Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

All right, I’ll admit it: I browse writing books like kids browse candy aisles. I read a bunch of rules from well-known writers prompted from Elmore Leonard’s book and found interesting things, so when I ran into it at the library (a place I am found frequently) I popped it into my check-out bag.

What surprised me most about this book is that it’s heavily illustrated. Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing took me about half an hour to read. A lot of that time was spent absorbing the words and the pictures. The reviews on Amazon are extremely mixed, and I can understand why.

While there is good advice in here, most of it could be found other places. If a writer is looking for a how-to book, only a few things are going to be stated and none of this is in the detail required for a beginner to grasp the nuances of the craft. There are other books for that.

What I liked about this was the feeling of a picture book aimed at adults about a subject I love. I agree with many of Leonard’s Rules, and it’s nice to have them put in front of my face here and there: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” I’ve been writing some poetry lately for a challenge put on by an acquaintance, and I struggle to configure the words properly for the forms. On the other hand, it might mean I’m just so accustomed to writing with the clarity of prose that it’s a struggle to pull out the poetic license.

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