Instructor: Richard Cass
Date & Time: Tuesdays, January 22 – March 26 | 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Location: USM’s Glickman Library, Portland
Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Maximum Attendees: 12
Fee: MWPA Member $450 [+ $5 materials fee] | Nonmember $600 [+ $5 materials fee]
Registration Closes: January 14 January 21

Robert Olen Butler said once in an interview: “A writer ends up creating a character of whom…the reader may say, “I’ve known this character all along. A writer can outline the plot, carpenter the scenes, plan the arc of the story until the pencil is blunt, but without compelling characters, where’s the story? Character drives all fiction, and especially great crime fiction: think of John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport or Denise Mina’s Alex Morrow.

This ten-week masterclass workshop will concentrate on creating authentic and memorable characters, through description, action, dialogue, geography, setting, and the mechanics of the prose itself. Writers will strengthen and refine their understanding of character, and develop a set of useful techniques to create new characters and delve into existing ones.

Each session will begin with a short writing exercise centered on defining and deepening character in a different way. The class will workshop two participants’ manuscripts each week, with a focus on character. Every participant is expected to submit two short stories or novel excerpts of 5,000 words each for feedback over the course of the ten weeks.

+ SUBMIT After registering, participants are asked to submit a manuscript (a short story or novel excerpt) of up to 5,000 words by no later than 9:00 AM on January 14. Please email the manuscript to with the subject line: “CASS WORKSHOP MSS.” Please help MWPA conserve paper by using standard formatting (1” margins, double-spaced, 12 pt Times New Roman) and keeping spacing to a minimum (e.g. no title pages). *Word docs (ideally) or PDFs only, please.

DATES The workshop will meet every Tuesday between January 22 and March 26, unless unforeseen scheduling issues should arise.

PAYMENTS MWPA members may pay for this workshop in one payment, or may pay in three installments of $151.70, due at registration and the 20th of each month (February, March). *PLEASE NOTE If you have selected to pay for this multi-week workshop on the installment option, once registration for the workshop has closed, you are responsible for paying all of the remaining installments. If you should, for any reason, leave the workshop after registration has closed, you are still responsible for paying all of the remaining installments.

CEU The MWPA is proud to offer Continuing Education Units (CEU) for this workshop. The CEU is a nationally recognized method of quantifying the time spent in the classroom during non-credit learning. Ten hours of instruction equal one (1) CEU. (*Please note that by definition, CEUs are non-credit continuing education and therefore not transferrable as academic credit.)

CassRichard Cass is the author of the Elder Darrow jazz mystery series: Solo Act was a finalist for the 2017 Maine Literary Awards in Crime Fiction. Its prequel, In Solo Time, won the 2018 Maine Literary Award in Crime Fiction. The third book in the series, Burton’s Solo, was released November 1. Cass serves on the board of Mystery Writers of America’s New England Chapter.

Cass holds a graduate degree in writing from the University of New Hampshire, where he studied with Thomas Williams, Jr. and Joseph Monninger. He has also studied with Ernest Hebert, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Molly Gloss. He has been an Individual Artist’s Fellow for the state of New Hampshire and a Fellow at the Fishtrap Writers’ Conference in Oregon. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Playboy, Gray’s Sporting Journal, ZZYZVA, and Best Short Stories of the American West.  Cass lives in Cape Elizabeth. VISIT

All MWPA workshops require advanced registration. We accept registration by phone, mail, and online via PayPal. We cannot guarantee registration in the final 24-hours before a workshop, and can rarely accommodate day-of registration.

If you need to withdraw from a class after registering for any reason, please email or call the MWPA immediately. You may be eligible for a partial refund or credit, depending on how far in advance you cancel.

For any questions regarding this workshop, please contact Hannah Perry at

Call 207-228-8263 and register with your VISA or MasterCard.

If you prefer to pay by mail, please print this registration form (downloadable PDF) and mail it to the MWPA with a check or credit card information.



The MWPA is proud to offer one full scholarship to this workshop for members-only. Scholarships are awarded on a combination of need and merit. Application Due in the MWPA office on January 7 at 9:00 a.m.

Registration in any MWPA workshop, program, or event constitutes your agreement to our terms and conditions.