A Twist in the Tale: Writing Suspense Fiction


Woman reading a book with her finger over her mouthOverview:
In this course, you will explore pacing, red herrings, unreliable narrators and other writing techniques to make your writing suspenseful and keep your readers on edge. You will write and workshop with others, as well as read and discuss texts by authors who have mastered the art of suspense writing.

Pre-course activity:
Participants will be given two suggested texts to read two weeks before the course.

Target Audience:
The course is open to beginner and advanced writers who are interested in plot, structure and story-telling. Crime writers will have a particular interest.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this course you will:

  • a better understanding of how crime and suspense fiction works, through reading and group discussion
  • Improved your writing through practice and workshopping with your peers.
  • learnt how to give and receive constructive and positive feedback
  • gained an understanding of the importance of structuring and editing your work to create tension.

Course outline:
You will develop your writing skills from week to week.  Classes will include group discussion as different examples of suspense writing are considered, in-class guided writing exercises and workshopping of your pieces. Topics for discussion will include:

  •  Plot and premise
  • Structure and pacing
  • Point of view and unreliable narrator
  • The twist in the tale: red herrings and other devices
  • The who and the why: when and how to deliver clues and final reveal
  • Summary of key tools and techniques learnt

In class you will receive constructive feedback from the tutor and your peers that will allow you the opportunity to develop and expand your writing. Discussion and participation are at the heart of this writing workshop.

In addition to group workshopping the tutor will provide you with tailored feedback on the pieces you write throughout the course.

You will need to set aside time for reading and writing between classes.

A short break is held halfway through each session and tea and coffee are provided. You are also welcome to bring your own refreshments if you wish.

Class limit:
This course is limited to a maximum of 12 participants, so please enrol early.

Anna Jaquiery is the author of two crime novels, The Lying-Down Room (2014) and Death in the Rainy Season (2015). Both are published by Pan Macmillan UK. Her stories and poems have been published in various journals including Bravado, Southerly and the Asia Literary Journal. She is currently working on a novel set in Malaysia.

Anna Jaquiery was incredibly generous with her time and encouragement. Because of this, I gained a lot more from the course than I thought I would.”, The Body in the Library: Writing Crime Fiction (2017)
“Anna Jaquiery was a great teacher. I would recommend her to others.
”, Advanced Writing Workshop (2018)

Relevant links:
International Institute of Modern Letters

For Further Information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140
Phone 04 463 6556, Email: conted@vuw.ac.nz

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.