Writing Short Stories

1st October 2024 7:00pm to 22nd October 2024 8:30pm, Online

What is a short story? How can we use the basic elements of the craft: tense, point of view and metaphor, to name a few, to craft a story that will live with the reader way beyond its word count?

During this course, Vanessa Onwuemezi will guide you towards new potential in your writing by addressing these questions and by looking at how other writers have navigated them. Using writing exercises and discussion we will create a space in which you can take creative risks through the writing process. 

Suitable for both those looking to add something fresh to their regular writing practice and absolute beginners, this course is an opportunity to take your work down new avenues and explore the many possibilities of the form.


This course includes:

- A four week course with weekly online sessions. Each online session is 1.5 hours in length, for a maximum of 20 students. 

- Practical workshops with takeaway exercises to be applied to your own work to prepare for the next session

- A private online Slack forum, to share discussion and writing throughout the course

- A copy of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2024 

A copy of Writing Short Stories: A Writers' and Artists' Companion


Optional extra

At a cost of £50, you can get bespoke feedback from Vanessa on a short story of up to 2,000 words.



Week 1: The Real and the Unreal 

Learn how to use everyday experience to infuse your writing with meaning. We will begin by going back to the ground of the craft and focus on the ‘what’: what are we doing when we’re writing? And the ‘how’, how do we tell our story? 

Understanding how experience works in our own lives and imaginations is essential for crafting a meaningful story. Starting with our immediate environment as the focus of our writing exercises, we will gradually expand our focus to other realms of experience: memory, dreams and fears, through looking at the work of other writers and by trying their approaches ourselves. Prepare to explore realism and the surreal, the senses, childhood memories, dreams and nightmares. 

Homework: Dream Diary


Week 2: Exterior to Interior

We each contain multitudes. In this workshop, we will harness the many perspectives within each of us to create characters full of life. Characters are the driving force of a story and are expressed in a story via a ‘Point of View’. Point of View affects what the reader sees and where their attention can be directed.

Learn about the different ways Point of View can be used and the strengths and limitations for each. Using examples we will explore how short story writers establish Point of View and other technical parameters at the beginning of a story. Following their example we will generate our own beginnings, paying attention to the intimate connection between character and landscape. 

Homework: One page short story


Week 3: Shaping Narrative

In a short story every word counts, every sentence is building you towards the story’s arc and final end. This means that you have to create a sense of time and allow it to move in your story, but what is time? 

We will produce some flash fiction in the spirit of experimenting with time and narrative, the short form is ripe for experiment. From beginning to end, learn to manage the pace of the story using imagery, tense, typography and sentence structure. Finally, we will give special attention to beginnings and endings of stories, as these are hard to get right but make all the difference.

Homework: Edit your story down to a half page, but keep the story intact. 


Week 4: Editing and the short story collection

Learn about the editorial process, from the sentence level upwards we will discuss passages of writing as a group and how to improve on them. Understand that as the writer it is you who decides what a good sentence is, the sentence that tells the story that you want to tell, with no word wasted.

To finish the week we will look at a short story collection as a whole, how to put a short story collection together and allow its unique qualities to shine through. 

We will finish with a Q&A session.

Speaker profiles
Vanessa Onwuemezi

Vanessa Onwuemezi is a writer living in London. She has a BA in Biological Sciences, an MSc in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology and completed an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London in 2018. She is the winner of The White Review Short Story Prize 2019 and her work has appeared in literary and art magazines, including Granta, Frieze and Prototype. Her debut short story collection, Dark Neighbourhood, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2021, and was named one of The Guardian's best books of 2021. It was shortlisted for both the Republic of Consciousness Prize and the Edge Hill Prize in 2022 and her short story Green Afternoon was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2022. She has written several exhibition texts, most recently for SMIIILLLLEEEE, Rachel Jones, Thaddaeus Ropac gallery, 2021 and The Exile of Dionysus, Bill Lynch, Brighton CCA, 2022. 

Photo credit: Lewis Khan

Booking & payment

The course fee of £225 (inc. VAT) is payable in full online. Please note that payment instalment plans are available for all W&A events, writing courses and editing services. Contact W&A Admin on events@writersandartists.co.uk so that we can find a payment schedule that works for you.

If this event is Sold Out, please look out for other writing courses by visiting our Events homepage.

This is a live online course which will be presented using video conferencing software. Joining instructions and full guidance will be provided by the W&A Team a week before the event start-date. All timings for this event are as per UK time.

To view our event refund and cancellation policy, please click here.

Accessible to All

It’s of real importance to Writers & Artists that our events and courses remain accessible to all.

  • Writers & Artists has made one bursary place available for this writing course as part of our accessibility scheme. Please visit our bursaries page for further information about how to apply. 
  • At the author’s discretion, event materials will be made available to attendees after the course.
  • A link to a recording of the course will be circulated each week. This will be made available to course attendees only, and for a time-limited period.
  • This course will include written text and visuals. Please contact us in advance so that we can make arrangements to be sure all documents appear in a format that works for you.
  • If you’d like to attend but have any questions or concerns regarding accessibility, then please email AccessWA@bloomsbury.com

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