Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing

Elmore Leonard

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”.

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.

Thriller writer Elmore Leonard was known for his ingenious plots, eccentric characters and readable prose style.  He died in August.  Click on The Elmore Leonard Website for more about him.  Click on WRITERS ON WRITING: Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle for more about his ideas on how to write well.

Hat tip for the Ten Rules to CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST.

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One Response to “Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing”

  1. Notes To Ponder Says:

    Nothing is worse than a writer who sounds like a writer 🙂


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