Paul D. Brazill's Ten Rules To Write Noir

The bleak and laconic writer of  "Guns Of Brixton" has gently accepted to play the Ten Rules To Write Noir game. His rules are unique, like his voice, tainted with an unspeakable doom. 

You can find "Guns Of Brixton" in the Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime

Rules One to Ten, All Inclusive.

Whichever I Choose It Amounts To The Same. Absolutely nothing.’ Killing An Arab –The Cure

It doesn’t matter.

At the close of what is easily Stanley Kubrick’s best film, The Killing, Sterling Hayden sees all the loot that he’s criminally grafted for literally gone with the wind. The cops are closing in but he still has time to get away. But, instead of doing a runner, he just shrugs his shoulders and says ‘What does it matter, anyway?’ Because he knows it doesn’t matter.

This is noir.

It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if you’re influenced by Jim Thompson or The Thompson Twins.

It doesn’t matter if you drink whisky or Evian.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived the life or lived a lie.

It doesn’t matter if you reflect the times you live in or echo the voices in your head.

It doesn’t matter if no one understands you or if you’re in touch with the Zeitgeist.

It doesn’t matter if your muse is holding a gun to your head or you just want to pay the bills.

It doesn’t matter if everyone loves your writing or no one cares.

It doesn’t matter if you actually write the thing or go to the pub and play darts instead.

It doesn’t matter because the world will keep on turning whether you do or don’t. No one will die. The world won’t end. Cancer won’t be cured. Donald Trump will still have shit hair.

It just doesn’t matter.

Get my drift, Grasshopper?


Then write it anyway.

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I'm a pop culture blogger and author living in Montreal, Canada with my better half Josie and my dog Scarlett. I am a proud member of author collective Zelmer Pulp and have about a dozen of short stories published to my resume.


  1. But I'm a comic crime writer, I tell you!

  2. Comics are very serious people with a high perception and low tolerance for bullshit.

  3. Cheers mate, right on about it. That's the guts of noir--and if everyone think/wants/expects it to turn out X way, "these are the tropes" and those bore you to tears so you don;t write them, don't go thinking you aren't writing noir, that IS writing noir--it doesn't matter. Haha, not trying to weasle my way into your ten rules, just my way of agreeing. Cheers.

  4. You hit it bang on the head, Paul. Ten merciless times.

  5. Fantastic, mate. Proper brilliant :)

  6. Great post, Paul. I can relate to all of it, totally.

    Regardless of the choices I face or the choices I make, it doesn't matter. And I write it anyway.

  7. This is fucking spot on, Paul. That is what it's about. I'm glad I'm not writing one of these because I would have nothing to add.

  8. (turning and swatting the gun out of my muse's hand... "See, bitch! I told you it didn't matter! Go away and let me do what I do!)

    WOW!! Okay, I am printing this and posting it on my wall... right next to that big yellow patch of POST-IT notes...

    Brilliant, Paul! This brings that 800 pound gorilla sitting in the corner, down to size!

    Excellent wisdom, Paul... Thank you so much for posting this! Really puts everything in perspective!

  9. Great, great stuff, Paul! Although, I have to take exception to your Rule #3 (It doesn't matter if you drink whiskey or Evian). Or, maybe that is true. What's Evian? Tell me that and I'll decide if it doesn't matter...

  10. Hi! Paul D. Brazill...
    Oh! no, I hate to be No#13...I'am superstitious person...I guess?!?
    However, with that being said, Paul, your 10 definition(s) Of Noir about sums what Noir is all about up and place it in that "proverbial" nutshell...
    Thanks, for sharing!

    [Postscript:Paul said, "But I'm a comic crime writer, I tell you!"
    Your photograph tells me otherwise, one Of the most "iconic" "noirish" photograph ever taken...Here goes my thoughts about the photo:
    A protagonist in a bar,eating cigarettes and whiskey for dinner, with a hat by his side and pondering if he should trust his "gut-feelings" or the "dame" that walked into his... ]
    DeeDee ;-D

  11. It sure as hell doesn't matter. Thanks Paul. Good reminder as I struggle in a life threatening battle with a new book... Sure feels like it matters... But I doesn't really, now does it.

  12. Fun list, Paul. Especially Jim Thompson or The Thompson Twins.

  13. You do have a writer mug Paul. You got the eyes of a man caught with the writer's dilemma. Satire is a serious business.

  14. Well put, sir. Not surprising or noteworthy, coming from you, where everything is well put, but still worthy of mention.

  15. It doesn't fucking matter what I say, you're an inspiration Mr Brazill!!!!!

  16. Sounds a character from a hard boiled crime novel to me.
    Thanks for the reminder; just doesn't fucking matter.

  17. Paul, you broke it down so damn simple, it made total sense.

  18. Paul, I needed these words of wisdom. Thanks!
    And this line was priceless...Donald Trump will still have shit hair.

  19. Top notch entertainment--noirish, to be sure, and a thing to be re-experienced. As if it matters. LOL.

  20. Afternoon! I'm as rough as toast today. Free beer good!

    Donald Trump's hair is proof that money isn't everything.

    Glad you all enjoyed it!Thanks for commenting,

    Existentialism means never having to say you're sorry.
    Life is like a pint of Guiness. Frothy at the top and..oh, you know!

  21. Thanks, Paul. This mattered quite a good deal to me because...

    Damn. Guess I better go back to the top of the list again.

  22. An existential attitude. Brilliant, Paul.

  23. "Donald Trump's hair is proof that money isn't everything." ha, ha! Love that!

  24. Interesting observations. I did a semester on Hard Boiled lterature at college, though all I can remember is that the stories always have a 5 act structure.

  25. New follower :-) Love your blog, cool post!!

  26. @Movies - Hardboiled and noir are not the same thing. They are like cousins

    @Willa - Thank you, hope you will like it here.

  27. Paul, I never heard anything better than your "Ten Rules to Write Noir." For me, it hits the nail square on the head. I just hate it when somebody asks me why I wrote a particular noir or what inspired or provoked it or is it based on a true story. For Pete's sake already! We write noir. End of story...

  28. You couldn't have said it better if you were from France and smoked a pipe.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

  29. I fully enjoy this very existential outlook on life of yours. If this is noir, sign me up for a lifetime membership.

  30. I'm really hung up on the happy ending thing. I was thinking that my readers would shoot me if I let my heroine stay.... where she is near the end of the book. But if they shoot me, I'll be another John Lennon, so it doesn't matter. Cheers!

  31. Thanks for reading and commenting all. Glad it blew your skirts up a little!Thanks to Ben for inviting me to talk cobblers over here.

  32. I love this! And recognize so much in it, that it took a while to arrive it, especially
    "It doesn’t matter if everyone loves your writing or no one cares."

    Will RT it and reblog it on Tumblr. You don't have a Tumblr blog, do you? If you do, let me know. :)


  33. Unfortunately, I do not have tumblr, Berit. Thanks for offering though.

    Would like to point out that it's now equal as the most commented post in Dead End Follies history.