Writers invited to polish their craft

It’s no mystery why people like to read “who-dunits”: They’re filled with suspense, odd characters, and twists and turns of the plots.

The mystery is in how to write a good thriller – at least for those who have never “dunit.”

Author Betty Webb will inaugurate the fall writing classes at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, Arizona State University, with a four-week session on “Writing Mysteries and Thrillers,” beginning Oct. 8.

There also will be the first of two four-week fiction classes by New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole; a one-day fiction class taught by Jewell Parker Rhodes; three one-day poetry classes instructed by Daniel Bosch, Jeredith Merrin and Gregory Donovan; and two online classes in fiction and poetry taught by Rhodes and Eduardo Corral. Registration is now open.

The class schedule and fees are:


• “Writing Mysteries and Thrillers,” 6-8 p.m., Mondays, Oct. 8-29, Piper Writers House, ASU’s Tempe campus. Instructor Betty Webb, a former journalist, is the author of 11 mystery novels, including the dark Lena Jones mysteries, based on stories she covered as a reporter.

The class will delve into plot, tone, setting, story structure, character, scene development, self-editing, and the need for a strong arc of action in the contemporary mystery novel and thriller. Webb will also cover the difference between the two genres and why that difference matters. Cost: $225 ($205 for Piper Friends).


• Four-week fiction sessions, 6-8 p.m., Thursdays, Oct. 11-Nov. 1, and next April, Piper Writers House, Tempe campus. Instructor Michael A. Stackpole has written more than 40 fantasy and science fiction novels. His best-known books were written in the Star Wars universe, including “I, Jedi” and “Rogue Squadron.” Cost: $225 ($205 for Piper Friends) for each session.

The goal of Stackpole’s two sessions is to have students write a novel then begin revising it. Session I, "Writing the Novel" (Oct. 11-Nov. 1), will cover reader engagement, story recipes, plotting and pacing and more.

Session II, “Completion, Revision and Reconstruction,” will require participants to have a work of at least 30,000 words to work on.


• One-day poetry class, "The Line and the Line Break," 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sept. 15, Piper Writers House. Instructor Daniel Bosch will explore powerful examples of verse in search of fundamental practices such as measure, end-marking, caesura, syntactical patterning and variation, and sonic ornament. Cost: $125 ($105 for Piper Friends).

• One-day poetry class, "The Poetry of Dream and Vision," 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sept. 29, Piper Writers House. Instructor Gregory Donovan will examine how to make strong use of dreams or visionary experiences, as well as how to avoid familiar false steps. Cost: $125 ($105 for Piper Friends).

• One-day fiction class, “Techniques of Writing Dialogue,” 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Oct. 13, Piper Writers House. Instructor Jewell Parker Rhodes will consider the specific techniques of writing dialogue—from the singular (monologue) to two, three, and four person dialogues. Subtext, silence, action/reaction are all elements that add to convincing dialogue. Cost: $150 ($130 for Piper Friends).

• One-day poetry class, "Getting It Together and Being of Two Minds," 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Nov. 3, Piper Writers House. Instructor Jeredith Merrin will discuss how poets gather bits of information and experience and shape them into interesting, even memorable, works of art. Cost: $125 ($105 for Piper Friends).


• Poetry, "Four Poems in Four Weeks," week of Oct. 7-week of Oct. 28. With instructor: Eduardo Corral, participants will write four poems in four weeks, focusing on four types: praise, narrative, imitation and elegy. Cost: $225 ($205 for Piper Friends).

• Fiction, "Fiction Fundamentals." Instructor Jewell Parker Rhodes will discuss creating character and a compelling plot; elevating your prose with concrete detail, and enhancing your story through setting, atmosphere, and tone; considering the power of point of view – who owns the story; and creating credible dialogue and narrative voice. Cost: $245 ($225 for Piper Friends).

For complete information about the classes, instructors, becoming a Piper Friend, and registration, go to http://www.asu.edu/piper/workshops/index.html.