Raymond Chandler's Writing Techniques In The Big Sleep

1119 words - 4 pages

Raymond Chandler's Writing Techniques in The Big Sleep

    I sat at my desk, wondering what I could possibly write about The Big Sleep. I mean, there are so many possibilities. This guy, Raymond Chandler's writing style is so different from anything I have ever read before, that there are many things that I could talk about. I heard that Chandler once said, "I live for syntax!" It does not surprise me that he would say something along those lines. I mean, this writer is all over the page with different writing techniques. Whether it is his use of similes or the lack of punctuation, Chandler's novel is easy to read, process and enjoy.


I wouldn't say that this book requires an in-depth reading to understand the plot. The style that Chandler writes in is easily understood. His narrative voice is almost what I would consider conversational. Conversational, in the sense that everyday speech is very similar to the written language of this novel; it is uncommon to write the same way that one talks. It was easy for me to hear the voices of Marlowe and Vivian in my head; I could hear the sarcastic tones of the protagonist as I read. The flow of this novel does not have the normal novelistic style that most books consist of; that is, layered, detailed and a bit wordy sometimes. It is written very much how people talk to one another. Chandler uses a lot of slang, not in conversations, but in his narrative.


In order to easily describe the way Chandler writes it is best to break down a few bits and pieces of the text. For instance, the lack of punctuation throughout Chandler's text is an example of his style. It takes a while to find a semi-colon or a colon anywhere in the novel. I have already put more semi-colons into this paper than Chandler has in his entire book! Chandler is fond of the comma. In places that he could use a dash, the reader will see a comma. This is a strange style because it makes the reader think that he did not know how to use the other kinds of punctuation so he just stuck to the comma. I think that Chandler was a bit comma happy because every paragraph, consisting of about six sentences on average, probably has six or seven commas at least-that's a lot for one small paragraph!


Small paragraphs are also a characteristic of Chandler's style. Not including the conversational paragraphs, I would say that Chandler's average paragraph was six sentences. The sentences say what they say; they are not long-winded, layered sentences, but quick and to the point sentences. The words in the sentences are not by any means elaborate either. It might take longer to find a word with more than two syllables than a colon! This technique is very effective to let the reader follow the plot easier; the words are not ones that an average intellectual person would stumble over.


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