Writing Short Fiction

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Short fiction

Small words with big impact.


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Take This Course

Master writing short fiction with complex characters and compelling narratives
Grow your ideas and finish the course with at least one short story
Full of practical techniques for developing your writing skills and producing stellar short stories

Our writing short fiction course will help you see the bigger picture and compress it into short stories with real punch.

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.

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 uncles 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.

So how do you write truly great short fiction? The kind of short fiction that leaves you dribbling, slack-jawed, and slap-faced when you finish it. Those short stories 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 online community, you’ll come out the other side of Writing Short Fiction 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.

31 steps in 7 sections

1Begin at the beginning

  • Introduction to Writing Short Fiction

2Conflict is Everything

  • READ: Character + Conflict = Story
  • EXERCISE: Ooh, taboo!
  • READ: Layers
  • EXAMPLES: Let’s read some darn good stories
  • EXERCISE: Capture a character at bursting point

3Where to start? Where to stop?

  • READ: Where to start? Beginning, middle or end?
  • EXERCISE: Get in, get out
  • READ: How much can you leave out?
  • EXAMPLES: Ready ready read
  • EXERCISE: Time for a threeway

4Structure, tense, perspective

  • READ: Character, setting, action
  • EXERCISE: The past, the present, and future walked into a bar…
  • EXAMPLES: Moar stories
  • WATCH: Structure and experimentation
  • EXERCISE: Don’t think. Just write. The voice will come.

5Building Character

  • READ: Character drives plot – plot develops character
  • EXERCISE: In which identity theft is a totally valid method of characterisation
  • EXAMPLES: Reeeeeead
  • READ: Character and dialogue
  • READ: Playing with status

6Writing is redrafting

  • READ: Everything we’ve learned so far…
  • EXERCISE: Is it worth it?
  • READ: Redrafting like a mofo
  • READ: Cut the fluff
  • WATCH: Don’t give up – find your theme

7Send your story out into the world!

  • READ: Sooo, there’s this great big enormous world of short fiction out there
  • EXERCISE: Find a lit mag
  • READ: What do editors and competition judges actually want?
  • EXERCISE: Pick a theme, any theme
  • READ: One last treatise on short fiction
  • Take This Course

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