Friday, 24 September 2010

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction


You may have seen these before, but I've just found them this evening and decided to quote them here so I can refer back to them later. Some of them are priceless! Others I need reminding about. I've truncated them to one liners, except for (3), which I couldn't resist putting in full; if you want to look see them in all their glory, follow the link.
Ten rules from Elmore Leonard
(Using adverbs is a mortal sin )

1 Never open a book with weather.
2 Avoid prologues

3 Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But "said" is far less intrusive than "grumbled", "gasped", "cautioned", "lied". I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with "she asseverated" and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.

4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" . . . he admonished gravely.
5 Keep your exclamation points ­under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
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
10 Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

2 comments:

Christine Danek said...

Thanks for sharing. Great list.

Maggi Andersen said...

And then ignore all the above. Gosh those edits sound tough. I had one where I was only allowed two 'was' on a page, now that publisher is frowning on 'as' she wants one per page. We are subjected to editing trends I suspect.