14: Rules Of Writing

Criminal Mischief: Episode #14: Rules of Writing

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Somerset Maugham:

There are three rules for novel writing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

Terry Brooks Rules:

Read, Read, Read
Outline, Outline, Outline
Write, Write, Write

Dave Barry:

Don’t Be Boring

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

1-Never open a book with weather

2-Avoid prologues

3-Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue

4-Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”

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

6-Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose

7-Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly

8-Avoid detailed descriptions of characters

9-Don’t go into great detail describing places and things

10-Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip

From BLACK CHERRY BLUES by James Lee Burke

Her hair is curly and gold on the pillow, her skin white in the heat lightning that trembles beyond the pecan trees outside the bedroom window. The night is hot and breathless, the clouds painted like horsetails against the sky; a peal of thunder rumbles on the Gulf like an apple rolling around in the bottom a wooden barrel, and the first raindrops ping against the window fan. She sleeps on her side, and the sheet molds her thigh, the curve of her hip, her breast. In the flicker of the heat lightning the sun freckles on her bare shoulder look like brown flaws in sculpted marble.


Elmore Leonard: “What a Guy,” says Jackie Collins:


Writers On Writing: Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points, and Especially Hooptedoodle by Elmore Leonard:


Jack Kerouac’s 30 Tips:


6 Writing Tips From John Steinbeck:


© Douglas Lyle 2015