Short story writing with Ruth Brandt

Creative writing and publishing

Ref: SSS10567

Suitable for all

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About this course

Learn the fundamentals of writing as you develop your ideas into short stories. Develop skills in finding ideas and working with them to complete stories, through a series of exercises with feedback. This course will take you closer to becoming a writer.

Course Description

Gain a better understanding of the elements which make up a compelling short story. These include character, plot, setting, dialogue, conflict, and dramatic structure, along with other aspects of story writing and editing your work. Through written exercises you will explore each of these areas and discover how they can be used to start a new short story, to improve an existing short story, or to provide the springboards from which a number of short stories can be written.

Working in a supportive, encouraging environment you will give and receive feedback on each other’s work. A one-to-one meeting with your tutor will give you the opportunity to get feedback on a piece of writing of up to 1,700 words (can be an excerpt – see preparation section below for more information). There will be plenty of time for independent writing in and around the inspirational College and Gardens.

Whether you’re planning to write literary short stories, flash fiction, commercial magazine short stories, or simply don’t know, the focus will always be on making your story the best it can be. Guidance will be given as to the potential markets for your stories and the process of submitting work for publication will be discussed.

By the end of the week you will have completed at least one short story. You will have developed an understanding of the interaction of character, plot and story; of the importance of dialogue for creating engaging characters; and how stories are structured. You will leave with increased writing skills, new ideas for short stories and with the confidence to write them.

A feature of the Summer School is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace further opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course.

Several early evening creative sessions (5.10pm - 7pm) are planned throughout the week. Extra activities will differ this year in response to social distancing. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• Sign up early evening tutor-led drawing sessions in the garden

• Time to relax or explore in the tranquil West Dean Gardens

• Take a break from your course with some free time on Tuesday afternoon, from 3.30-5pm

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

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).

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 should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Bring along a short story (up to 1700 words) you are working on to present excerpts for feedback during the workshops sessions and your one-to-one with the tutor. If you have a piece of work in mind, please email it to Ruth in advance of the course via (preferred) or bring it along as a print out to hand to her on Friday evening when you first meet. If you don't have anything, please don't worry this time will be used to discuss your writing or a piece you will work on at West Dean.
  • Also bring your laptop (and charger etc), if you wish to use one and/or pens/pencils/ notebooks

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Pens/pencils and notebooks


Ruth Brandt

Ruth Brandt’s short stories and flash fiction have been widely published. She won the Kingston University MFA Creative Writing Prize, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Write Well Award and Best Small Fictions Award. Her short story collection No One has any Intention of Building a Wall will be published by Fly on the Wall Press in 2021.


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

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