Poprocksandcharlotte's Workshop: It's Elementary

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:new: Update 28/11/08

This workshop is now CLOSED

With NaNoWriMo in its final week and a large amount of our members celebrating thanksgiving, we haven’t perhaps received as many entries as we usually would. However three members came to salvage this workshop, and in fact we now have three wonderful entries that could do with some reading and possibly critique.

:bulletpink: Blood by EvenAfterTwelve
:bulletpink: Winter Descends Upon by GrimEden
:bulletpink: Investiagtion Case N 1 NYC by xCamix

Update 25/11/08

We have yet to recieve any entires to this workshop. Please if you are writing let us know so we're not worrying too much! This is just a poke to refresh you.


poprocksandcharlotte’s Workshop: : ‘It’s elementary, my dear Watson; Crime writing and formulaic principles’


poprocksandcharlotte started writing when she was eight, encouraged by her second form teacher to embrace the words  and challenge her reserved nature.  Language and expression faced the back burner, making appearances in the sixth and eighth form, due to her perusal of the traditional arts (she was accepted into an advanced art program at twelve).
An avid reader and occasional prose writer/poet, she sped through educational course work and finished her HSC English with a band 6 grade (Top 5% percentile) and several tongue in cheek references from year advisors.

Maikaduriel introduced Jes to the world of deviantArt and so, Eroala was born; to this day, she is still undecided on how to pronounce her first incarnation. Her first station was PoetryPlease (Poem-of-the-week)as a general poetry critic, Eroala gained momentum as a decent critic and a PoliticsForum regular; later on, she became affiliated with LitFFS.

poprocksandcharlotte was originally an alternate prose account and transformed into a fulltime handle only after some encouragement.  Jes was one of the main patrons of damnLit until its closure by a third party and is now the proud co-owner of Trashrock.

Jes works as a customer service representative and part time academic tutor. She has just completed the penultimate year of her undergraduate degree. She lives on the East Coast of Australia, in a beach shack with male like people and a nest of magpies that wake her up in the morning.  She has had over twelve different jobs in her relatively short life, ranging from assistant horse-riding instructor to McDonalds drive through.

She also babbles. Alot. ;)

It’s elementary, my dear Watson; Crime writing and formulaic principles.

When one mentions the formulaic genre of crime, it is generally greeted with varying reactions that range from toffee nosed scoffing to giddy excitement.  But this is not a discussion about what is considered high or low culture.
The purpose of this workshop is to develop your understanding of what crime writing is and the various sub genres that it encompasses. Hopefully, by the end of this relatively short tutorial, you will have some understanding of the differences between hard boiled crime fiction or say, gangster crime; we will even cover aspects of writing a thriller.
Now, crime writing does not refer to any book that contains aspects of crime writing within it; I should say, conversely, that crime writing includes specifically pieces that centralise around a particular crime(s) and its eventual resolution (or no resolution at all, depending on your approach and whether you intend to subvert the genre). The transgression needs to be central to the plot and furthermore, the structure of the piece itself.

Crime writing is essentially plot driven, like most formulaic writing (think of pieces like, The Hound of Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – essentially a detective piece).  Since crime writing is plot driven, it follows this structure:

:bulletblue:Set-up (identifying which crime has been committed and introducing the main
characters and protagonist, usually a detective of some sort),

:bulletpurple:The story progression (the investigation, complicated by various sorts of

:bulletblue:The crisis and denouement (the revelation of the perpetrator and what happens to
him or her, plus any necessary extra explanation), dictate the other elements of
the narrative.

However, take into account that within this frame work, there are other conventions that apply to both traditional crime stories, and modern crime writing. Your piece begins with a central event that is absolute; the crime. Imagine now, that your story starts to zoom out like it does in the movies, as the suspects walk into the scene, giving your story more layers and introducing intricacies. This can be as complicated or as simple as you like, depending on your piece. This continues as more information comes to light, the picture becomes clearer and the audience is able to connect a few strands of evidence if not all until it comes to a final and another absolute factor, the criminal or criminals are found and assumedly, persecuted.

Remember: Plot conventions are not exclusive; even the most stringent formulaic writing carries within it the potential to create webs of intricacies. The only limit, is your imagination and ability to write with continuity.

By now, you’re hopefully thinking, I can do this! Bring it on, and all of those other enthusiastic catch calls. Great, but before you off on your hunt for clues, let me draw your attention to a deviation dedicated to exploring in brief the  main subgenres of crime writing, so that you can select which one you will be writing within for my workshop. I will expect you guys to actually read this, as it is essential for the task I am about to set you.  Yes, there is homework and you will be tested :P

Deviation Link: poprocksandcharlotte.deviantar…

Your Mission, should you choose to accept it:


Write a prose piece that employs at least one of the formulaic genre’s outlined in the deviation, identifying in the author’s comments which genre(s) you opted for and why. Describe how you think you succeeded and failed in your task and the best/worst thing about writing in a formulaic convention. If you decide to purposefully subvert any of the genres, describe how you think you’ve achieved this.
Everything is up to you. Twist me around and turn me on my head, thrill me and keep me guessing until the final words.
Length: Up to you. Ideally, submission of 800-1500 upwards would be grande.


Just because you’re a poetry monkey doesn’t mean you have to be left out. Simply write a piece employing the elements of any of the genres and you’re on your way to a winner.

:bulletred:Simply write your poem, submit it as you would usually and answer me these questions. What genre(s) did you adapt your poetry to and why?

:bulletgreen:Do you think you’ve succeeded? Is the tone identical to what you want it to be?

:bulletred:How does it reflect crime writing conventions?

How to Submit

After submitting your entry as a new deviation or scrap, send us a note with a link to your piece. Include the subject line "ELEMENTARY" in your note. The deadline is midnight 26th Novemer 2008. All times are set for GMT. poprocksandcharlotte will respond to the entries on 30th November.

:star: Due to the delayed start of this workshop, we will accept late entries up to an extra 24 hours.

A note from Writers-Workshop Please note that this is a Free for all workshop, meaning that we will accept both poetry and prose entries. Proofread your work before you send it in so that grammatical and spelling errors are minimal. And most of all have fun with it!

:postit: On Accepting Critique

:bulletblue: Always thank the critic. This gratitude must be as sincere as possible, even if you did not like the critique given, because the critic has taken time to offer his/her opinion of the piece.
:bulletblue: If you do not like the critique, it is not necessary to mention so. Simply thank the critic and move on. You can always ignore their suggestions, while not making a scene of it.
:bulletblue: If you are unsure of what the critique means, feel free to ask the critic what s/he meant. Building rapport with your critic is one of the best ways to survive in a workshop and to learn. If you want examples, ask. Similarly, if you like the suggestions given, mention it. Critic's have feelings too. :)
:bulletblue: In the unlikely case that a critic offers rude/sexist/racist/etc comments, feel free to contact Writers-Workshop in a note and we will try to help you. A decision regarding the rudeness of the critique will be taken, and if we're not sure ourselves, we will consult with one of the GDs or anyone else high up on deviantART.

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GrimEden's avatar
I have a piece.