Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules for Writing

Elmore Leonard: 10 Rules for Good Writing

Elmore Leonard: 10 Rules for Good WritingElmore Leonard started out writing westerns, then turned his talents to crime fiction. One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, he’s written about two dozen novels, most of them bestsellers, such as Glitz, Get Shorty, Maximum Bob, and Rum Punch. Unlike most genre writers, however, Leonard is taken seriously by the literary crowd.What’s Leonard’s secret to being both popular and respectable? Perhaps you’ll find some clues in his 10 tricks for good writing:

  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.”

From here.

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One thought on “Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules for Writing

  1. I started writing when I was 14 after I read Leonard’s The Switch. I never knew writing could be so funny or dialogue could be so real. In short, Leonard made me want to write.

    These rules are like a Holy Grail to me. #lovehim #misshim #myfavouriteauthor

    — Blessings

    Liked by 1 person

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