Rules, Rules, Can I Please Break Them?
Okay, one more guy making rules! This is Raymond Chandler's hard-won wisdom on plotting the crime:
1) It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the dénouement.
2) It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection.
3) It must be realistic in character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world.
4) It must have a sound story value apart from the mystery element: i.e., the investigation itself must be an adventure worth reading.
5) It must have enough essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes.
6) It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader.
7) The solution must seem inevitable once revealed.
8) It must not try to do everything at once. If it is a puzzle story operating in a rather cool, reasonable atmosphere, it cannot also be a violent adventure or a passionate romance.
9) It must punish the criminal in one way or another, not necessarily by operation of the law…. If the detective fails to resolve the consequences of the crime, the story is an unresolved chord and leaves irritation behind it.
10) It must be honest with the reader.
And then, just for fun, some great Chandler quips (no, not the Chandler from Friends. This is the one he's probably named for):
The French have a phrase for it. The bastards have a phrase for everything and they are always right. To say goodbye is to die a little.
- The Long Goodbye
From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.
- The High Window
Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.
– The Big Sleep
I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.- Farewell, My Lovely
She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.
- Farewell, My Lovely
I'm an occasional drinker, the kind of guy who goes out for a beer and wakes up in Singapore with a full beard.
- Philip Marlowe’s Guide To Life
Some days I feel like playing it smooth. Some days I feel like playing it like a waffle iron. - Trouble Is My Business
She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight.
- The Little Sister
I knew one thing: as soon as anyone said you didn’t need a gun, you’d better take one along that worked. - The Long Goodbye
Hard-bitten. Hard-won. Heart-broke wisdom.
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