People who have succeeded in one way or another are oftentimes just itching to give advice. This has led to countless books of lists on how to improve your personal finances, meet your soul mate, become a CEO, or raise perfect children. So when I saw that Elmore Leonard had published his 10 Rules of Writing (HarperCollins), I wasn’t particularly surprised. I did, however, pick it right up and see what I could learn from this popular U.S. writer, best known for Westerns and crime novels.
It took only 10 minutes to read the entire book, but I learned an awful lot. Some of the rules were simple, many were charming, and he backed all of them up with relatable examples from other authors’ work. The most helpful to me were “never open a book with weather,” “never use the words ‘suddenly’ or ‘all hell broke loose,'” and “avoid detailed descriptions of characters.”
After listing the 10 rules, Leonard writes, “My most important rule is one that sums up the ten. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”