WANTED: A few good crime writers.
Good writers who want to be great ones, or dedicated beginners looking to sharpen and deepen their understanding of the writing craft.
If this sounds like you, I'd love to invite you on a journey of discovery. How good can you get in the next three months? Six months? In the next year? Because no matter how good we are, don't we always want to be better? I know I do.
I'm the internationally published author of four Jared McKean private detective novels and a cozy cat mystery in the multi-author Trouble Cat Mystery series. My first book, Racing the Devil, was short-listed for a Shamus award. One of my favorite reviews came from Sheila Deeth at Cafe Libre. She had this to say about A Cup Full of Midnight. "A story this powerful is hard to find, a mystery this intriguing, or a narrator as brutally honest and generous and kind." This five-star review from the San Francisco Book Review is a close second: “…Pleasingly spiky prose which positively bristles with the darker side of wit."
These reviews make me happy every time I read them, but they also inspire me to hone my craft so my next books will be even better. Like the writer who, when asked which book was his best, said, "My next one."
Does that resonate with you? Then this course might be for you. How about the rest of these?
- You care about the craft of writing; while "having a good story" is great, it's not enough for you
- You have (or can make) time to read a book each month (or at least most months) and discuss it at the end of the month
- You strive to make sure your next book is your best one
- You feel you have room to grow as a writer and are committed to it
- The idea of learning the craft by studying current successful novels appeals to you
You may not be sold yet on this last one. I know some authors who won't read other authors in their genre for fear of being influenced by another writer's voice. But think about it for a moment. Great artists learn to draw and paint by copying the masters: "Here's how Rembrandt captured the texture of light on velvet...," "Here's how Caravaggio used light and shadow to guide the viewer's eye..." Great composers learn musical theories and techniques by playing music by other composers. Once they've mastered those techniques, they're able to transcend them. The same is true for writing.
When I was working on A Taste of Blood and Ashes, my fourth Jared McKean book, I was unhappy with the transitions between chapters. I pulled down a couple of John Connolly books and studied how he moved from one scene or chapter to the next. I didn't copy him--our stories had very little in common, so that wouldn't have worked even if I'd wanted to--but I did see the various techniques he used and was able to adapt them for my needs. The payoff came when I turned the book in and the editor said, "I loved your transitions. Moving from scene to scene was seamless."
Later, I served on the Mystery Writers of America board with an author who had served as an Edgar judge for the Best Novel category. Since she had to read so many entries, she decided to treat those months as a crash course in writing an award-winning novel. What worked? What didn't? How did this structure serve--or not serve the book? Why did the author do this in this particular way at this particular time? Her next book was a bestseller that either won or was nominate for every major award in her genre.
"Okay," you may be saying, "I'm open to the idea. How would the course work?"
Well, each month, we'll read a top contemporary crime novel. I'll post lessons throughout the month, showing how the author uses various story elements like plot, structure, dialogue, exposition, subtext, and so on. How does the author control pacing? How does the author evoke tension in the reader? Why did he or she make the decisions that were made? You'll not only learn what worked in these particular books, you'll learn strategies you can apply to any book you read in the future. Then, on the last Thursday of every month, a live Zoom discussion will solidify what you've learned. Imagine being mentored and taught the craft of writing by your favorite authors. This course is the next best thing.
The discussions will be recorded and posted, so you can join any time. New discussions will be live, and you can watch the replays of anything you missed.
Interested? You have two ways to join. For only $10 a month, you'll have access to all course materials for the duration of your subscription. Or you can choose to make a one-time payment of $127 for lifetime access. This means that, no matter how long the course runs, you'll never be charged anything extra. In essence, your second year is only $7--and any subsequent years are free. Also, if I'm ever unable to continue hosting it, you'll be given an opportunity to download all the materials for your personal use.
Course Curriculum: Book List
January: Paper Son by S.J. Rozan
February: The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly
March: Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron
April: The Burial Hour by Jeffrey Deaver
May: The Wife by Alafair Burke
June: In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson
July: A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier
August: The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney
September: The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger
October: IQ by Joe Ide
November: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
December: Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
The kickoff for this live course is on Tuesday, January 5. Participation is limited, so reserve your spot now.
If you have any questions about the course, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the instructor
Jaden Terrell is a Shamus Award finalist and the author of the internationally published, Nashville-based Jared McKean private detective mysteries. She's a contributor to the International Thriller Writers' Big Thrill online magazine and to Now Write! Mysteries, a collection of writing exercises published by Tarcher/Penguin for writers of crime fiction.
Terrell is a recipient of several awards for service to the crime writing community, including the 2017 Killer Nashville Builder Award and two awards for service to the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (SEMWA): the 2009 Magnolia Award and the 2017 Silver Quill Award.
A former special education teacher with thirty years of experience as a teacher and trainer, Terrell is a writing coach and consultant who also teaches workshops on the craft and business of writing fiction. Contact her at: http://www.jadenterrell.com.