“If it Sounds Like Writing, Rewrite it”

“If it Sounds Like Writing, Rewrite it”

carolsmCarol Cassara of http://carolcassara.com

“Worship of Writers”: a phrase on wrapping paper I saw while in London, and one I think is what authors finally are, collectively.

 I wasn’t sure how I would use the photo I took of this wrapping paper:


Wrapping paper I saw in London

Then I ran across some of the very best writing tips ever. The (now) late Elmore Leonard collected his 10 rules for writing in a New York Times 2001 article, then turned them into a book. They are such perfection that I’ll share them here:

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.

5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

6.  Never use “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

7. Use regional dialect 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.

Oh, and If it sounds like writing, rewrite it, is also his.

If I had a nickel for every exclamation point I’ve edited out of someone’s writing, I’d be a rich woman, indeed. Or the number of times I’ve advised a writer not to use verbs like “stated” or “exclaimed.” The verb describing someone speaking needs almost to disappear in writing, be unnoticed, and “said” serves that function. “Stated” stops readers dead.  And…ok, I’ll stop.

These really are 10 of the best rules for writing. To me. Leonard died in August after a long, successful writing career.

And oh yes, you probably want to read his descriptions under each rule. You should, and HERE they are. 10 Rules of Writing by Elmore Leonard is available for under $10 in all the usual places. But really, the article I linked to has everything you need to know. And it’s FREE.

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