Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

By | September 5, 2015

I love the writings of Elmore Leonard. Not familiar with his work? Did you like the TV show Justified? How about the films Jackie Brown, Bandits, or Get Shorty? All are based on the work of Elmore Leonard.

He published an extremely short book, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, which I can distill down to just this simple list (but buy the book — it’s delightful!)

LeonardElmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of 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” …
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.

Bonus: If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.

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