Brief Encounters - A long look at the short story (10 sessions)

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Brief Encounters - A long look at the short story (10 sessions)


Brief Encounters is a brand new Writing Circle that uses published short stories as jumping off points for continued work on our own writing. Each week, a different short story is set for participants to focus on. During the session, writing activities and discussion will be based on aspects of craft from that story. Authors to include classic as well as contemporary voices.

Time and place:

  • Friday Mornings, 9.30 - 12.00

  • 22 Sept - 1 Dec, 2017 (No meeting 27 Oct)

  • Harlton Village Hall - (map and info)

Special Features :

  • Focused writing time.
  • Personalised writing prompts and feedback.
  • Different writing and response activities each week.
  • Teas, coffees and light refreshments.
  • Writing celebration at conclusion of the course.
  • Option to contribute to group anthology.
  • Small group size (max of 8 participants).

Scroll down to read a full description of Brief Encounters.

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Brief Encounters is a Writing Circle that explores what the short story form has to offer to all genres of writing. Each week, a selected short story will form the basis of the session's discussion and activities. We will read stories from a variety of authors, both classic and contemporary. Story selections will be made from the works of Grace Paley, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Anton Chekhov, KJ Orr, Nam Le, Tobias Wolff, Alison MacLeod, Zoe Gilbert, Stephanie Vaughn, Junot Diaz, Sherman Alexie and others (stories and authors subject to change).

A note on the stories selected: I find it impossible to know which eight stories will best complement the writers and projects in the Writing Circle before the initial meeting. There are some I will definitely include, others that may suggest themselves as the course evolves, and of course, there will be a chance for the participants to share some of their favourites. Embracing a fluid structure gives us the chance to shape the course as we make discoveries about ourselves and our writing. However, in all cases, I can guarantee that copies of the stories will be made available for participants to read or, in some cases, listen to beforehand. There will not be a need to purchase extra books or materials.


An overview of the course is as follows:

  • Initial Meeting- What do short stories have to offer a practising writer? We open the conversation in which we consider how we can use stories to progress our own writing, regardless of our preferred genre. Following a discussion of how stories can help writing in general, each writer will be asked to set goals and intentions for making this course personally valuable to their own projects. Each writer should come with at least 2 small writing projects in mind that they would like to work on over the course.  Examples of projects could be a short story, a few blog posts or articles, 3-5 poems, a small collection of flash fiction pieces, a personal essay or a memoir excerpt.

  • Interim Meetings - These are the heart and lungs of the programme, focusing on writing and responding as follows:

    • Springboard from the set story:  During this time, participants engage in discussion and/or short writing activities designed to explore craft and style features distinctive to that story.

    • Longer writing times: After the initial tone-setting from the first activities, participants will have a longer writing time to sink more deeply into writing, depending on the nature of that week's focus. There may be some individualised prompts or feedback from me when appropriate as well.

    • In-depth responding: Each week we explore different methods of response. I believe that effective responses must always be encouraging and respectful of the writer's intentions. However, different kinds of response are appropriate at different stages in the creative process. Our responses will vary from witnessing, to asking questions, to fine-tuning. My aim is to nurture thoughtful responses which enable a piece of writing to become a conversation between reader and writer.

  • Final Session - Writing Celebration!  We celebrate because it is important to see what we have learned and acknowledge how we have grown. We celebrate because creating, even when difficult or painful, is joyful act.

  • One-to-one conferences- Participants in Brief Encounters will have the option of scheduling individualised writing conferences for more specific feedback on particular pieces or an opportunity to discuss their writing practice in general.

  • Circumference- Participants are invited to include a piece of their writing in an online group anthology, Have a look at our previous anthologies, Circumference I (Autumn 2015),  Circumference II (Spring/Summer 2015), Circumference III to come in August 2017

  • Other questions? - Check out the FAQs for common queries about Writing Circles in general.


  • £175.00. Full payment is required to confirm your registration, which includes a 25% non-refundable deposit. After the first session, if you feel that the programme is not a good match for you, you may request a refund minus the deposit.
  • Partial bursaries available, please inquire.


I keep my Writing Circles small so we get a genuine sense of each others' voices and intentions. Brief Encounters is limited to 8 participants. This also allows me to spend time focusing on substantial feedback for each writer.


Yes! I do welcome back previous participants. Some of the materials will be the same as used in past courses. However, because our projects are evolving and there may be a different mix of writers, I have found that each Writing Circle establishes an ethos and chemistry of its own.

I take special care to create an atmosphere that welcomes both new and returning voices. I love seeing the writing friendships that spring up and continue from Spilling the Ink courses.

If you're looking for a writing course that balances learning from established voices while nurturing your emerging work, Brief Encounters is for you!  

Ready to sign up?  Click the green 'PURCHASE' button below register and pay.