Thursday, August 22, 2013

Links for Writers, Elmore Leonard for Everyone

This edition of Links for Writers is dedicated to Elmore Leonard, the master of Westerns and crime novels who died Tuesday. If it weren't for Leonard's Ten Rules for Writers, I'd stud each paragraph with adjectives and adverbs. Indeed, once upon a time, I aspired to create characters who spoke dolefully harbored rueful thoughts, yet walked with a spritely step. Every time I edit my copy, I thank Leonard. 

Here's the man himself on writing:

I have lots of hooptedoodle to cut from my pages, but first I'd like to share two writing links that caught my eye. I think Leonard would approve of them.

1.) Every writer dreams of working with a gifted editor. Knopf's Jordan Paylin has edited Jennifer Egan, Allison Pearson, Julie Otsuka, and many more. Here, her passion for her work jumps off the page and onto your computer screen.

2.) Nowadays, a lot of writers grouse about traditional publishing and insist self-publishing's the way to go. If you prefer to keep your options open, read Delilah S. Dawson's how-to for completing a novel and snagging a traditional publishing contract.

The next link is for writers and readers. Writers, of course, are readers; it's a law, isn't it?

As a reader, you may be a curiosity to some acquaintances and co-workers. (Don't you wish you had a nickel for every time someone said, "You have time to read?!") You'll relate to "problems only book lovers will understand," a gif-happy list from Harper Collins.

Your turn: which of Leonard's "rules" speaks to you?

How many times a month do you encounter someone who's surprised you have time to read? Now, how many television shows does that person reference in a conversation? C'mon, you know you count 'em.


Patricia Rickrode w/a Jansen Schmidt said...

Good links to good references, Pat. But, I must respectfully disagree with many of Mr. Leonard's "rules." Personally, I like to read description. I like to know where we are in the world, what things look like, and smell like, and feel like.

I also don't mind adverbs. I wouldn't use them a lot, but I think sometimes they are absolutely necessary.

I think the problem I have most with his "rules" is use of the word "never." Sometimes you have to use something other than "said," and sometimes only an adverb will convey exactly what you're trying to say.

But, that's just my opinion.

Patricia Rickrode
w/a Jansen Schmidt

Lark Howard said...

Great post today, Pat. I actually have a hardcover cover book of his rules!

All the rules have made me think before letting myself be lazy. The no adverb to modify "said" is one I wholeheartedly agree with although I sometimes use "replied" or "asked". In my head for #10 I always use SEP's paraphrase, "Leave out all the boring parts."

I'm always appalled at people who say they don't read because they don't have time. Time has nothing to do with it. They simply don't bother to read.

My father always said he didn't like fiction because it wasn't true and therefore useless. About the time he turned 70, he started to read novels and now admits fiction is often truer than non-fiction--something all of us know.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patricia,
Don't get me wrong; I still use adverbs and adjectives, but, like you, I use them carefully, sparingly, deliberately. (Look what happens when I open the door a crack; adverbs that have been confined too long rush out.) You may think I exaggerated about my wish to use ruefully, but no. Leonard wrote those rules for me. By the way, I think he'd have been the first to tell you to ignore so-called writing rules.

I like description, too. Too often, though, I'd let myself get hung up description and forget to move a story forward.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lark,
Yes, fiction often is truer than no-fiction for me, but we'll never convince everyone of that. I once suggested to a class of GED students that those interested in getting a "feel" for an era in history read historical novels set in that time period. One student was so outraged I suggested he read fiction, he dropped out of the class.

Your father's an interesting guy. Props to him for admitting he was wrong about fiction.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia,

Thought of you when I read this yesterday!

- Pat

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patrick,
I saw the piece yesterday and thought of me, too. All the insecurity!

Unless coerced, I don't tell people about my work in progress. When coerced, I offer a one-sentence premise.

I'll shut up and write, now.

Thanks for thinking of me!

(Elmore Leonard will be happy to know I don't use exclamation points in fiction. I buy them in bulk at Costco for use here.)