Our Whodunit challenge author from last week was Raymond Chandler (video in the link has a short bio).
The teacher in a writing class I once took said what we write first is usually a cliché. The trick is to recognize we go to the familiar first and push ourselves to create something new and fresh. This is particularly true of descriptions.
Raymond Chandler was the king of the witty and fresh description. For example in Farewell, My Lovely instead of writing the antagonist had big hands, he wrote the guy had “a hand I could have sat in…” What a memorable image.
One of my personal favorites is found in the beginning of The Big Sleep.
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“Over the entrance doors…there was a broad stained-glass panel showing a knight in dark armor rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn’t have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair. The knight had pushed the vizor of his helmet back to be sociable, and he was fiddling with the knots on the ropes that tied the lady to the tree and not getting anywhere. I stood there and thought that if I lived in the house, I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him. He didn’t seem to be really trying.”
Not only does he give action to an inanimate object, he reveals much about his famous private detective Philip Marlowe’s character right up front. Here is a man who both is observant and likes to get things done.
Besides, how can you not like an author who has his photograph taken with his cat?
(Photograph found on various websites without proper credit. If you have more information, please let me know.)
If you are a fan of mysteries, there are some excellent collections of Raymond Chandler’s work still available.
Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels: Pulp Stories / The Big Sleep / Farewell, My Lovely / The High Window
Raymond Chandler: Later Novels and Other Writings: The Lady in the Lake / The Little Sister / The Long Goodbye / Playback /Double Indemnity / Selected Essays and Letters
Stop back next week for a new Whodunit challenge. Please leave a comment if you have suggestions for future authors.
Are you a fan of Raymond Chandler’s mysteries? Which one is your favorite?