Robert B. Parker on Writing

Plumber Cracks & Other Words of Wisdom Robert B. Parker was some kinda guy. By all reports he was a friendly guy, but he didn't suffer fools or pretensions gladly, and delighted in taking the piss out of both. On writing "Writer's block? You never hear a plumber complaining about plumber's block, do you?" "If … Continue reading Robert B. Parker on Writing

T.S. Eliot’s Rules of English Detective Stories (Boiled Down)

EDITOR'S NOTE Renowned poet and certified literary big shot T.S. Eliot has a bigger connection to crime fiction than you might expect -- he was a fan and an early defender of the genre. He was -- get this -- the mystery reviewer for The Criterion (later The New Criterion),a prestigious British literary journal (1922-39) founded by Eliot, … Continue reading T.S. Eliot’s Rules of English Detective Stories (Boiled Down)

The Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot

EDITOR'S NOTE: Lester Dent (1904 - 1959) was a prolific author of about a million pulp stories, best known -- at least among pulp fans -- as the main author of the Doc Savage series, under the pen name of Kenneth Robeson. But he was more, much more than that. In addition to the Doc … Continue reading The Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot

“I Dunit”

EDITOR'S NOTE: This one's taken from the third and final issue of P.S. Magazine, a general interest magazine from the 1960s. It was their August 1966 issue, and it was dedicated to "the rise of the gumshoe" and included an interview with Rex Stout,  "The White Rabbit Caper," a tongue-in-cheek detective story by James Thurber, an essay … Continue reading “I Dunit”

Craig Rice on “How To Write a Mystery Novel”

A bestselling mystery author reveals all. The ever-cheeky Craig Rice had a slew of bestselling mysteries under her belt, including such classics as The Big Budget Murders, Having a Wonderful Crime and Home Sweet Homicide, when she appeared on the cover of Time -- the first mystery writer to do so. But it wasn't the first time she was … Continue reading Craig Rice on “How To Write a Mystery Novel”

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 What the hell do you mean by “Hard-boiled,” for that matter?

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