Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Writing Noir in 4 Easy Steps by Anonymous-9

When Deb asked me to guest blog about writing noir fiction it seemed like a good idea to start off with a definition. Something about crime and mystery and point-of-view. Like I said, it seemed like a good idea, but it failed. Instead of defining noir, a few simple guidelines seemed more helpful. So thank you Deb for the guest blog invitation, and here's my best advice:

Step One
In solitude, organize your writing area. If you don't write on computer, lay out two pens, just in case. A pad of lined paper is helpful.

Step Two
Set fire to the area. Let the room get good and scorched before you douse it. Smoldering embers in a few places are okay—there's nothing like the threat of combustion and smell of smoke to inspire a noirist.

Step Three
Sift through the ashes of your possessions and grab whatever material is still left to write upon. If the computer and pens are destroyed, open a vein and write with your own blood on the sooty wall—blood and grime contribute mightily to noir. Anything you write at this stage will be brilliant because it contains the four five essential elements of the genre: loss, pain, desperation and truth about human nature. Let's not forget a glimpse of mortality.

Step Four
If—unlike lions of the genre such as James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson—you are unable to reduce your life to ashes for the sake of art, all is not lost. But you must find a way to reach this state mentally before picking up a writing instrument. Bring devastation and lost hope front-of-mind and feel them so sharply that they drive away everything but truth. Particularly destructive to the noir oeuvre are shreds of level-headedness, dignity and esteem. Reckless abandon is a bonus.

Follow these 4 simple steps and any writer, no matter how new to the genre, is assured of creating memorable noir. Good luck. May your words burn bright.

Buy links:

Anonymous-9 BIO:
In 2010, a committee of the International Thriller Writers nominated Anonymous-9 in the first round of short-story judging for a Thriller Award. She won Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Short Story on the Web 2009, and received another Spinetingler nom for the same award in 2010, as well as two nominations for the Derringer Award sponsored by the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Her e-book collection of noir, horror and satire is titled HARD BITE & OTHER SHORT STORIES, sold on Amazon and Smashwords. In 2011 she was published by New Pulp Press in Crimefactory's FIRST SHIFT anthology. In April, another story will debut in THE BIG CLICK magazine alongside mystery greats Ken Bruen, Tom Piccirilli and Jim Nisbet. A full-length novel based on her award-winning short "Hard Bite" is in final polish.


  1. I wasted so much time and money on an MFA. This was all I needed.

  2. Glad to be of service, Mike. Think I can collect compensatory remuneration equal to the amount you paid for your MFA?

  3. Went a tad OTT re' your advice when I burned the house down. At least I got the family out in time. Back to pen 'n' paper now... could be a Godsend.

    Cool take on 'noirism' A-9.


  4. Now Col, pay attention. The instructions clearly say, IN SOLITUDE. That means "when you're alone." No need to endanger the fam. Thanks for reading, tho. :-)

  5. Once again A-9 makes it look, uh, is easy the word?


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