Tag: Elmore Leonard

Video Saturday (Repeat) – Elmore Leonard’s Advice to Writers

As many of you may be aware, Elmore Leonard passed away this last week.  There have been a ton of folks posting tributes and notes and tips that he gave on writing.  And we’re going to do the same.

Unleaded posted a Video Saturday about a year and a half ago of the American screenwriter and king of the hard-boiled novel.  It’s a great video that really lets you see his love of dialogue and voices and gives you a hint of how he brought his characters to life.  Definitely worth a repost.

So let’s raise a glass and toast Mr. Leonard!  Safe journey.


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WWW: Elmore Leonard

I’ve never read any Elmore Leonard. However, his is a name I kept coming across, mostly while watching movies. His novels became, among others, 3:10 to Yuma, Get Shorty, and Jackie Brown. Clearly he’s a man who was doing plenty right when he put words to paper, so I thought I’d share this list that’s going around. It’s Elmore Leonard’s ten rules for 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.

As with any rules on writing, they’re more suggestions. However, several I’ve seen elsewhere (#3 and #4), some are just common sense (#10), and one is something that drives me crazy when poorly done (#7). He goes into further detail on all ten rules in an article recently reposted by the Detroit Free Press.

Edit: The Onion, as always is brilliant. They have posted an obituary for Leonard that breaks all ten rules.

Video Saturday – Elmore Leonard’s Advice to Writers

Elmore Leonard, is an American novelist and screenwriter, and as he’s called in the video – perhaps the king of the hard-boiled novel. But even though he specialized in crime fiction and suspense, his earliest novels were westerns.  I’ve to say, I’m more familiar with the movies that have been made out of his writing.  That’d be works like Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk and Rum Punch, which was filmed as Jackie Brown. His short stories have also been made into films –  3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the current TV series on FX, Justified.  Pretty awesome, yes? And I LOVE how he talks about the rhythm of dialogue and voices and how that gives a “sound” to your writing.

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