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Writing Workshops

"So That the City Can Begin to Exist": Writing Place in Crime Fiction with William Boyle


3 Sessions

In stock

Friday–Sunday June 14 to June 16, 2024

The Center for Fiction

Meeting Details:
Friday–Sunday, 6/14–6/16
6–8pm ET (Friday); 11am–1pm ET (Saturday & Sunday)
In Person at The Center for Fiction

This workshop will consider how writers of crime fiction might build a sense of place in their work, how place can function as a character and widen the scope of the story through its interplay with time, memory, and history. The course will be a mix of lecture, reading/discussion, writing exercises, and Q&A.

Course Outline

Some topics we will cover: blending the real and the imagined; writing a place—to borrow a phrase from Hubert Selby, Jr.—of the soul; letting place guide you; capturing the sound and feel of the place you’re writing about; world-building through loneliness, isolation, and meandering; focusing on sensory details; the interplay of memory and place; the interplay of time and place; having the history that exists under the surface of the place bleed around the edges of your current work; the value of getting lost in a place, working without maps. We will consider examples from writers like Chester Himes, Patricia Highsmith, and Barry Gifford.

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  • William Boyle Author Photo 4 by Katie Farrell Boyle - William Boyle Large

    William Boyle

    William Boyle

    William Boyle is the author of eight works of fiction set in the southern Brooklyn neighborhood where he was born and raised: Gravesend, which was nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in France and shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in the U.K.; Death Don’t Have No Mercy, a story collection; Everything Is Broken, published initially in France and subsequently serialized in Southwest Review; The Lonely Witness, which was nominated for the Hammett Prize and the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière; A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself, winner of the Prix Transfuge du meilleur polar étranger in France and an Amazon Best Book of 2019; City of Margins, a Washington Post Best Thriller and Mystery Book of 2020; Shoot the Moonlight Out, listed by CrimeReads as one of the ten best noir novels of 2021 and nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in 2023; and, coming in 2025 from Soho Crime, Saint of the Narrows Street. He currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

    Photo Credit: Katie Farrell Boyle