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2017 Seminars
Praise for David's Classes

David's lecture, "The Character of Crime," given at CraftFest in July, 2015, is available as an mp3 download through VW Tapes (along with recordings of all the other sessions and panels). CD format also available. To purchase David's lecture, go here.

See David's free, two-hour online video workshop (David's lecture begins at the 10:20 mark.)

2 0 1 7 SEMINARS

May 5-7
Oregon Writers Colony Annual Conference
Sylvia Beach Hotel
267 NW Cliff St.
Newport, Oregon 97365
Beyond Good & Evil: Using Moral Argument to Develop Plot & Character
Great stories stage their conflict not merely as a battle of individual wills, but as a contest between contrasting or even irreconcilable ways of life, moral codes, or systems of belief. In this workshop, David will guide students through a variety of ways to structure their stories to emphasize that deeper moral contest, such as Right vs. Wrong, Transformation/Redemption, Tragedy, Pathos, Satire/Irony, and Black Comedy.

Saturday, July 8, 10 AM-4 PM
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925
Advice so simple it can't possibly be right: Just tell the story. In fact, the vast majority of writing problems can be solved by a clearer command of the story you're trying to tell. In this one-day workshop, David will lead the class in reviewing 10-page manuscript submissions (with a one-page novel synopsis) and discussing them in detail to reveal how a focus on story guides the revision process. (Manuscript and synopsis submissions are due no later than July 1st.)
To register, go here.

August 8-September 5
The Craft of Character II: Secrets, Wounds & Bad Habits

This 4-week course picks up where David's long-standing The Craft of Character leaves off, but there's no requirement to have taken the earlier workshop to register for this one. In this class, students will explore how to bring real human depth and complexity to their characters by conceiving their 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.

  1. Five Cornerstones of Dramatic Characterization
    These crucial, core elements provide focus for all other backstory exploration: Desire/Yearning, "Pathological Maneuvers," Vulnerability, Secrets, Contradictions.
  2. The Character's Physical Nature
    It's not a character's appearance that matters, but how that appearance influences his actions in the world and his relationships with others.
  3. The Character's Psychological Nature
    Moments of extreme helplessness forge the character's deepest understanding of who he is, what he can or can't do (and why), and thus create the core elements of story.
  4. The Character's Sociological Nature
    The character's family, friends, work, religion, etc., situate him in the story world and identify his "tribe," setting the parameters of who he can trust, who he shuns, and why.
In this class, students will learn:
  • How to identify the outer desire and inner yearning that motivate the character's pursuit of his objective in the story, and explain why that pursuit is both necessary and inevitable.
  • How to explore the various ways the character has learned to use denial, projection, fantasy, substance abuse or other techniques to justify, escape, or qualify his past failures, and "get him through his day."
  • How to use the story to attack and peel away those defense mechanisms, forcing the character into a braver, more honest, more compassionate awareness of himself and his world.
  • How to create the most crucial element necessary to forging empathy for the character: vulnerability.
  • How to craft the most crucial elements for creating depth and contrast in characterization: secrets and contradictions.
  • How to conceive of the character's physical nature as an element of behavior, not just his visual representation.
  • How to conceive of your story to identify the key psychological questions you need to ask of your character to develop his inner struggle, and how to flesh out the answers to those questions in pivotal scenes.
  • How to create your character's life among others in such a way that both his connection to those others and his isolation are understood.
  • How to identify the character's "tribe," with special attention to what defines inclusion or exclusion, and how willing the character is to transgress the rules that establish that tribe to pursue some key goal in the story.

Thursday, September 7, 1-3:30 PM
The Deeper Mystery
Book Passage Mystery Writers' Conference
51 Tamal Vista Boulevard
Corte Madera, CA
(415) 927-0960
The crime-mystery-thriller genre is often thought of as principally a form of entertainment, but even a slight acquaintance with the field reveals that it is also a great deal more. In this pre-conference class, award-winning author and conference co-chair David Corbett will guide students through a number of techniques and thematic considerations that can help them reach deeper into the material of their stories in order to honor the more meaningful and dramatically powerful elements within the genre. Topics will include moral argument, the "will to justice" vs. the "will to power," realism (and its limits), the elusive nature of truth, what is a just society, individual freedom vs social responsibility, Satanic Villains vs. Monsters, and (as Conrad put it) man's "miserable ingenuity in error."
Though this class is offered as part of the Book Passage Mystery Writers' Conference, it is also open to students not attending the conference. To register, go here.


The following is a small sample of student and client appreciation in response to both classroom and online courses I've taught and manuscript critiques I've provided.

"David Corbett is a fantastic teacher. I was fortunate enough to attend three workshops with David at the San Miguel Writers Conference, and they were outstanding. Rave reviews from all who attended. When I saw he was offering an online workshop on The Craft of Character through Litreactor, I jumped at the opportunity to study with him again. I am so glad I did. David's comments on my characters and scenes were thorough, insightful and full of concrete suggestions that I could implement immediately. The improvement in my WIP was dramatic. I can't believe how much I learned in such a short time. If you want to push your writing to another level, take his classes."
—Jane Rosenthal

  • "Over the years I've attended dozens of writing workshops but I've never encountered a teacher as gifted and well-organized as David. His responses to my plot structure, character development and writing are always clear, detailed and thoughtful. He's the tops!"

  • "I LOVED this class. The material was perfect—his lectures showed me how to look at things like arc and characterization in a whole new way—and the organization was right on the money. This is the best $500 I have ever spent."

  • "Awesome class. The material presented was perfect. Top-notch."

"Craft of Character II was my third class with David Corbett. Every one of David's classes has been profoundly enlightening; they all lead to that unique event all writers aspire to—a breakthrough. In my line of work, TV production, I often hear the expression "character-driven". It's become a mantra and, well, nobody knows what it really means. I was a bit vague about it until I read his book The Art of Character. It all became clear after that. It's also what convinced me to sign up for my first class at LitReactor and finally invest in my own writing. David's guidance, experience, and dedication have given me the confidence and mindfulness needed to start thinking about character—the essential element in creating good fiction. But David's no-holds barred critiques and in-depth teaching have also instilled in me the most precious reward of all: love of craft. No gift is greater than that and I have David to thank for it."
—Hugues D., LitReactor student

  • "The class touched my soul—Mr. Corbett is honest, authentic, and has a genuine passion for the process. He listened, remembered our individual pieces and asked probing and informed questions. The class was an experience of pure creativity."


  • "Hands down, the most enjoyable, beneficial course on writing I have ever taken, and I've taken many."

"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, author of Orhan's Inheritance (a #1 Indie Pick April 2015)

For more about Aline and her wonderful debut novel, listen to her interview with Lynn Neary on NPR's Weekend Edition.

  • "I learned tips about forming characters that went untouched in conferences where I have paid a substantial registration/workshop fee and gone home disappointed."

  • "He brought inspiration AND instruction."

  • "Excellent thinker and teacher."

"Just wanted to drop a note to say thanks for a terrific workshop. Your suggestions and insights were extremely helpful. I love your passion and appreciate that you love what you do. After leaving on Saturday, I felt that the chances of my book being published increased significantly.
Again, many thanks and best wishes for a joyful journey."
—Richard Rachlin, on The Outer Limits of Inner Life


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