Short Story Masterclass with Melanie Whipman

Thursday 10 January 2019

Melanie Whipman

Melanie Whipman will run a Short Story Masterclass for West Sussex Writers, a motivational and inspirational workshop aimed at all aspiring writers, whether you’re a total beginner or whether you have already had some publishing success. Through a series of tutor-led exercises and informal group discussions, we’ll be looking at what makes a story come to life, how to create structure and narrative tension, and the art of developing complex characters in this compressed form.
Melanie is a writer, editor and teacher, specialising in the short story form. Her work has been broadcast on Radio 4 and published in numerous literary and commercial magazines and anthologies including, among many others: Corazon Books, Popshot Magazine, Bare Fiction, Unthank Books, The Bristol Prize, Cinnamon Press and The New Writer Magazine. For a full list of credits visit Melanie's Website.

Melanie is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Chichester; leads creative writing workshops in Farnham, and is commissioning editor for The Story Player. Her debut short story collection, Llama Sutra, was published in 2016. It was the winner of the Rubery International Book Award short story category and was a contender for the 2017 Edge Hill Prize. She is currently editing her novel, which was written during her MA in Creative Writing, and which was awarded the Kate Betts Prize.

Melanie grew up in Brighton and has lived in London, France, Israel and Germany. She now lives in a village near Guildford with her teenage twins, cat and mad Irish Setter.

Review of the meeting

Richard Buxton introduced Melanie Whipman who presented us with a useful, thought provoking and stimulating Short Story Masterclass.

Melanie is a successful short story writer, an editor and a teacher. She has an impressive list of academic achievements including a doctorate in which she investigated ‘How to read a short story collection.’ Her debut short story collection Llama Sutra, published 2016, won the Rubery International Award the following year. Find out more at her website:

Considered differences between commercial and literary fiction, and different genres of both.

We were asked to discuss what makes a good (short) story:

Mark Bradbury: The power to create and develop character is at the heart of all fiction.

We were asked to create a character by giving him/her a name, and completing three sentences for them: I want …., I fear…., My most important possession is…..

After the break Melanie quoted Linda Anderson. Belongings act as an index to character.

We were asked to describe an object our character possessed in as much detail as we could, from as many aspects as possible

McKee – true character is only expressed through choices in dilemma. The greater the pressure the truer and deeper into who the character is.

As a follow up task we were asked to create a plot for/from/through the character we had developed. Melanie asked us to show our character looking for their possession, and thus to reveal physicality and emotions as they searched.