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Master Class: Jennifer Dornbush — Pour Me a Stiff One: Crime and Death in Writing

Thursday, August 2, 2018
9:30 am - 3:30 pm
St. Helen’s A

The morning will cover the elements of a top bestseller or box offer thriller.

Great crime stories are engineered, not just imagined and Hollywood knows how to kill it (pun intended)! This seminar offers professional tips, advice, and practices from Tinseltown for penning your most compelling crime story to date!

Crime writer and forensic specialist, Jennifer Dornbush, will walk you through the foundational principles of crime and mystery writing that will help you ramp up the intrigue, suspense, and thrill of your next project – whether short story, novel, film, TV or other media platform! This seminar focuses primarily structure, creating better tension, deeper character development, and building successful and suspenseful evidence trails.

What you’ll learn:
• Top 11 crime story types & which one’s best for you
• 3 things you need to create a captivating crime
• 5 Key Characters every crime fiction must have
• 8 Crime Story Essentials that often get overlooked
• 4 best angles to tell your crime story
• Jen’s top crime fiction resources

In the afternoon, we’ll look at bodies in narrative.

Creators of crime dramas, mystery, thrillers, or suspense will inevitably comes across a dead bodies… maybe several. Corpses contain a body of evidence and thus, the keys to unlocking our fictional crimes.

Jennifer will walk you through the inner workings of death investigation and how to create authentic death investigation scenes for those story moments when you need “to drop a body.” All this, in safe, non-gory setting… with a little gallows humor.

What you’ll learn:
• What happens to a body once it enters the morgue?
• What is the proper way to process a body and retain evidence?
• When is an autopsy required?
• How an autopsy is performed.
• What is the chain of custody?
• How is cause of death determined?
• What is difference between a medical examiner and a coroner?
• How does a body decompose?
• What happens to a body after it leaves the scene of death?
• How we can tell if someone is really dead?
• How grief can emotionally charge your crime stories?

Who should attend?

• Beginning, emerging or experienced crime writers.
• Writers who want access to the inner workings of the coroner’s office.
• Writers wanting a more professional edge when creating death investigation scenes.
• Writers looking to sharpen and elevate their crime writing skills.
• Writers who want to be more authentic in their voice and story telling.
• Writers who want to jump start a new crime story.
• Writers who are having trouble making their story stand out.
• Writers who want to gain a competitive edge.

To Register

>> Are you already signed up to the conference? Add this master class here.

>> Not signed up yet? Register to the master class here.


Jennifer Dornbush

The television or movie screen is the closest most people will ever come to witnessing the forensic world. But Jennifer Dornbush actually lived it. As a daughter of a medical examiner, whose office was in her home, she investigated her first fatality, an airplane crash, when she was 10 years old. Since that first case she has had decades of on-sight experience in death investigation and 360 hours of forensic training through the Forensic Science Academy.

Jennifer now uses these experiences to pen crime fiction for film, TV, and novel. Currently, Jennifer has several crime drama series being developed for television; her mystery novel series, The Coroner, releases in 2018.

Wanting to share her love of forensics with other storytellers, she scribed non-fiction work, Forensic Speak: How To Write Realistic Crime Dramas, published by Michael Wiese Productions, hailed as a north star to creating authentic crime dramas.

She teaches seminars and speaks on writing crime fiction for screen and novel, surviving and thriving the artist’s life, the novelization process of scripts, crime scene science, forensic fundamentals, and death investigation. A more complete list of seminars is found on www.jenniferdornbush.com.

She is frequently asked to consult with writers and has consulted on shows such as:

Beauty & The Beast
Hawaii Five-O
Prison Break
White Collar

Jennifer hosts a YouTube channel on forensics and crime writing. She has also taught webinars on crime writing through Writer’s Digest; and collaborated with The Writers Store and Script Magazine to produce a video on crime writing for writers. She has taught screenwriting on the high school and university level and mentored writers through the Act One Program, Regent University, and Universita Catholica Milano.

Some of her past speaking clients include The Writers Store, Great American Pitchfest, Crime Writers Weekend, Sisters in Crime, Greenhouse, Act One, Scriptwriters Network, Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Story Expo, American Christian Fiction Writers, Highbridge Film Festival, and Universita Cattolica Milano, Italy; Write Canada, and the Pacific Northwest Writers Group.

Additionally. Jennifer’s scripts have placed her on the short lists of the Fox/Blacklist TV Program, Final Draft Big Break, Nichols, Austin, American Zoetrope, and NBC’s Writers on the Verge. Her half-hour forensic comedy, Home Bodies, received a Humanitas’ New Voices Award. Her feature film, God Bless the Broken Road, with God’s Not Dead director, Harold Cronk, is slated for release in 2018. She also penned the novel adaptation for Howard Books/Simon & Schuster.