Study Guide

Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Style

By David Mamet

Writing Style


What can you say, some writers just have a style all their own. Mamet is one of those writers. Like we said, his style is so unique, it's got its own word to describe it. Many have tried to imitate it, but it's a tough one to get a hold of. We think the folks at Television Tropes and Idioms do a pretty solid job describing it. According to them, Mamet Speak has the following qualities:

  • It is fast. Characters speak in quick succession, frequently cutting each other off, finishing each other's sentences, and repeating themselves whilst the other speaks.
  • It is frequently focused on semantics. Mamet's characters are known for manipulating language itself to get what they want, or at least discussing the importance of their particular language.
  • It is almost always "vulgar." In keeping with Mamet's general domain of tough-talking characters, Cluster F-Bomb is the name of the game. (Roger Ebert once titled a Movie Glossary entry the "Mamet Dammit" while noting that the swears in question usually weren't that mild.) (Source)

Glengarry Glen Ross gives us a taste of all that is good and Mametian. You can pick any page and get a sense of his style, and here is just one of many exchanges that works perfectly:

MOSS: P.S. Two guys get f***ed.
MOSS: You don't ax your sales force.
MOSS: You…
build it!
AARONOW: That's what I…
f***ing build it! (1.2.176-184)

It's all right there: fast, incomplete thoughts, overlapping ideas, repetition, and swears.

The guy really loves swears.