Elmore (“Dutch”) Leonard, author of Hombre, Get Shorty and Rum Punch, laid down ten rules for good writing. They’re hard to beat:
- Never open a book with weather.
- Avoid prologues.
- Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
- Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
- Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
- Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
- Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
- Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
- Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
- Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
And he said, “My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”