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I Got Nuthin’… Take it Elmore

Ever have one of those weeks when your productivity just plain sinks? When, much to your dismay, any form of creativity seems beyond your grasp? When “I got nuthin’” is the best response you can muster for the question, “What are you going to post in your blog today?”

Such has been my week.

Head colds with sinus infections frequently knock me down a notch for a day or two, but the one I’m dealing with now set me on my keester––normally an appropriate position for a writer, but, this time, the words wouldn’t flow. And right after the holidays, too.

It’s situations like these when I often turn to the masters for some sage advice––in this case Elmore Leonard. Although he departed this earth in 2013, Elmore Leonard’s writing and his wisdom toward producing good writing live on.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Take it away, Elmore.

** Never open a book with weather.

**Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

* The writer has to have patience, the perseverance to just sit there alone and grind it out. And if it’s not worth doing that, then he doesn’t want to write.

**Avoid prologues.

**Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

*A writer has to read. Read all the time. Decide who you like then study that author’s style. Take the author’s book or story and break it down to see how he put it together.

**Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

**Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.

*The main thing I set out to do is tell the point of view of the antagonist as much as the good guy. And that’s the big difference between the way I write and the way most mysteries are written.

**Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.

**Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

*It is the most satisfying thing I can think of to write a scene and have it come out the way I want. Or be surprised and have it come out even better than I thought.

**Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

**Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

*Write the book the way it should be written, then give it to somebody to put in the commas and shit.

**If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

* From Writer’s Digest, “5 Quotes on Writing from Elmore Leonard,” August/2013

** From the New York Times article, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points, and Especially Hooptedoodle.”

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