While I am winding up editing all my books, I keep an eye out for articles by or on successful writers. I came across this one last week. I read Elmore Leonard back when he was writing what might be considered pulp westerns, but believe me, they were always more than that. When I learned he was the guy who was now writing bestsellers, I was surprised but not that he was a good writer. I was just surprised he had jumped genres and that he finally got recognition.
For me, one of the hardest things about writing is not writing but marketing and recognizing that what is popular is not what I want to write. How can I then whine if what I do write is not accepted by readers? The answer is cannot.
Elmore Leonard had put out tips about being a writer which I have thought were good. While the romance genre has its own rules, I think his tips made sense for any author to take into account. I don't know how other romance writers see this, but I aim to write a story that can go beyond one genre even though it is a love story with a happily ever after. While I understand happy endings are plebeian to intellectuals, I am not an intellectual; so I love them. I like writing a story where a couple will go through hell to get to their happily ever after, but they will get there. Yeah, i know that's unrealistic-- good. Realism isn't on my high list right now!
Elmore Leonard's tips
1. Never open a book with weather.Now every one of his rules has probably been broken and broken well by a best selling or even classic author. It's like being a painter. You know the rules of composition and then you break them when you have a reason. Knowing the rules isn't a bad thing-- nor is knowing when you story demands you go a different way.
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, to sum up all the others: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” Elmore Leonard