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Writing Tips From Elmore Leonard.

Posted by mcm0704 on January 18, 2015 |

This post originally appeared in Feb 2012, but the book is still available, and the writing tips are still relevant, so I thought I would share it again. I was so busy with work for the art center, as well as working on my newest book, I didn’t finish reading a book this week for review.

I thought I would try something different this week. Thanks to a tip from Kristen Lamb, an awesome lady who gives advice to writers on her blog, I found out about a different approach to blog sharing. I have had writer friends, Slim Randles, Tracy Farr and Carl Brookins who have either sent me a review, as in the case of Carl, or given me permission to use one of their blog posts or essays. But what Kristen suggested recently is that we give a teaser on our blog with a link to the site where the original was posted.

Since Sunday is my usual day for a book review, I decided I would link to one of the premier review places, The New York Times. Here is the opening of a recent review of Elmore Leonard’s latest book, Raylan. The review was written by Olen Steinhauer.

 In an essay that appeared in The New York Times in 2001, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle,” Elmore Leonard listed his 10 rules of writing. The final one — No. 11, actually — the “most important rule . . . that sums up the 10,” is “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

 It’s a terrific rule. In fact, I liked it so much that I passed it on to a creative-writing class I once taught. However, there’s more to Leonard’s rule that I didn’t pass on: “Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the ­narrative.”

I thought this was a bit serendipitous, as Leonard is one of my favorite authors, and I love his rules of writing, especially his point about not letting proper usage disrupt the rhythm of the writing. The rhythm of our writing is what distinguishes our voice, and we need to let that have some freedom from the constraints of proper usage.

I hope you can go read the rest of the review of the new book in which U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, now the star of the TV show “Justified,” returns to confront gambling, mining and organ trafficking in Elmore Leonard’s latest.

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