Saturday, January 12, 2008

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules Is Worth A Read

The Missus gave me "Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing" for Christmas. It is a compact, well written book. It is terse and not only because it lacks "hooptedoodle," but also because it is just a well-written article (it was originally an article in the New York Times) that was formatted (though it seems, not expanded) into a book.

While Leonard explains why writers should do away with extraneous sentences, he quotes a character in John Steinbeck's "Sweet Thursday"-

"Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle.... Spin up some pretty words mabe or sing a little song with language. That's nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don't have to read it. I don't want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story."

What really binds this almost sparse book together, are the illustrations of Joe Ciardello, whose stylings you might have seen in the New Yorker or Rolling Stone. They are the broth and rice that makes a complete meal of the stew that Elmore cooked up.
Though this book has probably cured me of using "suddenly" and "all hell broke loose," I will most likely be unable to kick my regional dialect/patois habit. This writer here is currently suffering the same affliction as Elmore paraphrase-
Joesph Conrad said something about words getting in the way of what you want to say.


angel said...

hhmmm, maybe i should get it for me, i could use tips like that!

Writeprocrastinator said...


Give it a gander on, I think you'll like it.