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"Taking the Mystery Out of Writing Mysteries" with Karen MacInerney

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St. Edward's University, Trustee Hall 303
3001 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

11/18/2017 From 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM


Online registration for this class has closed. You can pay admission at the door with a check for the walk up rate - $59 for members and $119 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. Thank you!

$49 for members (sign in for member pricing)


Do you want to learn the elements of a great mystery novel?

Are you looking for inspiration for your mystery novel's protagonist or plot?

When it comes to writing mysteries, there are as many opinions about how to construct a good whodunit as there are ways to commit the perfect murder. This much-read, much-beloved genre covers a wide spectrum (from cozy to hard boiled to police procedural and everything in-between) and the writers who spin these edge-of-your-seat tales must be adept at plotting the twists and turns that fans expect and, most especially, the ones they don't expect, with red herrings and all.

In this class, taught by an award-winning author in the genre, participants will plot an entire mystery.  The instructor will go step by step through the process of orchestrating the perfect crime, from structuring the story arc and selecting a victim (or victims), to developing a compelling sleuth and a convincing foe and placing both in the perfect setting suited to the story. In addition, participants will learn about today's marketplace for mysteries, including a look at the various sub-genres that make up the mystery category and the defining traits of each.  By the end of the session, students will be well on their way to understanding the basics of mystery writing, the market, and how to find the tone, voice, and other key elements that will get their story-engine humming.



  • You're writing a mystery novel.
  • You want to write a mystery novel but aren't sure about the categories and conventions of the genre.



Karen MacInerney is the author of numerous popular mystery novels, including the Agatha Award–nominated Gray Whale Inn Mysteries, the Margie Peterson Mysteries, the Dewberry Farm mysteries, and the trilogy Tales of an Urban Werewolf, which was nominated for a P.E.A.R.L. award by her readers. When she’s not working on her novels, she teaches writing workshops, chauffeurs children, and dodges housework. You can find her online at



St. Edward's University, Trustee Hall 303. You can find a St. Edward's University campus map here.



$49 members (sign in for member pricing)

$109 nonmembers

Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

Online registration will close at the end of Thursday, November 16. After that you can pay admission at the door with a check for the walk up rate - $59 for members and $119 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click here for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it.

Once a purchase has been made, tickets are not refundable and registration cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster.



Our classes offer a combination of lecture and practical exercises, determined by the individual instructor, on focused aspects of the craft and business of writing. Your fellow participants will come from a range of writing experience, from beginners to people with MFA degrees and published books. WLT instructors, participants, and administrators all work together to create a welcoming, supportive environment.

If you haven't taken a class with us in recent years, feel free to give us a call at 512-499-8914 if you'd like to discuss whether our programming is the right fit for your needs.


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at


Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to


This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit


The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit