Monday, January 16, 2012

Which Author Would You Most Want to Take a Master Class From?

Which author would I most want to take a master class from? Hmm…here’s the thing: I don’t get much out of long workshops. I find that an hour is my limit. Maybe I have too short an attention span, but I find that after an hour, my mind begins to wander, and my eyelids grow heavy. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that most of the time these workshops are held in exceedingly warm conference rooms. If there’s a PowerPoint presentation, it’s worse because the lights are dimmed to perfect nodding-off conditions. And if the presenter isn’t all that good a public speaker (no matter how well a writer he or she is)? Well, that’s the Trifecta of Snooze as far as I’m concerned.

So chances of me ever taking a master class from someone are pretty slim. I’d learn more by reading their books and any books and articles they may have written on the craft of writing.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t authors I’d love to hear speak. Just not for more than an hour at a time.

I write humorous mysteries. Writing any humorous genre is hard, but adding humor to something as serious as murder is a real challenge. I’ve sat through talks by various humorous mystery authors, many of whom I greatly admire, but their talks are generally more about their journey to publication and less about the art of writing the humorous mystery.

I’d probably gain more knowledge from attending a workshop given by someone who makes a living writing humor, as opposed to humorous mysteries. Mo Rocca recently interviewed Kathy Griffin on CBS Sunday Morning. I learned more about humor from that interview than I’d ever learned listening to my favorite humorous mystery authors.

I’d love to have the chance to sit down with Jon Stewart for an hour. Just me and Jon. No cameras. No audience. I’d love to pick his brain about writing humor.

But the person I’d most like to spend time with is Alan Alda. Disclaimer: I think M*A*S*H is the best sitcom ever shown on TV. I own the complete eleven season DVD set. Every few months I’ll watch a season. The episodes that Alan Alda wrote are my favorites. The man had an incredible knack for taking something as serious as war and adding humor while still maintaining the seriousness of the subject. He showed how humor can help get people through difficult situations. And he did it brilliantly. That’s what I try to do in writing my humorous mysteries.

If Alan Alda were to give a master class on writing humor, there’s no way I’d start nodding off, no matter how hot the room.

Lois Winston is the author of the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. She’s currently on a blog tour to promote the release of Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series. For a chance to win a copy of the book, stop by any of the blogs on her blog tour and post a comment. You can find the complete blog schedule at her website and Anastasia’s blog.

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