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Write Beyond the Lightbulb - Colourful Characters
How do we bring our characters to life? How do we get them to interact in their own unique fashion with the world around them? This flash fiction course explores body language, the senses, dialogue, internal thought and perspective.
Upcoming dates

8th-21st April 2024 (SOLD OUT)

5th-18th August 2024 (BOOKING OPEN IN MAY*)

*To be added to my priority list for future course dates, please send me an email at

Previous dates

16th - 29th January 2023 (SOLD OUT)

13th - 26th March 2023 (SOLD OUT)

8th - 21st January 2024 (SOLD OUT)


1: Body Language (actions and gestures)

2: Senses (perception and feelings)

3: Voices (dialogue and thought)

4: Perspective (our viewpoint on the world)

Learning mode

Online (website and Google Classroom)


Asynchronous (work at your own pace / no set times / no Zoom elements)

Forum (opportunitiy to interact with course tutor and other course participants)

Workshop (opportunity to share work and swap feedback with other course participants)

Feedback from course tutor on four prepartory micros and detailed feedback (300-400 word structural summary plus in-line comments) on one "final challenge" piece



Recommended price = £95*

Other price options = £85 / £75 / £60 / £50**

*For the sake of transparency, this recommended price is calculated to cover (a) 3.0 hours of course tutor input (per participant) in terms of feedback, discussion and admin; (b) the research / writing time of the course tutor in putting together the course notes (approximately 15,000 words, available to download following the course); and (c) miscellaneous fees (transaction charges, website charges etc.)

**If you are a low-income writer and would be interested in hearing about free places, please enter your details here.

"The Colourful Character course is in-depth, inventive and full of brilliantly devised exercises that help the writer dig deep into their creative toolbox to produce vibrant and original work. Focussing on character physicality and perspective, this is so much more than just a prompt and write workshop. I strongly encourage anyone with an interest in honing their craft to sign up at once!"

Kathy Hoyle, Author of "Chasing the Dragon"

"Matt's vast knowledge of language and form, as well as attention to detail, come to the fore again in his new Write Beyond the Lightbulb course: Colourful Characters. I am always astounded by how much I learn on his courses – through reading the highlighted stories, learning new aspects of theory and experimenting with elements of language. Together, these become tools I can put in my writer’s toolbox to use again and again."

Laura Besley, Author of "100neHundred"

"Matt’s Write Beyond the Lightbulb courses are exceptional and his new Colourful Characters course is just as refreshing and invigorating. Beautifully researched and readily accessible, this course not only offers the writer new angles and approaches for writing vibrant characters, but will send you away yearning to get on with it."

Ruth Brandt, Author of "No One Has Any Intention Of Building A Wall"
Course content

Topic 1: Body Language

  • How to use body language to imply emotions and portray the relationships between characters

  • Bringing a scene to life through slow action

  • The interplay between character detail, physical description, personality traits and body language

  • Show vs tell

  • Transferred epithets


Topic 2: Senses

  • The nine senses

  • Bringing the senses to life through imagery, creative verb choices and character-specific tone

  • Mixing the palette and overlapping the senses

  • Synaesthesia

Topic 3: Voices

  • The functions of dialogue

  • Structuring dialogue through reaction and bridges

  • The colourful spectrum of internal thought

Topic 4: Perspective

  • The ladder of psychic distance

  • Filtering verbs

  • Considering the world from the unique viewpoint of our characters

The reading list for this course includes pieces by Melissa Bernal Austin, K M Elkes, Kelsey Ipsen, John Jodzio, Angie Sijun Lou, Pamela Naaki Tetteh, Nuala O'Connor, Elisabeth Ingram Wallace, Abdulbaseet Yusuff, and Tara Isabel Zambrano.

Course structure

Week 0

Participants are given access to the course website seven days prior to the start date. This is to allow writers to make a headstart on reading and preparative exercises. If you would like access to the materials further in advance, this can normally be accommodated.

Week 1

Participants are encouraged to work through the reading materials and preparative exercises*. The course forum is open for discussion of stories and craft techniques as well as for sharing micros created from the preparative exercises.

*Each topic is designed to be worked through in roughly three hours

Week 2

Participants can continue working through the course materials at their own pace. The main workshop is open for sharing final challenge pieces and providing feedback on those created by other course participants.

After the course

Participants are sent full course notes in PDF format

Further information

The course is designed for writers of all levels but, to get the most out of the materials, it is suggested that you should have some prior familiarity with reading and writing flash fiction. While the course is geared towards the study and generation of flash, the techniques and skills acquired should also be useful for writing longer form and non-fiction pieces.

The course is hosted on a Google website using Google Classroom and Google Drive to enable the forum and workshop elements. To access materials, participants will need to have a Google account. If you don't already have one, you will be sent information on how you can set one up following sign up for the course.

The terms and conditions for the course can be found here.

Stories written on the WBTL courses

The prompts on the Write Beyond the Lightbulb courses aim to get participants practising technique and experimenting with new ideas rather than writing perfect stories, but even so many wonderful pieces have been crafted by course participants and subsequently made their way out into the world.

The stories have been placed in major writing competitions including Reflex Fiction and Bath Flash Fiction, and have also been published in a wide variety of literary journals. A selection of these stories can be read here.

Booking open in May
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