Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Elmore Leonard's Rules for Good Writing

Excerpt from the article, "How Elmore Leonard Wrote All His Books," Washington Post by Brad Plumer.

Back in 2001, Leonard laid out his 10 rules for good writing in the New York Times. The basic precepts are below, though you should read the piece for a fuller explanation:

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.


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