The 10 Rules of Writing Elmore Leonard Lives By


From 1953 to present, Elmore Leonard, the king of gritty realism and strong dialogue, has written 49 novels, 9 screenplays, and more than a few short stories, so it’s fair to say the man knows a thing or two about writing. So, even if you aren’t a fan of his work, it couldn’t hurt to take a couple of tips from a man who’s been there, written that:

  1. Never open a book with the 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!
  6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9. Same for places and things.
  10. Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.

Almost makes writing a novel sound easy, doesn’t it? Truth is, it’s only as hard as you allow it to be.

Sally forth and be writeful.

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