Father Knox’s Decalogue: The Ten Rules of (Golden Age) Detective Fiction

EDITOR'S NOTE Monsignor Ronald A. Knox (1888-1957) was a British clergyman, editor, a literary critic, a humourist and a detective story writer himself who nicely laid out, with a gentle wit, the "ten rules" that guided detective fiction in its so-called Golden Age. They appeared in his preface to Best Detective Stories of 1928, an … Continue reading Father Knox’s Decalogue: The Ten Rules of (Golden Age) Detective Fiction

Bald Trickery: S.S. Van Dine’s Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories

EDITOR'S NOTE S.S. Van Dine (1888-1939, real name Willard Huntington Wright) was one of the most popular American mystery writers of the twenties and thirties, and his wealthy amateur sleuth Philo Vance remains one of the great fictional detectives, if not also one of the most insufferable. Read today, Vance comes off as a pompous, … Continue reading Bald Trickery: S.S. Van Dine’s Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories

And while we’re at it, what the hell is “Noir”?

Originally noir, at least in English, meant film, but now it's used to describe everything from literature to music. And perfume. And lingerie. And coffee beans. And breath mints. And lawnmowers, probably. And everyone seems to have a slightly different definition of it. But once upon a time, it meant something.¬†The formal definition is something … Continue reading And while we’re at it, what the hell is “Noir”?

Authors Say the Darnedest Things

"They're fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talk about writing or themselves." -- Lillian Hellman "All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, … Continue reading Authors Say the Darnedest Things

Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories

S.S. Van Dine (1888-1939, real name Willard Huntington Wright) was one of the most popular American mystery writers of the twenties and thirties, and his wealthy amateur sleuth Philo Vance remains one of the great fictional detectives, if not also one of the most insufferable. Read today, Vance comes off as a pompous, pretentious, insufferable … Continue reading Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories

I Hear Voices

Quotations from the Work of Raymond Chandler Raymond Chandler brought one of the most singular and influential voices not just to crime fiction, but arguably to American literature itself. Chandler may have come out of the crime pulps of the thirties, but what he created was literature of the finest kind. He imbued what was … Continue reading I Hear Voices

Raymond Chandler’s Ten Commandments for the Detective Novel

It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the d√©nouement. It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection. It must be realistic in character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world. It must have a sound story value apart from … Continue reading Raymond Chandler’s Ten Commandments for the Detective Novel

Lighten Up, Ray!

Directives from Chairman Chandler "You know Chandler. Always griping about something." -- Chandler himself, in a letter to Edward Carter, 1950 Raymond Chandler was not a happy camper. In fact, he may have been about the crankiest writer who ever lived. He would have burned through the mumble-mouthed the murky, puff-headed cyber forest of discussion … Continue reading Lighten Up, Ray!

And what the hell do you mean by “hard-boiled,” for that matter?

Sadly, the original content for this page has gone missing. It featured, of course, some of the pithiest and most clever definitions of "hard-boiled" ever committed to the web by some of the best brains in the genre. The search continues, but in the mean time, here's the best example of hard-boiled writing I could … Continue reading And what the hell do you mean by “hard-boiled,” for that matter?

“The Simple Art of Murder”

By Raymond Chandler Fiction in any form has always intended to be realistic. Old-fashioned novels which now seem stilted and artificial to the point of burlesque did not appear that way to the people who first read them. Writers like Fielding and Smollett could seem realistic in the modern sense because they dealt largely with … Continue reading “The Simple Art of Murder”