Plotting the Short Story: Online

6 weeks online; no live meetings. Class opens on March 11th
Online (WetInk)
See Map
Level: Intermediate
Adult (18+)
12 seats max

Often, plot can feel like a dirty word when it comes to short fiction. And yet, a great many published and award-winning short stories have gripping plots that keep us turning pages, and many unpublished stories brought to workshop are criticised for being lifeless or incoherent, because not enough happens, or because the way things do happen is in some way unsatisfactory.

So what is a "good" plot for a short story? How do we balance the desire to tell a ripping yarn with the needs of character, language, and other such "literary" concerns? How do we write stories that feel both compelling and true? How, for that matter, do we decide what stories to tell? There are few easy, definitive answers to these questions, but in this class we will consider advice from writers like Flannery O'Connor, Samuel R. Delany, Victor LaValle, Matthew Salesses, Namrata Poddar, Anne Lamott, Thomas King, Jane Alison, and screenwriting guru Robert McKee.

You will analyze the plot of published works, compose short reflections on your own writing process, and write and revise (at least) one short story as you put all these ideas into practice.

The emphasis of this course is on helping you develop your own writing process, and it will most benefit writers looking to enliven their storytelling skills. You will examine and evaluate your own approach to plot, and leave with a clearer idea of what kinds of stories you want to write, and a collection of strategies to help you write them.

*NOTE that while our handy dandy "Schedule" tab states a 6-7pm class time, there are actually no live meetings for this class! Weekly lessons and assignments open each Wednesday. Students will receive an invitation to Wet Ink, our online class platform, before 5pm on the first day of class.

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -


grubstreet Image
Colin Corrigan
See Bio

Previous Students Say

  • "Filled with Wonderful Resources"
  • "Inundated with Great Info"
  • "Very Well-Organized"
  • "Inspired Me to Write More"


  • Writing Homework
  • Reading Homework
  • Class Discussion
  • Instructor Feedback
  • Craft Lessons
  • Get Feedback
  • Generate New Work


  • Short Fiction

Commitment Level



Need a scholarship?

Learn more