Friday, May 29, 2009

Elmore Leonard

Last night I watched a Charlie Rose interview with Elmore Leonard. Frankly, I am not a fan of western nor detective novels. I may have to change my ways for one or two books, simply because the 83 year old Elmore is such a charming man. During the interview he expounded on some of his aids to wannabe writers, which has been put in his short book on writing. Apparently he feels the world should be seen through his character's eyes, not his: 

  •  Never open a book with weather.
  •  Avoid prologues.
  •  Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
  •  Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said”…he admonished gravely.
  •  Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. 
  •  Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
  •  Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  •  Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  •  Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
  •  Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

    Old Toad said...

    I saw the interview as well and enjoyed Elmore very much. His recommendations for writers were a kick, especially the last one ... "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip" (like the rest of this comment!).
    Although I've been aware of his books for many years, I've never read one. Let me know which of his books you plan to read and I'll avoid them (and read another book he's written).

    Gunnar Berg said...

    Suggestions, Rev?

    Margadant said...

    I didn't catch the interview, and I have to confess to not having heard of Mr. Leonard before; but, given the damn fine pointers he passes along, I too am going to go out and increase his royalites. He appears to have the craft down pat, and his published longevity indicates that he's probably got the art well in hand too.

    reverend dick said...

    Hard to go wrong if you like snappy dialog and incredibly intricate plotting.

    I REALLY liked "Valdez is Coming" and "Escape from Five Shadows", but you know how I love me a western...
    "Riding the Rapa" was good. Man, they are all readable.