Hearts & Minds


The importance of story in how human beings make sense of a chaotic universe is now widely acknowledged. Television and radio journalists often use phrases such as, “so and so has lost control of the narrative”. The narratives that are implicit in political catch-phrases like, “taking back control”, or “making America great again”, have turned out to be far more powerful political tools than rational arguments based on facts and figures.

Fictional story-telling in books, comics, films, television and audio have never been more abundant. Liking certain stories rather than others is an important part of how we define ourselves as individuals and the groups we belong to… ask a Dr Who fan. Some fictional stories become so iconic that they enhance social cohesion on a national scale (see Line of Duty) or even on a global scale (see Game of Thrones or Harry Potter).

In later-life people often recall how in their youth specific fictional stories (books, films, television & radio) helped shape their worldview and even determined their choice of lifestyle, career and partners. In politics, nationality, social identity, community and solidarity are largely built on shared stories. Commercial advertisers and political propagandists are experts at using fictional characters and stories to influence our views and even change our behaviour in the real-world.

But what is story? How does it work? Why is it such a powerful motivating tool for human beings? How do you go about writing a story that is going to influence people?

Hearts and Minds is an online creative writing class that uniquely focuses on story as a social phenomenon.

Creative writing is often seen as an individualistic and primarily expressive activity in which much of the benefit of the writing accrues to the author who gets to express their innermost feelings.

But at Changing Stories we believe that story-telling is one of the primary tools through which human beings convey ideas to each other and seek to influence each other’s opinions and actions. Story-telling is a collective activity and effective story-telling is as much about ideas as it is about feelings.

Indeed, the power of story derives from the fact that it conveys ideas by stimulating emotions and vice versa. Successful stories are powerful because they excite both our hearts and our minds.

The course is an advanced level programme that utilises philosophy, psychology and narrative theory to explore and develop your own creative skills of story-telling that you can use in the creative, social, political and activist realms.

In groups of 15 you will undertake  9 x 3 hour, face-to-face, online, classes spread over 12 weeks. Running alongside the classes you will be developing and writing your own short story, short film or one act play. There are 3 writing weeks in which there is no class giving you time to complete your own writing. Each week you will also be able to book a 30 minute 1-2-1 online tutorial giving feedback on each stage in the development of your creative writing project.

The process of writing your story will allow you to experientially explore the philosophy, psychology and sociology that underpin the importance of story to human beings and you will experience first-hand the mechanisms of story-telling and the creative processes that professional writers use to develop stories.

This programme will be useful for creative writers interested in storytelling as a powerful medium for expressing ideas and will also be of interest to political activists, trade unionists, corporate managers, teachers and indeed anyone who wants or needs to convey complex ideas to groups of people.

“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, to rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.”

Salman Rushdie

Total Cost £150

  • Group size of 15
  • 27 hours of real-time, interactive, online, teaching
  • £5.50 per hour of teaching. £16.50 per 3-hour class.
  • Individual guidance on every stage of script development from premise through outline proposal, to first draft
  • Individual
  • A weekly 30 min 1-2-1 online tutorial giving feedback on each stage in the development of your work.

By the end of the course you will have:

  1. Gained an understanding of the social and psychological role of story in human society.
  2. Gained an understanding of the mechanics of story-telling
  3. Experienced the process of creating and developing a story
  4. Conceived and written a short film or short play and developed it to first draft script.


“The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.”

Mary Catherine Bateson



“The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions.”

Michael Margolis

The tutor for this course is Chris Jury, an award-winning screenwriter, director, actor, lecturer, trade unionist and political activist.

Chris began his career as an actor appearing in Dr Who and Grange Hill before playing Eric Catchpole in over 50 episodes of the BBC’s antique classic, Lovejoy.

Chris then moved behind the camera as a producer, writer and director becoming a BBC Drama Development Executive and running his own script development company.

He has been commissioned to develop his own series ideas by all UK Broadcasters and many leading UK Indies and along the way he has written and directed numerous episodes of many long-running UK drama serials including The Bill, Holby City, Casualty, Hollyoaks, The Royal Today, Doctors, Coronation Street and over 60 episodes of Eastenders.

In 2020 a US TV Pilot script of his was the overall winner of the Filmmatic 2020 Inroads Screenwriting Fellowship and winner of Best Screenplay in the 2020 Workers United Film Festival screenplay competition in New York.

Chris has lectured on screenwriting and media production at the University Of West London, Leeds Metropolitan University, Bath Spa University, University for the Creative Arts, the WEA and Ruskin College Oxford.

He has served on branch, national and regional committee’s for the Director’s Guild, The Writer’s Guild and the University & College Union. He is co-founder and programmer of the Tolpuddle Radical Festival and a founding member of the Radical Film Network

He is currently developing television drama projects for the UK and US markets.


For further enquiries or to book a place please email us at: info@changingstories.org.uk