Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing (10 weeks)
This ten-week course offers class material on the basics of mystery fiction writing, and a workshop atmosphere with class discussion, exercises, and teacher and group feedback that help the student get started on or finish a mystery novel or story already begun. Students will be at different points in their work. Some will have only the desire, some will have an idea, some will have a few chapters, some will have a finished draft of a novel. Lectures concentrate on the art and techniques of the genre and include tips on becoming a working mystery, suspense, or thriller writer. In addition to weekly assignments and an overall course assignment of a polished first scene and optional synopsis, students are encouraged to send in whatever manuscript they're producing. Those with stories in progress can submit additional scenes and chapters every week for feedback. The goal is to get students to start writing, keep writing, and provide motivation to continue writing and improving after the class ends.
The "I've always wanted to write fiction" Workshop
Students should complete one full chapter of a novel or a significant portion of a short story by the eighth week and be able to give a brief synopsis of the rest of the story.
This workshop is for those who want to write but haven't tried to do it, yet, those who are just now trying, and those who have tried, gotten scared, and stopped. It is for the majority of beginning and intermediate writers, the ones who have written bits and pieces of stories and books, not finished them, wondered what was wrong, searched alone for ideas that would work and a form that would say the things they want to say. We explore ways to open their creative minds and build confidence and excitement. They learn about the forms of fiction and how fiction is built. In the first weeks, writers work in small groups on a story chosen by the group, and do in-class exercises in point of view, plotting, character development, dialog, setting and other elements of fiction. Exercises, group work, and assignments are evaluated and discussed in a supportive workshop atmosphere that encourages them to lose their fear of failure and their doubts about their own ability, and freely pursue their story ideas. From that basis, students segue to conceiving and developing their own stories.
Students can find advanced writing workshops for long and short fiction and solid theoretical courses for beginners, but there are few resources for that largest group of people -- those who know they want to write, want to open up their own creativity, and don't know how. Short stories? novels? fictionalized nonfiction? They don't know where to start; they just know they've "always wanted to write." What most distinguishes those who write from those who doubt, dabble and drift away is the belief that they can do it. That belief grows from example, encouragement and, most of all, experience -- the work of writing itself.
Combination of lecture, sample handouts, group exercises, individual assignments and workshop cross-pollination: freshness feeding experience, experience nurturing freshness. Lecture topics are tied to actual working problems as they go, and as they get into the nitty gritty of their own work.
Work will be discussed and evaluated in class throughout and the final assignment, one chapter or a significant portion of a short story plus synopsis, will be evaluated by the instructor.
Recommended but not required:
Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
Ongoing Fiction Writing Workshop (10 weeks)
Shelley Singer's mystery and suspense writing course has a spin-off -- an ongoing advanced writers' workshop designed for anyone who has taken Shelley's class or is working on a book: mystery, another genre, or mainstream fiction. Unlike the mystery, thriller, and suspense writing class described above, the workshop is not organized around weekly lectures or exercises, but concentrates entirely on the participants' own work-in-progress. Also, the workshop is open to all fiction writers, not only those who are working in the mystery and suspense genre. Those who sign up should be prepared to work hard.
Getting Your Book Published (10 weeks)
Is it a rat race or just a maze? Maybe a bit of both, but you can run it or navigate it a lot better with the right information, and this class gives it to you - making your fiction or non-fiction manuscript look professional, finding the right agent or editor, getting through the submission process, writing proposals and queries, working with an agent, working with an editor, advances, royalties, and contracts, online publishing possibilities, and publicizing yourself and your work.
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