Creative writing and publishing

Short story writing – starting with setting with Ruth Brandt

Ref: SLW08725

Suitable for all

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About this course

Through a series of exercises with plenty of feedback, learn how to use time and place as the basis for creating drama and developing characters for your short stories.

Course Description

On this course you will gain a better understanding of how to write compelling short stories using setting - place and time - as your starting point. Whether you are writing contemporary short stories set in familiar places; historical fiction (including recent history); science fiction set in imaginary worlds; or stories set in physically challenging environments, what your characters are permitted, required and expected to do will differ, and thus begins your story.

Rather than starting with characters and their problems, this course will look at the conflicts a setting provides, including social, cultural and physical, and use those to tell people the story. It will explore ways of creating vivid story worlds, using sensory and era or time specific detail, and will consider how a setting can be used as a metaphor for characters' problems.

Through written exercises you will explore each of these areas and discover how they can be used to write a short stories with depth as well as breadth. You will be given advice about the process of submitting work to competitions and for publication.

Working in a supportive, encouraging environment you will give and receive feedback on each others' work and receive regular feedback and guidance from the tutor. The focus will be on using setting to make your stories as impactful as they can be. There will be plenty of time for independent writing in and around the inspirational College and gardens.

By the end of the course you will have developed an understanding of the importance of setting and written and edited several pieces. You will leave with increased writing skills, new ideas for short stories and the confidence to write more.


Timetable for courses more than one day in length

(The tutor may make slight variations)

Arrival Day

Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Pen/pencil
  • Notepad

Available to buy

  • Pen/pencil
  • Notepad


Ruth Brandt

Ruth Brandt's short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines, including Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual, Bristol Short Story Prize and Litro, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She has an MFA (Distinction) Creative Writing, Kingston University, won the MFA Creative Writing Prize 2017 and tutors for Surrey Adult Learning.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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