“Corbett delivers a rich, hard-hitting epic.”

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review

“The best in contemporary crime fiction—or in contemporary fiction, period.”

Washington Post


“Corbett, like Robert Stone and Graham Greene before him, is crafting important, immensely thrilling books.”

—George Pelecanos

“That rare beast: a work of popular fiction that is both serious and thrilling.”

—John Connolly


“The line runs through Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene, straight on to David Corbett. I’m not kidding. He’s that good.”

—John Lescroart

“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.”

—Robert Dugoni

“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.

Watch now

“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

David joined the delightful Gabriela Pereira on DIYMFA, her amazing podcast dedicated to the writing craft, and discussed among other things:

  • 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.

Listen to the podcast



Sunday, August 13, 2:00-5:00 PM ET
Personal Odyssey Workshops
From Helplessness to Habit: Backstory as Behavior
Few problems generate more confusion or difficulty than how and where to use backstory—the facts of a character’s past that inform the present. In this two-hour presentation with one-hour of Q&A afterward, award-winning author David will guide students in an extensive exploration of how to use moments from the character’s past defined by helplessness, both painful and promising, to develop the habits of behavior—pathological maneuvers and persistent virtues—that shape the character’s behavior and attitude toward life at the outset of the story. Those same moments of helplessness can be used to recognize the thematic longing at the heart of the character, from which her story can be built. Finally, the class will cover how to structure their stories from the “misbegotten yearnings” and/or “mistaken desires” that so often result from how one responds to those earlier moments of helplessness, whether by trying to protect oneself from the pain of life or by hoping to pursue the promise of life.

Registration for the workshop is now closed

Online Seminar Series
This workshop will be rescheduled to December or January; exact dates TBA

WRW: Write the Lines
This unique series of online seminars and workshops presented by Writers Retreat Workshops (WRW) will include sessions by Donald Maas, Lorin Oberwerger, Danial Palmer and Jason Sitzes, with other industry professionals to be named in the future.

The retreat brings together top industry pros to teach and work with you live for six days from the comfort of your home no matter where or in what country you’re located. In each session you will have ample opportunity for Q&A with each agent/writer.

Each day opens with morning writing practice. Following writing practice, morning classes with industry pros (plus the updated WRW core curriculum) run for three hours. Afternoons you’ll have a 1-1 session based on your work plus ample writing time plus time to complete “homework” challenges. Evenings are for small group critiques and Shop Talk with agents, editors, and authors. Late night we hold our Night Owl sessions for those wanting to kick back with a drink of choice and talk shop, Word Wars, or whatever happens to happen.

From morning until late night, prepare to immerse yourself for six days in your story and writing world.

Time, date and subject of David’s presentation:
Tuesday, September 5, 7:00-9:00 PM ET
The Three Dimensions of Character
In this seminar we’ll examine the three main types of characterization in fiction—Mythic, Hermeneutic, and Realistic—and explore how to choose each for your narrative purposes and how to create and develop each. Examples that will be discussed will include Folklore and Fairy Tales and the works of Philip Pullman; Franz Kafka, Milan Kundera, Flannery O’Connor and “Traveling Angel” tales; and Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories, Julian Barnes’s A Sense of an Ending, and Ian McEwan’s Atonement.

Learn more about the retreat’s schedule or to register

Student Praise

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.

The David Corbett Society met tonight during ThrillerFest for the first time in three years and talked about everything, including our writing. We realized all of us since that incredible day in your class have been published and we owe so much of that to you. We talked about how Alison, probably the smartest one in our group, was a deer in the headlights that morning but by the time our day ended with you, she got it, all thanks to you.

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.


“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

“David is an insightful, passionate, supportive teacher and writing coach. He is attuned to the needs of his students and meets them wherever they are in their writing careers. He worked with me by means of an online course when I was trying to find my way through the tangle of a first draft. He pushed me (nicely) to understand my characters deeply, to discover what made them tick, and to let them breathe on their own. That turned out to be the first book in a series and I’m still listening to David’s advice as I head into the third one.”
—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

“I took David Corbett’s workshop at Master CraftFest in 2015, and it was a game changer for me. His feedback helped me dig deeper into my story and look at my scenes from a fresh perspective. This past summer, I signed with John Talbot of the Talbot Fortune Agency. I can’t recommend David’s teaching highly enough.”
—Stacy Woodson, 2017 Daphne du Maurier Finalist, 2016 Claymore Finalist

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