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Crime Beat

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Crime Beat: Krimi workshop on the Greek island of Lesbos

lesbosWanna write a thriller? And talk to other krimi writers? And laze in the sea? And drink wine? Then here’s the deal: A krimi workshop, June 7 to 14, on Lesbos, yes, the Greek island.

It’s part of The Talking Table series of workshops. Interested?

Here’s how things should run:

What I want to do with this seven-day workshop is to help you generate enough material to get your crime novel on the go. Not only should the workshop be a lot of fun as we will all be crime fiction addicts, but you’ll leave with your storyline, a plot, characters, in fact, everything you need to keep on writing your crime novel.

On the first day, the discussion will be about the crime novel: where it is today, what it does, what it can do. There are a range of ways into a crime story: there’s the cop procedural, the PI investigation, the gangster underworld; there’s state corruption, financial corruption, and murder most foul. If that doesn’t grab you, you might choose to focus on psychological conflict within relationships, stalkers, addicts, serial killers. Knowing the kind of story you want to write is the best start you can make.

The second day will focus on characters and setting. Both are important. Characters drive the story and because there is conflict between them you will never be at a loss for words. And then there is the setting: a sense of place is vital. Readers like living in imaginary worlds, those places found in the never-never land between reality and fiction.

Day three is about story and plot. We all need some sort of story no matter how vague it might be. Even something as simple as Sam kills Evelyn is the beginnings of a story. Consider all the questions: who is Sam? Who is Evelyn? Are they male or female? How do they meet? What happens between them? How does the crime occur? What happens next? And then comes the business of the plot, the way the story is told. Here there are those who want to plan the smallest detail or there are those – like me – who fly blind. Which is scary, and exciting.

Day four. The crime novel is the most democratic of novels. Characters talk to one another all the time. So day four is about that all important subject: dialogue. Nothing is more exciting than zipping through a dialogue exchange between two characters about to do one another serious grief.

By day five you’ll have a fair amount of material in your laptop. You’ll have characters with names; a setting where the action takes place, you’ll have an idea of your story, and even how that story will develop. So here’s were we get into that tricky part: how do you kickstart this story?

Day six, time to handle a bit of aggro. Writing violence is a challenge, even more of a challenge than writing sex. And, of course, you are going to have to write some sex too. This day gets down to the dirty stuff: choose your weapons – guns, knives, axes, bombs, bare hands, rope, poison.

On the final day we’ll give Frederik (our co-host who used to be a book publisher) some time to talk about the publishing scene and with a bit of luck we’ll also listen to the beginnings that have been so carefully crafted over the last two days.

There will be a number of short exercises during the course, some of which will happen in the workshop and some of which will be homework. Fear not, there’ll still be time for swimming, sitting about drinking wine, and dreaming up different ways to kill.

Just so you know a bit about me: I’ve run workshops on writing crime fiction at the University of Cape Town’s Summer School, a number of times at Bloody Book Week in Johannesburg along with Jeffery Deaver, John Connolly and Michael Robotham, at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, the Hermanus Fynarts Festival and the Knysna Literary Festival. I tutor online short courses in creative writing and non-fiction narratives for PenguinRandomHouse/GetSmarter, and together with editor Claire Strombeck run the Writers’ Masterclass – now in its sixth year. To date our writers have had five books published by leading publishers in South Africa and Germany with more due out this year.

For all the information about the krimi workshop check it out here.


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