Saturday, March 1, 2014

10 Tips to be a Great Writer


Elmore Leonard passed away a half year ago after a long and productive life. He wrote westerns and crime and western crime. I have always wondered why more writers didn’t write in these somewhat parallel genres. Westerns are almost always based on a crime and the solving of the crime. Move from the old west to modern and westerns and crime novels become interchangeable.

Leonard’s success may have been based on his well-known ten tips for good 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.

 My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

 If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it

 

“And she thought if you don't have the desire to fight or wait for something there's no reason for being on earth.”  Elmore Leonard, Last Stand at Saber River 
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