Elmore Leonard’s Writing Rules
Saturday, July 7, 2012
An old article, but a good one. Elmore Leonard, Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle.
Unfortunately it’s a New York Times link, but seems to work despite their paywall.
- Never open a book with weather.
- Avoid prologues.
- Never use a verb other than ”said” to carry dialogue.
- Never use an adverb to modify the verb ”said”
- Keep your exclamation points under control.
- Never use the words ”suddenly” or ”all hell broke loose.”
- Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
- Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
- Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
- Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Like all writing ‘rules’, some of them are made to be broken, but I agree with most and understand why he suggests them as rules because I’ve seen all these problems in short stories I’ve critiqued.