Thursday, July 12, 2012

on writing success - 9 tips from elmore leonard

1 Never open a book with weather. If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a
character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long.

2 Avoid prologues: A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in
anywhere you want.

3 Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue
belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But "said"
is far less intrusive than "grumbled", "gasped", "cautioned", "lied".  I once
noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with "she asseverated" and
had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.

4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" ... he admonished gravely.
To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is
now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt
the rhythm of the exchange.

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". This rule doesn't
require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use "suddenly" tend to
exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

7 Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

8 Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. In Ernest Hemingway's "Hills
Like White Elephants", what do the "American and the girl with him" look like?
"She had taken off her hat and put it on the table." That's the only reference to
a physical description in the story.

9 Don't go into great detail describing places and things, unless you're Margaret
Atwood and can paint scenes with language. You don't want descriptions that
bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

Via Elmore Leonard & The Guardian

By Irene Dimdi

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