Short Stories: Disrupting the Process

w/ Emma Hislop (Kāi Tahu)

Explore the communal act of short story writing in this six-week course with award-winning author Emma Hislop (Kāi Tahu), learning how to deepen your connection to craft and each other and find new ways to approach short fiction writing.

Thursdays 7.30pm – 9.30pm (NZDT)
24 October – 5 December 2024 

$620 / $527 alumni

For both emerging and experienced short story writers, this course is based in the idea that writing is best done within community. You will use your relationships with each other and with the works of accomplished writers to energise your writing and disrupt the stock-standard writing process. You will learn and share skills and techniques to elevate and complicate your story, with the aim to complete a draft of a short story within the course before entering into a process of revision.

In this relational and conversational learning environment, all participants – including tutor Emma Hislop – will engage in dialogue with each other to learn how to identify and fix problems in their writing. You will learn from each other’s stories, noting the use of language, diction, plot, characters, style and structure. Workshops and writing exercises will be designed for you to bring out your own voice and free yourself from the binds of tyrannical power structures.

This course is designed for literary short fiction writers who want to learn how to write from a place of connection to themselves and to others and to learn in a collaborative, reciprocal environment. This is not about writing the ‘perfect’ story, but learning new ways to generate ideas and write inventive and moving stories that challenge the status quo.

Short Stories: Disrupting the Process also includes a copy-edit on a short story of up to 3000 words by our Editor-in-Residence following the conclusion of the course. This is the perfect opportunity to polish a story to the highest level before submitting for publication at a literary journal or short story competition.

Your course includes:

  • 6 weeks of 2-hour evening tutorials
  • A complimentary copy of a recent A&U publication
  • A copy-edit on a short story of up to 3000 words
  • On completion of the course, alumni discounts on future Faber Writing Academy courses and books from the Allen & Unwin Website

Please note this course will be delivered online and all times refer to New Zealand Daylights Savings. Students from both Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Australia are welcome to register.

Writers you'll be working with:

Emma Hislop

Emma Hislop (Kāi Tahu) is a writer from New Zealand. Her first book of short fiction, Ruin and Other Stories, was published in March 2023 with Te Herenga Waka University Press. She has an MA with Distinction from the International Institute of Modern Letters. In 2023 she was awarded the Michael King International Residency at Varuna…

Course outline

Session 1: Thursday 24 October

Establishing relationships + introduction to short stories + generating ideas + exploring plot.

In this generative workshop, we will begin by considering texts that function as a series of floating scenes. We will explore the power of words and ideas, fragmentation, and liminal space. What happens in the space between truth and fiction when we use our imagination?  We will work on our own short stories in response to prompts, building towards a first draft from a series of short, intense moments.

Session 2: Thursday 31 October

Foundations for your characters + motifs + solving problems in the text

We will be reading and discussing published stories, and then using them as blueprints to examine our own work by way of writing exercises. These are stories and exercises that I turn to repeatedly when revising my own work, and each has been selected for how it treats a specific element of fiction: characterization, plot, point of view, etc.

Session 3: Thursday 7 November

Disrupting the process or Complicating the story

This is a session designed to ask ourselves, what if? Hopefully it will encourage us to take a risk and experiment with adding a complicated element to your story. We might be surprised at what emerges. Let’s think about trying to disrupt our writing processes, getting out of our own way, and approaching each new piece of work in a new way.


Session 4: Thursday 14 November

 Reverse-engineering your endings + polishing + submitting

What is reverse engineering and how can it be useful? What can we achieve when we allow ourselves to strip away the padding and the frills? The desirable end game of these seminars is for us to leave with some ideas and tools for how to move our stories into their next drafts.

One week break to work on draft story

Session 5: Thursday 28 November

Generative revision

This workshop will introduce us to the concept of “generative revision”, which focuses on producing new material in order to inform and shape the old. Instead of circling the same problems in our stories, we will leave them behind entirely and challenge what we’ve taken for granted about the original draft. For this component of the course, we will each need a completed (or nearly completed) short story, ideally one we feel stuck on.

Session 6: Thursday 5 December

Seeing and re-seeing our work and our selves

As Matthew Salesses writes, ‘Workshop should be a place that helps a writer see and re-see for herself.’
We will learn how to edit our own writing on levels ranging from individual word choice to sentence level to the overall structure of the work. By the end of the workshop, we will each have close-reading techniques to use on future drafts and will learn to approach revisions more radically.

Participants will be sent a packet of readings before each meeting. There will be optional homework assignments set after each class. There will also be a substantial writing component to each session.

How to Apply

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