Brown River Queen cover art

Monday, January 31, 2011

Chasing Chandler

"It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved, and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars."

Raymond Chandler, THE BIG SLEEP

Now that, gentle readers, is how you start a novel.

Anyone who reads that opening knows they're in for a ride.  I've read and re-read that opening passage a thousand times -- ten thousand times -- just trying to pick apart every last nuance of it.

Darn right I'll steal, but only from the best.

Every time I start a new book, I try my best to start it with an opening as powerful as Chandler's above.  I do this for two reasons -- one, because it hooks the reader and draws them in, as surely as flies to trout.  And two, because no editor alive could resist the siren song of Chandler's prose, and verily, this author needs a new pair of metaphorical shoes.

So now that I'm starting a new book, I've got another shot at matching Chandler's famous opening.

There's a lot of drudgery, tedium, and just plain hard work involved in writing.

But this is one of those moments that is pure magic.

Once upon a time...

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