Monday, January 14, 2013

How Crime Fiction Lost the Plot by Christopher Fowler

On his blog, John Rickards pointed out this essay by Christopher Fowler.  Fowler's piece is an interesting look at how British crime fiction has lost its way.  You can read it here

The truth is I've been doing a lot of thinking about crime fiction lately and how it all seems the same.  In zine after zine the plots of revenge and mayhem all tend to blur together.  Yet if you try for something different by stepping outside the box, it doesn't always find a home.  Writers seem to be caught in the middle of wanting to write something different and having to write the same in order to be published.

10 comments:

Keith Rawson said...

You and me both, Sandra. Which is why most of the time when I write story these days, I sit on it with plans of putting it out as part of an original collection.

sandra seamans said...

I've been drifting off into other genres, Keith, leaving my crime stories simmering in their folders.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am thinking much the same thing. Sometimes I think that flash fiction has led us down the wrong path--with making it necessary to get right to the action. And so many stories now are in kindle editions which we can't read as easily as we used to read stories online. And too many sites emphasize that they want very violent stories. It is discouraging.

sandra seamans said...

Yes, I sometimes think that crime fiction is going the root of Horror - add as much blood and gore as you can. Then the next writer comes along and tries to top that.

All the shootings of the last few months have kind of soured me, too. How can I justify writing violence when it's in my face nearly every day? The new is so focused on the crime and the bad guy that they've ignored the effect on the victims. But of course, that's not what sells the news or books, is it?

Katherine Tomlinson said...

I see Keith has taken this thread to Facebook. One of the reasons I made NIGHTFALLS an all-genre antho is that I am also getting bored with the same-old/same-old. I was thrilled that so many writers stepped out of their comfort zones in their stories. Yours, Sandra, was a real heart-breaker. And Patti's sci fi and Thomas Pluck's comic turn and on and on.

sandra seamans said...

Glad to hear that, Katherine! I'm not on Facebook so didn't know he was continuing the discussion.

I love when writers can take a theme and write totally original stories in so many genres and still make the anthology hold together.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am on facebook but never saw it. As I have been saying since Katherine's zine went away, we need some zines that favor a more nuanced look at crime-the best crime stories are about things other than the actual crime: motive, victims, consequences, atmosphere. We need to pursue them more and actual crimes less, I think. Or at least some of us do. There are too many similar stories. Sandra is right.

sandra seamans said...

I agree, Patti, there are no zines that take the middle ground between cozy and noir. Some of the lit magazines will publish them, but you have to careful not to have too many of the genre tropes in the story.

Scott Parker said...

Add my name to the list. I haven't read any modern noir/crime stuff in awhile. I've discovered Father Brown (pretty far from noir) and am enjoying him quite a bit. Plus, I just love the suspense of discovering the culprit, not necessarily the suspense of who will get shot.

sandra seamans said...

Yes, I enjoy those types of stories, too, Scott! But online I've seen guidelines that state they don't regular mysteries or police procedurals. Of course in the last few months there have been several markets come up that are looking for that type of story so maybe it will balance out.