Elmore Leonard

This past week saw the death of Elmore Leonard. His directives for writing leonardsurfaced, things I had never seen before. I think they are very valuable.

Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of 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.”

― Elmore Leonard

Do you agree with these rules?

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6 responses to “Elmore Leonard

  1. I never find writing rules work for every situation. Understanding why someone gave the set of rules can help a lot. Many times rules are given to newbie authors because we overuse/misuse stuff (LOL) so se are steered away until our mentors teachers think we are ready for more complex writing. This can be frustrating when we see so many bestsellers doing all the “do not” stuff. And telling us we aren’t Stephen King orJ.K. Rawlings doesn’t help.

    I think his rules make sense in some circumstances.

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