Writing Short Fiction

Learn how to write small words with big impact

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (see reviews)

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This course was incredibly practical, focussed, encouraging and jam packed with real information, resources and support. Thank you for creating such a thought provoking, motivational and empowering course. I would recommend Writing Short Fiction to anyone interested in writing short stories or flash fiction. I'm ready to take the plunge and start submitting and re-submitting. In short, I'm ready to go.
- Sharmayne Riseley

£90. Six months access.

Part of the WHQ membership

Six week course. Rolling access with membership, or one-off fee for six months single course access.

Join our kickass community

COURSE HOME

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 five star 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…

CURRICULUM

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?

HOW IT WORKS

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. No rush
This course is written to be done over six weeks but if you miss a day or something comes up, don’t panic! Go at your own pace. We’ll be waiting for you in the community forums when you’re ready to catch up.

4. No money? No problem
Membership is the cheapest way to access this course, alternatively, if you can’t wait and have no cash, have a look at our bursary scheme.

5. 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.

WHAT 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 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 fellow writers

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.

LOVE FOR WRITERS’ HQ

Highly Recommended ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I came to this course with the complete first draft of a novel I had already written, but which (after a year of failing to rewrite it on my own) I knew needed more than just a bit of editing to make it work. Plotstormers has been a great way of completely deconstructing what I had to begin with, and then building it up again from scratch into first four, then seven, then sixteen units. The early weeks give you a brilliant introduction to various theories of plotting, soundbites from successful authors, and links to useful blogs and resources; this part is huge fun, and the video of Kurt Vonnegut explaining the shapes of stories is absolutely priceless. When it came to the actual writing bit, Sarah and Jo provided excellent support, encouragement and incisive feedback throughout (though be warned: the swearing is contagious. You’ll know you have a problem when your 2 yr old starts effing at random people in shops). In the latter weeks of the course the forums (fora?) became indispensible for sounding out ideas and identifying problems as well as helpful cameraderie. I lagged behind towards the end, but nevertheless this course has given me the boost I needed to get my novel back off the ground, or at least back onto the runway. I highly recommend it, and look forward to taking more Writers HQ courses in the near future.

Rosemary Sgroi

Plotstormers

7 Ideas in 7 Days ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A mysterious benefactor gives you a task a day and – shazam! – by the end of the week you’re a-fizzing with ideas. Tis witchcraft. Do it.

Ellie

Plotstormers: How To Plot Your Novel

Loved it – though ideas I came up with were a bit mad ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Excellent content and some great feedback – even if it all got very silly from me on the writing/ideas front..

Vernon

Seven Ideas In Seven Days

WHAT A TOTALLY BRILLIANT COURSE!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s my editing blueprint for good, for now, forever! I could write a song about this course .. but instead I’ll sing your praises and say how you’ve taken the huge job of drafting a novel and made it simple .. well, simpler, because you have the knack of getting right to the heart of what a novel is, what it’s for, how it works as an entity, who inhabits it. About midway through the course I had a personal business crash that required my total attention to fix, and it’s a shame because I was enjoying the forum and taking part in it. BUT I was safe in the knowledge that if I could get back to reality and my life quick enough, I could continue and I have – and completed! I have a deadline to fulfil with my writing group and if I can manage it, I will return to the Forum too before the course ends in a few days. I will undoubtedly be returning for the course on Submission to an Agent but I’m nowhere near ready. Can I just say how helpful it was knowing the course materials would continue to be up on the site as I’ve desperately needed this time. My only crit would be, and I mean it in a positive way, is that I felt the whole course could have been double the length anyway – as in 3 months, and then another 6 weeks for the materials to be up on the site. Many exercises of ’60 mins’ or ’45 mins’ took days or a whole week! By the way, more expensive courses I’ve taken (e.g. for thousands!) were NOTHING compared to this!! Bless you, and though I wish you EVERY SUCCESS with your own writing, I hope you DON’T STOP DOING THIS!!! A THOUSAND THANKS.

Nicolle Freni

Plotstormers II: The Editing Strikes Back

TUTORS

Sarah Lewis
Half of Writers’ HQ
Procrastinator Level: Set up WHQ and had a baby to avoid writing her novel

Jo Gatford
Half of Writers’ HQ
Procrastinator Level: Set up WHQ and did an MA to avoid writing her novel

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