Pulp Fictioneers

Pulp Fictioneers John Locke

I suspect that many had-boiled crime fiction fans – readers and writers alike – tend to romanticize the legendary writers from the mid-twentieth century pulp and paperback originals era. I know I do. We have this image of a grizzled wordsmith in a dumpy third floor cold-water walkup, street noise and curbside trash smells wafting through an open window and rattling the yellowed venetian blinds, a second hand desk or wobbly card table with a pint of no-name rye whiskey on one side, a pack of unfiltered Luckies beside an overflowing ashtray on the other, and a temperamental Underwood in the middle, the writer pounding away some first-draft-is-the-only-draft tale of murder and mayhem oozing with just-sexy-enough-to-get-by eroticism, the wrinkled pages headed for Startling Detective or Women In Crime magazine.

And then you think about what that all really would’ve been like, and have to wonder what’s so damn good about the imaginary scenario.

Pulp Fictioneers – Adventures In The Storytelling Business edited by John Locke (Adventure House, 2004) goes a long way to dispelling some of the nostalgic romance. This intriguing read collects over one hundred articles, letters and miscellany from Writer’s Digest, Writer’s magazine and Author & Journalist from the 1920’s through the 50’s which provide a real-life glimpse of the pulp era from both the writers’ and publishers’ perspectives. Low per-word pay rates, production snafu’s, fly-by-night publishing scams, story rejections, puzzling writers’ guidelines, declining newsstand sales and much more – the pieces all make for a compelling read about sides of the marketplace that have nothing to do with The Shadow or Dan Turner Hollywood Detective. One thing’s clear here: Writer’s groused about editors and the markets then as much as they do now, and like all creatives, felt the world was treating them most unfairly. For those of us so entranced by the garish H.J. Ward and Norm Saunders covers and the shoot ‘em up stories, Pulp Fictioneers provides a healthy antidote to romancing bygone eras.

Will Write For Shoes

Red Shoes

Don’t let a site name like “The Stiletto Gumshoe” mislead you. No, I will not write for shoes, and no, I don’t want to write a “Chick Lit” novel. I’m not even certain that anyone uses that term any longer, though the formula remains a general fiction staple, that’s clear enough.

Will Write For Shoes

Will Write For Shoes – How To Write A Chick Lit Novel by Cathy Yardley was a library read grabbed off the shelf on a whim, and a surprisingly entertaining and informative book at that. In particular, I found it illuminating to see how a sub-category can be rigidly ruled by its formulas and templates, while enterprising writers will inevitably circumvent them, which is something on my mind right now as I work through increasingly substantial revisions on my own projects (see my prior post “Tiptoeing ‘Round The Templates”, link below).

Seattle author Cathy Yardley has several steamy looking contemporary romance novels to her credit, along with urban fantasy, traditional romance and, yes: “Chick Lit” novels, plus a couple writing how-to books. This book includes a history of the Chick Lit subcategory, an overview of the formula, writer’s tips and more. Naturally, the FAQ’s, agent and publishers directory lists are outdated, this being a book from 2007. Still, it was an interesting read, even for a noir-ish mystery writer like myself.

https://thestilettogumshoe.com/2019/02/05/tiptoeing-round-the-templates/

You Write.

you write copy

I’ve seen this image darn near everywhere: Tumblr’s, Pinterest boards, random sites and blogs. And I’ve held onto it myself, always liking the message, and doubly so when coupled with the striking photo of a harried looking writer who seems poised to press that very first keyboard key.

I think this may have originated at Jonathan Gunson’s BestsellerLabs site, which may no longer be active, directing you to anther blog/site that seems to be on hold. So I don’t have a clue if Mr. Gunson created this or simply re-posted it from some other source. I’ll risk posting it, though, just because I love it. The message rings true for any endeavor, and it’s a simple but meaningful one for writers.

The secret? You write.

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