Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard: 10 Tips for Writers

In Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing (2007), illustrated by Joe Ciardiello, Leonard lays out his no-nonsense approach.


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."
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
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. 


Dana King said...

My favorite part of this is what follows Numbers 3 (Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.) and 4 (Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said.") where he wrote:

...he admonished gravely.

A genius.

Susan Oleksiw said...

These rules seem very simple but if you read them carefully, they force the writer to focus on moving the story ahead. If you can't linger on describing anything, characters, places, or things, you have to work on the story. And he was a natural story teller.