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…
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?
The short and the long of it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
There is a huge amount of material in this course, compactly delivered in six weekly batches of units. As well as plenty of straightforward instruction on the craft of storytelling (plot, character, point of view, and whatnot) there are diverse readings to ponder and discuss; soundbites and advice from writers and editors; prompts and challenging exercises; and a chance to post your own writing for feedback from the forum. I highly recommend it as an introduction to the world of short stories, and as food for thought on writing in general which may take me far longer than six weeks to digest.Rosemary SgroiWriting Short Fiction
Detailed and easy and fun to follow ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve only just started, but I can tell this course and the group is going to help, especially as I’ve done more short story courses than I can remember.Jacqui DicksonWriting Short Fiction
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 SarahLiz OWriting Short Fiction
Best f**king course on writing short fiction, ever ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I love this course. So much information, so many great exercises, such great feedback in the forums. Doesn’t matter how you learn – there’s a little something for everyone here, from videos to suggested readings to hands-on work – and some great prompts for the exercises. Helped me think about writing in invaluable new ways (distill your story down to a 140-character tweet? I can do this, I can do this…!). Kind, encouraging, clear, direct. I wrote some new stories during the course, and with the stories I already had before I started, I have lots of editing ahead of me….but at least now I KNOW WHAT TO DO! Thanks for a stellar course, Jo. Time now to stop f**king about and start editing (writing is rewriting :o).Mary TaslimiWriting Short Fiction
Clear and concise ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve played around with writing short stories for a while, but this course really helped me understand them. It covers all the little techniques and tools needed to craft a really solid story. Even if you’d done other short story courses, I would recommend this one. The course is easy to understand with lots of fantastic examples to help cement your learning. The exercises are thought-provoking and enjoyable. Each section is broken into smaller sections to fit into a busy lifestyle. And the people are lovely too!Sarah Writing Short Fiction
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