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Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing

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Offline leep
22 Aug 2013, 06:43 PM | Post: #1

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Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing

For some reason I'd not come across these before, but some fairly sage (and oft-repeated) advice, still worth a look:

Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing

And in a similar vein, from 10 things to know about Elmore:


Leonard tried to keep his books under 300 pages. "This one time, The New York Times asked me if I would review a Tom Clancy book. I said, 'How many pages is it?' And they said, 'Oh, it's only 400 and some.' I said, 'I don't read books with more than 300 pages.' So I got out of that," he told the AP in 2010.
300 pages -- I may take after him, sounds like my kind of length.
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Offline Tim_A Reading strictly murder by Lynda Wilcox
22 Aug 2013, 08:40 PM | Post: #2

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RE: Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing

To counter that, John Scalzi said in an interview a couple of years ago (and this isn't an exact quote), "All my books are 320 pages. It doesn't matter how long the book is: 80K, 100K, 120K, my publisher tweaks the font or whatever so they come out at about 320 pages. Because they look much better on the shelf if they are all about the same size..."
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Offline davidwailing Reading
23 Aug 2013, 06:37 AM | Post: #3


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RE: Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing

I think every author has to discover their own 'rules' for what makes their writing work, and not feel that they have to follow someone else's. Your style is a part of you. Changing your writing style is like changing your own personality. It can be done, but not easily or quickly!

But I also find myself agreeing with much of Elmore Leonard's approach. As a reader, I often feel that a story is being drowned by all the vocabulary, wordplay, similes and metaphors the author is flooding it with. It's not always possible for the author to be invisible, but they should certainly be discreet.
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Offline cecilia_writer Reading Murder by the Glass by Lynda Wilcox
23 Aug 2013, 08:12 AM | Post: #4

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RE: Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing

I agree with many of these, and I think I must have come across them or some version of them ages ago when I first started writing, because I tend to do things like not using dialogue tags apart from 'said' almost automatically now. Having said that, I'm not a natural rule-follower - for every rule there's usually a question!
What I particularly like about this article is the way he keeps mentioning Steinbeck's 'Sweet Thursday' which is one of my favourite books but hardly ever seems to get a look-in compared to 'Cannery Row', 'Of Mice and Men' etc.
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Offline nigel p bird Reading
23 Aug 2013, 09:11 AM | Post: #5

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RE: Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing

Thanks for the reminder - it's always great to learn from those who are champions in their craft.


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Offline Donny2515
26 Jun 2022, 05:04 PM | Post: #6

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RE: Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing

Great tips!

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