Elmore Leonard — author of Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Rum Punch — died today.
What was it about his suspense thrillers that made them both popular AND critically acclaimed?
Maybe his own writing rules will provide the answer.
10 things you should watch out for in your writing, according to Elmore Leonard
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 his most important rule, to sum up all the others: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
What do you think of those rules? Agree? disagree? Let me know in the comments section below.