Crafting Short Stories

Gretchen Shirm

Saturday 3 December 2022, 10am-4pm

Full Price: $210
Member: $155
Conc Member: $135

Participants in face to face courses must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must comply with any other precautionary measures Writing NSW puts in place.

The short story is the most elegant and penetrating of fictional forms. It is also, notoriously, one of the most difficult forms to write. Join novelist and short story writer Dr Gretchen Shirm for this workshop that provides guidance on this form and gives students an excellent understanding of key aspects of narrative and story structure.

Is this course right for you? Read our FAQ >

In this workshop, we will discuss the short story form as a narrative in miniature, looking at Ernest Hemingway’s ‘iceberg’ theory, and the way the short story often works by what is left unsaid. We will consider examples of short stories as different ways in which the short story structure can be realised, such as through precision, absence and clarity. Participants will examine ways of finding voice and the techniques of short story writers such as Anton Chekhov, Helen Garner, Anne Enright, Lauren Groff, Melissa Lucashenko, Mariana Enriquez, and Elizabeth Strout, to name a few.

Since endings are often defining of the short story form, we will discuss different approaches to endings and how an ending might be uncovered as we write. Finally, we will also consider the way the short story, though small, expands outwards, drawing in meaning that extends beyond its own words.

This workshop takes place at Writing NSW in Sydney.

Expected learning outcomes

  1. Participants will gain an understanding of the short story form, and how to distinguish it from other forms of writing.
  2. Participants will gain an understanding of the mechanisms that make a short story work, and learn how to structure their own stories.
  3. Participants will learn what sort of material and experience is apt for the short story, and learn the art of compression via the form.
  4. Participants will learn the delicate art of the short story ending and how an ending can illuminate everything that comes before it.

Participant requirements

Pen and paper, laptop optional. Participants will be required to complete some pre-course reading. Please read our FAQ before enrolling.

If you are feeling unwell and experiencing any COVID-related symptoms on the day of the course, you must stay at home and contact us to let us know. As a participant in this course, you will be required to follow all COVID safety measures in place by Writing NSW to ensure the health and wellbeing of our community.

If you have questions about this course and/or COVID-safe guidelines, please contact us.


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