Starts – 1st October 2020
Ends – 3rd December 2020
Thursday Evenings 7.30-8.30pm
(New: Wednesday evenings also available – starts 30/9/20)
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 eight short stories by famous authors, ten group sessions delivered via Zoom and writing a minimum of 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.
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 chosen 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: The Man Who Did Not Believe in Luck by Jerome K Jerome).
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?
Brainstorm a story plan as a group and then everyone will write their own ending based on things discussed on the course. After sharing our ideas, I will let you know how to submit your short story to me for comments.
I will choose short stories from the following website to support our learning on the course.
The weekly story will be chosen based on the interests and learning experiences of the group. If you have a particular favourite, let me know.
If you would like a place on the course, or ask any questions please email me at:
Please pay for the course by 29th September. If you email me your mobile phone number, I’ll send you my bank details by text.
Next year I will run a course on giving and receiving feedback. It will give you a chance to read other people’s short stories and work on editing and improving your own.
Mai is so welcoming and, as new writer venturing into the unknown, everyone is reassuring, encouraging and also really constructive.
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.
The combination of a friendly group of like-minded people and expert, supportive tuition is just what I needed.