Novelist Elmore Leonard once said, “If it sounds like writing…rewrite it.”
Like every successful author, Leonard understood the importance of editing—revising and reworking to tighten and improve a piece of work. That need for brevity and powerful writing began with his job composing copy for the Chevrolet ad agency where he extolled the virtues of the company’s trucks.
In his spare time, he tried his hand at Westerns, even as the genre was losing popularity among readers. Among his novels are 3:10 to Yumaand Captive.Later he turned to crime novels includingGet ShortyandJackie Brown.
In his lifetime, the prolific novelist wrote over three dozen books along with screenplays, short stories and essays during his lifetime. He also penned his own set of rules for writing in a New York Timesessay. Later his rules were republished as Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing.
- Never open a book with weather.
- Avoid prologues.
- Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
- Never use a adverb to modify the verb “said.”
- Keep your exclamation points under control.
- Never use the word “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
- Use regional dialect sparingly.
- Avoid detailed description of characters.
- Don’t go into great deal describing places and things.
- Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Dubbed “The Dickens of Detroit,” Leonard died in 2013 and is buried in Birmingham, Michigan.