Elmore Leonard

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.

  1.  Never open a book with weather.
  2.  Avoid prologues.
  3.  Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
  4.  Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
  5.  Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
  6.  Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
  7.  Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8.  Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9.  Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
  10.  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”)

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About stephenwnagy

writer, father, husband. not necessarily in that order.
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