Focus on Short Fiction

5th November - 10th November 2017



The short story: So hard to get right yet so rewarding when you do.

The course, led by novelist and poet Vanessa Gebbie (The Coward’s Tale), will bring together like-minded writers in pursuit of answers to the following questions:

  • What exactly is a short story?
  • What is a story, and what is not?
  • What makes it tick?
  • What are the tricks of the trade?
  • How can writers be original and surprising, as well as competent, and make their work stand out in the slush pile or competition entry pile?

Activities will include analysing published works, debating craft issues and looking at opportunities in the short-story and competition markets. Participants will be encouraged to write every day, play games with words and open themselves up creatively.

On the final evening, the group will be joined by Kit de Waal (My Name is Leon), who will share her secrets of success in a workshop and an informal reading event around the fire, at which participants will also be encouraged to share their work.

Vanessa Gebbie is a novelist, short fiction writer, editor, teacher and poet. She is contributing editor of Short Circuit, Guide to the Art of the Short Story, editions 1 and 2 (Salt). Her short fiction collections are Words from a Glass Bubble and Storm Warning (both Salt), Ed’s Wife and Other Creatures (Liquorice Fish) and A Short History of Synchronised Breathing (forthcoming, Cultured Llama). Also forthcoming in 2017 is a flash fiction collection from Flash International at Chester University.

Her novel The Coward’s Tale (Bloomsbury) was a Financial Times novel of the year. She has won awards for both fiction and poetry, including a Bridport Prize and the Troubadour Prize, and her poetry pamphlet The Half-life of Fathers (Pighog) was selected by the Times Literary Supplement among the best of 2014. Her latest poetry collection, Memorandum, Poems for the Fallen, is the inspiration for a four-woman exhibition touring Sussex churches, commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in painted glass, letter-cutting, photography and words.  

Vanessa is recipient of an Arts Council grant, a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Gladstone’s Library writing residency; mentors newer writers through The Word Factory, New Writing South and Creative Future and she teaches widely. 

Kit de Waal writes about forgotten and overlooked places where the best stories are found. Her acclaimed debut novel, My Name is Leon, a heart-breaking story of love and identity, is a Times and international bestseller. Kit was born in Birmingham to an Irish Mother and Kittian father, and worked for 15 years in criminal and family law. She was a magistrate and used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, as well as writing training manuals on adoption and foster care. Her prize-winning flash fiction and short stories appear in various anthologies. She won the Readers’ Prize at the Leeds Literary Prize 2014, and the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction in 2014 and again in 2015. In 2016, she founded the Kit de Waal Scholarship at Birkbeck University, a creative writing scholarship specially designed for budding writers who would not otherwise be able to afford a Master’s degree.

This course will start at 5pm on Sunday, 5th November and finish at lunchtime on Friday, 10th November.

Residential prices start from £500, non-residential from £360. Discount rates for clergy and students apply.

For more information or to book, please call 01244 532350 or email enquiries@gladlib.org.