Tag Archives: Crimereads

Long Live Pantsing ‹ CrimeReads

Chris Offutt discovers the “pantser v. plotter” debate and promptly reevaluates his fifty-six years of writing.

By Chris Offutt, June 7th, 2022, via Grove Press

I recently left the house and someone asked what kind of writer I was.

I told them I was the kind that preferred to stay home. I didn’t tell them why—to avoid questions such as that. The person followed up by saying, “Are you a pantser or a plotter?”

Not only did I fail to understand the question, I also misheard the second option as “plodder.” Yes, I said, that was my approach. I just plodded along, writing my average of one page per day.

Later I went home and googled the question.  It turns out that “pantser” refers to someone who writes by the seat of their pants, meaning they don’t plan ahead with detailed outlines.  The origin of the term “fly by the seat of your pants” comes from a pilot named Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan, who left New York for California and wound up in Ireland.

He’d discarded his flight plan and lacked a radio.  His twenty-year-old compass broke en route.  Yes, I realized, that’s exactly how I preferred to write—flying blind with no instruments and no plan.  I write by the seat of my pants.  Maybe my next book will wind up in Ireland and I’ll be known as Wrong Way Offutt!

I believe this approach creates a tension on the page and a certain excitement for me.  Before starting Shifty’s Boys I had an idea that the murder victim in the opening would be a character from its prequel, The Killing Hills.  Of course, I didn’t know who!  I just placed the unidentified body, then jumped to the protagonists, Mick Hardin and his sister, Sheriff Linda Hardin.  Later, Mick was in his sister’s house when someone knocked at the door. I truly had no idea who it was—I was pantsing—but the scene needed a new character and the story needed to get rolling.  The person at the door turned out to be the brother of the murder victim who wanted Mick’s help.  Perfect!  Mick always helps anyone when he can.

Source: Long Live Pantsing ‹ CrimeReads

Why the Mystery Novel Is a Perfect Literary Form ‹ CrimeReads

David Gordon on the long, rich history of private eyes – and why contemporary novelists keep on turning to them.

By David Gordon, April 26, 2022

From article…

I am a lifelong lover and obsessive consumer of all kinds of genre fiction in many mediums, from the original Star Trek series to yakuza and samurai films, from JG Ballard’s sci-fi nightmares to PG Wodehouse’s sparkling farces.

But if there is one genre form that attains a kind of Platonic perfection, the genre of genres, I believe it has to be the mystery, specifically the detective story.

In The Wild Life, the newest novel in my Bouncer series, Joe Brody, a strip-club bouncer who sidelines as a fixer for New York’s mob bosses, is given a new kind of assignment: detective. Sort of. A number of the city’s most sought after sex workers have disappeared and the bosses fear the worst – a serial killer in their midst. They ask Joe to investigate, forcing him to become a strange new hybrid, professional criminal turned amateur private eye, in a book that attempts to cross the heist novel with a detective story.

This is actually my third try at a detective narrative of sorts and each time I’ve taken a different approach. In The Serialist, a pulp writer is hired to ghost the memoir of a death row killer. In Mystery Girl, a desperate husband, hoping to win back his wife, takes the only job he can get – “assistant” to a possibly deranged amateur detective. Nevertheless, these variations on the form are mere crumbs at the feast, drops in the overflowing well that is detective fiction.

Despite remaining in many ways essentially the same since Dupin and Holmes, I believe that a large part of the mystery’s continued relevance, eternal popularity and seemingly limitless expansion is its ideal malleability as a form, retaining its essential nature while being twisted into new shapes over the decades.

Source: Why the Mystery Novel Is a Perfect Literary Form ‹ CrimeReads