Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules for Writing

Elmore Leonard

The news broke this morning that hard-boiled crime novelist Elmore Leonard passed away in his home city of Detroit. Even if you haven’t ever read any of his books odds are you have seen an adaptation, so far 26 of his stories have been made into movies or television shows.  In honor of his life, I thought it’d be fitting to post his 10 rules of writing. I especially like #10.

  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.

R.I.P. Mister Leonard. You’ll be missed.