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

…well, the best thing ever editing-wise. My novel’s been stuck in the doldrums for ages and I was losing heart, knowing it wasn’t right, but not knowing how to identify what was wrong, far less having a clue as to how to go about fixing it. But now I do, and that’s really exciting and invigorating. The course is clearly laid out in small, bite-sized chunks. It’s all really well signposted, so you know what you need to do every week, why you need to do it, and how to do it. It’s laid out in a logical order. It takes things one step at a time. It’s completely bargainous. Jo and Sarah are friendly and down-to-earth and they explain things in the way you would talk to your friends down the pub and not as if you’re in a university lecture. I really can’t fault the course, nor can I recommend it enough.

Annie Kirby

Plotstormers II: The Editing Strikes Back

Amazing journey of discovery ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was a bit hesitant about doing an online course but I liked Writers’ HQ’s approach and the programme for plotstomers looked like the business. Over the last 6 weeks I have made such huge progress with novel. Really getting to grips with where story was going, characters’ motivation, that thing everyone mentions called “conflict”. The teaching material was excellent: just right amount and level. Support was good though I didn’t really get too involved with forum discussions as my head was buried in doing the plotting homework. Feel massively more confident now about actually writing the bloody novel. Will be going on to the next stage with Writers’ HQ.

Colette Batterbee

Plotstormers

Bursting with stories ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ve written short stories for a while, but this course gave me loads of ideas about where to find stories and how to develop them. It’s also given me lots of food for thought about my writing process and how to approach (and edit) stories. I really feel the course demystifies everything about short stories, from idea to submission, and I’m looking forward to polishing the stories I’ve written over the past few weeks and trying to find them a home in the world. Thanks, Jo and Sarah

Liz O

Writing Short Fiction

You won’t regret it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I signed up for this course to help keep on track with a major rewrite of my novel, hoping thereby to avoid a big editing headache at a later stage. Plotstormers II provides a clearly laid out plan of action and takes you through the deconstruction-reconstruction process a step at a time, with plenty of moral support provided by Jo and forum participants along the way. A certain amount of pain may be inevitable, but it’s definitely a case of no pain no gain, and also brings to mind the advice of Mark Twain with regard to riding a bicycle: you won’t regret it, if you live.

Rosemary Sgroi

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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