Thursday, January 24, 2008

Writing for Style: Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler's Tough Guy Prose Style

Modified from

Raymond Chandler

Chandler (1888-1959) is probably my favourite author, but then I think that L.A. in the 30's was heaven on earth.

His style is distinct. Here's the opening to a short story called Desert Wind, written in 1938:

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband's necks.

Anything can happen.

Raymond Chandler, Creator of Philip Marlowe, Red Wind, 1938

"She's dark and lovely and passionate. And very, very kind."
"And exclusive as a mailbox," I said.
---The Little Sister (Chapter 19)

"It was a cool day and very clear. You could see a long way--but not as far as Velma had gone"---Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 41)

"I put the duster away folded with the dust in it, leaned back and just sat, not smoking, not even thinking. I was a blank man. I had no face, no meaning, no personality, hardly a name. I didn't want to eat. I didn't even want a drink. I was the page from yesterday's calendar crumpled at the bottom of the waste basket "---The Little Sister (Chapter 25)

"I never saw any of them again - except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them." ---The Long Goodbye (Chapter 52)

"I'm an occational drinker, the kind of guy who goes out for a beer and wakes up in Singapore with a full beard." --"The King in Yellow"

"The big foreign car drove itself, but I held the wheel for the sake of appearances." --Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 9)

There's more on the Raymond Chandler page of Writing Tips at Moore Partners.

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