Monday, July 26, 2010


Mystery Writers of America is launching their MWA University, a day-long symposium on writing mysteries. The pilot program will be held in the Mid-Atlantic Region, at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, on August 14. Registration begins at 8:15. Sessions begin at 9:00 and end at 5:00.

In MWA’s own words:

MWA University is an entire day of top-notch classes, taught by top-notch mystery writers. Novice or pro, you will benefit from hearing the experts discuss their strategies for all facets of writing and publishing.

Below is a schedule preview (subject to change).

After the Idea
Teacher: Jess Lourey is the author of the Murder-by-Month mysteries and a tenured professor of English and sociology at a two-year Minnesota college.

“If you wish to be a writer, write." But how? You've got the great idea, the one that won't let you go, that embellishes itself as you walk around your day. But how do you grow that kernel into a compelling story, and where do you find the time? This class gives you the tools to turn a good idea into a great novel. Bring a notebook and writing utensil.

Dramatic Structure & Plot
Teacher: Hallie Ephron is the author of psychological suspense Never Tell a Lie, crime fiction book reviewer for the Boston Globe, and author of the Edgar-nominated Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel.

Since Aristotle, the three-act structure for storytelling has reigned supreme, but does it still hold true for modern crime writers? Is it the best way, or the only way, to tell your tale? Is plotting simply sequencing your scenes or is there more to it? This class will teach you the art of storytelling and plotting so your manuscript will attract the attention it deserves.

Setting & Description
Teacher: Daniel Stashower is a two-time Edgar award winner, and a recipient of the Raymond Chandler Fulbright Fellowship in Detective and Crime Fiction Writing.

“I guess God made Boston on a wet Sunday,” Raymond Chandler once said, and this seemingly tossed-off remark has much to teach us about the gentle arts of setting and description. This class will guide you through the process and potential pitfalls of choosing a setting, and explore the ways in which descriptive passages can be honed to illuminate characters and themes.

Character & Dialogue
Teacher: Donna Andrews is the award-winning NYT bestselling author of sixteen novels and founding member of the MWA Mid-Atlantic chapter.

From Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple to Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlings, character is arguably the most memorable element of a mystery novel and a series. How do you create a fully-realized unique protagonist that leaps from the page? How should you develop secondary characters as well as the protagonist’s nemesis? This class will challenge you to eliminate cardboard characterizations and create something new and fresh.

Writing as Re-Writing
Teacher: Reed Farrel Coleman (Twice nominated for the Edgar® and a three-time winner of the Shamus Award, Reed Farrel Coleman is an adjunct professor of English at Hofstra University.)

If editing was good enough for William Shakespeare, it’s good enough for you. More often than not, it’s the things you remove, the tweaks you make, and the tinkering you do, that are the difference between another slush pile manuscript and a new book contract. There are some easy methods to learn and follow to help you develop an editorial ear. Give us fifty minutes and we’ll give you a better chance with agents and editors.

The Writing Life
Teacher: Hank Phillippi Ryan is the winner of two Agatha Awards and nominated for the Anthony, Agatha and Macavity, Boston TV reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan has won 26 Emmys for her investigative journalism.

"I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning." That's how Peter DeVries balanced art and craft. What's the reality of the writing life? The journey from your great idea to 90,000 words will mean hours of solitude. Days of self-doubt. Revision. Rejection. And then--rejoicing. You'll often say: "I wish someone had explained this to me!" In this class, they will.

Cost: $50 for both members and non-members of Mystery Writers of America. Must register by Monday, August 9, 2010. Registration is limited to 80 people.

For more information and to register, visit the MWA website.

I’ll see you there!



Anonymous said...

Alan - Thanks for this info! It sounds like a great program, and one worth going to. Wish I lived close enough to go...

JournoMich said...

Oh, man, this sounds great! And I was ALMOST in the area that weekend! The Stashower and Andrews classes look the most interesting to me...I hope I can make it next time. Thanks for the info, Alan.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

You have a great chapter of MWA there, Alan! These classes sound wonderful.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

This sounds like a wonderful symposium. I'd love to go but I can't. Looks like I'll have to depend on you to share what you learned!)

Alan Orloff said...

It should be a lot of fun. And educational, too! Maybe you can catch a local version when it goes on the road.

Unknown said...

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Happy writing!

Alan Orloff said...

Reberto - Happy writing to you, too!