Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A few 'suggestions' when it comes to writing hardboiled

Yesterday a good friend, Joyce Juzwik, wrote a guest blog in here concerning the ten 'rules' a writer had to observe in order to write hardboiled or noir fiction. If you read the blog you had to notice Joyce had some clear objections to the rules. I did too.

Hard clad 'rules' are always made to be broken. Along comes that unusually gifted and talented writer, and 'rules' go out the window. I, for one, would never be so presumptious as to set down a set of rules for writers to follow. One reason being that, hey . . . how many readers have heard of my illustrious name? (answer--maybe my wife; a couple of good friends. And bill collectors. That's it, buddy!)

But if I may, let me offer a few 'suggestions.'

One: Don't be afraid to write. Write every day. Experiment. Play with words. Make a fool of yourself. Sooner or later it'll start to make sense. To click. And voila! You've found a style you can call all your own.

Two:Related to the above somewhat, don't be afraid to out-and-out copy the masters. You gotta start somewhere, so starting out writing a story that sounds like Earl Derr Biggers (the creator of Charlie Chan)or any writer you admire,
can't be all bad. Just remember, though--the goal is not to become a second Earl Derr Biggers but to begin the process of finding your own road to travel down.

Three:Make the opening chapter, the opening two pages, absolutely mind-boggling. The goal is to capture the reader's interest and never let'em go. Do it immediately. And keep building on it all the way to the end.

Four: Yes indeedy--introduce the killer(s) as early as you can in the story. But disguise them. Throw them into a gaggle of other geese who, each one of them, have just as much a reason to be the bad guy as the next schmuck.

Five: Don't be afraid of sub plots. Sub plots that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the main plot. But make them key on some trait of the hero/bad guy. Making the hero/bad guy more of a complex character helps keep the reader's interest keyed up. Subplots are built for that.

Six: Pay attention to dialogue. Make it sound as real as possible. But for god's sakes . . don're rely on dialogue to carry the entire novel down the road without other foils to help out. A novel with nothing but dialogue is about as worthless as an empty beer keg. And just as depressing.

Seven: If you're thinking about writing a series (and aren't we all?) pay attention in writing the last chapter. The last few pages. Wrap up the action--but don't make it 'final,' if you get my drift.

Eight:Finally, whenever you find someone who wants to give you a set of rules on how to write, turn around and run like hell in the OPPOSITE direction. Following'rules' is the best way in the world to stiffle creativity. Hell, we have lit agents and book reviewers for that task. Let's not deprive them of their miserly little pleasures in life.

Hey! Are you running yet? No? Why the hell not?!

1 comment:

  1. All good 'suggestions' here, but the best is to just write. You cannot be afraid of making a fool of yourself. What's going to happen if you write something ridiculous? Will the Earth stop spinning? I don't think so. You, or whoever you let read it, will have a laugh and then you move on. You rewrite and you polish and you rewrite and you polish... You can't give up. At some point, the ridiculous just might turn into something you end up being proud of, and wouldn't that be something! Maybe it won't end up being a best seller, but there's a lot more to reaching that level--I don't even know how. All I know is I love to write and whether I end up with a best seller or not, I'm going to keep writing because that's what a writer does.