Crime and Fiction 101   3 comments

Although somewhat entertaining, The Writing Class by Jincy Willett is a light
mystery with writing advice. Willett should have heeded some of her own tips,
particularly when it comes to character development. Oh wait, she didn’t really
address that. Still, plenty of other writing elements addressed go unheeded.

The class, comprised of 13 students, is actually a nine-week workshop. It’s taught
by one-hit writer Amy Gallup repeatedly described as “a loner who hated to be
alone.” That’s not necessarily the kind of thing that needs emphasis. Willett could
show this more, rather than tell it so frequently. Amy’s tired and cynical attitude
doesn’t mesh with her sense of humor and appreciation of good writing when it
surfaces. She’s quick to categorize her students when a new workshop gets under
way. However, she soon realizes she’s made some judgment errors, particularly
when someone in the group begins to send anonymous threats, which ultimately
lead to murder. Nonetheless, the group grows close and despite, or because of,
the murders everyone becomes friends and suspects.

Part of the problem lies in the suspension of disbelief which simply doesn’t happen.
The first threats should have triggered someone, if not Amy, to contact authorities.
Although, there is some acknowledgement this should be done, it doesn’t occur until
too late. Perhaps the best parts of Willett’s novel appear in the different voices creat-
through her students’ writings. They are far better representations than the one-
dimensional descriptions of the characters. If this was intentional, Willett was

The Writing Class
Three Bookmarks
St. Martin’s Press, 2008
326 pages


3 responses to “Crime and Fiction 101

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  1. I really can’t work out if this book sounds really good or really bad. Would you recommend this one?

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