Writing Short Fiction

Take the plunge and write a short story 

Learn how to transform raw ideas into a finished story. Along the way, you’ll practise planning stories, think about where to set them and discover the importance of creating unforgettable characters. You’ll also find out how to pitch your finished work to anthologies, journals and magazines, and which writing competitions are worth entering.


Start date: 25 January 2021
Duration: 8 weeks
Skill level: Beginner
Session length: Weekly
Sessions: 7

Special early bird price
Price: £450 £382 (inc. VAT where applicable)


This is an introductory course, making it suitable for anyone who is new to writing, or has tried their hand at writing but wants to develop their skills.

It’s suitable if you:

  • Enjoy reading short stories and want to start writing them
  • Are new to writing fiction and want some guidance as you try it for the first time
  • Have started writing and would like to learn new techniques
  • Are keen to explore the building blocks that make a good short story
  • Have dabbled with fiction and need support to help you finish writing a short story
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course

Course director, Helen Shipman has devised this course to help you take your story idea, step-by-step, to a completed piece of short fiction. Our course tutor, Mark Jervis, will guide each session as you learn about the components of short fiction, how to develop your characters, the importance of setting and point of view, and how to play with time in your writing.

During the course, you’ll evolve into someone who understands what makes short fiction work and how to shape an idea into a story.

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 stories 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 short stories: how it differs from longer fiction; using scene, summary and gaps.
Getting it written
You have two weeks to write one or more stories up to 3,000 words. You’ll receive a written report on this piece of work.

We teach this course in our online classroom, which is open 24/7 so you can fit learning around your work, family and friends. You’ll work in a small group of learners so you can discuss ideas, ask questions and share your writing as you progress through the weekly sessions.

You’ll learn from:

  • Podcasts from Helen Shipman
  • Written guidance from Helen explaining the conventions and techniques of short fiction
  • Videos of authors and writing experts talking about how they craft short stories
  • Specially selected reading and viewing lists
  • Short quizzes and questionnaires to help you think about your own reading and writing, and develop your characters
  • Writing prompts and exercises to help you experiment and practise your own writing, from the first session onward
  • Online discussions with writers in your group and the chance to share and give feedback on each other’s writing

You’ll need:

  • 5-7 hours per week to work through the course
  • A notebook and pen or pencil, if you like to make notes by hand
  • A laptop or computer* with:
    • A reliable broadband internet connection
    • Speakers or headphones
    • The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari
    • Microsoft Word. If you don’t have this you can download Open Office free
    • Adobe Reader, latest version. Download free
    • QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free

*You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.

Join our alumni

After your course, you can join our online alumni where you’ll meet our growing network of past students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within our online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Meet alumni from other courses and groups and share your work for feedback on our alumni critiquing forum
  • Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
  • Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom. We also host live chats with guests here

Commission a report on your work

If you’d like to receive a personalised, detailed report on your final piece of writing from your course tutor, this is available at an extra cost. You’ll receive detailed written feedback assessing your ideas and writing, plus advice on what steps to take next.

Taking things further

If you’d like to continue on to another Professional Writing Academy course, we’ll give you a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

Try a free course session

If you’re curious about how our online writing courses work, you can try our free taster session.

It shows you what our online classroom looks like, how our courses are set up, and gives you the chance to read, watch and listen to a sample of learning materials.

To try your taster session, please get in touch and we’ll send you a link.

When you do this we’ll also sign you up to our newsletter. We never share your details with other people and we’ll only get in touch once in a while to tell you about nice things – such as news, events, competitions and offers. (You can unsubscribe if you decide it’s not for you.)

What our students say...

The discipline of writing something every week, then having other people read it and give their thoughts has helped me to become a better editor of my own stories.


What our students say...

I’d never thought about the importance of point of view or narrative voice before starting this course. It’s been a bit of a revelation if I’m honest.


What our students say...

It is incredibly helpful to have the other participants on the Short Story course read and make comments on my work each week — and in such a supportive way.


What our students say...

The Short Story course materials and structure would be difficult to better. Most importantly, the quality of Mark’s evaluation and feedback on the work submitted has been both encouraging and almost forensically helpful. He unfailingly provided useful guidance on how to work through problematic areas and did a great job of encouraging peer feedback. I am happy to offer a glowing endorsement of the course based on my experiences.


What our students say...

Well it was quite terrifying showing other people my work – that’s a first for me. But the feedback I received was really helpful. It was as useful being able to see the comments on other people’s work. That’s a great learning tool. I feel much more confident about my writing now.


Ready to start writing?

Price: £450 £382 (inc. VAT where applicable)
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