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Short Story Writing – Five-Day Intensive

Unlock the potential of your short story on this online course with award-winning writer Cynan Jones.

COURSE DATES

May 17 2021 - May 21 2021

Online

Taught via live webinars plus work-sharing on our Learn platform

Selective Entry

We'll offer places to 15 writers whose work shows promise

Course Fee £480

*£50 discount for former students of our online Writing Short Stories course

Overview

If you’re working on a short story and would like to learn essential techniques to unlock the story’s potential and make it the best it can be, this is definitely the course for you. Across five days – from Monday 17 May to Friday 21 May – award-winning short story writer Cynan Jones will show you how to develop your characters, narrative voice and the world of your story to maximum effect; how to refine your prose to make it work harder for you; and how to approach and edit your work with fresh insight and confidence.

This intensive five-day short story course will be hosted through a combination of live Zoom meetings/webinars for the student group and tutor, plus writing and work-sharing time on our online Learn platform. Teaching sessions will focus on interrogating aspects of the short story craft and identifying areas for improvement in your own work as well as giving you the tools to make those improvements. Cynan will set exercises to help you practise what you’ve learnt and try out new techniques and skills as well as generating new material to give your work a fresh lease of life. You will be encouraged to post and discuss your work on our forum and read and comment on the work of those in your group – this will help not only to explore your work in more detail but also to hone your editorial eye and critical faculties.

You will also get a one-to-one tutorial with Cynan, which will provide an opportunity for in-depth discussion about your story-in-progress and how to develop it further, as well as a chance to talk about any specific difficulties you’re having with your writing. On the final day of the course, students will attend an industry Q&A with literary agent Lucy Luck and short story writer Chris Power in the morning, followed by a celebratory reading event and farewell with Cynan in the afternoon. You will be invited to read from your work and there will be advice on how to keep going and move forward with your writing.

It will be an intensive and immersive course with a lively group vibe and dynamic discussions over Zoom. For those not familiar with Zoom, it’s a video conferencing technology that enables you to meet up virtually with others. By using video and audio, you’ll be able to connect with your class and experience Cynan’s teaching live as if you were all in the same room. You’ll be able to ask questions and give your thoughts, ensuring the natural back-and-forth you’d encounter in the classroom. It’s easy to use – we’ll send you a link to join the sessions by email – and the CBC team will be on hand to help if you have any problems. The course will also provide an opportunity for in-depth interaction and sharing of work across the week on our bespoke learning platform, which we have designed exclusively for our students.

This is a course for those who want to work deeper into their material, while also gaining confidence to experiment and play with the short story form. It’s the ideal next step for those who have taken CBC’s six-week online Writing Short Stories course and are looking to hone their writing skills and develop a story-in-progress in an inspiring and supportive environment, under the expert tutelage of Cynan – though you don’t need to have taken that course to join this one. Whether you are aiming to submit your story to a magazine or competition, are working on a collection, or simply enjoy writing and would like to spend some time working up a promising story, this course will help you improve your craft and take your story up to the next level.

‘Cynan Jones shared nitty gritty, down to earth information as well as the more esoteric in a friendly, easy to understand way.’

Anna West, former Writing Short Stories student

Tutor

Cynan Jones, Author

Cynan Jones is the author of five novels, published in over 20 countries. He has won the Wales Book of the Year Fiction Prize, a Betty Trask Award, the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Award, and the BBC National Short Story Award, for which he was also on the 2019 judging panel. His short stories have appeared in a variety of anthologies and in journals and magazines including Granta and The New Yorker.  He has also written a screenplay for the hit crime drama Hinterland, a collection of tales for children, and stories for BBC Radio. His latest work, Stillicide, is a collection of twelve short stories commissioned by Radio 4 and published by Granta. Cynan is the RLF Writing Fellow at Aberystwyth University, and a recently elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has worked extensively with schools and writing groups, and tutored on short fiction for the Arvon Foundation and Literature Wales.

WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?

Teaching Sessions

Practical and inspiring sessions on elements of short story writing

Cynan will deliver two hour-long sessions per day on Zoom, covering topics such as voice, structure and characterisation – all designed to provide you with key tools and techniques to transform your text into a polished short story.

Curtis Brown Creative learning platform forum

Student Forum

The hub of our online courses - find your writing community

We have developed a bespoke learning platform exclusively for our students. Here you can share your work and sharpen your editorial eye by offering comment on other students’ work and getting their feedback on yours.

Writing Exercises

Focused tasks to help you put the lessons into practice

Cynan will set daily writing exercises, including timed prompts to spark your imagination and generate new work, exercises to develop your skills, and editing tasks to help you refine and polish your story.

One-to-One Tutorial

Work closely with Cynan on your story

You’ll get a 30-minute one-to-one tutorial with Cynan via Zoom. This will give you a chance to talk in detail about your story and address any problems you’re having with your writing.

Industry Webinar

Get advice from literary agent Lucy Luck (C&W) and writer Chris Power

Lucy and Chris will talk about what they look for in short stories, how to get your work out into the world, the role of an agent and the publishing marketplace for short fiction. They will give you hints and tips on submitting your work and building your profile as a writer. CBC’s Jennifer Kerslake, formerly an editor of the Orion Publishing Group, will host.

Course Round-Up and Readings

Celebrate your progress and take the next step in your writing journey

On the final afternoon of the course, you will read from your work-in-progress, with the onus on celebration rather than feedback. Cynan will provide helpful pointers on how to maintain momentum and keep moving forward, enabling you to end the course on a high, feeling energised and ready to continue writing with confidence.

Application Process

Our application form asks some questions about you and your writing – and it also asks you to send us the short story you’d like to work on during the course (up to 6,000 words) and a one-page informal overview, allowing you to tell us a bit more about your story – for example the ending (if the material is incomplete) and some context, such as whether you’re working towards a collection.

For this course we will be working to select 15 writers whose work we consider has the potential to really benefit from this course. The final deadline for applications is midnight Sunday 18 April and we will reply to all candidates by Thursday 22 April. The course fee of £480 per student is payable by bank transfer or cheque. Former students of our Writing Short Stories online course with Cynan Jones will be eligible for a discounted fee of £430. Funds must reach our bank account before the course begins.

Please upload your application via the form at the end of this page. If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any questions about the course, please email cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk for assistance.

Guest Speakers

We’re so thrilled to have the fantastic Cynan Jones coming to teach this course. And we’re delighted that literary agent Lucy Luck (C&W) and award-winning writer Chris Power will be running a session on how to get your stories out into the world.


Course Schedule

The course will take place online and teaching will be split between our online learning platform and live Zoom discussions. Teaching begins at 10am and will run until 5/5.30pm on each of the five days, with tutorials happening in between teaching sessions or at the start and end of the days. All times listed below are UK-time. This is a course that happens live, with specific timings (in the same way that it would happen in our offices).

Day 1

Monday 17 May

10am11.30am – Course welcome with Cynan Jones, Anna Davis and Jennifer Kerslake on Zoom. Students will introduce themselves and their stories one by one. Plus, Cynan will lead an introductory teaching session and set an icebreaker exercise.

11.30am–1pm – Students work on the icebreaker writing exercise and post it up on the Learn platform, along with an introduction to themselves and their stories so everyone can refer back across the week. Students are encouraged to comment on each other’s work and chat online on the platform.

2pm3pm – Cynan and the students reconvene on Zoom for second teaching session.

3pm–5pm – Students are encouraged to make use of this time to work on their stories, post up their work and discuss on the forum.

5pm–5.30pm – Recap of the day on Zoom, plus any questions.

One-to-one tutorials for 4 x students – 30 minutes each, by Zoom: these will be set at agreed times between and after teaching sessions.

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Day 2

Tuesday 18 May

10am11am – First teaching session.

11.30am–1pm – Writing time, including posting on the forum and discussion of each other’s work.

2pm3pm – Second teaching session.

3pm–5pm – Students are encouraged to make use of this time to work on their stories, post up their work and discuss on the forum.

5pm–5.30pm – Recap of the day on Zoom, plus any questions.

One-to-one tutorials for 4 students – 30 minutes each, by Zoom: these will be set at agreed times between teaching sessions.

see more

Day 3

Wednesday 19 May

10am11am – First teaching session.

11.30am–1pm – Writing time, including posting on the forum and discussion of each other’s work.

2pm3pm – Second teaching session.

3pm–5pm – Students are encouraged to make use of this time to work on their stories, post up their work and discuss on the forum.

5pm–5.30pm – Recap of the day on Zoom, plus any questions.

One-to-one tutorials for 4 students – 30 minutes each, by Zoom: these will be set at agreed times between teaching sessions.

see more

Day 4

Thursday 20 May

10am11am – First teaching session.

11.30am–1pm – Writing time, including posting on the forum and discussion of each other’s work.

2pm3pm – Second teaching session.

3pm–5pm – Students are encouraged to make use of this time to work on their stories, post up their work and discuss on the forum.

5pm–5.30pm – Recap of the day on Zoom, plus any questions.

One-to-one tutorials for 3 x students – 30 minutes each, by Zoom: these will be set at agreed times between teaching sessions.

see more

Day 5

Friday 21 May

11am–12.30pm – Short story industry masterclass with agent Lucy Luck and short story writer Chris Power. They will talk to the group about what they look for in short stories and answer questions on the agent’s role, the short story landscape, how to submit/get published etc.

2pm–4pm – Conclusions session, including round-up, readings and farewell during which each student will read from their work (with the onus on celebration, rather than criticism). This session will also include some advice on how to keep going, maintain momentum, and move forward.

see more

Ready to apply?

Please apply with the short story you’d like to work on during the course (up to 6,000 words). You’re also welcome to submit a short informal overview (maximum length 300 words) telling us a little about your intentions for your story and/or what is at its heart – and including information about how the story ends (for those whose stories are incomplete or longer than 6,000 words). Don’t worry about what you should include in this overview – it’s just a chance to tell us a bit more – for example, if the story is part of a planned collection – and it’s fine if you’d rather skip it and let your story speak for itself. If you do include the overview, it must be in the same document as the story: you can only upload ONE file in the application below. The CBC team will screen applicants based on the quality of the writing sample provided. The deadline for applications is midnight, end of day Sunday 18 April, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 22 April.

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  • Contact Details

    Please provide some essential details so we can get in touch with you about your application. We won't share this data.
  • eg. name@domain.com
  • Please include country code if applicable
  • About You and Your Writing

    We'd like to learn a bit about you and your writing. Please don’t worry if you haven’t done much writing before. We won't share this data.
  • Date Format: DD slash MM slash YYYY
  • No more than 150 words please.
  • Accepted file types: pdf, txt, doc, rtf, docx.
    Please upload your synopsis and story of up to 6,000 words in one document. Only PDF, TXT and DOC files accepted, file size must be less than 8mb