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Mystery Writing II
Mystery Writing I

Mystery Writing I is a 10-week workshop, which includes lectures, exercises, and the critiquing of student projects. It’s for beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals. Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

Nothing quickens the pulse like a good mystery, which is why millions of readers surrender themselves to the page-turning exploits of their favorite sleuths. Mystery is an expansive genre, welcoming amateur detectives, intellectual puzzle-solvers, policemen, private eyes, lawyers, spies, even average folk caught in a web of suspense. If crime is a central element, consider it a mystery.

To write riveting mysteries, you must merge the skills of a fiction writer with the clever tricks of the mystery trade. Here you will learn about the various types of mysteries and their special requirements, as well as fiction craft and how to market your work.

Whether you seek to write short stories or novels, classic puzzlers or crime fiction, we’ll show you how to capture readers.

About Mystery Writing
Mystery Writing I

This class was an excellent primer in mystery writing.

Cassandra Ritas

policy analyst


If you’re working in the mystery genre, you may take Fiction I or (at the advanced level) Novel II First Draft or Novel II Critique, or one of our genre courses: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Romance, Mystery.

If you’re working on a YA novel, you may take a Fiction/Novel course, or a “genre” course, or you may take a Children’s Book course, where the full spectrum of children’s books will be covered. 

Upcoming Classes

Masks are not required, but we’ll provide masks for those who want them. We are no longer requesting proof of vaccination.

More Covid details


Registration fee $25, paid once per term

See Payment Options

To register for a 10-Week course, you need to pay in full to guarantee your place in class. Or you can pay a $95 deposit plus a $25 registration fee (total $120) to temporarily hold your place, but tuition must be paid in full 10 business days before your class starts or you risk losing your spot.



This course gives you a firm grounding in the basics of the mystery genre, and gets you writing a short story (or two) or a novel. Course components:
     Writing exercises
     Workshopping of student projects (each student presenting work two times)

New York City/Zoom classes
The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. Many topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes 
Week 1
Introduction to Mystery Writing: Origin of mystery stories. Exploration of classic mystery fiction. Exploration of crime fiction. Exploration of true crime stories. Short stories, novels, and series.

Week 2
Plot: The protagonist—desire and stakes. Antagonist. Twists and turns.

Week 3
Character: How much to reveal. Character actions. The “Watson character." Heels and villains. Dames and bad girls.

Week 4
Point of View/Voice: First person. Second person. Third person—various types. Finding a voice.

Week 5
Dialogue: Compression. Subtext. Dialogue tips. Handling exposition.

Week 6
Description/Setting: Painting with words. Sensory detail. Establishing time and place. Conveying mood.

Week 7
Plot II: The main event. Backstory. Raising the stakes. Planting clues. Conventions and clichés. Plot holes. Climax.

Week 8
Revision/Authenticity: Techniques for revision. Keeping it authentic.

Week 9
Moral Universe: Stories are set in a moral universe. Understanding and utilizing theme. A moral center. Shades of gray.

Week 10
The Business: The truth about publishing. The submission process. Selling your work.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.


Carole Buggé
Carole Buggé

Carole Buggé (also writing as Carole Lawrence, C.E. Lawrence, and Elizabeth Blake) is the author of the Ian Hamilton mystery series (Thomas + Mercer), the Jane Austen Society mystery series (Crooked Lane Books), the Lee Campbell thriller series (Kensington), and the Claire Rawlings mystery series (Berkely Prime Crime). She’s also the author of Cleopatra's Dagger (Thomas + Mercer), The Star of India (Titan Press), and The Haunting of Torre Abbey (St. Martin's Press). Her short stories have appeared in anthologies from St. Martin’s Press, Doubleday, and the Mystery Writers of America. Her play Strings Attached was produced at the Kennedy Center, and her plays/musicals have been presented regionally and in New York City. She has taught at NYU, Duke University, the Royal Court Repertory Theatre, and the American Comedy Institute. Carole holds a BA from Duke University.

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