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August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules for Writing.

Elmore Leonard passed away at 7:15AM this morning. Rest in peace to one of the defining authors of our generation.”

Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard. He could write his way through thick fog, and make it fun and sharp and hard and direct, direct, direct: all the while making himself invisible, and the story clear.

“My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

From the NY Times, his 10 Rules for Writing—this is brilliant, all about letting the author out the backdoor while the reader walks in the front door (of the story):

“These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.

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. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

2. Avoid prologues.

They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want…”

Read the rest, here.

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