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Course Description

How do they do it?

Are you eager to pen the next big thriller? In this exciting workshop, learn how to devise a riveting and well-paced plot, create suspense, write convincing dialogue, and craft searing images that awaken your readers’ imaginations and keeps them turning the page. 

Develop the skills necessary for writing effective mystery and thrillers by focusing on techniques for creating suspense, atmosphere, character development, tension building, and plot mapping. We will read classic mystery stories, and track the development of the genre over time, through the dark and macabre, the hard-boiled, and action-packed. We will discuss the future of thriller writing as it pertains to contemporary publishing trends.

As a class, we will workshop your own mystery fiction and discuss the importance and/or effectiveness of various genre tropes, such as red herrings, cliff hangers, and twist endings. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Examine and discuss the genre of mystery fiction from both a technical and literary perspective, and from a Canadian perspective
  • Trace the course of the mystery genre over time, and observe how it has adapted according to social, historical, and literary trends
  • Examine what mystery fiction offers that sets it apart from fiction answering the question why write and read mystery? 
  • Practice writing techniques through weekly exercises and workshops
  • Produce original writing that includes a mystery short story or a mystery novel in progress

Course Topics

  • Origins of the Mystery Genre
  • Deductive Logic in Classic Mystery Fiction
  • Classic Detectives and Characters:
  • Narration in Noir, Hard-Boiled and Pulp Fiction:
  • Subverting Expectations and Writing from the Villain's Point of View
  • Horror, Thrills, and Genre Spills
  • Playing with Convention in Contemporary Canadian Mystery
  • Writing and the Publishing Mystery

Job Market Overview


Additional Requirements

  • This course is intended for adult learners
  • You may take this as an individual course or choose to complete the Creative Writing Certificate.
  • There are no prerequisites for this course.. 
  • As well as attending the scheduled instruction time you can expect to spend approximately five to ten hours on course readings, reading and responding to the work of others, creating your own writing for feedback and assignment requirements. The time spent on the course activities varies from student to student.


Assessment Item Weight
Workshops, writing exercises, and discussion 25%
Outline 20%
Rough draft 25%
Final Portfolio 30%
Total 100%

Please note that the course assessment is subject to change.

Sponsoring Partner

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.


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