Wednesday, August 21, 2013
R.I.P. Elmore Leonard
His work was also filled with humor. He was Quentin Tarantino long before Quentin Tarantino. He was Carl Hiaasen long before Carl Hiaasen.
Many of you were introduced to him late. JUSTIFIED is based on one of his novellas. Two movie adaptations of his novels are worth seeking out – GET SHORTY and OUT OF SIGHT.
At one time he wrote screenplays but got tired of receiving idiot notes. Can you imagine? Some studio D-girl, two months out of Sarah Lawrence telling Elmore Leonard what works and what doesn't. Happily for us, the world of novels beckoned.
I never met him, just learned from him. In an article for the New York Times he once listed his TEN RULES FOR WRITING. In honor of Mr. Leonard, and because they’re great rules we all should follow, I’m posting them today. If you're not a writer, well -- apply them to life.
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. Elmore Leonard. Thank you for showing us all how it’s done and introducing us to the most interesting characters we've never met.