<$Susan Goodwill$>

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dutch's Top Ten: NaNo#10

Lifted from local hero, Elmore Leonard. Check out his website: http://www.elmoreleonard.com/
Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing
Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle
from the New York Times, Writers on Writing Series.
Being a good author is a disappearing act.
These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.
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.
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.
And finally:
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. ...

What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

He elaborates on these on his website and mentions a few noteable exceptions. Worth the trip to his site to read these.