Wednesday, July 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m., author Betty Webb will conduct a workshop at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., on how to write mysteries and thrillers. Webb is the author of two mystery series: the best-selling Lena Jones books and the humorous Gunn Zoo mysteries. She recently agreed to answer some questions for Examiner about the upcoming event.
Q. Changing Hands says this is a “hands-on workshop.” What exactly does that mean?
A. It means that all of the group's questions will be answered, frequently by demonstration. Some writing will also be involved.
Q. Who particularly will benefit from this workshop?
A. Beginner to novice writers, and even some professionals who want to break into the mystery field. As we experienced mystery authors know, the genre has changed significantly since the old Agatha Christie “Golden Age” of mysteries.
Q. Would you like to give Examiner readers a glimpse of some of the things you’ll be covering?
A. We'll cover the arc of action, something new writers tend to be uninformed about. We'll also cover the differences between thriller/suspense and mystery novels, and the unique needs of each subgenre. Included in the workshop will be pointers on character development, plot, setting, self-editing, and research. Then I'll go over a list of "red flags" that keep agents and editors from reading beyond the first two pages—which, by the way—is most manuscripts! Finally, I'll hand out a copy of the query letter that got me my Hollywood agent. Over the years, I've learned that most writers don't understand what a query should—and should not—contain.
Q. Is there anything you would like to add?
A. My workshops tend to be fun, and include a lot of back-and-forth from the students. I answer any and all questions, and there are always a ton of them.
Before becoming an author, Webb worked as a journalist and interviewed everyone from U.S presidents and astronauts who walked on the moon to polygamy runaways and Nobel Prize-winners. A nationally syndicated literary critic for more than 20 years, Webb has also served as an Edgar judge for Mystery Writers of America and has been a book reviewer and columnist for Mystery Scene Magazine for the past 10 years. In addition, she has taught creative writing workshops and classes at Phoenix College and Arizona State University. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the National Federation of Press Women and numerous other organizations.
Changing Hands is located at 6428 S. McClintock Drive in Tempe, and cost for the workshop is $25. For registration and prepayment, call (480) 730-0205.