Short Stories III: Deepening Your Practice Short Stories III: Deepening Your Practice Short Stories III: Deepening Your Practice

Short Stories III: Deepening Your Practice

Our most advanced course on short stories, designed to help the serious practitioner to hone their craft



What do these levels mean?




12 weeks
  • Start Date
  • Time
  • Thursdays, 19.00–21.00



£250 / month for 2 months and a £350.00 deposit


This course is sold out. Please click here to request to be added to the waiting list.

Immerse Yourself In the Short Story

This twelve-week course will intensify your enjoyment of and admiration for the short story as a reader, and electrify your own writing. As well as reading widely, greedily, raptly, we’ll write lots, sharpening our instincts and questioning our default settings, and we’ll critique each other’s work, with a focus each week on workshopping. Towards the second half of the course, there will be an emphasis on editing and on good editorial practice, so that you finish the course with a new handful of polished stories, or maybe even a collection, ready to send out into the world.

Is this the right course for me?

Perhaps you’ve been writing short stories for a while – submitting to journals or competitions, maybe starting to publish. Maybe you’re already published in other forms. In any case, you have a dedicated and established writing practice, and you’re ready for the deepest immersion yet into your craft.

    Sessions will take place on Zoom, 19.00–21.00, every Thursday night for twelve weeks. This schedule of topics covered is subject to change, but should give you a good idea of what to expect.

Course Programme

Session 1

Thursday 11 April, 19.00–21.00


Session 2

18 April, 19.00–21.00

Making Silk Purses...

Session 3

25 April, 19.00–21.00

How to Hear What Your Story Wants...

See remaining sessions

Course Programme

Short Stories III: Deepening Your Practice

Session 1

Thursday 11 April, 19.00–21.00


Taking our cue from Bruno Schulz and the uncanny way he conjures up his childhood in The Street of Crocodiles, we’ll start very close to home: with the rooms and streets of our first memories, to see how we can tap into the intensity of early and formative experience, as a resource for ourselves, and a way of mapping the lives of our characters.

Session 2

18 April, 19.00–21.00

Making Silk Purses

Following on from last week’s unlocking of our first experiences of the world, we’ll look at how to use the material that happens to be to hand for your short stories – how to charge it, how to make it taut, how to make it matter. For me, in recent years, this has been the experience of motherhood, and so I’ll start the discussion with reference to my own stories, and stories by Helen Simpson and Anne Enright, among others, to allow you to start thinking about your own sow’s ears…

Session 3

25 April, 19.00–21.00

How to Hear What Your Story Wants

This session is all about tone – about pitch – and register – and really listening. We will read – aloud! – stories by DH Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf, those great tonal, rhythmic stylists, and we will start to think about how to tune in to our own stories.

Session 4

2 May, 19.00–21.00

Blood & Guts & Gore

After a week spent in our heads, we’re going to get visceral – reading stories by Denis Johnson, Saba Sams, Irenosen Okojie and Sarah Hall – to see how to get your reader to read not just with their mind’s eye, but with their whole body!

Session 5

9 May, 19.00–21.00

Guest tutor session

Guest tutor TBC

Please not, this session will be followed by a reading week.

Session 6

23 May, 19.00–21.00

A Playground Not a Prison

This session is all about the art of limitations. One measure of a short story is how compressed it is – how coiled, taut, pared back to its essence – how much work a reader must do. We will study very closely stories by James Joyce, George Saunders and Lili Potpara, looking at the topic of limitations with regard to vocabulary and narrative perspective. We will also consider what other self-imposed limitations might be fruitful for you.

Session 7

30 May, 19.00–21.00

Sacred Geometry 1

Looking at stories by Jhumpa Lahiri, Lesley Nneka Arimah and Abdellah Taïa, among others, we are going to consider the short story as a pattern: thinking about how you can establish and break a pattern, working with and against your readers’ expectations.

Session 8

6 June, 19.00–21.00

Sacred Geometry 2

Because form is so essential in a short story, we are going to continue our thinking and discussions about how to control and work with tight frameworks, scaffolding, structures for a story. I will share the formal decisions behind my story ‘All the People Were Mean and Bad’ and we will discuss the role of form in some stories of your choice.

Session 9

13 June, 19.00–21.00

Guest Session

Guest tutor TBC

Session 10

20 June, 19.00–21.00

Anatomy of a Story

A concert pianist has to practise and practise then step out on stage and do it perfectly first time with no second chances. Fortunately for us, we can take as long as we want to get it right. In this candid session, I will share with you the tangled muddle of first thoughts and wrong turns that becomes, draft after draft after painful draft, one of my own finished stories, talking you through the choices, despair, and flashes of insight as they happened.

Session 11

27 June, 19.00–21.00

More than the Sum of its Parts

This week, we will consider the crucial question of how to put a short story collection together. We will think about how to start – with an amuse bouche or with a bang – and we will look at what makes for a satisfying arc. We will consider the respective possibilities and pitfalls and technical challenges of linked collections and of collections whose stories are entirely discrete. We’ll refer to recent collections by a rich array of twenty-first century writers: Yan Ge, Irenosen Okojie, Kevin Barry, Sarah Hall, Elizabeth Strout, Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jan Carson.

Session 12

4 July, 19.00–21.00

Your Call!

In this final session, I will address any issues or topics of particular interest that have arisen for the group over the previous sessions.

Exceptional. Lucy is [..] the finest teacher I have had across any course in any subject.


Lucy is an exceptional teacher with an amazing mind. She analyses the short story deeply and thoroughly, fostering great leaps in understanding of the form.


Exceptional. Lucy is [...] the finest teacher I have had across any course in any subject.



Lucy Caldwell

Born in Belfast in 1981, Lucy Caldwell is the multi–award winning author of three novels, several stage plays and radio dramas...

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Lucy Caldwell

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