Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Elmore Leonard: 10 rules for Writing

Justified ended last night. If you have not seen it, I strongly recommend you do so ....

I honour of the show, I present Elmore Leonard's 10 rules for writing. The only one I disagree with is 3 (and 4). I've read otherwise great novels that adhere to this rule and I find that it can turn long stretches of dialogue kind of tedious. Nevertheless, they are otherwise good advise to aspiring writers and I love the fact that almost all of these are completely ignored by most genre (especially y/a) authors.

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. (reminds me of what Pratchett said about exclamation points)
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.

The most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

 If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

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