Writing Short Stories: A Four-Week Crash Course with Shelley Weiner | Guardian Master Classes


Short stories are a fun thing. Although technically shorter than novels or short stories, they have the power to contain as much detail, world, and story as their larger counterparts. This can make them difficult to build, as they must communicate character, tension, conflict, and resolve.

If you enjoy reading short stories or have started writing them but would appreciate some expert advice, this course with Shelley Weiner is your tonic. During four intense and stimulating virtual sessions, she will draw on her rich experience as an author, mentor and creative writing tutor, to guide and inspire you through the process. Through an in-depth examination of a selection of classic and contemporary short stories, combined with practical exercises, you will identify – and demystify – the techniques used by the great exponents of the genre and learn how to create your own stories.

You’ll see your generation ideas in design, building your structure, finding and amplifying your voice, and shaping your plot. During each live lesson, selected texts will be used as stepping stones to guide you through the aspect of crafting being discussed.

During the first week, you will receive a starting point for a new story and you will develop and develop it as the course progresses.

Shelley Weiner Photography: Shelley Weiner

Week 1: Origins

What is a story? From Aesop’s fables at cat person, there are distinctive traits that bind them and also set them apart. Learn about the concept of story ideas and where to find them, with an introduction to the character as the driving force behind the fiction.

Week 2: Invention

A deeper dive into character and dialogue, and how – and why – these components are central to story development.

Week 3: Building

Examine plot and momentum, including causality, structure, time pressure and more.

Week 4: Performances

Who tells the story ? Viewpoints and voice will be examined, as well as how to get your words across the page and find your readers.

Over the course of four weeks, you will have the opportunity to explore – from a writer’s perspective – classic works by Chekov, Hemingway, Alice Munro, Toni Morrison, Miranda July, Zadie Smith, Courtia Newland and Eley Williams. Taught sessions will be complemented by a dedicated Slack workspace, owned by you and your fellow writers and facilitated by the Guardian Masterclasses team. Here you will experience constructive discussions and work exchanges with your peers. Stretching your ability to give and receive productive feedback will not only allow you to gain a deeper understanding of the art of short fiction, but also means that you will leave the course with a unique and supportive community of writers for you. guide you through your next steps.

For an additional £125 it is possible to have a 30 minute one-to-one mentoring session with Shelley at the end of the course. These are limited to 10 places, so it is advisable to book early.

This course is for…

  • Aspiring writers, beginners and intermediates looking to perfect their craft

  • Established writers eager to revisit the short story and sharpen their skills

You will receive a link to the webinar 2 hours before the 2 p.m. (BST) start time.

Tutor Profile

Shelley Weiner is the author of five novels and a renowned creative writing tutor/mentor with a passion for nurturing and guiding writers at all levels. Her short stories have appeared in numerous print and online anthologies, and been produced for BBC Radio 4. Shelley has taught and led masterclasses for, among others, The Guardian, Faber Academy, The Literary Consultancy, Gold Dust Mentoring Scheme, The Art of Writing (Florence) and Skyros Writers’ Lab. She has taught the MA in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University, as well as Birkbeck College, the Open University, the Taliesin Trust, the British Council in Israel and Durham University.


Appointment: From Saturday April 23 to Saturday May 14, 2022 on four consecutive Saturdays
2pm-4pm (BST)
Price: £495 (+ £6.83 booking fee); £620 (+£6.83 booking fee) for the course and one-on-one mentorship with Shelley
Event Capacity: 20

This masterclass is available worldwide. If you are joining us from outside the UK, please use this time zone converter to check your local live stream time.

14:00 BST | 3pm CEST | 6am PDT | 9 a.m. EDT

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