fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Summer Quarter

Summer Quarter Underway
Late-Start Classes
Still Available
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Creative Writing

EGL 16 W — Writing Mysteries and Thrillers: How to Craft Successful Intrigue and Suspense

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 26—Sep 1
Drop Deadline: Jul 4
Units: 3
Tuition: $850
Instructor(s): Seth Harwood
Limit: 17
Jun 26—Sep 1
10 weeks
Drop By
Jul 4
3 Units
Seth Harwood
If you’ve been eager to write a great mystery, thriller, or crime novel, or if you’ve been yearning to polish an existing draft to a submission-ready sheen, this is the course for you. Starting with definitions of American crime novels, we will build a sense of the sleuth and spend time on exercises in dialogue, descriptive action, three-dimensional characters, and mounting intrigue. By looking explicitly at the writer’s approach to readers, students will learn how to get the hook in and set it firmly—developing a toolkit to start writing your own gripping novel.

Reading classic writers of the genre such as Dashiell Hammett and Patricia Highsmith, as well as sections of On Writing by Stephen King, we will build a set of reference points to use for constructive discussions of student work. Then, during the second half of the course, each student will workshop an excerpt on the order of 3,000 words to get feedback on writing, story, and revision. Students will leave the course with a finished draft of a story or novel excerpt, which will keep readers enthralled, even after they turn the final page.

Although the time commitment for an online writing course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to gain substantial benefit from the course.

Seth Harwood, Author

Seth Harwood’s fifth novel, Everyone Pays, was published in 2016. He is the author of the bestsellers In Broad Daylight and Jack Wakes Up, as well as the novels Young Junius and This Is Life, and numerous stories in literary journals, two story collections, and a Kindle Worlds novella. He received an MFA in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, City College of San Francisco, and Harvard Extension School.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Stephen King, On Writing, 10th Anniversary (ISBN 1439156816)
(Required) Tony Hillerman and Otto Penzler, eds, The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century (ISBN 0618012710)