, Duvall Osteen, Samantha Shea, Rebecca Gradinger, and Jim Rutman. Agents will answer your questions about how to best go about getting an agent and offer their own stories and advice from the front lines of the industry.

8:00pm - 9:00pm
Cheese and wine reception
After the panel, you’ll have a chance to talk one-on-one with these agents over a glass of wine, and ask more in-depth questions about the authors and books they represent.

Application Guidelines:

The One Story Summer Writers Conference is open to fiction writers 21 years of age and older.

The deadline to apply for the conference is 11:59pm ET May 10th, 2020. There is a $20 nonrefundable application fee. All applications must be sent through Submittable. All applicants will be notified of acceptance by late May 2020.

We are seeking applicants who are excited about a career in fiction writing and ready for a fun and productive week. Applicants will be chosen based on the strength of their writing sample and their personal statement.

Complete application guidelines are available on the application. Please note that you will need to create a Submittable account in order to complete the application.

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 conference. We hope you will consider applying for the conference in 2021.


Application Fee: $20 (non-refundable)
Conference Fee: $1,550 (Member Price*: $1,475)

The cost of the conference includes:

Please note that upon acceptance, a nonrefundable $500 deposit will be due on May 14th, and is required to confirm your place in the workshop. The final payment is due on June 15th.

Housing is not provided for the Summer Conference. New York offers many housing opportunities in all price ranges. We will do our best to assist accepted students in finding housing that fits their budget and needs.

A note for commuters: If you’re thinking of commuting, please know that each day follows the same basic schedule outlined above. There is usually a break between 4:30pm and 6:30pm. All events will take place in or around The Can Factory in Park Slope/Gowanus (232 3rd St. Brooklyn, 11215). The Can Factory is wheelchair accessible.

Member Discount: In order to qualify for our member discount, you must be a member at the time of registration. Please note that the discount is for our members only. Members commit to annual donations and receive benefits that allow them to participate in the organization in more meaningful ways. Not all One Story subscribers are members. If you’d like to find out more about becoming a member, you can do so here.

Refund Policy: One Story class payment is non-refundable after the class’s start date. For questions about the refund policy, or if you are unable to take the class after you have registered, please contact maribeth.

If you have any questions, please contact lena.