Noted Author and UCLA Extension Instructor Investigates Successful Sleuths

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Jerrilyn Farmer and other expert authors and screenwriters to lead workshops at UCLA Extension Writers Studio, Feb. 7-10 in Los Angeles.

What does it take to create a new and enduring character in crime fiction? UCLA Extension Writers' Program instructor and bestselling mystery novelist Jerrilyn Farmer (author of the Madeline Bean mysteries, including The Flaming Luau of Death and Desperately Seeking Sushi) has some ideas.

With a tip of the hat to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, Farmer says that to be an intriguing protagonist, a fictional sleuth must have the right "little grey cells." The talent for observation and the smarts to synthesize input -- some of it relevant to the case, some of it not -- imbue the detective with personal charm and authority.

Farmer also says the detective must have one foot in the ordinary and one foot in the extraordinary. To carry a series, a detective must reflect specific human qualities, both heroic and flawed, with which the reader can identify. The everywoman or -man sleuth must, after all, face confusion and evil and after a mighty battle walk away with clarity, if not always justice. Giving that worthy soul a fascinating occupation, geographic region, subculture, or belief system that no one else has written about in quite the same intimate way makes the hero fresh.

This February, Farmer and nine other successful authors and screenwriters will share their skills and knowledge at UCLA Extension's 2008 Writers Studio. Participants choose one of 10 intensive four-day workshops in which they work closely with a professional writer in a class limited to no more than 18 students.

The 2008 Writers Studio workshops are:

Writing the Personal Essay - Amy Friedman (writer/editor, author of the creative nonfiction books Nothing Sacred: A Conversation with Feminism and Kick the Dog and Shoot the Cat)
Memoir and Personal Essay: The Next Level - Barbara Abercrombie (author of 12 books including her latest, Courage and Craft: Writing Your Life into Story)
Creating Memorable Characters and Dialogue - Noel Alumit (author of the novels Letters to Montgomery Clift and Talking to the Moon)
Writing the First Novel - Mark Haskell Smith (screenwriter and author of the novels Salty, Delicious and Moist)
Planning the Perfect Murder: Writing the Mystery Novel - Jerrilyn Farmer (author of the Madeline Bean mysteries, including The Flaming Luau of Death and Desperately Seeking Sushi)

Getting It Write: Writing the Story Before Writing the Script - Keith Giglio (screenwriter/producer, has written screenplays for Warner Bros., Walt Disney Pictures and Universal Pictures)
Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot - Peter Dunne (writer/producer, has produced the CBS dramas CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, JAG and That's Life)
Cinematic Storytelling: Writing a Script That's Really a Movie - Billy Mernit (screenwriter/novelist, story analyst for Universal Pictures and author of Writing the Romantic Comedy)
Crafting the Comedy Screenplay - Steve Mazur (screenwriter whose credits include Liar, Liar, The Little Rascals and Heartbreakers)
Revising Your Feature Film Script: Intermediate Workshop - Chrysanthy Balis (screenwriter whose credits include Asylum)

Designed for writers of all levels, the Writers Studio encourages participants to create serious work in a supportive and stimulating environment, under expert and constructive guidance. Each workshop is the equivalent of a 10-week, three-unit course which participants have the option of taking for a grade.

The 2008 Writers Studio will take place Thursday-Sunday, Feb.7-10, at UCLA Extension's 1010 Westwood Center in Los Angeles' Westwood neighborhood. Enrollment is already underway. Each workshop is limited to 18 students, and they will fill fast. The fee for the four-day intensive Writers Studio is $775.

For more information, call the Writers' Program at 800-388-UCLA or 310-825-9415, or visit the Writers Studio information page.


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