By Sam Belacqua
So last weekend we had two east coast Noir at the Bar events. I don't know if there are any scheduled this weekend, but people don't always tell me everything, so fuck if I know.
If you've never been to one but you want to go, just go. Show up and enjoy. If you want to read, I've got some tips for you.
1) Wait until the night of the event to tell the host that you want to read. Chances are the organizer has spent the last few months making sure all the right folks are coming to read, that all the bios are correct, that the venue is prepared. It's been a busy time. Why burden the organizer with more? Just find the posts on FB and Twitter talking about the upcoming Noir Bar and post something like, "Looks good. Not sure why I wasn't invited." Honestly, they probably didn't invite you because they're jealous of your talent and didn't want to be shown up. Writers are sensitive souls.
2) Make sure to list all of you publications in your Noir Bar bio. It's possible that some people at the bar haven't heard of you. While highly unlikely, you should prepare for this just in case. Of course you want to mention the novels and collections you've published, but also any story in the last, say, 20 or 30 years that you've published in a 'zine or online. List them all. If you have fewer than a dozen publications, you may want to post some on your own blog before the reading so that you can mention those, too.
3) Be sure to read something involved, preferably with at least 10 characters. Most readers will try to focus on a tight, active story with just a couple folks in there. This is your time to shine. Think Faulkner on speed. Remember that moron in the Mozart movie who said his song (I don't remember which one.) had too many notes? Oh, how we laughed at the little moron. You need to add notes. More people. Think you have enough? Add more characters. And settings. How dull is it to have a story with just a couple characters in one place? More notes!!
4) In case adding more characters doesn't do this automagically, be sure that your story is longer than the suggested five minutes. Look, these people drove out to the bar for some high shelf fiction. When else will you have the chance to share your work with this many people? This might be the most people who have ever been exposed to your fiction. Make yourself hard to forget. Give them at least a 10,000 word story. Your reading will be the only one anyone talks about. Guaranteed.
5) While most people will read a self-contained short story, make sure you stand out by reading a chapter from your work in progress. And not something from the beginning, where you're introducing characters, either. No. Give them the good stuff. Pick one of the chapters from near the end of your novel, where all the characters and plots and subplots are coming together. What you want is for people to come out of there thinking about your fiction, asking questions. You want to be the talk of the night. Make people think.
If you follow these tips, you'll be remembered and talked about for years to come. Also, when you're at a bar or restaurant for a Noir at the Bar, the last thing you want is to be drunk or end up with a runny bottom. So, be sure not to eat or drink anything at the bar. You'll want to concentrate on your reading, not on trying to stand up straight. Focus on your story. Remember, tonight is all about you. Nothing else matters.