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Gar Anthony Haywood

The Seven Deadly Sins of Novel Writing

There are many ways to write a novel badly, but this course will teach you how to avoid and eliminate the Seven Deadly Sins that all-too many writers make that stand in the way of an agent or editor accepting your manuscript

9:00-11:30 AM
Vista II

Through written exercises and open discussions of your work with the entire class, you will learn: - Where to start your story for the greatest possible impact, so that a reader is hooked by page one. - The delicate science of air-tight plotting. (No loopholes, gaps in logic, or cheating allowed.) - How to create central and peripheral characters unique to your vision and voice, no matter how overly-familiar their literary models may seem to be. - The difference between “realism” and “believability,” and how to do your research accordingly. - Where and when to cut the fat in your manuscript for a leaner, more satisfying read. - The importance of natural yet informative dialogue. (Hint: Exclamation marks should be doled out like drinking water on a lifeboat. Because real people don’t talk like this!)


Gar Anthony Haywood,“a writer who has always belonged in the upper echelon of American crime fiction” (Booklist), is the Shamus and Anthony award-winning author of numerous short stories and twelve crime novels, including detective serials, stand-alone thrillers, and two “comic cozies.” Born in Los Angeles, Haywood spent over a decade as a computer technician before first publishing fiction in the 1980s. Influenced by a love for the Los Angeles mysteries of Ross Macdonald, he wrote Fear of the Dark (1987), winning the Shamus Award for best first novel, and his work has continued to garner awards and has been featured in Best American Mystery Short Stories. He has also written for The New York Times and Los Angeles Times and for television, including an adaptation of the Dennis Rodman autobiography, Bad As I Wanna Be. Two of Haywood’s critically acclaimed novels, Man Eater (2003) and Firecracker (2004), are written under the pen-name Ray Shannon. His most recent novels are Cemetery Road (2010), which Publisher’s Weekly called “a beautifully crafted novel of unintended consequences,” and Assume Nothing, published by Severn House (2011).

Literary (and other) Heroes

Haywood grew up devouring the works of great authors like Ray Bradbury, Robert E Howard, and Raymond Chandler. He believes any would-be writers of crime fiction should become acquainted with Ross MacDonald, Lawrence Block, Robert Crais, and Gary Phillips. Additional “master class” authors: Martin Cruz Smith. Ace Atkins. Elmore Leonard. James Lee Burke. Donna Leon. Richard Price. Michael Connelly.