"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: Who Says Crime Doesn't Pay?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Who Says Crime Doesn't Pay?

Dear Fellow Writer,

Looking around the Net, trying to get guidance as a writer, can be daunting. 

There seems to be a million and one things you can't do!

And for every rule, you can think of at least five fiction authors who ignore the advice - and yet remain popular and successful. 

Writing shouldn't be that hard, should it?

Of course we should all aspire to improving - but if we risk getting blocked then I think we should ignore the advice and just... well, keep writing (because that's how we learn the most anyway.)

Oh, and on the subject of superb fiction, my beautiful and talented wife has a new book out on Kindle:
Maya and the Daring Heist

Who Says Crime Doesn't Pay?

Rob Parnell
Not available yet!

I have a new writing course starting next week.

That's the image associated with it - above.

It's not live yet. It won't go on sale until Monday. 

Crime fiction has been popular - in the background - ever since it was formulated as a genre over 150 years ago.

Some say Edgar Allan Poe was the first author to truly explore the possibilities of detective fiction with his Murders in the Rue Morgue short story - first published in 1841. 

Poe created the template for the brilliant yet quirky detective in C Auguste Dupin - who uses attention to detail and an almost 'literary' approach to investigation - whereby clues are sifted logically by the detective  - and narrated by his sidekick - for the benefit of the reader - a brilliant way of engaging the reader in the detective's thought process.

This technique is still the way it's done today.

There's something intriguing about uncovering a mystery and living out the consequences of logical deduction that is still in evidence in the works of Denis Lehane, Stuart MacBride, Jonathan Kellerman - etc - actually the list of modern crime writers using this technique is fairly endless!

Others point to Wilkie Collins' book, The Moonstone - published in 1868 - as the forerunner of the modern crime novel. It uses multiple points of view - one at a time of course, to explain the suspects' stories.

In this way, the reader is invited to join in the detection of the truth, alongside Sergeant Cuff, a technique still exemplified by writers like Sue Grafton, Agatha Christie et al.

The poet, TS Eliot, was forthright is claiming that Poe did not invent the detective novel, Collins did. I think mostly because The Moonstone is so much longer than Poe's short story!

As an aside, there's been much debate about the ending of The Moonstone - which many regard as 'unbelievable'. I won't spoil things by telling you the end twist as it still gets used to this day!

The point is that a plot twist that stretched credibility was evident in the very first detective novel - so surely we'd have to accept that outlandish twists are probably part of the genre!

The average joe would be forgiven for thinking that the modern detective was invented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the form of Sherlock Holmes.

A Study in Scarlet, the first story that featured Holmes and Watson was published in 1886. It's common knowledge Holmes became hugely popular - and remains so to this day.

Conan Doyle had a love/hate relationship with Holmes. His savior as a writer to be sure, but also his nemesis in some ways. A victim of his own popularity, Doyle resented Holmes grip on the public imagination and tried to kill him off, inevitably being forced to bring him back!

The crime genre could be said to have been finally cemented by the hard boiled American detectives of the 1930s.

Writers like Dashiel Hammet and Raymond Chandler wrote about struggling private detectives trying to earn a crust and find meaning in a harsh new economically unsympathetic world - a clear metaphor for the writer's life in my view.  

It would remiss not to mention Agatha Christie's importance in the growth of the crime and murder mystery genre. Considered by some sources to be the biggest selling author of all time, her influence on the genre cannot be underestimated.

It's interesting though that Raymond Chandler for one, was unimpressed by her writing abilities!

Since then the crime fiction genre has undergone many incarnations but rarely moved outside of the 'requirements' of the genre.

And what are the requirements? Simply put:

A murder or two (or many), a detailed analysis of the clues and the personalities of the suspects and the eventual uncovering of the truth that must be a surprise.

If you want to know more about the crime fiction genre - and get all the details on how to easily create you own crime fiction novel - then look for my email on the subject - coming to an inbox near you soon!

Keep Writing!
 rob at home

"Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." Ben Bova

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