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How to write a short story collection: A six-week creative writing course

Guardian Masterclasses

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 6:30 PM - Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 8:00 PM (BST)

How to write a short story collection: A six-week...

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Ticket Type Sales End Price * Fee Quantity
How to write a short story collection: A six-week creative writing course Mar 13, 2018 £499.00 £6.50
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Event Details

Led by acclaimed writer Alba Arikha over six consecutive weeks, this course will give you the creative inspiration and technical skills to start working on a short story collection.

The world of a short story may be more condensed than the world of a novel, but its emotional impact can be as wide-ranging as a novel’s. But what skills do you need to make an impact and render the story memorable?

Over six weeks, with the help of tutor Alba Arikha, you will be looking at different elements of the short story, including character, voice, structure, plot, setting, pacing and dialogue. You will learn how to read like a writer and have your own work discussed in class.

You will be given the opportunity to explore and develop your creativity as well as build the confidence to start your own collection of stories. Through a combination of exercises, reading material, group discussions and professional feedback, you will be on track to find your voice, demonstrate your newly acquired skills and produce one or two short stories by the end of the course. But most importantly, you will be on the road to inspiration to continue with your collection.


Week 1: How to begin a story: the construction of character

  • What makes a short story stand out

  • The construction and importance of character: what does your character want/need?

  • Memorable characters in short stories

  • How to generate ideas: memory and how we apply it to our imagination

Week 2: Voice and plot

  • How do you find it and perfect the voice?

  • Developing your idea: the excavation of voice, how to sharpen it and build confidence

  • The “throb” as described by Nabokov – how inspiration hits

  • The importance of conflict: the twists and turns that make the story move

Week 3: Setting and structure

  • A sense of place and time

  • How surroundings impact character and plot

  • The scaffolding of fiction: how to “build” a story

  • How to maintain a cohesive structure and sense of unity when fleshing out a story

 Week 4: Dialogue and point of view

  • The function of conversation in fiction

  • Speech patterns: how can dialogue tell us something about the speaker?

  • Confrontation in fiction: how to maintain momentum between narrative and dialogue

  • Who’s telling the story – first, second or third person, unreliable narrators, omniscient or limited narrators?

Week 5: Shaping your story, mood and pace

  • The importance of narrative flow: are you confident with the voice and arc of your story? What are the obstacles in the character’s way and how will they be resolved?

  • Mood and pace, putting further techniques into place

  • How other writers work

  • What makes your story stand out

Week 6: Drafting and ending: how to finish a story

  • The first draft: spotting weaknesses as well as strengths. What to keep, what to delete?

  • What does one look for when editing? Are you saying too much or too little?

  • When to wrap up and submit

  • Tips on agents and publishers

Tutor profile

Alba Arikha is an author of fiction and non-fiction, including Walking on Ice, Muse and Major/Minor, a memoir that was shortlisted for the Spear’s award and chosen as one of the best books of 2012 by the New Yorker. Alba’s narrative poem Soon was developed into opera and performed at the Riverside Studios. She has written for various publications, including the New Republic and Tatler, and is a regular contributor to Spear’s Magazine. She is also a singer-songwriter and has performed in London and Paris.

Full course and returns information on the Masterclasses website

Have questions about How to write a short story collection: A six-week creative writing course? Contact Guardian Masterclasses

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When & Where

The Guardian
Kings Place
90 York Way
N1 9GU London
United Kingdom

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 6:30 PM - Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 8:00 PM (BST)

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Guardian Masterclasses

Welcome to Guardian masterclasses – a unique programme of learning embedded within one of the world's most forward-thinking media organisations.

Masterclasses offer a broad range of short and long courses across a variety of disciplines from creative writing, journalism, photography and design, film and digital media, music and cultural appreciation.

Harnessing the expertise and specialisms within the organisation, our courses are led by first class and award winning guardian professionals whilst also drawing on the skills and expertise of other leading figures at the forefront of the creative and digital industries.

The programme is aimed at anyone interested in personal or professional development whether that be refining your skills, focusing your ambition or simply broadening your mind and gaining inspiration.

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How to write a short story collection: A six-week creative writing course
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