Elmore Leonard, author of over 40 novels, many screenplays, and several short stories, died at the age of 87 today. He was known as the “Dickens of Detroit” because of his sharp dialogue and striking portraits he created of people who lived in the city where he spent most of his life. Many of his crime and suspense short stories and novels were adapted into movies, including Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and “3:10 to Yuma.”
In this awesome video, Leonard gives advice to writers and talks about how he got started:
Here are his 10 tips for writing:
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.”
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
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.
- I like that last one.