Writers on Writing — Elmore Leonard

Part of the fun of packing and moving and unpacking and getting my new office set up is finding the strange and wonderful things I decided were worth saving. In a file marked “articles”, between pieces on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, I found this article by Elmore Leonard on ten rules for writing. The highlights:

  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 or things
  10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip

Go read the whole thing. It’s totally worth it, and definitely something to bear in mind for the queries and partials you’re submitting.

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