Never Open a Book with the Weather: Writing Advice from Elmore Leonard

Writing Advice from Elmore Leonard

  1. Never open a book with the 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.”
  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. Same for places and things.
  10. Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.

Elmore Leonard (1925 – 2013) was American novelist and screenwriter. His best-known works include Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Rum Punch (which became the movie Jackie Brown). His novels ProntoRiding the Rap and the short story ‘Fire in the Hole’ are the basis for the popular television series Justified starring Timothy Olyphant. In 2012 Elmore Leonard received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution at the National Book Awards.


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