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The year is 1963, the night: Halloween. Police are called to 43 Lampkin Ln. only to discover that 15 year old Judith Myers has been stabbed to death, by her 6 year-old brother, Michael. After being institutionalized for 15 years, Myers breaks out on the night before Halloween.




HARDBOILED FICTION – Both hardboiled and noir crime fiction are rooted in dime novels, muckraking newspapers and pulp novels beginning in the depression and eventually going out of fashion by the sixties. A hardboiled protagonist is a cynical detective caught up in aftermath of violent crime or a corrupt legal system very often portrayed as an antihero. A noir protagonist is a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator with a self-destructive streak often put in a position to victimize self or others, trapped in a losing situation. The following are some of my favorites. Enjoy! ­­­­

The Maltese Falcon (1930)
Dashiell Hammett
When a detective’s partner is shot, he finds trouble, desperate to track down a valuable treasure.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)
James Cain
A drifter gets himself caught up in a bizarre love triangle.

The Big Sleep (1939)
Raymond Chandler
A PI agrees to help a family with a case of gambling debt but once the murders begin, he finds himself in over his head.

The Black Curtain (1941)
Cornell Woolrich
An amnesiac can’t remember anything yet finds himself identified as a murder suspect.

I, The Jury (1947)
Mickey Spillane
A tough detective investigates the brutal murder of his best friend.

The Nine Wrong Answers 1952
John Dickson Carr
A whodunit featuring a series of nine incorrect answers, leading up to the final correct answer.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955)
Patricia Highsmith
A father gets more trickery than he bargained for when he asks a supposed friend for help to convince his playboy son to come home.


THE WRITE MARKET – There can be no mention of the craft of writing without considering fiction genres. Why? You must know the rules in order to break them. So let’s talk about genre. Many industry types say there are solidly established fiction genres. I’m not so sure about that. Look at all the subgenres and how many stories pick up elements of one genre versus another. I’m not going to include all fiction genres since that’s not what inspires me. Here are my favorites. Crime – It features a detective or criminal as the main character, with elements of crime and punishment critical to the story. Horror –  A scary tale of the paranormal, monster, supernatural and or slasher variety. If you can create a feeling of fear or a gross out, then horror is working for you. Thriller – An action packed story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. This can definitely incorporate elements of crime and mystery. Mystery – Similar to crime but several possible culprits must be presented, with the true villian’s identity revealed in the end. Historical – Usually a costume drama set in a time long ago with historical events that are critically important to the story. Romance – If you can remove the romance from the story and still have something to tell, it’s not a true romance. The central theme is development of the relationship such as falling in or out of love. Science Fiction – This is a story set in the future or in an alternate reality of an imagined future. Extrapolated scientific inventions are used to advance the plot and character development. Fantasy – This genre can involve wizards and dragons, but can also be broader in context. Such as a fantastical world populated by strange non-human characters. It can also include magical realism and urban fantasy. LGBT – Stories that feature lesbians, gays, bisexuals or trans persons as major characters. These are often but not always erotic, coming of age and or romance stories. Literary – Just another genre despite what elitists say. For short stories, you should have read widely in The New Yorker. Literary can be anything from small moments to quirky to experimental. Haven’t read widely in The New Yorker? Haven’t read widely in a variety of genres? You really shouldn’t be calling yourself a writer. So get busy with the genre reading. What are you waiting for?