Re: RARA-AVIS: Handbooks for writing Mysteries...

Etienne Borgers (
Tue, 6 Apr 1999 23:48:25 -0700 (PDT) ---Bill Hagen <> wrote:

> Continuing, are there any such handbooks people
have actually found useful,
> at least in the beginning stages of trying to
write detective or HB
> fiction? I'll bet there are a few folks who might
be interested; I'll more
> than bet a few of the writers may have contributed
to such books too.
> Don't be shy. [Expecting some flames against the
whole idea...]
> Bill Hagen

Well, flames give such a nice color to our juvenile

I personally think that to learn about a genre, the
first thing is to read the best of it. And everything
you can find of a lower level, to proof you still
have a chance to come in... (joking!).
And to read good modern "mainstream" literature.
I'm convinced that Joseph Conrad, Malraux, Miller,
Celine and many others will teach you more than any

But, as a foreigner, I was always struck, and
fascinated, by the ability of the American publishing
world to issue a lot of "how to" books, whatever is
the subject. And to find a market for it.
The kind of : how to be pope in 3 weeks, how to
access fortune in 3 months (not forgetting the
sequel: how to avoid prison by applying the previous

So, I became lately attracted by these things when
applied to writing or writing popular literature.

A lot of garbage.
But some interesting discoveries:
- "Writing the Novel: from plot to print: by...
Lawrence Block
-"Creating Short fiction" by Damon Knight
(good writer of SF, as some of you may know)
- A rather short text by Westlake found in a volume
of short stories: Levine, where he explains briefly
what makes him tick.

I definitely believe writers will give a better view
about what writing is.
But on the contrary, Patricia Highsmith published
long ago a volume about "the writer and his work",
that essay was a complete miss (sorry I do not find
the exact title, as all my books are not around).

And... the winner is:

"Mystery Writer's Handbook" by The Mystery Writers of
I suppose this is what you were looking for (?)
Compilation of texts by well known authors:
Bill Pronzini,John D Mc Donald, Avalone..etc
Gives you some good advices, some impressionist view
of the trade... but do not expect any "miracle

OK that's it for today.
I smell already the petrol announcing flames...


Hard-Boiled Mysteries

Get your free address at

# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at