Session 1: Immerse Yourself
We’ll start by focusing on reading lots of different types of short stories, asking what kind of short fiction appeals to you and what makes you want to write. We’ll look at keeping a journal and a daily senses diary, working on one sense per day to attune yourself to the small details of everyday life that bring a story to life.
You’ll meet your group and tutor for a session live on Zoom.
Session 2: Finding Inspiration
What do you do with all the details you’ve noticed and read? We’ll explore story-starter prompts, including sounds, ways to play with stories at sentence level, working from themes and thinking about why stories work. On the craft technique side, you’ll practise show not tell and the art of reading a story aloud.
Session 3: The Nuts and Bolts
This week is all about character and setting in short fiction. You’ll experiment with character-building techniques, and take a look at a setting through a character’s eyes. We’ll look at stereotyping in character-creation and ways to think differently, especially around cultural appropriation. Have fun playing with Hollywood gender roles, and transporting a setting from your own experience into a story.
This week, there will be a live group Zoom session with a guest writer to read and discuss one of their stories.
Session 4: Seeing Differently
Let’s talk about point of view and dialogue. We’ll experiment with different ways to present thoughts and speech on the page, and look at the role of dialogue and body language in making transitions in a story. You’ll write an exchange between two inanimate objects.
Session 5: Story Structure
Focus on openings and endings. We’ll look at masses of openings and ask what makes a good (and dull) start to a short story. You’ll explore life experience and how to develop a fictional structure from something that happened to you, and examine why ‘real’ structures don’t make a good story form. What makes a satisfying ending? Your tutor will give you feedback on the start of a story.
Session 6: Find Your Place
Demystifying the competition and journal submission process, and thinking about when you’re ready to go for it. We’ll offer lists of places to submit, with pointers, plus tips and advice from judges and writers.
This session lasts 2 weeks to allow you time to draft, peer critique, and complete a short story of up to 3,000 words. There will also be a group Q&A on Zoom with a guest editor, for advice on the industry and how to get your work noticed.
At the end of the course we’ll run an open-mic session to encourage participants to read their work to the group and develop the confidence needed to power a submission.
Your tutor will give individual written feedback on the story you submit (as a tracked changes document) and you’ll have a chance to discuss this in a one-to-one tutorial, where you can ask the questions you need to progress your writing.