26 February 2010

Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules

Continuing the theme of lists of writing tips...
I think this whole thing started with The Guardian's "Ten rules for writing fiction". Check it out.
In particular, Elmore Leonard has an excellent list:
  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, unless you're ­Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language.
  10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

We pretty much live by these rules in my critique group.
Which author's tip(s) do you find helpful?

Coming February 28: a new issue of Electric Spec!


Deb S said...

1. It's still snowing, white rosebud flakes falling from the sky.
2. It snowed Monday and Tuesday, as well, a couple, four inches, each day.
3. "But you probably don't want to hear about that," she sighed.
4. "You're right," he said slowly. "It's this storm putting a critical dent in our coffee and cocoa supply."
5. "What!" She reached for her mug. "How critical!"
6. The cats jumped, overturning the precious beverage, and all hell broke lose.
7. Why hooman cry over coffeh? Didn't hit cheezburger.
8. She mopped the mess from Puff and Stuff's tufted white paws and Elizabethan ruffs, ignoring their green, questioning eyes.
9. At least the laptop perched at the edge of the table, right under the ktichen window had been spared.
10. Uh…where was I?

lesleylsmith said...

Hah! Good one, Deb. :)