Writing Advice

Because I am excellent at procrastination, I’ve taken to reading a lot about writing lately. Basically, I have signed up for every email list imaginable that involves writing advice and lessons, and I’ve also signed up for the email newsletters from every online publication I can find that publishes work I like or that I would like to emulate in my own writing.

In the interest of sharing the wisdom I uncover, and sharing the beauty of procrastination, with others, I thought I’d post some of the stuff I come across that I like.

Elmore Leonard’s ten tricks* for good 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”…he admonished gravely.
  5.  Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
  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.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

* Excerpted from the New York Times article, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle”

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