Hi, everyone - here's a question for you:

What, in your opinion, would disqualify a story from being classified as "Noir?"

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If it isn't depressing in the world it describes.

If the violence is all off the page.

A happy ending.

All true - but I think "happy ending" is the clincher.  Although I think bittersweet is okay...

Well, there's your problem.  Bittersweet may not be trye "noir".  Why worry about meeting "noir" definitions.  Just write the book you want to write.

Well in this storm of far-from-accurate song lyrics and budget pending fantasies that I call my imagination the "tone" of the story/tale more so than the deeds chronicled or the ending color what qualifies a tale as Noir. For example "Spencer For Hire' the tv series qualifies as what I perceive Noir to be although it had more "and they lived happily ever after" fades than episodic (and to my mind equally Noir) fare such as 'Crime Story" or "Wiseguy". (I'm using tv as an example but I think the same way with the written word) Still, the way I see it, if ruthlessness  heartlessness, back stabbing, rough housing, double crosses, gun and/or fist play (among other "fixtures") are individually and collectively present it qualifies as Noir. I think overtly keeping the narrative tongue-in-cheek or underselling (purposefully underselling) the "seriousness" of the conflict(s) or resolution would be the only things that would disqualify something as Noir in my head (and even that's case by case. I still think the "Duck Tracey" shorts are grade A lol). {Smiles and waves} Thanks for having me on this site and hope to participate more.       

All true - thanks Crimespacers.  I am writing what I want to write, I was just curious as to classifications.

Definitely write what you want to and figure out what others might call it later. Even better, let someone else--an agent or editor--decide what it is as they decide how to market it. You're more likely to hit your onw undiscovered niche if you don;t worry too much in advance about where it will fit in.

Write what you love, but if traditional publication is your goal, I think it helps to have an idea of where your book is going to fit in the marketplace. If not, you're probably never going to garner interest from an agent or editor in the first place.

Noir isn't really a genre, though, IMO. More of a vibe. Certain mysteries, thrillers, whatever, can be more noir than others. A science fiction story could be noir if that's the way you write it.

If the detective doesn't have a problem with alcohol. But do we need another detective like that?

Alcohol problems are common in the real world and work well in that milieu.  Offhand I can't think of a good substitute.

True on both counts, but alcoholism has been done to death. I gave up on RESCUE ME, a show I liked pretty well (and I'm a huge Denis Leary fan), because too many of the episodes included the "will he drink or won't he drink?" element. It got predictable.

Drug usage--not to the point of addiction  but a problem--would work. Grief would work. Some physical infirmity. PTSD. Phobias. I think VERTIGO is not one of Hitchcock's best, but a compelling story can be written because a protagonist must face an irrational fear. Mental illness, if done carefully.

I'm returning to my PI series next year. The crux of the story is how the detective has been so exposed to violence, he is now as bad as his adversaries, and sees where he is headed. The book will be, in part, about what's he going to do about it: embrace it, or fight it? All I know about how it will play out is, he's not going to drink any more than he does already.


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