The 2017 Maine Crime Wave will feature three theme-specific craft sessions: Plot, Character, and Scenes. Attendees will be able to choose between the craft sessions, panels, or manuscript workshops.
THE PLOT THICKENS Strategies for Suspenseful Plotting
Creating a plot that captures a reader’s attention on page-one and keeps them engaged right through to the final surprise that wraps up the story line into a satisfying whole is perhaps the single most challenging part of writing a great mystery or crime novel.
At its most basic level, plot is simply the logical sequence of events that grow from an initial incident involving a key character that gets your story rolling. From there plot and story grow as characters––hero, victim, suspect, villain––are put into conflict. This workshop will touch on various ways to come up with seed ideas that have the potential to bear dramatic fruit. The group will consider how to outline and structure a plot, discuss narrative arc, pacing and reversals, and how to reveal the ultimate climax that connects the beginning, middle, and end.
James Hayman is the New York Times best-selling author of four McCabe/Savage thrillers set in Portland, Maine. Hayman was born and raised in New York City. After graduating from Brown, he began a lengthy career as a copywriter and creative director for several of New York’s biggest ad agencies, helping create campaigns for clients like the US Army, Merrill Lynch and Lincoln/Mercury. After spending 35 years as a madman Hayman decided that Madison Avenue, like Cormac McCarthy’s Texas, was no country for old men, and moved with his wife Jeanne to Portland, Maine where he decided to scratch an old itch and try his hand at writing fiction. His first effort, The Cutting, introduced readers to Portland police detectives Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage. The Cutting was published in 2009 by St. Martin’s Minotaur. The fifth book in the McCabe/Savage series, The Girl on the Bridge, comes out May 2017. More
CASTING CALL Guidelines for Staffing Your Story
This workshop is designed to help writers analyze their stories and make critical and informed decisions about their characters.
Far too often, writers embark on stories without a clear idea of who the story is about or what their character’s goals are. Story charts, as well as a list of questions, will help you decide who needs to be there and why? What is a protagonist? And antagonist? A villain? What roles do they play in your story?
Among the other questions this workshop will address will be how to create protagonists a reader is willing to spend hours with, bad guys who don’t appear to be bad, and minor characters who don’t steal the show or consume too much page time.
Attorney Kate Clark Flora’s fascination with people’s criminal tendencies began in the Maine attorney general’s office. Deadbeat dads, people who hurt their kids, and employers’ acts of discrimination aroused her curiosity about human behavior. Her true crime, Finding Amy, co-written with Portland, Maine Deputy Chief Joseph Loughlin, was an Edgar finalist. Death Dealer, an Anthony and Agatha finalist, won the Public Safety Writers Association 2015 award for nonfiction. Her star-reviewed Joe Burgess books have twice won the Maine Literary Award. She’s also written books seven Thea Kozak mysteries. Her latest nonfiction, as co-writer, is retired Maine game warden Roger Guay’s memoir of hunters, poachers, search and rescue, and cadaver dogs: A Good Man with a Dog, a 2017 Agatha finalist. Her latest fiction is Led Astray, book five in the Joe Burgess series. Flora has taught fiction and crime fiction for Grub Street in Boston, for MWPA, and at conferences and writing retreats. More
UNPUTDOWNABLE The Art and Craft of Writing Gripping Scenes
Thanks to the siren songs of YouTube, Netflix, and social media, it’s more imperative than ever that writers grab their audience by the throat and never let go. Plot and character are important elements in achieving this, but neither matters if your scenes don’t set the hook.
A decent scene requires a taut structure and a compelling point-of-view—setting, dialogue, and action must work together to keep the audience turning pages. But a truly great scene—particularly within the realm of crime fiction—demands an element of the unexpected.
The problem is, genre fans are a savvy lot. They may not realize it, but they’ve internalized all the ins and outs of story structure, and are intimately familiar with the tropes that writers frequently lean on. That makes them difficult to surprise—but it also means their expectations can be used against them.
This workshop will focus on the essential ingredients of any good scene and highlight tricks the masters employ that can make a reader miss their bus stop.
Chris Holm is the author of the Collector trilogy, which blends crime and fantasy, and the Michael Hendricks thrillers. His first Hendricks novel, The Killing Kind, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Boston Globe Best Book of 2015, and Strand Magazine’s #1 Book of 2015. It won the 2016 Anthony Award for Best Novel, and was also nominated for a Barry, a Lefty, and a Macavity. His second Hendricks novel, Red Right Hand, is now available. Chris lives in Portland, Maine. More