What is the course about?
This intermediate course is designed for passionate writers and readers who want to explore the art of writing short stories. You will gain confidence in your ability to produce short fiction through a combination of practical exercises, examination of technical issues including plot and character, and constructive criticism from your tutor and fellow students.
Students say: "Great exercises, wonderful atmosphere, and a supportive group of very interesting writers"; "I really enjoyed learning about the various forms of short stories, and how they differ from other types of writing"; "Supportive atmosphere and useful feedback from the teacher"; "Good mix of different genres and prompts to try out."
The Tutor: Zoe Fairbairns is a novelist, short story writer, playwright, journalist and poet. Her stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio Four, and have appeared in anthologies, print magazines and online. She has taught creative writing in schools, universities, prisons, and shelters for homeless people. Her latest book is Write Short Stories And Get Them Published (Hodder Education).
City Lit reserves the right to change course tutors from those advertised in this outline. In line with our refund policy we are unable to grant a refund on the grounds of a change of tutor.
What will we cover?
- Generating ideas that will form the basis of sharp, compelling short stories
- Reading modern fiction with a critical eye to gain further understanding of the form
- Examining a wide range of key skills and writing techniques including plot, character, dialogue, structure and point-of-view
- Giving and receiving constructive criticism, and incorporating feedback from readers as you revise and improve your work.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Plan, draft and revise short stories with greater confidence
- Respond to and assess pieces of writing with sensitivity
- Identify and develop good writing habits
- Continue to learn independently by reading modern short stories with increased critical awareness.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an intermediate course for students who have some experience of writing fiction (for instance through attending an introductory 'Ways into creative writing' course) and wish to focus on short stories. You should be an enthusiastic reader and have a good grasp of written and spoken English.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
This is a practical class and the emphasis is on students' stories, produced at home and in the classroom. There will be exercises, homework, group discussion, and sharing of ideas - always in a supportive atmosphere. You will learn to give and receive constructive criticism so that students can begin to learn from each other. Contemporary short stories will be analysed and the group will discuss what they reveal about the art of writing.
All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.
For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please bring a pen and paper. You are welcome to bring a laptop or tablet for use during in-class writing exercises if you feel it will help you.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You may wish to continue your short story journey by enrolling on Reading for writers: the short story or Write a short story in a weekend. Interested in long form fiction? Try Starting your novel. If you feel ready to submit your work for rigorous constructive feedback, you are also welcome to progress to Advanced fiction writing workshop.
Our Craft Focus series is also available to writers who wish to focus on an isolated element of fiction writing craft. We offer short intensive courses in developing character, plot, setting, point of view, and more. See our website or contact the department for advice on how you can develop a programme of fiction writing study.
All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.