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Short Story Writing for Magazines


Welcome to the Short Story Writing for Magazines Course at SA Writers College.

Want to make money from writing short stories? Learn the skills needed to write saleable stories - and find out how to sell them to magazines and webzines all over the world.

Stretch your imagination and your writing skills. By the end of the course you'll have eight stories that you can sell with the support of your tutor Ginny Swart, or publish your work as an anthology. The course also provides dozens of tips about where and how to sell your work as a professional writer.




“I learnt much more than just writing short stories. With great mentorship and support I learnt about my strengths and weaknesses in writing. Ginny knows what she’s doing; it was such a privilege to be tutored by her. Overall, it was excellent!”

Michele van Eck, Short Story Writing for Magazines Course




Course Details:


Students must complete:


Admission Requirements:

  • Modules: 9 Modules
  • Duration: Course can be completed at own pace within 12 months
  • Start date: At any time; applications all year round
  • 9 writing exercises  (assessment and feedback on each)
  • 8 full-length stories for possible publication (assessment and feedback)
  • Student Feedback
  • Basic writing skills are essential
  • Students must be proficient in the English Language
  • Computer skills, e-mail and Internet access required
  • No previous tertiary qualification required

Tutor for this course:

Ginny Swart Short Story Tutor lbGinny Swart has sold over 500 short stories to women's magazines all over the world. On any day of every month she has at least 30 stories out there on editors' desks. Her more serious work has appeared in literary publications in America, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and on the Web. She is also the author of three romance novels (Ulverscroft Press UK) and a book of short stories ( and a book for teenagers: Nosipho and the King of Bones (MacMillan Boleswa SA). She has an eBook available on Kindle called Something to Read, a collection of short stories.
In 2003 Ginny won the esteemed UK The Real Writers' Prize from over 4000 entrants.


Course Curriculum

Module 1 - Getting Started

  • What to think about if you want to sell your story
  • How much you can expect to earn writing short stories
  • Writing for a specific market
  • Studying your market
  • Knowing your readers
  • Studying the house style of the target magazine
  • Writing Exercise: Write a warm-up1500-word story, in response to a given prompt.

Module 2 - Characterization

  • Different ways to introduce your characters and make them believable
  • The importance of the “back story”
  • Making use of all the senses
  • Writing a three-dimensional character
  • The importance of the right name
  • Writing Exercise : In two parts. Part One: A 100 word “back story” about one of the characters mentioned. Part Two: 150 words of dialogue between the two characters. Complete the story (1500 words) for feedback from your tutor.

Module 3 - Dialogue

  • Writing believable dialogue
  • Keeping conversation sounding natural and up to date
  • The use of “said”
  • Using slang and dialect effectively
  • How to convey thoughts
  • Writing Exercise: 500 words of conversation between mother and son after the son has crashed the family car, taking into account the different age and character of each person. Complete the story (1500 words) for feedback from your tutor.

Module 4 - Point of View

  • How different points of view can shape and alter a story.
  • First person and third person writing.
  • How writing in the First Person affects your story
  • One event = six points of view!
  • Writing Exercise 4: Read one girl’s account of something that happened in the office. Then re-write this as seen through the eyes of two other people concerned.  Complete the story (1500 words) for feedback from your tutor.

Module 5 - How to plot your story

  • What is a plot?
  • Various classic plot patterns (as applied to popular stories)
  • Avoiding clichéd plots.
  • The Twist in the Tale
  • Finding ideas
  • Writing Exercise: A ten-sentence synopsis of a plot, choosing a character and a situation from the lists provided. Complete the story (1500 words) for feedback from your tutor.

Module 6- Setting and story structure

  • The definition of structure in a story
  • Structural devices to add interest
  • Writing style: Using metaphors for maximum impact
  • How settings can define your story. Or not.
  • Writing Exercise: Think of a story line and write the opening paragraphs. The setting must be seen to affect the story that will follow. Write the story. (1500 words) Optional - complete the story (1500 words) for feedback from your tutor.

Module 7- Editing your story

  • Keeping it clean
  • The importance of the word count
  • Lean and mean is good
  • How to cut for maximum impact
  • Tying up the ends
  • Writing Exercise: Read a 360-word excerpt from a story and edit it down to 230 words without losing any of the important features.

Module 8 - Writing purely for personal satisfaction, not financial reward!

  • Advice for creative writers
  • Outlets for literary work
  • Competitions
  • Self- publishing
  • Writing Exercise: 500 words. Decide on a character. Try to become that person and record his or her thoughts and observations so that the reader has a deep insight into the state of mind of your protagonist. Optional - complete the story (1500 words) for feedback from your tutor.

Module 9 - Marketing and submitting your story

  • Presenting your story
  • Writing a cover letter to the editor
  • Things to remember when submitting
  • Keeping track of your submissions
  • Addresses of magazines
  • Sample guidelines of magazines.
  • Methods of payment
  • Writing Exercise: Write a 2000-word short story of any genre aimed at a selected target magazine. The final assignment will also be marked by an outside moderator. 




“Ginny is approachable and professional. Her feedback was prompt, honest, encouraging and the guidance she gave me is something I truly appreciate. With her assistance I am more confident, knowledgeable and positive about my future. Thanks Ginny!"

Marie Duddle, Short Story Writing for Magazines Course



How does the course work?

The course consists of nine modules. Detailed class notes covering the content of each module are e-mailed to students.

At the end of each module, students will be required to complete a writing exercise. In total, the course includes eight short writing assignments, all of which count towards the final result of the student and one 2000-word short story. However they are welcome to turn each writing assignment into a short story for critical feed back if they would like to do so.

Once the writing assignment has been completed, and e-mailed to the lecturer, an assessment and feedback will be sent to the student, and the module will be considered complete. The next module will then be e-mailed to the student.

Please note: Assignments should be returned as attachments, not in the body of the e-mail.


Conditions of Certification:

Students will receive an SA Writers College Certificate upon successful completion of the course, provided they meet the following conditions:

  • Students must have completed all 9 assignments
  • The course must have been completed within 12 months of registration.
  • Students are expected to attain a minimum average of 50% for the course

Minimum Estimated Time Commitment:

There is no research required for this course, just planning and writing. The speed at which you work is entirely up to you. After studying the modules, the exercises should take between half an hour and two hours to complete. A completed story could take longer.

Need more advice about the best course for you?

We would love to chat to you if you have any questions about our writing courses.

If you need some advice about the best course or writing field for you, drop us a line or give Koos a call at 021 813 9224. We can tell you about going rates in the field, chance of publishing success and general writing career options both in South Africa and internationally.

  • If you have questions about how we work, we have information in our FAQ section and How We Train section.
  • If you want to pay off your course fee, please read the information here.
  • For information on our refund policy, please read our policies here.
  • To register for the course, please click here:

Enrol here



Feedback on this course from past students

“I learnt much more than just writing short stories. With great mentorship and support I learnt about my strengths and weaknesses in writing. Ginny knows what she’s doing; it was such a privilege to be tutored by her. It was great to be exposed to solid and experienced tutors that deal with the process of writing professionally. Overall, it was excellent!” Michele van Eck, Short Story Writing for Magazines Course

“I enjoyed every minute of the course and was challenged with every module. It was a scary experience, but pleasant. My tutor was always constructive in her criticism and helpful throughout. The course met all my objectives.” Sandra Dianne Samuels, Short Story Writing Course

“Although the course was challenging, I enjoyed each and every module. The course notes encouraged me to discover my strong points and weaknesses. Ginny's the best. She supported and encouraged me throughout and I'm grateful. She developed confidence in me which I never had before. The Writer's College is the best in our country.” Stella Bopape Short Story Writing for Magazines

“It was a great course. Ginny was excellent. She allowed me to pursue my own agenda whilst keeping me within the confines of the course. Her feedback was specific and relevant to me, my writing and the course itself. The course was great for extending my skills, increasing my confidence and providing opportunities and frameworks for writing.” Simon Goodwin, Short Story Writing

“It's such a practical course and I learnt so much from writing so many complete stories. Ginny was always so fast with her feedback, which was always constructive, detailed and honest. She does not only tell you what you're doing wrong, but how you can fix it in a way that suits you and your style best. She was open-minded and a pleasure to trade ideas with! I wanted to overcome the barrier of writing a good story, but not being able to battle it out to create a final, well-rounded product. Doing the course is exactly the boost any aspiring writer needs without being influenced by too much technical detail.” Tania Terblanche, Short Story Writing for Magazines

“Ginny is an excellent tutor who surpassed my expectations and made it all an enjoyable experience. She offered lots of encouragement, fair evaluations and plenty of tips for improvement. Ginny responded quickly to my emails and assignments (I was anxiously waiting!). I will recommend the Writers’ College to others because of the experience with my tutor. Initially I looked at a cheaper course (based in Sydney), but on reflection I’m glad I chose a course that assigned an individual tutor. I am happy with my experience and may consider taking other courses.” Pamela Ferla, Short Story Writing for Magazines

“I was really pleased with the overall experience, thank you. Ginny was excellent and very encouraging. I feel more informed about my writing and motivated to carry on.” Kay Wilson, Short Story Course

“It was an excellent course; I learnt more than I expected. Ginny was terrific, she made it fun and had very insightful comments and great advice.” Lawrence Shaffer, Short Story Writing

“The Writers’ College was the only company that offered such specific courses combined with flexibility. My objective was to get back into writing, finish some pieces and improve my writing confidence. I've achieved all of these and I hope to have my first sale to a magazine in the near future. It was a good experience and a valuable learning curve. There were a lot of resources, I would like the forum to have been more engaged but it's still new so that will come with time. Ginny was awesome! She gave great feedback and was very supportive and motivating without being pushy. She was super speedy with marking assessments and very patient when I was slugging along at a snail’s pace.” Christie Williams, Short Story Writing Course.

“The course was challenging for me, since I'm more into writing novels, but I had a lot of fun and learned a great deal. Ginny is simply great! She's right to the point yet kind and inspirational! Gives you a lot of advice and courage. She's a great writer herself and an excellent tutor; it's sad that the course came to an end.” Natashja Singleton, Short Story Writing for Magazines

"It really was great fun, and very stimulating. Took me back to Varsity days and theological college with the pressure of deadlines for submission! Ginny was great! May well do another course! She was mature and sensitive, with a wonderful sense of humour! Amazingly prompt with her feedback and knows her course extremely well! A very worthwhile experience, pitched at a very practical level, not too academic, and extremely stimulating. Strongly recommended." Ray Horocks, Short Story Writing Course

“The course is thorough and well thought out. I liked the clear directions for presenting one’s story and the many contacts given. Ginny Swart is an excellent tutor, always ready to answer questions and to help with difficulties. She is a credit to the college. I enjoyed the course very much.” Elizabeth Macdonald, Short Story Writing Course

"Ginny is an excellent tutor. Her kind comments help you to correct your mistakes whilst still encouraging you at the same time. Despite her huge portfolio, Ginny manages to make you feel that you too could someday be successful. I have learnt so much from her. I started off just wanting to see if I could write and now I am submitting every story I finish. Overall, the course was excellent. Good value for money!" Yael Barham-Smith, Short Story Writing Course

“Ginny was very supportive throughout the course. Her feedback was fast, fair, always constructive, encouraging and motivating. I had loads of fun doing the course. Everything was very good and Ginny was excellent.” Belinda Jubber, Short Story Course

"Ginny was fantastic. She was quick to assist me and always managed to mark my assignments quickly. She gave me the confidence and knowhow that has been holding me back from writing seriously. My aim with this course was to put into practice all that I have learnt with my studies (I obtained my Honours degree in Theory of English Literature at the beginning of the year) and to get objective feedback on my writing. This course was a great help to me and I would definitely recommend it to any aspiring writer!" Hannah Green, Short Story Writing

"I thoroughly enjoyed the course and benefitted from the material, Ginny was an outstanding tutor.....P.S. You guys really do provide an outstanding service to us would-be writers." Varsh Patel, Short Story Writing Course

”Can’t say enough about my tutor really. Ginny was fantastic! I loved her prompt marking and chatty emails. Right from the word go, Ginny was more than friendly and very, very encouraging. This made logging on when waiting for the assignment results all the more exciting. We are still in touch, something I treasure very much. Every single one of my aspirations was met. I loved the discipline of working on the set assignments and also that my imagination was getting a workout. But what is really exciting is that all in the same week I got my course report and sold a story to a magazine!” Stephanie Attwood, Short Story Course

"I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable things that I have ever done. I am so thrilled with my result and found the feedback to be very useful in every regard and I have learned a lot. Can I also just say Ginny was wonderful! She has so knowledgeable and although strict with her assessment, gave very positive feedback." Ina du Toit, Short Story Writing

"I was very impressed by the service offered at the College. I was pleasantly surprised that the College was highly efficient and that I received my tutorials immediately. Ginny Swart is a brilliant tutor and I appreciated receiving her comments with every module. I have grown as a writer and will continue pursuing my writing dreams" Sumi Singh, Short Story Writing

"Ginny was not just a teacher; she became my friend and confidant during this course and I will miss her dearly." Sana Patel, Short Story Writing

"I could not have found a better college. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and Ginny is a marvelous tutor. Couldn't have been better." Gillian Palliser, Short Story Writing Course

"It's been an enriching experience and I am definitely a better writer than I was at the start of the course. It's been a pleasure and privilege to have Ginny as my lecturer. She taught me a great deal, and those lessons will continue to be of great value. Thanks." Cornelia Booysen, Short Story Writing Course

"I think you are the best distance college for creative writing. The universities couldn't offer me such a course - I tried them. Have so enjoyed your short story writing course. I was about to give up on the last assignment when I received your email which said 'keep going, keep writing, show up at the page.' It was the necessary push that I needed so I did just that. Thanks! The course met my objectives in every way. It was exactly what I wanted." Ann Hoffman, Short Story Writing Course

"Ginny is approachable and professional. Her feedback was prompt, honest, encouraging and the guidance she gave me is something I truly appreciate. With her assistance I am more confident, knowledgeable and positive about my future. Thanks Ginny!" Marie Duddle, Short Story Writing

"You have a great college offering a wide variety of courses, and after a spell of writing for magazines, I might return to do the novel course or maybe the children's story course. Such delightful anticipation. I wish to thank you and Ginny for looking after me so well." Lesley Maher, Short Story Writing Course

"Ginny is an excellent lecturer and was very helpful and extremely quick at getting back to me whenever I submitted an assignment. She also gave me a lot of advice and answered all sorts of questions I had." Carol Reed, Short Story Writing

"Just wanted to say a very big THANK YOU to Ginny Swart who has been a fantastic motivator and mentor since my very first assignment of the course. I'm learning to be cleaner and meaner with words, and it's deeply encouraging receiving her comprehensive feedback. THANKS A MILL GINNY, YOU'RE A STAR!" Widaad Munga, Short Story Writing

"Ginny is a wonderful tutor – her feedback is always encouraging and highly motivating and you get this incredible sense of safety – like she’s a caring and nurturing ‘mom’ rather than a tutor and advisor. Thank you, Ginny – for everything! " Karen Jones, Short Story Course

"Thank you so much! I enjoyed the course through and through. Ginny was awesome. I wish all my lecturers were like her!" Talitha van Rensburg, Short Story Writing


More Testimonials Here


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About Us

We offer specialised, online writing courses tutored by award-winning writers in South Africa. Get the writing tools you need, expert insider advice and hours and hours of writing practice.


Study from anywhere in South Africa: Cape Town, Western Cape; Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng; Durban and Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal; Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape; Bloemfontein, Free State; Nelspruit, Mpumalanga; Kimberley, Northern Cape and Polokwane, Limpopo.

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Nichola Meyer or Koos Turenhout
Email: [email protected]


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