10 week Short story course

Starts – Thursday 21th January 2021

Ends – Thursday 25th of March 2021

Time 7:30pm to 8:30pm

Cost – £70

(includes ten one hour Zoom group sessions + feedback on your story)

Over this ten-week course you will learn about the key features of short story writing. It will involve reading seven short stories by famous authors, ten group sessions delivered via Zoom and writing one short story of between approximately 800 and 1800 words.

All of the stories that we will use are copyright free and can be accessed here.

Short stories for us to read and discuss.

If you read the following course outline, you will see which stories to read and on which week. The first story to read is ‘The Lottery Ticket’ by Anton Chekhov which you will need to read before the course begins.

Session One – Where do ideas come from?

First we’ll introduce ourselves and then brainstorm ideas using stories we have read, our own personal experience and some creativity-generating activities. (Story under discussion: The Lottery Ticket by Anton Chekhov)

Session Two – What makes a character worth investing in?

After discussing what makes for a successful character, you will create one compelling ‘goodie’ and one intriguing ‘baddie’. (Story under discussion: Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl)

Session Three – How to create an engaging character arc.

We will discuss the stories we have read so far and think about how to make a character change over the course of a story in entertaining and believable ways. (Story under discussion: Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield)

Session Four – How to give your work thematic resonance

After discussing this week’s story, we will write mini tales based on themes such as ‘overcoming despair’, ‘finding hope’ and ‘learning self-acceptance.’ (Story under discussion: The Gift of the Magi by O Henry)

Session Five – What sets the story in motion?

We will discuss what makes a good ‘inciting incident’ based on the stories we have read. Then, we will write a story opening together. Individually, everyone will write their own inciting incident. (Story under discussion: The Mouse by H H Munro – also known as Saki)

Session Six – Whose perspective will you use?

We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using first and third person. You will write a short passage using each and then share your favourite. (Story under discussion: A Telephone Call by Dorothy Parker).

Session Seven – The first paragraph

We will discuss three very different story openings and write our own version based on what we have discussed. (Everyone shares a first paragraph from their own favourite story)

Session Eight – How to plan a short story

We will discuss the traditional three part structure (beginning, middle and end) and work together to create a plan for stories we have read and wish to write. (Story under discussion: our previous six stories).

Session Nine – How do you write an effective climax?

We will discuss the climactic scene in this week’s story and try to write a similar piece of our own. (Story under discussion: The Shooting of an Elephant by George Orwell)

Session Ten – What makes a good ending?

I will give you some tips about how to end a short story. Then, everyone will say which is their favourite ending of the stories we have been discussing.

I will also demonstrate how I will be providing feedback on your stories.

If you would like a place on the course, or ask any questions please email me at:


Please pay for the course by Saturday 9th January. If you email me your mobile phone number, I’ll send you my bank details by text.

Here are the members of the planning group from earlier in the year. (I’m at the top in the middle).


Mai is so welcoming and, as new writer venturing into the unknown, everyone is reassuring, encouraging and also really constructive.

Jacqui Martin

I joined the writers’ group as a way to improve my skills. I stayed because the encouragement is fantastic. It has inspired a lot of new ideas and the people are just lovely.

Megan Musgrove

The combination of a friendly group of like-minded people and expert, supportive tuition is just what I needed.

Amoghavajra Mackay

I’ve been to a few of Mai’s writing events and I really appreciate her infectious enthusiasm and her straightforward, clear advice.

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