I’d never seen Elmore Leonard’s list of ten writing rules before today. If it so happens that you haven’t either, I direct you to the Gotham Writers’ Workshop’s website. I came across the list via Mark Sarvas’s blog The Elegant Variation where he derides Leonard’s advice as “unhinged dipshitery.” I disagree. Now, of course we all know that rules are made to be broken, but there’s an awful lot of good sense here. And beyond that, Leonard’s a far better writer than Sarvas (in my opinion!). And #1: “Never open a book with weather?” That’s just great advice.
Leonard’s real point is that anything that can be cut should be cut. No one wants to see writing just for writing’s sake. So cut out the flibber-flabber and send us a novel that’s tight!
And, of course, take these things with a grain of salt. And look again to the advice of the other authors that Stacey pointed out on Friday. No one knows how you work, so there are no perfect answers, but it’s always good to take a look at the advice of others, especially those you respect, and sort out the good from the bad for yourself. But do take EVERY piece of Margaret Atwood’s advice because she’s delightful and would never lead you astray.