Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Elmore Leonard 1925 - 2013

Ace posted a link to an article on writing by Elmore Leonard.

(One article about him from the Guardian)

Elmore Leonard was elderly and passed away and I know nothing about him other than that he wrote "Fire in the Hole" which I've never read but was turned into the first season of the television show "Justified" which I liked a whole lot. After that show came out I noticed his name quite a bit but I still hadn't read anything that he'd written.

  Until I read this.

 Having partaken in a fair amount of writing advice over the years I will say that his 10 rules for writing (and summation of the 10 rules in the rule "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.") is short, to the point, and spot on. It's concise and even laconic.

 As far as I'm concerned writing fiction shouldn't be about the author, it should be about the story. Part of what I don't trust about "literature" is (other than the mistrust born of science fictional tribalism) that I expect the story to be about the author being clever. And then, afterward, all the critics exclaim about how clever the author was. Why should anyone at all care about how clever the author was?

Some of his 10 rules I've heard a million times. Some of them were surprising. Such as: 1. Never open a book with weather. Dark, stormy nights are right out, but I'd never heard anyone say not to do it at all.  I found this rule bemusing: 5. Keep your exclamation points under control. I imagine a novel full up !!!eleventy!! and wonder... someone does that? But perhaps they do.  I think that my taste likely favors more description than he prefers but most of what I read and write tends toward either Romance (so you have to "see" how sexy the hero is) or science fiction where the world that exists around the character is often a character in its own right, and he wrote crime fiction, mostly, I think.

From the Guardian:
For most of his career, Leonard was undervalued by critics, both because of his consistently high sales and his facility with dialogue: some critics distrust speech-led novels as shooting scripts for future movies. 
Yes, but of course.

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