Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Best Advice A Writer Will Ever Have

"...leave out the part the readers tend to skip."

The man who defined the crime writing genre has died. Elmore Leonard was 87.

His voice was unique, his prose spare. His volume of work was large.

When asked about his rules for writing, he mentioned a few key ingredients such as limited use of dialect in the narrative. If you've ever read a story in which the author uses some very creative spelling to express a regional accent, and uses that through the whole novel, you'll understand exactly why Mr. Leonard said not to do it.

He was not in favor of long passages of description that paint a character. That, he realized, was the job of the reader, who is perfectly capable of imagining the imaginary. If you've ever read a book written by a journalist, you'll see what he was driving at. When you're reading, do you really need to know exactly how tall the character is, hair color, eye color, weight, clothing described down to the buttons? It's boring.

Which leads to the best writing advice you'll ever get.

Leave out the parts the readers aren't going to read, the verbiage that they skip in their search for interesting elements that move the narrative forward.

That is the secret to good writing.

Rest in peace, Elmore Leonard.

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