“Corbett delivers a rich, hard-hitting epic.”
“The best in contemporary crime fiction—or in contemporary fiction, period.”
“Corbett, like Robert Stone and Graham Greene before him, is crafting important, immensely thrilling books.”
“That rare beast: a work of popular fiction that is both serious and thrilling.”
“The line runs through Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene, straight on to David Corbett. I’m not kidding. He’s that good.”
“For all the lyricism of his narration and the compassion he shows, Corbett never strays too far from the blunt vigor of California noir.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Corbett is the best of Quentin Tarantino and Elmore Leonard. Nobody writes crime fiction better.”
“Corbett handles his story line and subplots adroitly, in economical but polished prose, but his real strength is in character development.”
“David’s MasterCraft Class at ThrillerFest in 2015 was
the most transformative day in my life as a new writer.”
—Critically acclaimed author D.A. Bartley
Watch & Listen
Watch David’s 1.5 hour master class, The Outer Limits of Inner Life. This video, presented in conjunction with DelveWorks and Pike’s Peak Writers, will provide writers at all levels with specific techniques for accessing their personal experience in unique, compelling ways in order to create authentic, realistic characters and bring them to life on the page. These techniques, rooted in the dramatic methodology of Konstantin Stanislavski, probe moments of helplessness in the writer’s own past, the better to comprehend how similar moments in their characters’ lives shape not only their inner life but their behavior, their defenses, their ambitions—their dream of life, and the internal forces both facilitating and inhibiting the fulfillment of that dream.
“David’s master class was my hands-down favorite at Delve. I still think of it regularly and have rewatched it multiple times over the years. He’s an incredible teacher.”
—Aaron Brown, Founder, Delve Writing
- Choosing the right details to include that will pull your readers in.
- How to inject verisimilitude into your story.
- Why you should use real people as the basis for character creation.
- Crafting deeply flawed and relatable characters.
- Weaknesses, wounds and flaws, what they are and how to use them right.
Online Course through Litreactor
Creating Complex Characters
In this class, students will explore how to bring real human depth and complexity to their characters by conceiving backstories through life-altering scenes, rather than lifeless information. They will learn how to move beyond role—protagonist, opponent, sidekick, conscience figure, love interest, etc.—to the personal characteristics that make fulfillment of that role not just possible, but necessary. They will also learn to identify the key backstory issues that will generate the story questions crucial to a compelling narrative arc.
Because you can’t sustain a book or a story without compelling characters. Vivid settings are good. Clever plot twists can keep people engaged. But if your reader can’t identify with your characters, can’t find something to project themselves on to, the game is over before it’s started.
David’s writing assignments will guide you in putting your new skills into practice, and his detailed review and insightful analysis of your work, in addition to helpful critiques from your classmates, will solidify your command of the material. In addition, opportunities for questions and discussion will be available throughout the course.
The following is a small sample of appreciation from students (many of whom have gone on to be published) in response to both classroom and online courses I’ve taught.
We talked about magical moments and how that day was one for all of us. Whatever it was, and we universally think it was you, it was a day that changed all of our lives.
We are all so incredibly grateful.
Deb Merino, Rick Pullen, D.A. (Alison) Bartley, Stacy Woodson, Tammy Euliano
“To learn from David Corbett is to be in a safe space with a wise, patient teacher.
David allows you room to make mistakes and learn from them, his feedback is exhaustive and extremely helpful, and he ends up teaching you newer ways to not just look at your fiction, but at life, where all fiction comes from.
In the classes I have taken with David, I have learned to create complex, real characters, define character arcs, and let them lead me into a well-knit plot. Thanks to his advice over the years, I now partner with a very good agent, and have landed a publishing deal. If you’re looking to give shape to your story, learn skills that should be part of every writer’s toolbox, and take your craft to the next level, David Corbett is the mentor you’re looking for.”
—Damyanti Biswas, bestselling author of You Beneath Your Skin and The Blue Bar
“Your class was wonderful! I took away so much from our work together and I still refer to my notes. It was worth every minute I spent on the 405, and that’s saying a lot—it was four hours every Monday night, two each way between class and home! I’ve ordered The Art of Character and will keep it close at hand as I work on novel #2.”
—Aline Ohanesian, critically acclaimed author of Orhan’s Inheritance
“I first met David Corbett when he taught at Book Passage’s Mystery Writers Conference. The depth of his knowledge and insight into the mystery genre was so impressive that I read, and reread, both his books The Art of Character and The Compass of Character, which belong on the desk of every writer. Before I write the first line of a new project, I delve into these two books. Working his technique, I come to understand what my book is about before I begin writing it. In so doing, I have eliminated false starts and wasted weeks, perhaps months, drafting meandering plot. My first drafts are much tighter. The subplots and parallel plots threads support the plot.
I attended David’s Litreactor character classes in preparation for the last two books I have written. He presents different material than can be found in his two manuals. In these classes, I have honed my themes and story lines growing them organically from characterization. Workshopping my ideas with David and other writers has advanced the development of my stories so much that I have pledged to myself to attend his class as I begin every new book.”
—Keenan Powell, critically acclaimed author of the Maeve Malloy Alaskan Mystery series
“David taught the master class at the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference when I workshopped the first chapter of Comeuppance Served Cold. He asked me one question: ‘What’s up with Fiona?’ Answering that question made me go back and develop a character I previously treated as a plot device. Delving into the rebellious Fiona’s motivations suddenly anchored the entire plot. She stopped being a stereotype and became a person, and when that happened, the stakes got real for everybody in the book. Thanks, David, for giving me the key!”
—Marion Deeds, author of Comeuppance Served Cold
—Susan C. Shea, critically acclaimed author of the French Village Mysteries and Dani O’Rourke Mysteries
“David Corbett’s teaching style should be measured by the success of his students. I and two of my classmates (see below) have progressed greatly since studying with him in 2015. My novel was published in 2016. Another classmate’s novel is now with the publisher and will soon be in bookstores. A third classmate got an agent just a year after working with David. You can’t argue with results! David’s critique of my work and his class instruction combined to give me one of the most valuable experiences of my fiction-writing career. David is one of the most incredible teachers I’ve ever encountered. He is an amazing instructor.”
—Rick Pullen, bestselling author of Naked Ambition, Naked Truth, and The Apprentice
“David’s MasterCraft Class at ThrillerFest in 2015 was the most transformative day in my life as a new writer. At the time, I had a very rough draft of a manuscript that would become my novel Blessed be the Wicked. David taught me how to think about the craft: creating characters a reader cares about, respecting the beauty of clean and honest English and tightening your story until there’s nothing extra. Most importantly, David taught me the great art of re-writing. As a teacher, he has the rare gift of being insightful, critical and endlessly supportive all at the same time. I don’t know why or how I got so lucky to have been assigned to his class that year, but I’ll forever be grateful. After re-writing (and re-writing some more!), Blessed be the Wicked is scheduled for publication by Crooked Lane in 2018.”
—D.A. Bartley, critically acclaimed author of Blessed be the Wicked and Death in the Covenant
—Stacy Woodson, 2017 Daphne du Maurier Finalist, 2016 Claymore Finalist