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Writers’ Workshop Short Course

Key information

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Covid-19 update: The learning doesn’t have to stop - join our online community. We will be delivering courses remotely until further notice. Live tutor support and virtual lessons will take place during advertised teaching hours. The classes are taught in small groups, so you’ll get lots of support from your tutor. Book now.

To help more experienced writers move ongoing work towards a publishable standard.

Why choose this course?

This is an advanced fiction-writing short course designed to help experienced writers take their ongoing work to the next level, towards a publishable standard.

You will learn the construction of a sustained piece of fiction, edit and draft your work based on the feedback from the tutor and the group, and understand how to prepare your work for publication. Over the course of ten weeks, each student will submit three pieces of fiction (novel chapters or short stories) of 2000-5000 words each, up to a total of 15,000 words, including a novel synopsis/short story collection pitch (optional) and covering letter to an agent or publisher.

The size of the Writers’ Workshop classes is restricted to 12 students, so early booking is advised. For anyone interested in applying to The Novel Studio, Writers' Workshop is excellent preparation.

Course overview

This is an advanced fiction-writing short course designed to help experienced writers move ongoing work towards a publishable standard.

The generous length of each fiction submission (three submissions of up to 5000 words each, up to a total of 15,000 words) is, we believe, unique among courses at this level.

If you’re writing or have written a short story collection or novel, and want to make the best impression when submitting it to publishers and agents, this is an ideal place to start.

Equally, if your aim is simply to develop your writing in a disciplined and constructive workshop environment, this course is for you.

Students' fiction (chapters from novels or short stories) will be circulated to fellow students and tutor and then constructively critiqued within the group.

You may also submit and workshop a synopsis of your novel; write an author biog and covering letter to send to agents and publishers; and will select a topic for proposed discussion in class (e.g. pace, multiple viewpoints).

  • “ I've really enjoyed the course I've attended. The writer's workshop is really well run and has good scope for developing a writer's craft. Katy is great and her flexible yet knowledgeable approach is perfect for budding writers. ”

    Dane Buckley

    Former student

  • “ This is such a great motivational tool, I've written so much over the 10 weeks - the first 3 chapters of my novel. ”

    Kay Gillard

    Former student

  • “ I was taken seriously as someone who wants to write. I learnt a lot and received detailed feedback on my writing. My level of confidence has increased as a result of this course ”

    Janet Howcroft

    Former student

  • “ I thought the course was brilliant. Got tons done and left with tons of food for thought. Useful feedback, good discussion, and an excellent teacher. ”

    Michael Mann

    Former student

  • “ It was such a pleasure to be taught by someone so committed and able to break down structure and prose in a safe, supportive and enjoyable atmosphere. It's one thing being a writer and another to facilitate and teach and Katy Darby does both remarkably well! ”

    Monica Nath

    Former student

What will I learn?

What will I learn?

Over the course of 10 weekly evening classes on the Writers' Workshop short course, you will learn to:

  • Understand the construction of a sustained piece or collection of fiction;
  • Set and meet writing deadlines and guidelines (e.g. length requirements);
  • Give, receive and apply constructive criticism;
  • Revise and edit your work;
  • Put together a submission for an agent or publisher, consisting of a covering letter, synopsis or pitch, and your first three chapters or three short stories.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

The generous length of each fiction submission (up to 5000 words) is, we believe, unique among courses at this level.

Students’ fiction will be circulated in advance and then constructively critiqued within the group.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

  • 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.
  • Mullan J. (2006) How Novels Work. OUP Oxford

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.