My thoughts on Elmore Leonard and his rules...

Elmore Leonard — author of Get ShortyOut of Sight, and Rum Punch as well as other titles ---passed away August 20.  May he rest in peace.

He was an amazing writer!

This first photo below is the way I'd like to remember Elmore Leonard. Way back when. Hard at work at his typewriter surrounded by books and his own words.

Many people have already shared Elmore's rules for writing. But, I for one can bear reading them again and would probably benefit from reading the list before each writing session. I'm working my way through a second draft of a novel and struggling as if it's the first sentence I've ever written. Perhaps this review of his words will assist me when I return to my desk.

Pictured below is a more sophisticated and successful Elmore. Perhaps a truer image of him before he passed. But I'm a fan of the younger Elmore.

Without saying anything more, I hope  you get something from reading his rules for writing. I don't know but I would say he came up with the rules after he had some success under his belt. I would suggest you check out a few of his books if you haven't already. You're in for a treat!

And if you've ever read a BAD novel you may notice many of the things he speaks of 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”…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.
And his most important rule, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”


  1. Great rules. I'm afraid to say I've broken several over the years. But I'm getting better.

  2. Me too, Anne. If I followed the rules I'd be a much better writer - I'm still learning! Thanks for reading.
    Hugs, B

  3. Thanks Barbara,
    Nice to see a post from you.


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