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The Writing Rules according to . . . Elmore Leonard

  • Broadcast in Writing
Write Pack Radio

Write Pack Radio


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In this episode of Write Pack Radio, the Write Pack explores the 10 rules of writing according to the late great author Elmore Leonard:

Never open a book with weather.

What are some better ways to open a story?

How should weather be used?

Do stories explore and define humanity?

Avoid prologues.

Do prologues distance your readers?

 What are some other ways to get the “prologue information” into the story?

What about the exceptions like Dune and the Lord of the Rings trilogy?

Do readers skip reading the prologues? Do readers really need them?

Should you never have a prologue?

Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.


Does using other things sound like writing?

What about the ones that show action?

Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”

Why should adverbs be left out?

Can they distract and interrupt?

Are there just words that should never be used?

Keep your exclamation points under control.


How many should you use them?

Do they lose their power when they are over used?

Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

Is it self-explanatory?

Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

Do they make it more confusing?

How can you use it?

Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

How do you use details then?

Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

What does the reader need to know?

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

The most important rule

And the rule that binds them all: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.