Detailed Course Structure

The full course in 2021 consists of 15 Modules of teaching content (over 30 PDFs with writing prompts, brainstorming activities, reading suggestions and links to online articles). Estimated time per Module – 3 to 6 hours of writing, reading and thinking. The course is divided into two parts. Allow minimum 3 months for each half of the course. NB Thirteen of the fifteen 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 – incl. 1st 45-minute Skype/Zoom/Telephone call – Classic Form Flash Fiction; Introduction to Different Types of Novella-in-Flash; Idea Generation/Idea Discussion; Three Articles about Creativity and Writing; General Writing Tips for Flash Fictions – 3 online articles to read; History of Flash Fiction & Definitions; “Slouch to 5k” coaching programme – resources #1 & #2

Module 2 – Brainstorming: Significant Encounters; Three further prompts for generating ideas: Timeline (a life-writing activity to generate new ideas), Historical Event (a second life-writing activity to generate new ideas) and “The Trawl”; Reading Inspiration – Essay by Audre Lorde: ‘The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action’; Optional Novella-in-Flash Case Study 1 (a classic example that you haven’t read before); “Slouch to 5k” coaching programme – ‘The Guide’

Module 3 – Thickening Your Story Soup (stage 1): Working with Character; 7 minute George Saunders video animation about tackling long-form fiction; Three writing prompts: “Home Territory”/Ordinary World; An Encounter; Personal Interests; Reading Inspiration – ‘Shitty First Drafts’, extract from Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott; “The Universal Can Opener” – a tool for getting going with any flash fiction prompt

Module 4 – Building Your Fictional Universe (stage 1): Identifying a Cast of Characters & describing Relationships through Past/Present/Future – family, intimate relationships, work, community, institutions, neighbours, friendships (and pets!); Character Archetypes from the Hero’s Journey and The Enneagram; Managing your Novella’s “Population Size”; Four Extra Writing Prompts – Another Encounter, The Ritual, Institutions, Sound FX; “Slouch to 5k” coaching programme – ‘The Soundtrack’

Module 5 – Building Your Fictional Universe (stage 2): Setting & Description incl. Randall Brown on Defamiliarized Description; Reading Inspiration – Graham Mort essay on ‘Landscape and Language’; Extra Writing Prompt – Locations; “Slouch to 5k” coaching programme – ‘The Reward’

Module 6 – Thickening Your Story Soup (stage 2): Going Further with 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; Extra Writing Prompt – Locations (part two)

Module 7 – Digging Deeper into Character (part one) – the “Radical Questionnaire”; Secrets, Hidden Lives and Contradictions; short stories by James Joyce: ‘A Little Cloud’ & Arthur Schnitzler ‘The Death of a Bachelor’ Thoughts about Contrasting Characters; Five Extra Writing Prompts – Secrets/Hidden Lives, Contradictions, Dream/Nightmare/Vision, Personal Backstory, Out of Their Comfort Zone; “Slouch to 5k” coaching programme – ‘The Cartoon’

Module 8 Optional 2nd Skype/Zoom/telephone discussion or email exchange; Feedback on a further 4 pages of completed flash fiction; Problem-Solving Surgery; Letter to your Novella; Mapping Your Novella – “Bedrock/Surface/Sky”; Creating a “Story-Engine” (part one) – for Character-driven Novellas – Threats, Risks, Pressures, Dilemmas and Problems; Writing Prompt – “A Stranger Comes to Town”; Reading Inspiration – ‘Principles of a Story’, essay by Raymond Carver; Optional Novella-in-Flash Case Study 2; “Slouch to 5k” coaching programme – ‘The Affirmation’

PART TWO – Going Further

Module 9 – Thickening Your Story Soup (stage 3): “Connective Tissue” – Thickening the Weave Between Individual Flashes; Time-markers; Plot Links; Extra Writing Prompts – “Fragmented Continuity” and “Talking & Travelling”; Two Sophie Van Llewyn Essays on Using Strange/Innovative Forms; “Slouch to 5k” coaching programme – ‘The Empty Hour’

Module 10 – Thickening Your Story Soup (stage 4): Creating a “Story-Engine” (parts two and three) – 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; Competing Forces; Maggie Gee’s theory of “Primal Action”; Writing Prompt – Photographs (a); “Slouch to 5k” coaching programme – ‘The Film’

Module 11 – Digging Deeper into Character (part two) – Contrasting values; Changing values; Cultural-historical Context; Psychological Interpretations of Character – Metaprograms; Erikson’s Theory of Stages of Development; Writing Prompt – Photographs (b)

Module 12 – Problem-Solving Surgery; “Speaking Silences” – Extracts from a Novel-in-flash by Charles Lambert; Format/Layout – titles/headings; page breaks; character/place labels; passage of time; Optional Novella-in-Flash Case Study 3; Extra Writing Prompt – Family/Friendship/Romance; Reading inspiration – flash fictions from six different novellas

Module 13 – Narrative Arcs: Useful Narrative Frameworks To Borrow From When Stuck (Aristotle; the Seven Basic Plots; George Polti’s 36 dramatic situations; Freytag’s Pyramid; Tony Zhou video on Opposition/Parallelism/Progression); Creating a Timeline/Map for Your Novella; Guidance on Writing a Synopsis; Writing Prompt – Photographs (c); “Slouch to 5k” coaching programme – ‘The Exchange’

Module 14 – Endings: Options for Endings incl. ‘Loop’, ‘Open-Door’ and ‘Concrete’ Endings, with example flash fictions; Reading Inspiration – extract from Patricia Ann McNair essay on finding an ending: ‘Taking the Long Way’; Problem-Solving Surgery

Module 15 – Optional 45-minute Skype/Zoom/telephone Tutorial or Email exchange; Feedback on a further 10 pages of completed flash fiction + Synopsis; Reflections on the Course; Identifying Next Steps

Postscript Sequencing Chapters; Writing More Flashes; Editing; Reading Inspiration – George Saunders essay – ‘What Writers Really Do When They Write’; Publishing Individual Chapters

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