Detailed Course Structure

The full course consists of 14 Modules of PDF teaching content, writing prompts, brainstorming activities, and reading suggestions. Estimated time per Module – 3 to 6 hours of writing, reading and thinking (including optional tasks). Allow minimum 3 months for each half of the course. NB Thirteen of the fourteen Modules include feedback on your writing.

What follows is an indicative outline – it may be subject to adjustment as the course proceeds.

PART ONE – Routes Forward

Module 1 – 45-minute Skype / Zoom / Telephone call; “Classic Form Flash Fiction”; Idea Generation / Idea Discussion

Module 2 – Brainstorming: Significant Encounters; Timeline of Significant Moments (a life writing activity to generate new ideas); Optional Novella-in-Flash Case Study 1 (a classic example that you haven’t read before)

Module 3 – Thickening Your Story Soup (stage 1): identifying Characters & describing Relationships through Past / Present / Future – family, intimate relationships, work, community, institutions, neighbours, friendships (and pets!); Optional Character Questionnaire; 7-minute George Saunders video animation about tackling long-form fiction

Module 4 – Thickening Your Story Soup (stage 2): Setting & Description incl. Randall Brown on Defamiliarized Description; Graham Mort essay on ‘Landscape and Language’

Module 5 – Thickening Your Story Soup (stage 2 contd.): Setting & Description – Significant Objects; using Liminal Territories for transition or transgression; Setting as Texture, Subject or Catalyst (belonging / not belonging; settling / escape; searching / finding; safety / danger; vitality or ruin etc); extracts from novellas-in-flash by Tina May Hall, Gwendolyn Brooks, Martina Evans & Maria Romasco Moore.

Module 6 – Thickening Your Story Soup (stage 3): Strategies for Enriching Characters – making use of Secrets & Contradictions; identifying Values; using Contrasts between characters and within one character over time (including Metaprograms theory); short stories by James Joyce: ‘A Little Cloud’ & Arthur Schnitzler ‘The Death of a Bachelor’

Module 7 – 2nd 45-minute Skype / Zoom / telephone call (or email exchange if preferred); Problem-Solving Surgery; Feedback on a further 4 pages of flash fiction; Mapping Out Your Novella – “Bedrock / Surface / Sky”; Creating a “Story-Engine” for Character-Driven Novellas; Optional – Novella-in-Flash Case Study 2

PART TWO – Going Further

Module 8 – Thickening Your Story Soup (stage 4): Introducing Narrative Turning Points – The Arrival of “News” or Major Life Events; Changes Within a Relationship; Other Shifts in a Character’s Experiences or Worldview; Maggie Gee’s theory of “Primal Action”

Module 9 – Thickening Your Story Soup (stage 5): “Connective Tissue” – thickening the weave between individual flashes; “Connective Tissue” – Time-markers; two Sophie Van Llewynn essays on using Strange/Innovative Forms 

Module 10 – Ways to Delve More Deeply into Character – incl. backstory, socio-historical context, interdependence; Erikson’s Theory of Stages of Development

Module 11 – Problem-Solving Surgery; “Speaking Silences” – extracts from a novel-in-flash by Charles Lambert; Format/Layout – Methods for Titles and Spacing/Structuring; Optional Novella-in-Flash Case Study 3 (choice tailored to your project)

Module 12 – Narrative Arcs: Useful Narrative Frameworks To Borrow From When Stuck (Aristotle; the Seven Basic Plots; 4-minute Tony Zhou film on Opposition/Parallelism/Progression or ‘But/Meanwhile/Therefore – 3 words that are guaranteed to make your writing better’); Guidance on Writing a Synopsis

Module 13 – Endings: Options for Endings incl. ‘Loop’, ‘Open-Door’ and ‘Concrete’ Endings; Patricia Ann McNair essay on finding an ending: ‘Taking the Long Way’; Problem-Solving Surgery; Reflections on the Course

Module 14 – 3rd Skype / Zoom / telephone call (or email exchange if preferred) to identify next steps for your novella; Feedback on a further eight pages of completed flash fiction + synopsis.

(Plus options available for detailed written feedback on a longer final manuscript – see Prices for details.)