Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Putting it together

When I decided to write a noir story, I wanted to embrace everything I knew about the genre in its written form. Incorporating visual elements is easy enough - the moody settings, the chiaroscuro imagery - but it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. Part of the problem is that classic noir is the opposite of everything romance should be. It's meant to be doomed. You're not supposed to have anyone to root for. The people in it are supposed to be greedy and corrupt, and ultimately, condemned to failure.

So I opted to pull back from some of the harder elements and more closely follow what's consider classic noir film. Those tend to lean more toward what's considered "hard-boiled" stories, with endings that aren't quite as bleak and redeemable characters. It was easy to harden characters, both secondary and primary. People are often motivated by superficial things, especially when crime is involved. For instance, I had Carlo, my struggling actor, willing to not think about the moral implications of getting involved in what's obviously a shady deal by having him focus on what he hopes to gain from it - his big break. But I could counter that with his involvement with Joe, a good man who's been hardened over the years by loss. I could even get my HFN for them.

I still had a problem, though. I still wanted to pay tribute to classic noir fiction. The best way I could see how was to mimic that writing style.

Gone was a lot of my longer, winding sentence structure. In its place were shorter, terser sentences. More of them are simple and declarative rather than complex. Vocabulary is tighter. Action tries to take center stage. I don't think it reads like much of my other work, but I also don't believe that's a bad thing. It's my love for the genre found form.

I'm proud of the story, but my reasons are so entwined that I can't pinpoint a specific reason. I do know that when I re-read my galley before it came out, I ended it as wrapped up in and in love with Joe and Carlo as I'd been while writing. That doesn't always happen. Sometimes, it takes some distance from a story to rekindle that first blush of love because the work that's gone into momentarily eclipses the emotion.

Not so in this case. Not so at all.

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