Detail from Woman Reading by  Ethel Leontine Gabain

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ― Anton Chekhov

At a Glance

  • Live online course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Wednesdays 19:00 - 21:00
  • 10 weeks: January to March
  • Tutor: Dr Claire Griffiths
  • Fees from £120 to £205
  • Imperial College Attendance Certificate (T&Cs apply)
Booking link


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.

Online Access to Course

This is a taught live online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time on a specific day of the week. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course Delivery'.

Attendance Certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

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.

Additional Reading

All course materials will be provided by the tutor as handouts.

Your Tutor

Photograph of Claire Griffiths

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

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 20  10  £205
All fee rates quoted are for the whole course. Please note there is no early-bird discount available for the January intake courses

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • 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 before completing the online enrolment form.

Associate Rate

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • Members of the London Zoological Society
  • Members of the Kennel Club

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. 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 Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 20  10 n/a w/c 18 Jan - w/e 27 Mar 2021 (10 weeks)* n/a n/a
* This is a 1-term course

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.

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 23 November 2020

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 sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • Confirms your payment, date of payment and order number
  • Should not be treated as a course-enrolment receipt and therefore does not show your course however these details are sent to us via the system
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
  • Confirms your course choice
  • Shows the programme your course is part of as well as the term dates
  • Confirms your course' day of the week & time
3. Programme information Usually sent Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains further course details incl. classroom location and teacher contact information
  • Provides further general programme details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.