How to Write Noir Fiction
Mar 17, · How to Write Noir Fiction No Positive Hero. Instead of a tale about an epic hero like Achilles or Odysseus, noir fiction focuses on characters who Dark Action. Action needs to be at the core of a fulfilled piece of noir fiction, and the more unpleasant and rotten the Revenge. There are . Like all good fiction, noir incorporates fictional techniques including metaphor, simile and narrative. But two elements that are perhaps more noticeable, and important, in noir: dialogue and plot. In noir, dialogue is terse, snappy and is vital for moving along the story.
Love the post. I think you nailed what genre my writing belongs it and that's great! Perhaps you can give me guidance. While striving for the noir tone, I'd also like to write thematically deeper stories. Do you have any reading recommendations that might be classified as "literary noir"? Hi Dave, wonder how to write noir fiction we could dig a little deeper into the moral choice of viction noir protagonist?
Does this apply for noir? I am thinking of, say, Detour, where the choice is either take on the dead Haskell's identity or go to jail for murder That's how he narrator defines the choices, anyway. Fictiln sure if going to jail is a choice. More a consequence of Haskell's unexplained death.
In Postman Rings the choice is between murder to get the girl and restaurant or lose the girl. That doesn't seem to be two wrongs either, does it? Losing that girl would have been a good thing for the narrator. Would do you think? Chris, Detour is great film noir, but it shows where film noir differs hpw literary wite, at least according to how I and others have defined it. For this to be literary noir using my definitionAl would've had to make the choice to murder Haskel so he could assume his identity and steal his money, instead of himself finding himself stuck because of bad luck.
Dave, interesting. Thanks for the input. So what you're saying I think is the literary noir protagonist cannot be passive and allow things to happen to him. Only the film noir protagonist can? Maybe Detour isn't a great example for discussion. I did enjoy the novel though, and he was pretty passive in that. Would you consider it something other than noir if the protagonist were a good man?
For example; my main character is just, loyal, basically honest, and dedicating his life to helping others, only to be thrust into a situation where there is no right choice and whatever decision he makes will eventually lead to a miserable life but how to report your car stolen doesn't know that.
How to calculate rate of exchange the end he chooses selfishly, betrays his values in a way that actually harms no one but it still a selfish choice, then has a short time of happiness only to have his choice trigger the antagonist to bring his life crashing down and the hhow loses everything important to him.
I ask because my premise is for a series of books fichion this protagonist, and making him irredeemable would make that wriite. He needs to be someone the readers sympathize with. I want them to want to see him recover from what happens in the first book, and come back to ficyion if he has better luck or makes better choices in the next gow.
So, would that still be considered neo-noir or shoud I give up how to write noir fiction that genre and fictiom say I'm writing a thriller with a very unhappy ending?
Toy put a writers together and you'll get a different definitions of noir. My definition fits the classic noir novels as written by Jim Thompson and James M. Cain, but if you want your noir protagonist to claw himself back from the abyss, go for it! Post ficrion Comment. Dark and, at times, amusing fiction from award-winning author Dave Zeltserman. Tuesday, March 4, On Writing Noir.
So I need to first define noir, at least my view of it, before I fixtion talk about how to write it. They couldn't find the exit from their personal highway to hell if flashing neon lights pointed to a town named Hope. It is wriet own lack of morality that blindly drives them to ruin. In noir, the hero is doomed, how to pay for cobra insurance he's doomed of his own making.
And noir cuts across classes. If you write noir today, your books are going to be called neo-noir. So what is neo-noir? This is a term that came about to describe modern film noir; films that are more self-consciously noir and employ more modern themes. So now that we have our definition of noir, the question you need to ask yourself is why do you want to write noir given that many of the great hoow writers like Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Gil Brewer and Dan M arlowe all died broke.
M ost readers out there do not want to read true noir. The best noir can be a far more exhilarating experience than you can find reading almost any other kind of diction or crime fiction, and the reason for this is it can expose truths about the human condition that other genre fiction barely hints at. This might be wrife a murder, robbery, betrayal, cowardice or anything else that you can think of which will ultimately doom your noir hero. Keep putting your hero in increasingly more dire situations that he is barely able to escape from, and repeat this until the tension becomes unbearable.
Give your noir hero a thin ray of hope of escaping his situation. In some books, the noir hero has already crossed that moral line before the book ever starts. Wriye in one way or another, this formula tends to hold. A middle-class insurance salesman. This is Walter Huff how to apply for disability in memphis tn James M. A deputy in a ficttion Texas town, where his father was the town doctor.
The deputy is highly intelligent and has an upper middleclass existence thanks to the inheritance from his dad. A bellboy who had been a college student set on medical school, but had to put his plans on hold due to his father losing his job as a college professor. This is yet another psycho noir novel from Thompson where the Rhodes ended up fictioon somewhere as a child, and what ultimately noig him in is an unnatural sexual obsession with his adopted mother.
A hardened and vicious bank wrute who loves dogs and is out for vengeance. A well-to-do young man working as a stock broker and engaged to a beautiful young woman. A guy who owns a small TV shop. What lures Ruxton to his noir fate is lust and money, particularly money. A young, college-educated writer for true crime magazines, and married to a beautiful, idealistic woman.
A used car salesman turned filmmaker. As hoow can see from my small sampling is that anyone can be a noir protagonist. A hardened criminal, a down-and-out loser, a lawman, a typical how to write noir fiction everyman, a young man of wealth and potential.
In the noir universe, everyone if fallible. There the noir protagonist is broken with no hope before the novel begins. M ost noir novels are written in the first person. Being stuck in the head of a noir protagonist creates a claustrophobic effect that lends itself to noir.
First person wrrite creates more of an intimacy with the reader, which can make the hell the character tumbles into all that more horrifying. But it is not an absolute. A technique used in several of my favorite noir novels is to have a tormentor—someone who either suspects or knows what our noir hero has done, but instead of coming right out and accusing him, instead only drops hints about it, leaving our noir wrte to stew over how much the person knows.
About Dave Zeltserman. Posted by Dave Zeltserman at PM. Newer Post Older Nojr Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. Follow me on Twitter DaveZeltserman. Audio Books Pariah Small Crimes.
Well, abnormal, to be accurate, but deliciously so. A tale of justice, true love, and ultimate forgiveness, this gruesome novel is perfect for fans of Stephen King and similar horror stories. Zeltserman colors it black with the best of them. Weaved in the compulsively readable narrative is a heavy dose of our current society's meanness, unease, and ambiguity: kind of a nightmare-noir zeitgeist. The thing of it fictoon, the reader is never safe in Dave Zeltserman's hands.
I love that. You should too. Praise for 21 Tales "Dave Zeltserman is one of the crime genre's most accomplished, radical, and innovative talents. His command of style and personal dark vision of the world are framed in the short form to reach out and shake the reader by the throat. I only wish that 21 Tales had been 51 Tales or Tales. We need more of his edgy stories to rattle the field.
Not for the faint-hearted! This is an important collection. Readers should expect the unexpected. Zeltserman delivers some dark and disturbing fun in these stories. Praise for Killer "Spare prose and assured pacing place this above most other contemporary noirs. A brilliant read. It is also, for all its violent subject matter, a quietly told story, which makes its tension all the more intense" Mat Coward, Morning Hiw "Written rwite a spare, terse style, and with chapters alternating between past and present, tk slowly learn more about March.
But even then the closing chapters present wite devastating twist and shocking conclusion. This is not some overwrought, long-winded attempt at noir, but streamlined, punch-to-the-gut writing. With a sting.
The Criminal Is the Star
May 15, · In written fiction, noir conventions manifest in several ways: prose is often sparse, stilted, and to-the-point; narration is often first-person, allowing authors to play around with unreliable narration; sex and violence are often portrayed matter-of-factly and without adornment; descriptions are physical and neglect flowery language; metaphor and simile conjure crude or profane images; and use of dialect helps root characters in deep, urban underbellies they have little chance of ever. Mar 04, · Here’s a simple formula you can use for plotting your next noir novel: Have your noir protagonist cross a moral line where there’s no turning back from. This might be committing a murder, robbery, betrayal, cowardice or anything else that you can think of .
Noir has its roots in hardboiled fiction, such as Raymond Chandler and James M. Traditionally the lead is male, but a noir such as Mullholland Drive puts women firmly in the centre, so feel free to deviate from the usual. He or she is a dropout, a loser and nobody cares about them and this sense of alienation pervades the whole story.
No Heroes: they may be central to the story, but the noir protagonist is no hero. They are driven by revenge, greed, lust or all of the above and they cross a moral line to get what they want. In fact, there are no heroes here and the only way is down. They look for answers in the bottom of a bottle of whisky and ask questions with a gun.
Give your protagonist a glimmer of hope that they will succeed, this is what keeps them going and keeps the reader hoping along with them, only to have it torn away at the end. Fatalism and Nihilism: hope has forsaken the world of noir.
The world-weary noir protagonist is on a fatal path, due to a doom of their own making. Remember, this is not a tragic hero who the fates seem to conspire against, despite their good intentions.
The doom could be cheating at cards, stealing or murder and it sets the wheels in motion. The joy of noir is watching the moral breakdown of a character as they desperately try to escape their fate.
The Femme or Homme F atale: the fatale brings sex and lust into the equation. Traditionally, the femme was a woman who manipulated the man to kill her husband or follow the wrong trail of clues, but readers expect this trope, so you can play with it or reverse the gender roles. Creatures of the Night: noir fiction gets its name from a style of cinema created by European directors fleeing from WWII. They brought German expressionism to Hollywood — namely, extreme camera angles and high-contrast lighting, which cast angular shadows — to great cinematic effect.
Hence, film noir is associated with the night, when the streetlights reflect on rain-slicked streets and the underworld comes out to play. However, Chinatown and Brick are both noir that bathe their characters in California sunshine for most of the film, but still hit the beats we expect from the genre.
She was the kind of woman…. It also allows you to play with the unreliable narrator technique. Choose the POV that serves your story best. Classic noir usually starts with a dead body usually a woman or at the very least a missing person, but the development of neo-noir offers writers a broader scope. Fargo suberts film noir by using a rural setting and making the detective a pregnant woman. Guy Pearce in First Snow tries to cheat fate in this neo-noir. As you can see, noir is more complex than a guy with a gun, a hat and a woman.
And then the femme fatale herself, the very embodiment of a sexual woman as manipulating or evil. Despite these troubling tropes, I love noir and never get tired of its examination of the darker side of life. Chandler is the master of the hardboiled quip, complex plots and sparkling prose. Dashiell Hammett — The Maltese Falcon.
James Ellroy — The Black Dahlia. Ellroy is the new king of L. Believe it or not, women write noir too. Brick is a neo-noir set in a modern American high school and does it so stylishly. This really helps bring out the essence of the genre.
Like Like. Reblogged this on adaratrosclair. Awesome read! In our class we were each assigned a movie where we had to detail 6 aspects of how it was film noir. Thanks again…very much! Like Liked by 1 person. Sin City is a great assignment. It hits all the beats. This is great! It really helped with my homework. It was hard for me to keep the noir feel going after the beginning, but this helped me to continue that good feel.
Totally agree with the above — especially about playing with it and creating your own version of the old standards. Would have added that anything by James M. Cain and Jim Thompson are must reads — those two are the unassailable kings of noir in my opinion.
Pingback: Response to: 11 Elements of Writing Noir — cocobymonthlypress. A great and informative post about noir.
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