fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Winter Quarter

Winter Catalogues
Now Available
Registration Opens Nov 30
shopping cart icon0

Courses

« Back to Creative Writing

EGL 161 W — Writing Mysteries and Thrillers: Misdirection, Mayhem, and More

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 11—Mar 19
Drop Deadline: Jan 14
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Deborah Johnson
Limit: 20
Status: Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Winter
Flex Online(About Formats)
Date(s)
Jan 11—Mar 19
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 14
3 Units
Fees
$910
Instructor(s):
Deborah Johnson
Limit
20
Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Have you ever delightedly sifted red herrings from clues in a great mystery novel, or marveled at its plot twists? Have you ever closed the cover of an irresistible page-turner and thought, "I’d love to be able to do that, but I have no idea where to start"? This course will demystify the steps involved in creating and crafting a suspenseful thriller or mystery plot. First, we will hone our basic idea down to its most compelling essence. Using this foundation, we will learn how to build characters who enhance our story. Finally, we will turn our attention to the actual plotting of our mystery or thriller novel—where to lay clues and how to misdirect the reader with well-placed distractions and interesting subplots. We will focus on the essentials of pacing and the art of ratcheting up the tension as the novel approaches its climactic moment. Short weekly writing assignments will allow us a chance to practice what we preach. Along the way, we will read experts such as Dorothy Sayers, Tana French, and Benjamin Black (John Banville). Students will emerge from this course with the first chapter of their novel and a solid knowledge of how to proceed from there.

This course is appropriate for writers interested in mysteries or thrillers, or simply wanting to infuse their plots with gripping suspense.

Deborah Johnson, Author

Deborah Johnson’s novel The Secret of Magic received the 2015 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. Her previous novel, The Air Between Us, received the Mississippi Library Association Award for Fiction. She lived for many years in Rome, where she worked as an editor and translator, and as a broadcaster at Vatican Radio. She is completing a new novel, a ghost story about the beginnings of rock and roll set in 1950s Mississippi.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Elizabeth George, Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel (ISBN 978-1984878311)
(Required) James Patterson, David Ellis, The Black Book (A Black Book Thriller, 1) (ISBN 978-1455542673)
(Required) Tana French, In the Woods: A Novel (ISBN 978-0143113492)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)