1. Undergraduate
  2. Postgraduate
  3. Research Degrees
  4. CPD
  5. Short Courses

Short Story Writing Short Courses

Choose a start date

Key information

Course code:

The ideal course for those looking to learn the fundamentals of writing an engaging and creative short story.

Why choose this course?

This short story course enables both new and experienced writers to gain confidence in exploring and developing their creativity through short story writing, reading and group discussion.

Whether you wish to write professionally or as a hobby, you will learn the skills and techniques required to write a successful short story and develop it throughout the course.

Led by an experienced published writer, you will not only learn the fundamental elements of a good short story, but also how to prepare short stories for publication. The course will also provide you with publishing ideas and resources for continuing your writing after the course is finished.

The course is delivered over 10 weeks in our central London location and is ideal for anyone looking for expert and inspiring tuition combined with maximum flexibility.

Course overview

  1. Introduction
  2. Ideas and Inspiration
  3. Character
  4. Dialogue
  5. Plot and Structure
  6. Setting and Descriptive Writing
  7. Narrative and Point of View, Short Story Workshop 1
  8. Genre and Style, Short Story Workshop 2
  9. Writers' Resources, Short Story Workshop 3
  10. Future Opportunities, Short Story Workshop 4

You will learn how to write short stories for pleasure or professionally and you will develop your understanding of short story elements, such as character, dialogue, structure, plot, and setting.

Throughout the Short Story Writing course, you will develop your writing skills through in-class writing activities and professional feedback on your writing. You will also critique the work of important contemporary short story writers.

By the end of the course, you will produce a complete short story.

  • Hugh Todd

    “ A really brilliant experience. I thought my college days were over, but Katy and her course have opened my eyes to education again. ”

    Hugh Todd

    Former student

  • “ An inspirational journey ... I have been so inspired that I have actually completed three short stories since the start of the programme. ”

    Dez Veares

    Former student

  • “ I am surprised at how quickly these classes helped me overcome my personal 'block' with fiction writing. Through a series of simple, sequential exercises, Katy guided us through the principles of short story writing – from opening lines to characterisation – and class discussions were always open and insightful. Overall, a really great course, which I hope to follow with other workshops here. ”

    Katie Dolamore

    Former student

  • “ This is a fantastic course that I would highly recommend. The course is really well structured for those wishing to learn more about short story writing and Katy is an excellent tutor. ”


    Former student

  • “ by far the best writing course I have ever taken. As a result of the course, I have completed a short story that I am proud of, and am planning to send it off to some competitions or magazines in the coming weeks. I have also met a really nice, interesting and talented group of people, several of whom have become friends. ”

    Illora Chodhury

    Former student

  • “ The tutor was incredibly supportive, encouraging and creative. ”

    Liz Appleby

    Former student

  • “ Excellent tutor. Enjoyable, informative and well- structured course ”

    Leilani Arambepola

    Former student

  • “ In 2013, I signed up for a creative writing course at City, taught by the novelist Katy Darby, and a new world opened up. The course, on short stories, gave me a grasp of the basics of the craft (voice, point of view, narrative arcs, dialogue) and spurred me to write and experiment with different styles and form. I found that creative writing is a way to permit me to observe what happens around me in a completely different way: the gestures of passersby, the fragments of speech, the mannerisms of colleagues, the details of lives, can all be collected, stored, stitched into stories. ”

    Ruth Thorlby

    Former student

  • “ Excellent teacher! ”

    Anne Corbett

    Former student

  • “ The course was brilliantly set out and run expertly. Katy Darby is an excellent tutor. I have been very impressed with her ability to provide the perfect balance of challenge and encouragement. She brings an energy and passion to the class that is infectious, and she provides such valuable feedback on students' work, on top of all the information she passes on as part of the course. I would thoroughly recommend her as a tutor. ”

    Itohan Ellis

    Former student

What will I learn?

What will I learn?

Over the course of 10 weekly evening classes on the Short Story Writing course, you will learn:

  • Develop your creativity and critical thinking, as well as your editing skills.
  • Practise a range of writing techniques from traditional approaches to more experimental methods.
  • Receive professional feedback on your work from a published writer and editor.
  • Gain insight into the writing industry, including publishing advice.

Course objectives:

  • To complete and submit a short story of 2000-5000 words in the genre of your choice.
  • To read, analyse and critique short stories by well-known writers, as well as those of your fellow students.
  • To understand how a short story works on different levels.
  • To learn strategies for improving your short story writing.
  • To practise using different fictional devices and techniques.
  • To engage with your work and others’ work both creatively and critically.
  • To experience short story writing as a combination of imagination and disciplined practice.



Prerequisite knowledge

Short story writing applicants must have a passion for writing and reading, and an ability to meet deadlines. You will need to submit one short story to the tutor by the end of the course.

English requirements

Fluent written and spoken English.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

You will be assessed by three criteria:

  • your contribution to class discussions;
  • your in-class work and homework exercises;
  • your submitted short story.

Throughout the course, you will receive ongoing feedback from both your tutor and your peers.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading


  • Carter, A. 2010. Burning Your Boats: Collected Short Stories. London: Vintage.
  • Carver, R. 2003. Where I'm Calling From: Selected Stories. London: Vintage.
  • Darby, K. and Potts, C. Eds. 2013. Lovers’ Lies. London: Arachne Press.
  • Gordimer, N. Ed. 2004. Telling Tales. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Hemingway, E. 1994. Men Without Women. London: Cornerstone.
  • Keret, E. 2015. The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God and Other Stories. New York: Riverhead Books.
  • Taylor, J. Ed. 2012. Overheard: Stories to Read Aloud. Cambridge: Salt Publishing.


Tutor information

  • Katy Darby

    Katy Darby's short stories have been read on BBC Radio 4 and 4Extra, published in magazines including Slice, Mslexia and The London Magazine, and won prizes in several international fiction competitions. Her historical novelThe Whores' Asylum is published by Penguin (the paperback title is The Unpierced Heart). She has a BA in English from Oxford University and an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, where she received the David Higham Award.

    She’s a former editor of short story magazine Litro, and she co-founded and currently runs the award-winning, internationally franchised short fiction event Liars' League.

    Katy has co-edited three anthologies of short stories with Cherry Potts of Arachne Press, and recently judged the International Willesden Herald Story Prize.

Next steps

This Writers' Workshop is a practical journey for writers. Learn how to revise and edit your fiction, learn more about publishing and more. …