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Short Story Writing Short Course

Key information

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Delivery of this module will be online due to government-issued guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic and may be made available face-to-face subject to Public Health England recommendations. Please submit your application and, once reviewed by the module leader, you will receive more specific information about the online delivery of your module and assessments.

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. You will also have the opportunity to write and receive feedback on up to 2 short stories during the class.

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

Led by an experienced published writer and editor, you will not only learn the fundamental elements of a good short story, but also how to prepare and submit your work 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 online and is ideal for anyone looking for expert and inspiring tuition combined with maximum flexibility.

Course overview

  1. Introduction & Inspiration
  2. Character & Dialogue
  3. Plot & Structure + 2 Short Story Workshops
  4. Setting & Descriptive Writing + 2 Short Story Workshops
  5. Narrative & Point of View + 2 Short Story Workshops
  6. Genre & Style + 2 Short Story Workshops
  7. Writers' Resources + 3 Short Story Workshops
  8. Editing & Polishing + 3 Short Story Workshops
  9. Submitting your Work + 3 Short Story Workshops
  10. Next Steps + 3 Short Story Workshop

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

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

By the end of the course, you will have written and workshopped up to two short stories of 2000-5000 words each. Each student will given two in-class workshop slots of 30 minutes each for their writing, and will give and receive verbal and written feedback on all short stories submitted.

  • 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

  • “ Katy provided a great mix of information, discussion, guidance and inspiration, all in a setting that was just informal enough to get us comfortable with each other. It was the friendliest class I’ve attended. I really enjoyed how people got interested in each other as we started to read each other's work. ”

    Sini Downing

    Former student

  • “ A wonderful 10 weeks of fun, insightful and incredibly useful writing experience. I’ve truly enjoyed every class and have learnt a huge amount to take forward into my writing. ”

    Chris Goddard

    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 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. 2012. London Lies. London: Arachne Press.
  • Gordimer, N. Ed. 2004. Telling Tales. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Taylor, J. Ed. 2012. Overheard: Stories to Read Aloud. Cambridge: Salt Publishing
  • Mittelmark, H. and Newman, S, (2009) How Not To Write A Novel. London: Bloomsbury.
  • The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook (annual). London: Macmillan.

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 novel The Unpierced Heart is published by Penguin. She has a BA in English from Oxford University and an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, where she received the David Higham Award. Her latest stories are available in the anthologies Five by Five and An Outbreak of Peace.

    She’s a former editor of short story magazine Litro, and is co-founder and director of the award-winning, internationally franchised live fiction event Liars' League ( Katy has written for the TLS, and the Brixton Review of Books, co-edited four anthologies of short stories with Cherry Potts of Arachne Press, and recently judged the Cambridge Short Story Prize and 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. …