Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing

by Elmore Leonard

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"These are the rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story."—Elmore Leonard

For aspiring writers and lovers of the written word, this concise guide breaks down the writing process with simplicity and clarity. From adjectives and exclamation points to dialect and hoopetedoodle, Elmore Leonard explains what to avoid, what to aspire to, and what to do when it sounds like "writing" (rewrite).

Beautifully designed, filled with free-flowing, elegant illustrations and specially priced, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing is the perfect writer's—and reader's—gift.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061843396
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 558,752
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Elmore Leonard wrote more than forty books during his long career, including the bestsellers Raylan, Tishomingo Blues, Be Cool, Get Shorty, and Rum Punch, as well as the acclaimed collection When the Women Come Out to Dance, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty and Out of Sight. The short story "Fire in the Hole," and three books, including Raylan, were the basis for the FX hit show Justified. Leonard received the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He died in 2013.


Bloomfield Village, Michigan

Date of Birth:

October 11, 1925

Place of Birth:

New Orleans, Louisiana


B.Ph., University of Detroit, 1950

Read an Excerpt

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing Ltd Ed

Chapter One

Never open a book with weather

If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways than an Eskimo to describe ice and snow in his book Arctic Dreams, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing Ltd Ed. Copyright © by Elmore Leonard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>

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Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing 2.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
shadowpdf More than 1 year ago
I guess it's hard to blame Elmore Leonard for this book. Some wag at William Morrow probably saw the extremely short article that Leonard wrote for the NY Times on writing and thought: "We'll publish that in book form! We'll make a mint! He's Elmore Leonard, and there are millions of nutbars out there who think they can write and will buy the book to get the master's rules on writing!" Or maybe his agent, ever the shark swimming chummed waters, after he made the deal with the NY Times, gave William Morrow a call and got them lathered up. At some point, though, Leonard had to agree to this nonsense. So he is to blame too. These 90 "pages" (most of them blank and half the rest of them covered with caricatures of Leonard and others) offer a sentence or two of pithy thought. Now Leonard's pithy thoughts are worth more than most, but still... Leonard prides himself on terse writing. But he still writes books. Real books, with many more than 90 pages, and each of those many more than 90 pages with many more than a couple dozen words on each page. Why, he probably has 250 to 300 words on a lot of the pages in his fiction books, so we know he can expound on thought and concept and offer example and explanation. He can do it. Honest. I have several of his real books. And in those books he doesn't need the pages to be constructed of laminated cardboard like they use in books for infants just to make the tiny publication thicker. All around, this is just bad business. No matter how much you paid it was too much. Leonard surely has something to say about writing, but he doesn't do much of it here. And while we never expect much integrity from agents or editors, we rely on an author's integrity every time we pick up one of his books. To read him, we must trust him. This time Leonard abused our trust.
F_O More than 1 year ago
Decent advice found here...and in any other writing book as well. Not worth the e-ink (or it's real version) used for it. The illustrations were funny, and sometimes insightful, and Mr. Leonard's last little essay to "sum up" his rule(s) was decent...but not at 10 of your hard-earned dollars. Should've been $1.99...or FREE.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though I got this book for $3.99, I don't think I've ever been more disappointed in a book in my life. The Title is almost as long as the contents. The book shows 90 pages. At least 40 pages are totally blank and about 6 have cute writing cartoons, and the others have actual text. Some pages of text is only one sentence. The average of the 40 or so pages of text is about 4 sentences per page. Save your money and avoid this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was originally an article/list in a newspaper - that's really how short it is. The author wastes the entire book whining about how he doesn't like when authors interject with anything other than "(s)he said," which according to Leonard is bad enough. He doesn't like any description whatsoever, as that ruins the book for him. The only piece of helpful information in the entire book (which isn't very long, and the pages are thick) is to not use many "big words" when describing how a person said something. For example, don't write something like "she asseverated" or "I caterwauled." Unless it's in a sentence and the reader can pick up the definition from context, don't use a big word. That is the only piece of mildly helpful information in the entire book.
luvs_to_shop_09 More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for a college class. After finding it at bn.com for only $3.99, I thought I was getting a great deal. The book cost over $15 in the online bookstore at my college. When I received the book, I couldn't have been more disappointed. I actually thought the book would be in a textbook format, but I came to find most of the pages blank and crazy cartoons inside. In reality, the book is mostly just a list of his thoughts and explanations of why he feels the way he does. Since it was required for my journalism class, I'm glad I found it at a reduced price at bn.com. If I had wasted $15 on the book, I would have been more than displeased with the purchase. On the other hand, since the book was only $3.99, I plan on keeping it...it does have some good thoughts for aspiring writers, both in English and journalism. All in all, it only took me about 15 minutes to read cover to cover a book that is suppose to be 90 pages.
WildWestWind More than 1 year ago
My rating is generous. I would've given a negative rating if that were possible. Be aware that the entire "book" is only about 950 words, including chapter titles. That means the entire "book" is about 12 times the size of the 3 line excerpt! It is bulked up by bizarrely using stiff cardboard pages throughout. The content is useless. As gestures of contempt for the reader, it is full of allusions to writers and books no normal reader has ever heard of, without examples of what Leonard is talking about; there isn't even a proper table of contents and the copyright information is tossed in at the back. I understand that this was originally a brief article, and someone decided they'd make a few bucks by calling it a "book" and gypping a few suckers. I've never been so disgusted with an author or publisher. Is this what HarperCollins has debased itself into?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a very amusing fifteen bucks, and I really liked the drawings. There are some real nuggets there if you want them. I'll read it again and again, I'm sure.
ER13 More than 1 year ago
Mr. Leonard has used his experience and talent to produce his distilled advice and turn it into a book that is presented in a humorous and professional looking format.
sanejane More than 1 year ago
...Take a creative writing course. Want to know why Elmore Leonard is successful? He gives you 10 reasons--with illustrations. Leonard lays down his rules for writing in his customary sparse and direct way. Drawing greats like Hemingway and Steinbeck into the conversation, he leaves the long-winded musings of craft to the ego-driven and gets to the grist of identifying what makes readers want to read. And he should know. The book is entertaining--short, sweet and contains what has proven to be effective for Elmore Leonard over the decades. With pictures. Great drawings by Joe Ciardello.
JMReinbold on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Humorous. Great illustrations. "Rule #1: Do not start a book with the weather." Another is: "Leave out the parts people don't want to read." The "bottom line" of writing advice from an old school author for writers who want to make it to and stay on the Best Seller List and who want to sell books and make money (that's every author, right?). Most important point: author invisibility in the story. No "hoopdedoodle." Read it in 30 minutes. Useful to remind oneself of the basics, but overpriced at $14.95 (hb) For a more extensive look at these rules from another "old school" writer see Dwight Swain's "Techniques of the Selling Writer."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the biggest gyp I've ever purchased. Elmore must be laughing at everyone who bought this. It's hard to believe B &amp; N would allow such fraud to take place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since you posted that, it became $1.99.