For over sixty years, novelist Elmore Leonard has captured America in all its grime and glory with his trademark whiskey-and-cigarettes prose and dialogue, earning him the title of the «Dickens of Detroit». His notable works include many a best seller, such as Glitz, Get Shorty, Maximum Bob, and Rum Punch. Gritty, fast-paced and frightenly realistic, Leonard is a master of style he can call his own, a writer who can easily looked up to for inspiration. No wonder this author is a favourite of director Quentin Tarantino (who based Jackie Brown off of Leonard’s Rum Punch).
Here are ten rules Leonard swears by when writing fiction, excerpted from the New York Times article, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle”.
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.»