And now, some Writing Tips from Leonard Elmore:

If these rules are good enough for Elmore Leonard, they should be good enough for me … but I might have to pin them on the computer, just in case

I’m pretty sure I’ve broken a few of these rules, especially in the story about the- ooooh nope, nope, nope, I’m not telling that one yet. But if I find the handwritten pages, and get them typed up, I’ll share snippets. 🙂

Hope you enjoy!

Elmore Leonard on writing

~Sleepy Kaw

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25 thoughts on “And now, some Writing Tips from Leonard Elmore:

    • Well, rules are made to be stretched to their limits, and apart from the rule at the end (the invisible one, that reads ‘have fun!’), they’re for use as required (think in terms of ‘what to do when all else fails’).
      Although they all make sense, once the skills are competent, a writer can make their own choices – except for … okay, the ‘said’ one, and the adverb usage, and …
      maybe I need to do more work on the craft skills


  1. Leonard’s a crime writer, yes? He probably tends more to just the facts. Not to say that his advice isn’t good, but avoiding those pesky annoyances aren’t the difference between a readable book and an unreadable book. BTW, I was thinking about the setting of your book with the horse and thinking how much I liked it. The characters and the setting stuck with me. Will any of those characters be in your next book?


    • Yes, Leonard and crime, but storytelling has many bedfellows, and there are some rules beginner writers would do well to follow until they get the confidence to know when and why to ignore ‘rules’ – it’s about making the best story, memorable and compelling.

      And sorry, but the Old Woman & The Mad Horse characters were a once-off. I did write another thriller, but didn’t get approval for some of the main elements of the story (I did request permission when I started, it just takes so long to get a response, and I don’t sit around and wait – life is too short).

      The next story is an urban fantasy (okay, outback), light horror about Lake Eyre (one of the few times in the last 150 years when it’s had water) …
      And another short novel about Silence – the basic idea is that hell isn’t flames and noise. What if it were the loss of senses and emotions? What if hell is distance from others, silence and being insensate?
      The other one is an urban fantasy about the ones who fear the light and the known.

      All with good characters, I promise.

      Your comment initially went to spam, and then I couldn’t find it for a while after I’d approved it – tech does strange things.

      Liked by 2 people

      • If I used words from a song, I’d need to get permission from the copyright owner, other things a writer uses (names of buildings, some places, names of organisations, etc.) also need approval from those who manage or own access to the use of such – and it can be a minefield. The core of the story would change if I took out the ‘bit’, so I’m leaving the story to sit for a while.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Imagine if I wanted to use your name …
        I’d rather do it with permission that get legal issues. It’s also courteous to ask the people/owners involved if I want to use their stuff. Better to do the right thing, even though I don’t understand all the ins and outs.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmn, bit conflicted about these. The punctuation, lazy use of adverbs, etc. make sense. In fact, I can personally tick a lot of these rules – well, ahem, to about 90 per cent (though do like a bit of purple hooptedoodle, so that’s a big difference). But some of this relates to a specific, narrative driven (Leonard being known for crime writing – with a twist), stripped back and low-fact muscular style. There need to be different styles for different tastes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve discovered that the writing is easy, the editing (I call it the RRR – Review, Revise, Rewrite) takes twice as long (or longer) if I work hard at finding one word to replace three (for clarity), to add in the details needed to make sure the end is a real ‘sock it to ’em’ moment, and getting all the details right. Then there’s the flow of the story, and finally, there’s the grammar and spell-check (which also needs a day or two for each). Writing is easy in comparison.
      I think the time we get ‘ fed up ‘ is the time to put it down for a few days so our mind can ‘ refresh ‘ and we don’t miss something important in the details.
      Well, that’s me, anyway. I’m sure everyone does it their own way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Um, I have to admit I don’t plan my blog posts, only the stories. I often have to come back to the blog to fix something, but stories take so much effort and process that I don’t want to do it when posting something for fun. I know, that’s bad …

        Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s harder in the beginning, because we don’t really understand why there are these rules, but after a dozen or so serious edit sessions, it becomes clear – as does the need to sometimes do it your own way.
      *grin* Or is that another newbie attitude?

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t like them unless it’s a special thing, an aside that leads to something, but only if you think between the lines. I don’t like backstory prologues, mainly because a lot of them are better than the main story, and should have been the story … but that’s just me. I’ll read ’em, but if the prologue doesn’t catch me, I don’t get to chapter 1. There are plenty of other stories out there.

      Liked by 1 person

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