My first novel started as a writing group challenge: take a character from your work in progress, and put them in a completely different time and place. I took a magician’s apprentice from a swords and sorcery story, plunked him down in a Sherlock Holmes tale, and The Affair of the Porcelain Dog was born. A seven-hundred word short eventually worked itself into an award-winning historical series.

The lesson I came away with was this: no matter which genre you write in, you have to have a good story at the center of it. By the same token, if you have a good story, you can tweak it so that it works in a multitude of genres. Fractured fairy tales, anyone?

In my workshop, Genre Fiction: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks, I’ll show you how to craft a great story, no matter which genre you want to write in. We’ll explore several different genres, including speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, and horror), romance, western, mystery, and historical, and will learn what the key elements are that make each of them work. You’ll get to try your hand at writing in each of them, and in the end, you’ll pick the one that works best for your story. Who knows? That romance you’re thinking about might make a great space opera!

We’ll start with some idea generation exercises—get those creative juices flowing. Then we’ll hone the idea into an exciting, relatable story, using proven exercises and personalized feedback from the instructor, and from your classmates. Once you have your plot down, we’ll start exploring genre through readings, analysis and…more exercises!

Along the way, we’ll explore the elements of craft—worldbuilding, character development, plot structure, dialogue, setting, and more—through the lens of different genres. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to put together a first draft of something really special. How far you get, of course, will depend upon you.

My classes are always work-intensive. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it. They’re also highly interactive. We learn as much from each other as we do from an instructor. There will be a strong workshop element, as well as a section on how to get your story out to the public.

I’ve taught versions of this class numerous times, and we always have a blast. So come join me. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Jess will be presenting Writing Genre Fiction: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks starting on September 18th. This is a two-month course that will give you the basic blueprint to make your story a success.


Jess Faraday is the author of the Ira Adler series, the steampunk thriller The Left Hand of Justice, The Strange Case of the Big Sur Benefactor, and a co-author of Blades of Justice, a trio of historical novellas set in rural Cornwall. She teaches creative writing and moonlights as the mystery editor for Elm Books.

A member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers, Jess is currently at work on a contemporary mystery featuring disappearing food donations, a runaway rabbit, and a suitcase with a mind of its own.

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