Elmore Leonard’s rules















I can’t remember where I got this from, but this pretty much says it.

Every time I find myself typing the word “suddenly,” I want to kill myself. ¬†On the other hand, I use exclamation points all over the place in my screenplays. ¬†Screenplays seem to demand it for some reason.


6 Responses to “Elmore Leonard’s rules”
  1. Curt_Holman says:

    But why avoid detailed descriptions of characters, places and things? I know that Leonard avoids detailed description, and it works fine for him, but plenty of successful writers do.

    • Todd says:

      All kinds of things work. I do know that detailed descriptions slow down the narrative. The writer needs to find the handful of words that get the point across and leave it at that.

      One of my favorite writers, Yukio Mishima, has a great sense of plot and character, but, in the Japanese style, he gives detailed descriptions of every goddamned thing in the room — the wallpaper, the robes, the eating utensils, the placemats, the hair. Those things are all cultural signifiers for the work’s intended audience, but yes, they drag down the narrative.

      On the other hand, Leonard describes things so sparingly, or not at all, that his writing may seem opaque to someone not from the United States.

      • Fred Fanakapan says:

        Not so. Leonard has a huge following here in the UK. I ignore Rule 8 and don’t pay much attention to Rule 9, but he is the king. Just knowing there’s a new Elmore out there makes me salivate.

  2. marti jackson says:

    hi, my name is marti, and i am a Leonard’s List Offender…

  3. Laur says:

    This drawing is actually by Austin Kleon. http://www.austinkleon.com/2005/12/23/elmore-leonards-10-rules-of-writing/

    Totally guilty of no. 5 everywhere!!!

  4. Killington says: