“If it sound like writing, I rewrite it…” Elmore Leonard, 1925 – 2013

Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard has died.  And in honor of the rightly-lauded—not to mention oft-emulated— practitioner of hardboiled fiction, I’m submitting, for your edification and enjoyment, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing (which were compiled in a slim volume back in 2007, each rule playfully illustrated by Joe Ciardiello).


Leonard’s Rules I break most often:  1 and 9

Leonard’s Rules I’ve practiced in my most recent fictions:  3 and 8

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of WritingLeonard, Joe Ciardiello

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

Thanks, Mr. Leonard.