Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tipsy Tuesday

Elmore Leonard was one of the well-known authors at the first Festival of Books held in Tucson back in March. He started out writing westerns, then turned his talents to crime fiction. A very popular and prolific author, he’s written over 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 his secret to being both popular and respected? 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.

And the most important rule is one that sums up the 10: If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.

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