Story, Not Formula: Crime Writing Essentials with David Corbett (1/23 – 3/12)

David Corbett


Instructor: David Corbett
Number of sessions: 8
Meeting time: Monday nights, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Dates: January 23 – March 12

Course fee: $485

Contact the instructor to register. All deposits are non-refundable.

Class size limited to 12 Students

Description: In this 8-week course and workshop, award-winning crime novelist David Corbett will guide students through the essentials of writing a compelling story in the sprawling genre routinely described as “crime.” Each class will begin with a brief lecture, then student work will be discussed and analyzed for how it can best conform to its specific genre and yet creatively push the boundaries. The topics covered will be (with the understanding that student questions, needs and desires will prompt a weekly improvisational fluidity):

Week 1: Know Your Sub-Genre: Cozy, Hard-Boiled, Noir, Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller, Suspense, Caper, Urban Novel—what is needed to reward expectations and yet surprise the reader/audience in each form (with a general introduction to and discussion of each student’s work)
Week 2: The Compelling Hero: Avoiding the Protagonist Problem, or: Virtue is over-rated
Week 3: Fashioning a Credible Nemesis: Don’t Get Stuck on Satan
Week 4: The Crew, the Squad, the Family, the Mob: What Secondary Characters are Necessary and Why
Week 5: Setting is Character: Why does this crime happen here and not there—or how to use the limits and opportunities of place to best advantage
Week 6: Suspense: When to say what, who delivers the message, and why
Week 7: Finding the Story:  How to unearth the unique conflicts and desires that drive your narrative in order to avoid cliché, with an introductory peek at structure
Week 8: Structure: How to build your character and story arcs to maximize the dramatic effect of your story

Instructor Bio: David Corbett is the author of four novels: The Devil’s Redhead, Done for a Dime (a New York Times Notable Book), Blood of Paradise (nominated for numerous awards, including the Edgar), and Do They Know I’m Running (“a rich, hard-hitting epic”—Publishers Weekly, starred review). David’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in journals as diverseas Mission and Tenth, The Smoking Poet, San Francisco Noir and Best American Mystery Stories (2009 and 2011). Penguin will be publishing his book on the craft of characterization in early 2013. He has taught at the UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program, Book Passage, 826 Valencia and numerous writing conferences across the US.