Creative Writing: Short Story Writing
“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ―
At a Glance
- Online Course
- Wednesdays 19:00 - 21:00
- 10 weeks: October to December
- 2 hours weekly online taught time
- Tutor: Claire Griffiths
- Fees from £110 to £205
- Official Course Title: 'Creative Writing'
- Award: Imperial College Attendance Certificate (T&Cs apply)
- Book from 15 August
This is a supportive and inclusive online 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 creative writing lecturer and published short story writer Dr Claire Griffiths will help you uncover the short story hiding inside of you and give you the tools you need to start transferring it from your imagination to the page.
Our aim on this course is to help you produce a 1,000-word short story, mapping out the writing process from beginning to middle to end. Each week we will focus on a different element of writing short fiction, including finding stories, creating characters, point of view, showing and telling, dialogue, and narrative structure. Along the way, you’ll encounter short fiction by a diverse range of classic and contemporary writers, including Annie Proulx, Petina Gappah, Tatyana Tolstaya, Julio Cortazar, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Yiyun Li, Angela Carter, Raymond Carver and Carol Shields, and learn from their mastery of the craft.
By the end of this course you will have:
- Been encouraged to produce a short story of up to 1,000 words in length;
- Developed your knowledge of the fundamentals of good storytelling;
- Built your own writer’s toolbox of essential skills to enhance your future writing;
- Learned to read more attentively, to discern how writers do what they do;
- Benefited from feedback on your writing from your classmates and tutor;
- Developed your editorial skills
On this course you will benefit from presentations on craft elements of storytelling, fun writing exercises, class discussions, and workshops where you’ll have a minimum of two opportunities to receive feedback on your writing. While this course is comprehensive, you do not need to have any previous experience of creative writing, or any academic qualifications. The environment will be friendly, positive and informal, with a strong sense of community.
Class size is limited to 12 students.
This is a live-taught online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. Classes are recorded and uploaded to the Microsoft Teams platform after the session, meaning if you can’t attend live you can catch up on the class at your convenience. All course materials will be provided, and presentation slides will be made available to you after each class. 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'.
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 Programme (subject to possible modification or change)
Week 1 – The Writer’s Voice
In our first session we will get to know each other and our writing interests, and introduce the course and its methods. We'll take a detailed look at the workshop process, talking about how to provide helpful, supportive editorial feedback - and how to receive it! We’ll also look at the concept of ‘The Writer’s Voice’. We all have authors we love, but what does it mean to have a truly distinctive voice and how do we go about developing our own? This session will combine a tutor-led presentation with discussions and introductory writing exercises.
Week 2 – Finding Stories, Building Plots
For our second session, you’ll have the opportunity to introduce the group to one of your favourite short story writers. We’ll then think about short stories as an artform, using the ideas of different authors as our guide, before testing out a few different methods for generating short story ideas. We’ll consider the difference between story and plot, as well a traditional dramatic structure known as ‘Freytag’s Pyramid’. This session will combine a tutor-led presentation with discussions, writing exercises, and a mini-workshop offering a selection of learners feedback on their writing.
Week 3 – Creating Memorable Characters
Once we have a plot, we must decide who should tell it. Using some of the most vibrant characters in fiction as our guide, we will investigate how to make characters look and sound authentic, and how to give them a life both on and off the page. We will do writing activities which encourage us to animate characters and show them inhabiting the worlds they find themselves in. This session will combine a tutor-led presentation with discussions, writing exercises, and a mini-workshop offering a selection of learners feedback on their writing.
Week 4 – You Don’t Say?
What people say and what they mean are two very different things, but how do we show this in writing? This session looks at generating distinctive voices for characters through authentic dialogue, but also how to communicate through the words beneath the words. We will also consider the difference between dialogue in prose versus dialogue in real life. This session will combine a tutor-led presentation with discussions, writing exercises, and a mini-workshop offering a selection of learners feedback on their writing.
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 tricky beast, the second person story, and look at how different writers have used it. Our writing exercises will include trying out techniques linked to point of view, including Free Indirect Speech. This session will combine a tutor-led presentation with discussions, writing exercises, and a mini-workshop offering a selection of learners feedback on their writing.
Week 6 – Being Original
Once we have our core story-building skills in place, we’ll look at how to introduce more originality into our writing. How do we build the capacity for change into our stories? What tricks can we learn to help us avoid predictable plots and stock characters? Your tutor will guide you through exercises designed to help you break out of old writing habits and to instead embrace the unknown! This session will combine a tutor-led presentation with discussions, writing exercises, and a mini-workshop offering a selection of learners feedback on their writing.
Week 7 – Narrative Structure
In this session, we will look more deeply at narrative structure, considering both traditional and alternative ways of structuring short story plots. Moving on from Freytag’s Pyramid, we will consider the possibilities opened up by non-linear structures, episodic narratives, and twisty ouroboros tales. We will think about which structures suit which types of stories and test out a few different models ourselves. This session will combine a tutor-led presentation with discussions, writing exercises, and a mini-workshop offering a selection of learners feedback on their writing.
Week 8 – It’s All In The Details
This week we will focus on sentence-craft. We will think about how to construct vivid worlds for our readers to step into, using well-chosen, resonant observed and sensory details. We will look at how to turn objects into the subjects of sentences using strong verbs, and consider how incorporating multi-sensory imagery into a piece enables the reader to immerse themselves in a scene. This session will combine a tutor-led presentation with discussions, writing exercises, and a mini-workshop offering a selection of learners feedback on their writing.
Week 9 – 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 imagery and symbolism to generate both atmosphere and subtext. We will also learn about other types of figurative language: what tools are available to us when trying to point to further meaning within our stories? This session will combine a tutor-led presentation with discussions, writing exercises, and a mini-workshop offering a selection of learners feedback on their writing.
Week 10 – Failing Better: Editing
In our final session, we will discuss the editing process, focusing in particular on the importance of maintaining a healthy perspective on redrafting. We will consider how making bold changes can create a springboard to push a story up to the next level, and how focused line-by-line edits can add the polish that creates a professional shine. We will also discuss what to do with your story once you feel it is finished. This will include guidance on further study, entering competitions and publication opportunities. This session will combine a tutor-led presentation with discussions and writing exercises.
All course materials will be provided by the tutor.
Dr Claire Griffiths is 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.
All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.
This course will use Teams as its online delivery method. Teams is easy to use. You will need to log into your existing Teams account or, alternatively, please create a free account here. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a Teams web link that will allow you to access the course. All you need do is click on the course link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class. Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.
All courses lasting two hours have a 10 minute break in the middle. For one hour courses there is no break.
Course Fees and Rate Categories
|Hours||Weeks||Standard Rate||Internal Rate||Associate Rate|
|20||10|| £205 (Early Bird Rate: £185*)
||£120 (Early Bird Rate: £110*)||£160 (Early Bird Rate: £145*)|
|* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October|
Rate 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. 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 before enrolling on any course.
|Hours||Weeks||Autumn term||Spring term||Summer term||Summer School|
|20||10||12 Oct - 18 Dec 2020 (10 weeks)*||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|* This is a 1-term course|
Web enrolment starts 15 August
Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:
- Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate 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 after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
- The following email notifications are sent:
|What is sent||When is it sent||What does it contain|
|1. Payment confirmation||Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application||
|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||
|3. Programme information||Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts||
|If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756
- Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the tutor, Dr Claire Griffiths at email@example.com
- Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.