A literary giant passed from our midst today with the death of Elmore Leonard.
The report from The Detroit News — http://tinyurl.com/LeonardPasses — correctly cites him as one of America’s greatest crime novelists and the “Dickens of Detroit.”
I enjoyed his writing, and his 10 rules of writing are tools every writer should know how to properly use.
- Never open a book with weather.
- Avoid prologues.
- Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
- Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
- Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
- Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
- Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
- Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
- Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
- Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
(Excerpted from the New York Times article, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle”)