Writing Short Fiction

Learn how to write small words with big impact

Short stories aren’t just easier versions of the novel. They’re a broad, complex and rewarding art form in their own right. Writers’ HQ’s new online short story course will help you see the bigger picture and compress it into short stories with real punch.

Short stories have been here since the dawn of time. Based in the oral tradition (stop sniggering at the back), they’re the apocryphal family legends our grandmas/weird uncle used to tell us over Christmas dinner; they’re the school-yard urban myths; the sleepover ghost stories; the soliloquies in our diaries; the wine-soaked rants to that random person you cornered in the kitchen at that party after so-and-so dumped you. Short stories are all around us.

But super short stories are not super easy for writers, natch. In fact, the shorter your story becomes, the harder it is to distil what really matters onto the page. I would have written a shorter letter, so the famous quote goes, but I didn’t have the time.

So what makes truly great short fiction? The kind that leaves you dribbling, slack-jawed, and slap-faced when you finish it. The kind you remember forever, like some weird dream-memory. Well. We can’t write it for you, but we can give you a nudge, a shove, and a poke with a sharp stick (whatever floats your boat) to help you on your way. With the help of writing prompts, advice from award-winning short fiction writers, inspiring exercises, and our awesome little online community, you’ll come out the other side with at least one fully formed short story to call your very own – and maybe even send out into the world of literary magazines and competitions…

GET STARTED NOW

£20 a month. Access all Writers’ HQ courses.
More info

£90. Six months of single course access.

Learn tricks and techniques for growing your ideas into complex characters and compelling stories.

Finish the course with at least one short story and a number of transferrable exercises and processes for your continued writing.

Join our lovely little online community to support you through the short story process, plus peer and WHQ feedback.

ALL THE AWESOME-SAUCEOME STUFF YOU GET

  • Six weeks of progressive exercises to help you develop your ideas into a polished story (or two, or three, or more…)
  • Advice and guidance on story structure, narrative voice, characterisation, editing/redrafting and <gasp> submitting your stories to lit mags and competitions!
  • Weekly inspiration, whip-cracking, writing prompts and LOTS of theory
  • Top tips from tip-top authors and story examples from the best of the best
  • A private student forum to discuss ideas, techniques and get advice from your tutors and fellow writers
  • Access to our private Forum and LOVELY social media community of Writers’ HQers

CURRICULUM CURRICULAR CURRICULEEEEE

AKA what we’ll be covering in this course

WEEK 1: CONFLICT IS EVERYTHING
Finding conflict in the tiniest of moments, how to capture a character at bursting point, locating the fundamental human truth of your story and throwing you straight in the deep end of story writing

WEEK 2: WHERE TO START? WHERE TO STOP?
Where does your story start and end, and where does it really start and end? The art of the cut – knowing what to leave in and what to leave out. So many great stories to read this week too…

WEEK 3: STRUCTURE, TENSE AND PERSPECTIVE
Writing conventional or unconventional narratives, points of view, when to take a risk and when to play it safe, PLUS video wisdom from Sean Preston, editor of Open Pen, and Bridport winner Vanessa Gebbie

WEEK 4: BUILDING CHARACTER
What are the tricks for making real people in just a few thousand words? How to write good dialogue and spot bad chatter, and make your pretend people interact like real people

WEEK 5: WRITING IS REDRAFTING
Again and again and again – find your focus, cut the fluff, find your theme and come back to your fundamental nugget of human truth

WEEK 6: SEND YOUR STORY INTO THE WORLD! 
How to submit a story, where to submit a story, why submit your stories and what happens next?

LOVE FOR WRITERS’ HQ AND THE WRITING SHORT FICTION COURSE

HOW IT WORKS

  • Enrol

    Once you’ve joined you’ll get an email confirming your place and explaining how you access the course. Spoiler: you click a link. Super simple.

  • Read, watch, do

    The lessons are a mix of text, images, videos and exercises. To get the most out of the course, try to give yourself at least an hour a day to read or watch the material and do the exercises. We’ve made them as bite-size as possible but also if you wanna do the thing you gotta do the work.

  • No rush

    This is a six week course but we’ll give you access to the course materials for three month so you can work at your own pace and because we’re nice.

  • No money? No problem

    We’d love to give our courses away but we have a terrible notebook and clicky pen habit to keep up. We work hard to keep our courses cheaper than comparable ones, and our membership is pretty cheap. If you’re really struggling check out our bursaries page and see if we can help.

  • Milk no sugar

    Drink plenty of tea, stock up on biscuits, gin for later. Enjoy it. It’s supposed to be fun. Love you. Mwa.

GET STARTED NOW

£20 a month. Access all Writers’ HQ courses.
More info

£90. Six months of single course access.

*When you book a place you’ll receive an email detailing how to access the course material. It can take about five minutes to come through, and remember to check your spam folder.

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