Raymond Chandler: Advice for Hollywood Screenwriters

Raymond Chandler (1888 – 1959) Screenwriter on Double Indemnity, The Blue Dahlia, Murder My Sweet, The Big Sleep, Lady in the Lake, Strangers on a Train, etc.

“Like every writer or almost every writer, who goes to Hollywood, I was convinced in the beginning that there must be some discoverable method of working in pictures which would not be completely stultifying to whatever creative talent one might happen to possess. But like others before me I discovered that this was a dream.


Too many people have too much to say about a writer’s work. It ceases to be his own. And after a while he ceases to care about it. He has brief enthusiasms, but they are destroyed before they can flower. People who can’t write tell him how to write. He meets clever and interesting people, and may even form lasting friendships, but all this is incidental to his proper business of writing.

The wise screenwriter is he who wears his second-best suit, artistically speaking, and doesn’t take things too much to heart. He should have a touch of cynicism, but only a touch. The complete cynic is as useless to Hollywood as he is to himself. He should do the best he can without straining at it. He should be scrupulously honest about his work but he should not expect scrupulous honesty in return. He won’t get it. And when he has had enough, he should say goodbye with a smile, because for all he knows he may want to go back.”

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2 Comments

  1. Bill Brandt
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Reading that reminded me that screenwriting is the only writing for which the writer has no artistic control.

    I am sure there have been times when you had what you felt to be a masterpiece only to be picked apart and changed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Michael Kennedy
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    What I love about Raymond Chandler novels is that they are a history of Los Angeles. The Big Sleep describes the casino of Eddie Mars as being about where Lankersheim begins to go into the valley. Bay City in the same novel is Malibu. There are a few places with old names but most of the Los Angeles of Chandler’s time is long gone. It’s fun to see a few references that can still be found if you look hard enough.

    The San Francisco of “The Maltese Falcon” is still more preserved. I was staying in a small hotel one time and discovered that across the street was the location where Miles Archer, Sam Spade’s partner, was shot. It ‘s all fiction, of course, but the authors used locations they knew. A few are still there if you look.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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