As I was reading some of the coverage surrounding the death of author Elmore Leonard earlier this week, I came across a great list he wrote for the New York Times in 2001 relaying his 10 rules for good writing.
Here they are — rest in peace you wise sir.
- 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.