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

  • Classroom course
  • Wednesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 10 weeks: January to March
  • Tutor: Martin Ouvry
  • Fees from £150 to £240
This course is now full

This course is now full

Many people have a story to tell, whether a work wholly of the imagination or something developed from the experience of life. On this course we will take you on a journey to find or further develop ways to express your ideas in writing, either in the form of a short story or a passage from a longer piece of work. Our evening course seeks to educate the imagination and equip you with the technical and practical know-how to fulfil your writing aims.

At the end of the course you will have:

  • produced a written piece of between 1,000-2,000 words which will take the form of a self-contained short story or a chapter of a novel or memoir;
  • identified, or further developed, ideas towards the production of a piece of writing;
  • explored key writing techniques, methods and forms that relate to your own interests and skills as a writer.

On this interactive, discussion-centred course, teaching is delivered in a friendly and guided environment offering the necessary positive and constructive criticism appropriate to the emerging work of each member of the group. The sessions will be further supported by short extracts from great works of fiction and books on the craft, drawn from a diverse community of writers.

Classroom Course

This course will be taught face-to-face in the classrooms at our South Kensington Campus in London. To take part in the course you will need to be able to attend our South Kensington Campus each week on the weekday and time shown above.

If you prefer online tuition, a live-online lunchtime version of this course is also available.

Class Recordings

These classes are not recorded


Attendance Certificate


Successful completion of this course leads to the award of an Imperial College attendance certificate


Terms and conditions apply to all enrolments to this course. Please read them before enrolment

Course Information

Course Programme and Additional Reading

Course Programme (may be subject to some modification)

In the first session the group will get to know each other and we will explore your aims and aspirations in writing. From there, we will begin to discuss the practical and technical aspects of producing compelling narratives: finding the centre (finding our voice and identifying stories to tell), character development and consistency, narrative structure and plotting, world-building (evoking time and place), planning and improvisation, and more. Through discussion of published short stories and brief extracts from great novels and books on the craft, we will examine the key elements that combine to produce outstanding writing.

Brief in-class writing exercises will help you to develop your writing skills in general and will inspire and augment your work in progress. As we move further into the course, we will begin to discuss the central piece of writing (1,000-2,000 words in length) that is emerging from each member of the class. These workshops take place in a positive and supportive atmosphere, and are hugely valuable to the writing process as a whole.

Centred around discussion, and exploring both the practical and technical sides of producing excellent writing, Short Stories and First Chapters is suitable for both beginners and writers with some experience of life writing and/or fiction.

Additional Reading

There is no set reading list, but you might be interested in these publications on the craft:

  • The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook2023 (London: Bloomsbury 2023) – includes the article ‘How Creative Writing Courses Benefit a Writer’ by your course tutor, Martin Ouvry
  • Ailsa Cox, Writing Short Stories(London: Routledge, 2016)
  • John Mullan, How Novels Work (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird(London: Doubleday, 1994)

Your Tutor

Photograph of Martin Ouvry Martin Ouvry is an extremely experienced teacher of creative writing. He began as a musician before studying English and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

His awards include a final year prize for outstanding achievement (UEA, BA), the Alumni Association Prize for Fiction (UEA, MA), two Arts Council Writers' Award wins, a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Wingate Scholarship. His fiction has been published in various anthologies and magazines, among them New Writing, A Little Nest of Pedagogues (in dual English and Chinese texts), The London Magazine and Esquire.

Martin has taught creative writing for the Arts Council England, the British Council, City University, the Kingston Writing School, UEA, and the Chelsea Community Hospital School. He has reviewed books for the Sunday Times, the FT and the Observer.

Lee Brackstone has written of Martin's fiction: 'I would struggle to find a writer of comparable talent in Martin's generation.' The late Deborah Rogers wrote: 'I think his is a voice of true originality and distinction, and one that will in time emerge as a major player in a new generation of British novelists.'

Martin recently completed his novel Frugality with the generous support of Arts Council England.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 20 10 £240   (£12 p/h)
£150   (£7.50 p/h) £195   (£9.75 p/h)
All fee rates quoted are for the whole course. Part-payments are not possible. Equivalent to hourly rate is shown for comparison guidance only, it is not possible to pay pro-rata hourly rates.


Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

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

Internal Rate

  • 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)
  • Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
  • Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Students, staff and Governors of Woodhouse College and the IC Mathematics School

Associate Rate

  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Co-operative College members
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Friends and Patrons of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
  • Friends of Leighton House/ Sambourne House
  • Friends of the Royal College of Music
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Members of the Kennel Club
  • Members of the London Zoological Society
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • National Health Service (NHS) employees
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Teachers and other staff of UK schools
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many of our adult education courses after the course has already 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.

Friends and Family Scheme

This course is eligible for the  allowing Imperial College students and staff to share their discount with their friends and family.

Term Dates 2022-23

HoursWeeksSpring termSummer termSummer School
 20  10 Week commencing 16 January to week ending 25 March 2023* n/a n/a
*This is a 1-term course

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment is now open

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. When enrolling:

  • Do check on the drop down menu above called "Course Fees and Rate Categories" to see if you are eligible for a discounted rate and also do make sure you select that rate when enrolling on the eStore
  • If you are a first-time eStore user you will need to create an account before enrolling. You can do this by entering an email address and password. This account can then be used for any future enrolments via the eStore.

When you have enrolled you will be sent the following email notifications:

What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working days. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about the content or teaching of this course please contact the Course Tutor, Martin Ouvry,

If you have any questions about your enrolment or payment processes please contact the Programme Administrator, Christian Jacobi,