Writing Short Stories

If you’ve got a passion for writing and want help getting your ideas down on paper, our home study Writing Short Stories course is packed with tips, activities and ways for you to improve your work. You’ll look at the structure of a story, the way characters are created, different narrative voices and other elements of the story-writing process. Along the way you’ll complete tasks that will give you a chance to put what you’re learning into practice. After completing this enjoyable course you’ll find you have a much better idea of how to go about writing a short story and communicating your ideas with skill and confidence.



Course requirements

No previous knowledge is required for this course. This is an online course so you will need access to the internet.

Duration of study

As a guideline, you should allow for approximately 60 hours' study time, plus additional time for completing assignments. You will have tutor support for a period of up to 6 months from the date of enrolment.


Module 1: In the beginning
  • Learning to play
  • Making space for writing
  • The writer's dual personality
  • Fears
  • Writing dangerously
  • Practical aids
  • Researching your subject
  • Reading
  • Baking a cake
  • Aspects of writing

Module 2: Finding your story
  • Choosing an idea
  • Preoccupations
  • The setting
  • Jingles, rhymes, sayings, proverbs
  • Your cuttings file
  • Family objects
  • Stories of loss
  • Dreams
  • Fairy stories, fables and myths

Module 3: Finding your voice
  • Three kinds of voice
  • Permission to speak
  • Your writing style
  • Manufacturing a persona
  • The loudest voice

Module 4: Shaping the story
  • Getting there
  • Analysing a story
  • Repeated images
  • When does a story end?
  • Ways of beginning and ending
  • The question of the narrator
  • Epiphanies
  • Character-based plots
  • Non-linear narratives

Module 5: Creating characters
  • Relating to our characters
  • We are what we look like
  • We are what we do
  • We are what we say
  • We are how we feel
  • Relationships

Module 6: Showing, not telling
  • Showing or telling?
  • Using our senses
  • A child's-eye view
  • Rhythm and sentence structure
  • Dialogue
  • Tell me a story...

Module 7: Completing
  • Reaching your goal
  • Following (and breaking) the rules
  • Accumulating ideas
  • Writing strong sentences
  • Building paragraphs
  • Seducing the reader
  • Reading aloud
  • Reworking drafts
  • Final redrafting
  • The creative process: carving in stone


This course has:
  • 6 assignments

Set texts and resources

There are no additional set texts.

Using learn@nec

Your course is delivered online through learn@nec, so it’s important that you have access to a computer and the internet. We recommend that your computer is using one of the following operating systems and browsers to improve your experience of using learn@nec:

Operating systems:
  • Windows 7 or later
  • Mac OSX 10.7 or later
  • Google Chrome OS
  • Android 4.4 or later, using the Chrome browser
  • iOS 6 or later, using the Safari browser

  • Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Mozilla Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari 6 or later
  • Internet Explorer 10 or later (excluding IE11)

learn@nec may work on other operating systems and browsers with some restrictions. You can see full details of the system requirements by clicking here.

How to enrol

There are several ways to enrol with NEC:
  • Click the ‘Enrol now’ button above.
  • Telephone us on 0800 389 2839 or +44(0)1223 400200 and speak to our course advice team.
  • Ask us to send you an enrolment form which you can complete and return by post.

Paying in instalments

It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over monthly instalments with our finance offer. To pay in instalments you will need to enrol by telephone.

Representative example:
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months

The National Extension College (NEC) is the trading name of the Open School Trust, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 676788). Finance is provided through the Deko platform by a number of lenders. You will be offered the best rate available based on your credit history and the lenders’ credit decision policies.

Deko is a trading name of Pay4Later Ltd who act as a credit intermediary. They are registered in England and Wales (company number 06447333) and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 728646). For more information please go to www.dekopay.com/faq or visit www.dekopay.com.
Including area code and country code (if outside of UK)

Writing Short Stories Course Sample

Thank you for your interest in this course.

Please fill out your details below, and you will receive an email containing a link to download the course sample.

What our students say...

I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I enjoyed the assignments, which I found stimulating but hard and challenging. Tutor feedback was very helpful. I recommend NEC courses. They are rich and to-the-point in content. The tutors, in my experience are helpful and encouraging. They represent tremendous value for money.
Liam Bowe