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:
- 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.
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”