Friday, August 03, 2012

Teaching Mystery Writing

Sorry I'm so late today. Life intervened on my way to the blog.

I've been asked to teach a writing course this October. This will be the second time that I'll have the  opportunity to put together a four-part course. Last summer, I did a course on writing. This course will be offered through a library and specifically about mystery writing.

Of course, I intend to cover the basics in my mystery writing course:  getting an idea, creating characters, setting, plot. But thinking about teaching this course has me going through the process I do every semester when I'm preparing to teach a criminal justice course to undergraduate or grad students. The questions always are how to engage students, not bore them to death, get them involved in the process of learning (and teaching each other and me) and at the same time make sure that we have adequately covered the material in the time available. And, of course, there is always the question of what material should be covered and what is less important, interesting if time turns out to be available, but not essential. And then there's the fact that, even in an intro course, students will be at different stages in their knowledge and development.

With this writing course, the students will be self-selecting and they will be there to learn. But there is still the same issue. How to whittle down what I might cover to what I have the time to cover.

I've been thinking about how I learned to write mysteries. I started writing in my teens. I wrote short stories in a correspondence course and (bad) poetry and eventually built up the courage to think of writing a novel. Learning to write mysteries was about learning to write within a genre rather than starting from scratch. I came to writing mysteries because of the subject matter.

I need to think some more about the process of writing, about the things that I have learned to do and now take for granted. Definitely a required exercise before I tackle developing materials for this class.

1 comment:

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