Last month the writing world lost one of its greats, Elmore Leonard. I'm going to be honest here, I've never read an Elmore Leonard book, but I did see Get Shorty, so that counts right? Right?
Anyway, Leonard was famous for his spare prose and sharp dialogue. And among writers, his 10 Rules for Great Writing:
- 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".
- Keep your exclamation points under control.
- 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.
I have had to learn that lesson myself. I am fully capable of breaking - and have broken - every rule on this list simultaneously. It's a hard lesson to learn, but once I did get it through my thick skull, I found that I am capable of so much more.