Short Story Writing
“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ―
Information at a Glance
- Evening Class
- Wednesdays 18:00 - 20:00
- 10 weeks: January to March
- 2 hours taught time per week
- Tutor: Claire Griffiths
- Fees from £115 to £200
- Location: Imperial College, South Kensington Campus
Short Story Writing is a supportive and inclusive course for people who think they have a story to tell but aren’t sure what that story might be or how to go about telling it! Over ten weeks, experienced tutor and published short story writer Dr Claire Griffiths will help you uncover the short story hiding inside of you and give you the tools to start transferring it from your imagination to the page.
Along the way, you’ll encounter fiction by a diverse range of short story writers, including Sally Rooney, John Steinbeck, Annie Proulx, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ernest Hemingway, Angela Carter, Italo Calvino and Jean Rhys. You’ll be asked to try new and enjoyable writing challenges, and you will receive feedback from your tutor on your writing while engaging with a supportive writing community. In short the aim is to help you learn the essentials of great story-making.
By the end of this course you will have:
- Produced a worked-through and redrafted short story of up to 1,000 words;
- Developed your knowledge of the fundamentals of good storytelling;
- Built your own writer’s toolbox – essential skills to enhance your future writing;
- Learned to read more attentively, to discern how writers do what they do;
- Increased your observational skills, enabling you to pick up on ‘storyable moments’;
- Benefitted from constructive and supportive feedback on your work.
Each week we will focus on a different element of writing great short fiction, including finding stories, creating characters, writing from real life, point of view, showing and telling, writing dialogue, editing and narrative structure.
This course will be friendly, positive and informal, and Claire will ensure there is a strong sense of community within the group. You do not need to have any previous experience of creative writing, or any academic qualifications.
Indicative Course Programme (subject to possible modification)
Week 1 – Finding Stories
In this ice-breaker week we will get to know each other as a group, introduce the course and its methods, then explore what short stories do and where to find them.
Week 2 – The Writer’s Voice
We all have favourite writers – authors who we will read anything by. But what does it mean to have a truly distinctive writer’s voice and how do we develop our own?
Week 3 – Plot and Narrative Structure
Here we consider how to turn a great idea into a plot by looking at narrative structures which suit the short story form, including Freytag’s Pyramid and the twisty ouroboros tale.
Week 4 – Creating Memorable Characters
Once we have a plot, we must decide who should tell it. Here we will consider how to construct lively, interesting characters that stick in readers’ minds. We will focus on creating distinctive voices for our characters and on animating them through description.
Week 5 – The Point Of Point Of View
In this session, we will think about why point of view is so important to a story. We will look at what the first and third person points of view enable us to show or hide from the reader. We will also consider that rare and tricky beast: the second person story.
Week 6 – Being Original
Once we have our core story-building skills in place, we’ll look at how to introduce originality into our writing. What tricks can we learn to help us avoid predictable plots and stock characters?
Week 7 - Show Don’t Tell?
It’s one of the most famous writerly maxims, but what does it really mean? We will discuss how to create a balance between showing and telling, and how to use description to create subtext. We will also learn about different types of imagery.
Week 8 – ‘You Don’t Say?’
What people say and what they mean are two entirely different things, but how do we show this in writing? This session looks at generating authentic dialogue and also how to communicate through the words beneath the words.
Week 9 – ‘Failing better’
This session takes a fun approach to two very different types of redrafting. We will look at how making bold changes can create a springboard to push your story to the next level, and how line-by-line edits can add the polish that creates a professional shine.
Week 10 – Ending
How do we know when a short story is finished, and what do we do with it once it is? We will round off the course by reflecting on our learning and looking at our next steps – perhaps even into the world of publication.
All course materials will be provided by the tutor as handouts.
Dr Claire Griffiths a hugely enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable tutor. She currently lectures in creative writing at Brunel University, alongside this year’s Booker Prize co-winner Bernardine Evaristo. Her previous experience includes teaching creative writing and literature at the University of East Anglia, the University for the Creative Arts and the University of Westminster. She had been leading adult learner short courses in creative writing since 2016.
As a writer, Claire was selected for the University of East Anglia’s renowned Creative Writing: Prose MA programme, for which she received a Distinction. This was followed by a scholarship-funded PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at the institution. Since completing her doctorate, Claire has had short stories featured in several major publications, including Litro and The Feathertale Review, has had her work broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and has been shortlisted and longlisted for literary awards, including the Bristol Short Story Prize and the Bath Short Story Award. Her first novel, The Lagermuseum, is currently in preparation for publication.
Course Fees and Rate Categories
|Hours||Weeks||Standard Rate||Internal Rate||Associate Rate|
|All fee rates quoted are for the whole course.|
Fee Categories and Discounts
- Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.
- Applies to current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors).
- Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should email evening firstname.lastname@example.org before completing the online enrolment form.
- Students (non-Imperial College)
- Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
- City & Guilds College Association members
- Members of the Friends of Imperial College
- Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
- Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
- Harrods staff
- Historic Royal Palaces staff
- Natural History Museum staff
- Science Museum staff
- South London Botanical Institute Members
- Victoria and Albert Museum staff
- Royal Geographical Society staff
- Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
- Santander Bank staff (Imperial College Walkway branch only)
- Austrian Cultural Forum staff
- Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
- Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
- Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
- Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
- Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
- Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
- Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started, subject entirely to agreement by the tutor delivering the course. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.
Applicable terms & conditions
Please read the Evening Classes & Lunchtime Learning terms and conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.
|Hours||Weeks||Autumn term||Spring term||Summer term|
|20||10||n/a||13 Jan - 19 Mar 2020 (10 weeks)||n/a|
Web enrolment starts 18 November
Enrolment & payment are through the Imperial College eStore. Please use above booking link noting below instructions:
- Our rate categories are explained on this page and your applicable category must be selected on the eStore
- First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
- The booking process involves entering payment details before your course choice and applicant details are queried on an in-built questionnnaire which completes the process
- The following email notifications will be sent
|What is sent||When is it sent||What does it contain|
|1. Payment confirmation||Instantaneously following submission of your online application||
|2. Enrolment confirmation||Sent in due course but likely not before the end of September. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received||
|3. Programme information||Usually sent Friday late afternoon the week before term starts||
|If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756
Certificate of Attendance
Our adult education evening and daytime classes do not offer academic credits, but we do offer an attendance certificate to those learners who attend at least 80% (8) of the taught classroom sessions. Eligible learners receive their certificate by email after the end of the course.
Questions regarding the content and teaching of the above course should be addressed to the course tutor, Dr Claire Griffiths at email@example.com