• Keily Blair

6 Facts About Storyville's Short Story Mechanics Class

"It was the summer of 2020 when Melody finally received the call."

What do you think? You might be puzzled. Maybe you have the slightest inkling of curiosity about who Melody is, and why it mattered that she got the call, but honestly, you probably don't care. And that's fair. That was the opening line to a short story I wrote, and it probably wouldn't have changed without the help of a class I took to brush up on the basics of writing short stories.

After taking the class, the story itself improved to where I think it's the best short story I've ever written (and my usual beta readers agree), which isn't saying much but has made me happy and confident enough to share the class with you. So here are six facts about what has been one of my favorite writing class experiences:

1. You can go at your own pace. That means no excuses like "Oh, I don't have the time for an entire class." I took the course after completing my summer semester at college while I was waiting on the fall semester to begin. I finished it in less than a week. Not to say that everyone should go at that pace, but it can be done. Since there's no physical lecture to sit in on, you can always stop where you are and pick it back up the next day (though I recommend trying to read the readings in one sitting, just to really take in the stories).

2. The material is fantastic. The course includes eight lessons with assignments, lectures, and readings on voice and structure, narrative hooks, tension, theme and mood, conflict, setting, and endings. The course is downloaded as a PDF file, so you'll have it to return to in the future if you need any refreshers. Also, did I mention the lessons are actually fun? Because I couldn't believe how eager I was to start each one despite telling myself to only do one a day. Plus, since all assigned reading is included in the packet, you don't need to purchase any additional books. I actually plan on using the lessons and assignments to build a few more short stories just to make sure everything sank in well.

3. You'll have an excellent teacher. Richard Thomas is one of the best teachers I have personally had. He finds your strengths and weaknesses and pushes you to work on both simultaneously. His feedback helps you to become the best writer you can be without interfering with your voice or style. He is an experienced author and editor himself, and I've found his advice invaluable. He provides edits and comments on everything you do for the class. Questions are always encouraged. You can read more about Richard and other Storyville teachers here.

4. The assignments aren't incredibly long. They challenge you, yes, but most of the work includes writing about one hundred words for a short story that you'll write at the end. One hundred words can be typed up in a few minutes, right? That's usually about a paragraph. As long as you're paying attention to the readings and written lectures, you'll have no problem. And as stated before, you get thorough feedback on each assignment you complete.

5. The final assignment is a short story of up to 4,000 words, and you receive a full edit on this from Richard Thomas. So you've made it through the entire class. Now you can apply everything you'd learned to your very own short story. I don't think it's possible to leave this class empty-handed.

6. So you've been writing all your life? You still have room for improvement. I've been writing for fourteen years or more, treating it as a profession for about a year, and I still have a long way to go. I recommended the class to a fellow writer recently (she's been writing for just as long if not longer), and she was as thrilled as I was by how much she was learning. So yes, you may have written since you were ten years old, but maybe it's time to work on the fundamentals of writing, the things that are difficult to see without experienced help.

Personally, I was shocked by how much I'd improved. My settings had more detail, my first lines became actual hooks, I had a nice refresher on conflict and tension, and I finally understood the theme/mood portion of writing. This class allowed me to piece together things that my creative writing instructors have been trying to drill into my head for a long time, and I am thrilled with the results. It doesn't matter what genre you write in, or what level you're at. This can be a helpful beginner's course or a wonderful refresher for the experienced writer.

Convinced? Well, you can use the discount code KEILY10 to get 10% off of any class that Richard offers over at Storyville.

Click here for a full list of the classes offered or use the link below to go directly to the page for the Short Story Mechanics class.

At Your Own Pace Short Story Mechanics

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