Less is More: A Six-week Short Fiction Lab

Write a short story from start to finish with award-winning author Katie Bickell

Registration for this course is full.
Email us to add yourself to the waiting list in case someone cancels.

SOLD OUT – Join the waiting list

Tuesdays, 7pm–9pm ET (4pm–6pm Pacific)
Apr. 5 – May 17, 2022

There’s no one way to craft a short story, but there are tried-and-true ways to organize, furnish, and enrich it. In this six-week course with one of form’s most exciting new writers, author Katie Bickell will show writers how to apply those various techniques to their own story, as they develop it in class. Through lectures, group discussions, and activities, she’ll guide each of them from conception to early draft editing, along the way learning how to improve their work’s themes, subtext, plot, character development, story architecture, and the writer’s own relationship to creativity.

This is an interactive course designed for emerging literary fiction writers in the pre-publication or early publication stages of their career. Homework will be assigned weekly and students can expect to complete the course with the tools needed to pen a well-crafted short story. Students will complete a first draft and receive feedback from their instructor and classmates; following the course, they’re also invited to submit final drafts to Katie for individual feedback at no additional cost.

SOLD OUT (Waiting List Only)


Apr. 5 – May. 17, 2022
Tuesdays, 7pm – 9pm ET (4pm – 6pm Pacific)

* There is a two-week break between classes 5 and 6 to allow for time to write your first draft.

  • Class 1 (Apr. 5): Intro to Literary Fiction & Character-Driven Fiction
  • Class 2 (Apr. 12): Change is Good: Plot Arcs and External Conflict
  • Class 3 (Apr. 19): Searching for Meaning: Theme and Literary Devices that Support Theme
  • Class 4 (Apr. 26): Where’s the Action? Story pacing, transitions, narrative devices, and flow
  • Class 5 (May 3): Kindness and the Creative Process: Overcoming procrastination, writer’s block, and the inner critic
  • Class 6 (May 17): Small Details Make the Big Picture: Editing Tips


This course is intended for beginner and emerging fiction writers committed to completing a short story while strengthening their crafting skills through a comprehensive understanding of the elements of short fiction. The seed of a story idea or the vague image of a character you’d like to develop will likely be valuable in the early weeks. If you’re unsure whether this course is for you, ask us at info@pandemicuniversity.com.


Katie Bickell is author of Always Brave, Sometimes Kind, a novel-told-in-short-stories which has earned several awards, including the Regional Indie Author Award for Alberta, Alberta Literary Award’s Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction, and the Writers Guild of Alberta’s Emerging Writer Award. The book was also shortlisted for the national 2021 ReLit Award for Novel. Katie lives with her husband and daughters in Sherwood Park, Alberta, where she teaches creative writing classes online, provides manuscript consultation services, and is currently working on her second novel, Alskling.


This course is intended for beginner and emerging fiction writers committed to completing a short story. The seed of a story idea or the vague image of a character you’d like to develop will likely be valuable in the early weeks.

The instructor invites students to submit their completed stories for individual feedback following the course. Stories must be received feedback by May 14th in the order to receive feedback. Instructor response time will depend on the size of submissions.

Please be on time. If you’re going to be late, email your instructor and T.A. as soon as possible. The course is intended for live participation, however, if you can’t be present for a class, or must leave early, a recording will be provided in the student folder the morning after.

You’re expected to be present and intellectually curious during class time. In addition to attending each class, you are expected to be available across all dates to complete your writing assignments. If your work is more than 48 hours late, however, you may or may not get feedback.


Pandemic University is committed to offering a fulfilling and inclusive education. Classes are held via Zoom with Closed Captioning features enabled through auto-transcription technology. The course includes workshops and class discussions, thus students are required to participate through audio; accommodations can be made for people with speaking or other disabilities if they inform us ahead of schedule. Video is encouraged of all students in order to optimize everyone’s virtual classroom experience.


After checkout, you’ll receive a receipt with a link to download your syllabus, which will include Zoom passcodes, pre-class homework, and additional course information. You will also receive an emailed reminder a few days before your first class.


Space is limited to 16 students. Anyone wishing to cancel their registration have until Mar. 28, 2022 to receive a guaranteed refund. If you cancel between Mar. 28 and Apr. 4, 2022 we will only offer a refund if and after the vacated spot is filled. No refunds whatsoever will be offered after the course begins on Apr. 5, 2022. Violations of the Code of Conduct may also result in your removal from the course without compensation.


Although PanU is technically a fake university, we’re committed to high standards of artistic integrity, quality education, and maintaining a safe virtual environment for students. Abusive behaviour toward classmates or instructors will not be tolerated at any point during the course, including in private messages, and will result in expulsion without refund.

Other violations that could have you expelled from this course include: refusing to participate in group workshops; plagiarism and misrepresentation of others’ ideas as your own; racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia either in your notes (written or spoken) or in your work; sharing recordings of classes; sharing classmates’ work without their consent.

The final say on whether or not you continue in class belongs to the instructor alone. If you have any questions, email info@pandemicuniversity.com.