JPC Allen Writes

Inspiration for Beginning Writers

Writing Tip — Genres of Crime Fiction

crime-scenew-3243661_1280Last year, I posted links to articles describing the genres of crime fiction and suspense. For those of you who are new to writing in this genre, I am putting a link to that post and found another post on Almost an Author that lists crime fiction genres as well. As a guest blogger says later this month, the fine differences between the genres is confusing. Many genres share characteristics.

One more thought on crime fiction: At the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference in Nashville this year, I was fortunate enough to attend a class led by Steven James, who writes suspense. With a master’s degree in storytelling, Mr. James does a wonderful job of explaining why and how suspense works in fiction. He states a major difference between mystery stories and suspense stories is that mystery excites the reader’s curiosity while suspense excites concern.

What’s your favorite genre of crime fiction?

Writing Tip — Favorite Stories: Classics of Crime Fiction

nightw-578091_1280Trying to pick one favorite story to highlight this month’s theme proved impossible for me. There are so many stories in crime fiction I love. So I decided to select a variety of stories from the classics of crime fiction. Over the years, I have discussed these stories in more detail, so I’m putting links to those posts.

Sherlock Holmes

“The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” from The Return of Sherlock Holmes — Holmes and Watson decide they are justified in committing burglary to save a woman from a professional blackmailer. I love this story because we get to see how much Watson enjoys his adventures with Holmes. He’s thrilled to the core to be sneaking through the night to commit a noble crime.

“The Illustrious Client” from The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes — I tend to like the stories where the superhuman reasoning machines are shown to be human after all. While trying to prevent a woman from marrying a sexual predator, Holmes is beat up, Watson is outraged, and once again, Holmes believes he needs to break the law to achieve justice.

“The Three Garridebs” from The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes — While trying to help a client who will receive a large bequest if three people with a rare last name are located, Holmes finally reveals the depth of his feelings for Watson. Watson’s description of seeing this side to his best friend’s nature is both touching and funny.

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin

“Christmas Party” from And Four to Go — As with Sherlock Holmes, I like the stories that humanize Wolfe, who I find much less likable than his assistant/bodyguard Archie Goodwin. Wolfe becomes a suspect in a murder when he thinks Archie might be considering marriage.

“Black Orchids” and “Cordially Invited to Meet Death” from Black Orchids — The rare black orchid ties these two novellas together. The first concerns how Wolfe acquires the black orchid. It’s hilarious to read how he’s eaten up with envy when a rival orchid fancier cultivates it. This story also has a clever way of forcing a murderer to reveal himself. In the second story, a client meets a particularly nasty end. When Archie sees that Wolfe has sent a spray of black orchids for the funeral, he knows his boss is paying for than his condolences. But why?

Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple

Death on the Nile — Hercule Poirot has no shortage of suspects to consider when a beautiful young heiress is murdered on a boat cruising the Nile. I saw the movie of this book when I was in sixth grade, and the plotting blew me away. I think it’s one of Agatha Chrisities’ more clever puzzles, and the relationship between the two murderers is unusually complex.

Thirteen Problems — Miss Jane Marple solves a variety of mysteries in this short story collection. I’ve always like this characters because younger people and the authorities think the elderly spinster is too sheltered to know anything about real life. But because Miss Marple is a keen observer of human behavior in her small hometown, she understands people better than anyone.

And now for something really obscure …

The Third Omnibus of Crime, edited by Dorothy L. Sayers — I stumbled across this collections of mystery and horror short stories at my library when I was searching for titles by Dorothy L. Sayers. Compiled in the 1930’s, it features two mystery stories which are among my favorites. In “Wet Paint”, fishermen of the Pacific Northwest are disappearing from the boats while out fishing, leaving no clues. The sense of growing dread the fishermen feel is expertly conveyed. And the solution is perfectly reasonable and still perfectly surprising. “Inquest” has the most original motive for a murder I’ve ever read.

If you like classic crime fiction, what are some of your favorites?





Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Crime Fiction

grainw-3026099_1280The photo caught my attention because it looks like a still from a classic film noir, a style of movie I love. Who is the woman? Who is the man behind her? Or is it a man? Is the story set in the 1940’s? Could it take place now? How would you use this photo to inspire a story?

Writing Tip — Just for Fun

treew1-280126_1280This is my favorite quote for October. What’s your favorite?


Writing Tip — Guest Blog

blogging-1168076_1280I am guest blogging on Rebecca Water’s site today. Becky wrote a story in the anthology I’m published in, From the Lake to the River. If you haven’t read my post on country noir, check it out here.

Powered by

Up ↑