Writing Crime Fiction with David Corbett

8-week Master Class Covers Crime Fiction A to Zed.

Your Instructor: David Corbett (Author of The Devil's Redhead & Done for a Dime)

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 12

Price: $625

Class Description


In this 8-week super-intensive crime writing master class, 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 weekly session will begin with a written lecture and assignment, 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 emphasis will be on Story, Not Formula.


For fifteen years, David worked for the San Francisco private investigation firm of Palladino & Sutherland, and he played a significant part in a number of high-profile civil and criminal litigations.  He credits a large measure of his prowess and style in crime fiction to this base of experience in conducting interviews and recording testimonies under pressured and high-stakes circumstances. 

What This Class Covers

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

Goals Of This Class

  • You'll learn to see genre expectations as opportunities for innovation, not constraints, testing the boundaries between different crime writing categories with style, confidence, and credibility.
  • You'll learn to enhance a character type into a full-fledged human being who seems utterly threatening, movingly vulnerable, or genuinely brave--but always convincingly real.
  • You'll come away with a sense of structure and how to take on the larger dramatic challenges to complete your stories.
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