Short Fiction Festival Weekend

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Our Short Fiction Festival weekend is a celebration of the short form, featuring writing workshops, author discussions and networking.

About this event

We're thrilled to programme a series of events and masterclasses on writing and developing short fiction.

Taking place online and led by our A Brief Pause tutors, our Short Fiction Festival Weekend is the ultimate retreat for anyone looking to master the short form.

The Short Fiction Festival Weekend will be run on Zoom.

All attendees will be sent workshop materials, including handouts and a copy of the chat following the event.

Recordings will be available to playback for up to 90 days.

PROGRAMME (subject to change)

Saturday 12th June

10 AM Morning warm-up

10.30 - 11.30 AM Using Journalling to Develop Emotion in Fiction with Xanthi Barker

In this class we will be looking at examples from short stories where characters' emotional reactions are surprising and/or intricately developed. We will examine how the often conflicting and complicated nature of emotion in real life and how to make use of this when writing fiction.

We will begin to think about journalling as a way of creating a dictionary of emotion and use writing exercises to attempt to recreate the complexity and individuality of the emotions we experience into fiction.

11.30 - 12 PM Writing prompt + Breakout groups

12.15 - 1.15 Lunch

1.30 - 2.30 PM The Importance of Place in Short Fiction with Emily Devane

In this class, we will be looking at the importance of place in short fiction. We will explore place both in terms of a geographical place as well as place in time (historical eras are a ‘place’ in of themselves), urban/domestic etc. We will consider the benefits of writing about familiar places, and the opportunities for escapism in writing about the unfamiliar. We will examine relevant extracts to further our understanding of this theme, and consider how place is used to establish story elements including tone, social context and narrative drive.

2.30 - 3 PM Free writing

3 - 4 PM How Voice Works in Short Fiction with Abi Hynes

In this class, we will explore narrative and character voice in short fiction. We will introduce and experiment with techniques for changing the perspective of a piece of fiction if it isn't working, and learn how to unleash the power of your narrator.

4.15 - 5.15 PM Creating Resonance with Farhana Khalique

In this class, we will discuss how to paint vivid pictures and develop your short fiction, using extended metaphors, animal imagery and other figurative techniques. We will examine a number of short story extracts which demonstrate these techniques and attempt to put them into practice through a number of writing exercises.

Sunday 13th June

10 AM Morning warm-up

10.30 - 11.30 AM Generating Ideas for Short Fiction with Susmita Bhattacharya

Where do writers get their ideas from? In this class, we will look at where to begin with short fiction, excavating our surroundings and experiences for inspiration. Susmita will share her own creative practice and the writing prompts which led to some of her most celebrated works. Through a series of prompts and resources, writers will leave feeling inspired and ready to work on a number of new pieces.

11.30 - 12 PM Writing prompt + Breakout groups

12.15 - 1.15 Lunch

1.30 - 2.30 PM Writing a Novella in Flash with Alison Woodhouse

In this talk on writing a novella-in-flash, Alison will take you from conception to execution, drawing on examples with different subjects and styles (including her own). We will look at how a Nif differs from a novella or a (longer) short story and how to create the connections between the stories, forming a rich mosaic. Alison will introduce the idea of ‘skimming stones’ to move effectively through time while maintaining depth of characterisation and story.

2.30 - 3 PM Free writing

3 - 4 PM Writing for Short Story Competitions with Mahsuda Snaith

What do judges look for when reading for a prize? In this class, we will examine key elements in creating memorable, prize-winning stories that stand out from the crowd. Through a number of examples and top tips, writers will begin to understand how to write short fiction for competitions. Mahsuda will lead you through a number of writing exercises, taking you from concept to fine-tuning.

4.15 - 5 PM Author panel: Moving on from Short Fiction

In this panel discussion, writers Melissa Fu and Catherine Menon will share their experiences of moving on from short fiction. They will discuss their process and the challenges when tackling longer works. This session will feature readings and discussion.

Bursaries are available for writers on a low income*

Please email Farhana at to apply for a bursary place demonstrating your commitment to your creative practice and a brief statement on your current circumstances. Please email by 31st May at the latest.

*Household income threshold of less than £28,500.

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Organiser Dahlia Books

Organiser of Short Fiction Festival Weekend

Dahlia Books is a small independent publishing press based in Leicester. We publish contemporary, original fiction and champion regional and diverse voices. Dahlia Publishing was established by writer and editor, Farhana Shaikh in 2010.

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