• Learn how to write short fiction

    A good [short story] would take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.
    David Sedaris

Introduction to Writing Short Fiction

Take the plunge, get words on the page

Prepare work for competition, publication or fun

  • Learn, write, critique, edit, re-write
  • Apply to narrative non-fiction as well as fiction
  • Structured learning but flexible timing
  • Refresh your knowledge of the basics, from using setting to controlling point of view

Home PageOnline CoursesIntroduction to Writing Short Fiction

An online study course for writers who want to get words onto the page

Duration: 8 weeks in our virtual classroom
An independent online study course, for anyone who wants to write short narratives within a supportive but disciplined learning environment.

Starts 3 July 2017, £395  Book your place now

Course Director Helen Shipman; Course Tutor Mark Jervis

In six tightly structured sessions, followed by two weeks’ writing time, you will evolve into someone who understands what makes short fiction work and how to shape an idea into a story or piece of narrative non-fiction. Topics covered include:

  • short structures
  • developing characters
  • controlling point-of-view
  • the importance of setting
  • working with time

Learn with a group of like-minded writers and your tutor in our bespoke online classroom, designed by writers for writers.

Take a learning journey based on our tried-and-tested interactive learning model. Small groups of up to ten people foster a tight-knit community of motivated and supportive writers. Although intensive, the course gives you the flexibility to learn when you can, and you will be writing  from the outset.

In each of the six self-paced weekly sessions you will have something to listen to, watch, read and think about, with writing prompts and practical exercises to help you explore the different techniques. You should put aside at least 5 hours a week to complete your writing assignments.

You will work closely with fellow learners, within a friendly writerly community. There are forums for guided discussion and to upload your work for feedback from your peers, plus chatrooms in which to swap ideas and thoughts. The relationships you build here may last many years. The course tutor closely monitors your progress and will feedback on your final piece of work in each session, but this learning model is designed in such a way that you learn most from the stimulating assignments, the sometimes uncomfortable challenge of sharing work, and the peer-to-peer critiquing process.

The course is hosted by an experienced creative writing tutor and award-winning short-story writer, who smooths your pathway through the learning journey.

After you have completed the six taught sessions, you have two weeks’ writing time to finish and submit one or more short narratives, totalling no more than 3,000 words.

At the end of the course you will submit your work for a feedback report from our tutor team, with advice on how to improve further and where to take your writing next.

Course Programme (each session runs over a week)

Session 1 | How do stories work?
Features of a short story and how you can start to get an idea working as a narrative.

Session 2 | Playing with shapes
A look at how short pieces of writing are structured; beginnings, middles and endings. Starting to plan.

Session 3 | Whose story is this?
Exploring narrative point-of-view possibilities and experimenting with your own writing.

Session 4 | Who’s who?
Establishing your characters quickly; techniques for making them feel real.

Session 5 | Where?
Why setting is important for your story-world. Discussing your possibilities.

Session 6 | Time Travel?
Handling time in your writing: how it differs from longer narratives; using scene, summary and gaps.

Getting it written
Two weeks to write one or more stories up to 3,000 words. You will receive a written report on this piece of work.

£395 Book your place now

Before you book, please read details of the minimum technical spec for your computer, Terms and Conditions of Service and more information about studying online.

Read Robert McCrum on the joy of short fiction

More publishing opportunities for short story writers

What do former students say about our courses?