Learn to Write Flash Fiction


Flash fiction is usually defined as a complete story in 1000 words or fewer. A form in which plot takes a back seat to character and mood, and in which word choice is crucial. As author Nuala O’Connor says, ‘Punchy, succinct and surprising, the best flash will shift the reader’s heart but also keep it beating hard.’

Short enough to write in a single day, flash is an agile, innovative form that has established its place in major literary journals.

During this fast-paced, two-day, fully online course we will:

  • Read and deconstruct two pieces of outstanding flash fiction, to see how they tick
  • Work with the building blocks of character, setting, conflict, beginnings and endings
  • Leverage our use of poetic devices and sensory detail
  • Learn techniques for revising and editing
  • Discover where to submit our flash fiction

There will be plenty of discussion, tips and techniques, blocks of writing time and constructive feedback – and you will leave with one or more pieces of flash fiction, ready for polishing and submitting for publication.

This workshop is suitable for beginners, as well as experienced writers who wish to explore this form in a collaborative and supportive environment.

Programme details

All times UK times, GMT (UTC)

Friday 4 November

2.00pm  We'll convene online.

2:15pm  How do they do that? A quick critical reading of two prizewinning pieces of flash, examining authors’ techniques.

2:45pm  Making a start and shaping your story: establish your piece’s setting, tense, characters – and above all, theme. There will be props and prompts to inspire you, or you can write to your own idea.

4:00pm  First revision: adjusting flow and language, expanding and contracting, and creating the second draft

5:00pm  Course ends for the day, and you'll have overnight and the next morning to work on your piece.

Saturday 5 November

2:00pm  Refining: this session will dig deep into word choice and sensory detail.

3:30pm  Beginning the polishing process: we’ll look closely at the title, and at first and final sentences.

4:15pm  Where and how? We’ll explore competitions and publishers for flash fiction – and hone your submission strategies.

5:00pm  Course ends


Description Costs
Tuition fee £105.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Ms Gail Anderson


Gail Anderson is a writer specialising in short forms: flash fiction, short story, creative non-fiction and poetry. Her writing has won many prizes, including first prize in the Edinburgh Award for Flash Fiction, Reflex Fiction, Writers’ Bureau, Winchester Writers’ Festival, and the Scottish Arts Trust Story Awards. Thrice shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and nominated for the Pushcart Prize, her work appears in anthologies and journals such as Ambit, Mslexia, Popshot and The Southampton Review. She is the Department's Head of Communications and Marketing.


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

IT requirements

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment, where students and tutors will discuss and interact in real time. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.