The Secret Behind the Door
10 9 2022
The Secret Behind the Door

Tips, tricks and techniques for a good crime story

For over an hour, the majestic Piazza Castello of Mantua turned into a huge, open-air classroom. Pierre Lemaitre, 2013 Goncourt Prize winner with Au-revoir là-haut (published in English as The Great Swindle), and Carlo Lucarelli, one of the most important Italian noir writers, talked an absorbed audience through the perfect ingredients of a good crime novel.

The first topic tackled by the two authors was genre. For Lucarelli genre is a certain way of telling stories, and an integral part of the writer. For Lemaitre, instead, it's a set of technical tools the author uses to develop the plot. The second and most important point is naturally the storyline. Some writers, Lemaitre included, need to have the whole sequence of events well fixed in their mind, from beginning to end.

The French author admitted that he could never start a novel without knowing its conclusion, for fear of arriving at the final pages without proper closure. Lucarelli does the opposite. He starts to write following the flow of his imagination, building the story gradually as it moves towards its conclusion. Despite these different ways of writing, both authors agreed on the importance of a good ending: if the conclusion is poor, readers are more likely to be disappointed with the book.

After defining the genre and having shaped the plot, it’s the time for the third essential element, the characters. The people who populate the novel move within its fictional world, have specific aspects and traits, fears and passions. As Lucarelli said, the characters also have the wonderful capacity to change through the story, sometimes to the point of surprising the writer himself. On this subject, Lemaitre mentioned the importance of intuition, defining it as the irrational force that pushes characters in one direction instead of another.

Il sito è stato realizzato nell’ambito del progetto Open Festival con il contributo di
INNOVACULTURA - Regione Lombardia, Camere di Commercio Lombarde e Fondazione Cariplo