ELMORE’S RULES OF WRITING

Finally, for the Filofacts section of this site, which is supposed to build into the essential steam-powered go-anywhere personal organiser, here are Elmore’s 10 Rules For Writers, summarised by me from a summary in the Guardian  – http://tinyurl.com/kd3g4lr/ – when Elmore published the rules as a book (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)  …

1 Never open with a weather report.  Or as Elmore’s son Peter recalled the advice:  “I recited the opening line: ‘The wind howled like a beast in pain.’ Elmore took a beat and said: ‘Never open a book from the wind’s point of view.’”

2 Avoid prologues – especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword.

3 Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said, as in “gravely” or “laughingly”.

5 Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed two or three per 100,000 words.

6 Never use the word “suddenly”.

7 Use regional dialect sparingly.

8 Avoid detailed descriptions of how characters look.

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

10 Try to recognise when you are writing the bits readers tend to skip.

In summary:  if it reads like writing, rewrite it.

 

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