“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
That was Elmore Leonard’s overarching rule of writing, but he explained 10 others in a 2001 essay for the New York Times. The author behind “3:10 to Yuma,” “Justified,” “Jackie Brown” and “Get Shorty” died Tuesday at 87.
You can read Leonard’s full explanation for the “why and how” of his rules in the Times essay. But if you want to just get on with it, in true Leonard style, here they are:
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.
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.
This Writer’s Throwdown Challenge was to take a strange old photograph, and write a story about it. I give you: Two Birds, One Stone By DeAnne D. It was raining; the kind of rain that you’d hope would just clean the filth right off the streets. I stopped off at Charlie’s and […]
So, 20 years ago, I saw this commercial. And for years, I just assumed I had been really, really, REALLY high, and imagined the whole thing. Or that I’d gotten an SNL sketch confused with a commercial…but no; PUNK! was real. With even more Yeah! Girl and Neanderthal Hippie than I remembered…
This one didn’t end up being a complete story, instead I think I’ve stumbled into a new universe and this may end up being an entire book. Or, it could go nowhere. I’m not really sure. The characters seem to be driving this one. Also, I took liberties with the challenge requirements. Because I’m like […]
So, here are the rules of engagement for the GWJ August Throwdown: Basically, the whole story had to be told in dialogue, with no scene or character direction that wasn’t part of the conversation. Thus, I give you Run, Rabbit, Run! Brian: Hey. Paul: Hey. Brian: Whatcha in for? Paul: Kicking a box. Brian: […]