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Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing [Hardcover]

by Elmore Leonard
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 30, 2007 0061451460 978-0061451461

"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.

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Editorial Reviews


“(It) won me over. The illustrations, by Joe Ciardiello, are perfectly Leonardesque; the paper is art-book luxurious.” (Boston Globe)

“It’s hard to argue with the master of the craft. Clever line drawings by Joe Ciardiello spice things up.” (Christian Science Monitor)

About the Author

Elmore Leonard wrote forty-five novels and nearly as many western and crime short stories across his highly successful career that spanned more than six decades. Some of his bestsellers include Road Dogs, Up in Honey’s Room, The Hot Kid, Mr. Paradise, Tishomingo Blues, and the critically acclaimed collection of short stories Fire in the Hole. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Rum Punch, which became Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie BrownJustified, the hit series from FX, is based on Leonard’s character Raylan Givens, who appears in Riding the Rap, Pronto, Raylan and the short story “Fire in the Hole”. He was a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA, and the Grand Master Award of the Mystery Writers of America. He was known to many as the ‘Dickens of Detroit’ and was a long-time resident of the Detroit area.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061451460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061451461
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Version Warning February 20, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Perhaps this is a nice book to look at in print.

But Kindle readers beware: the text is only a few hundred words long and can be easily found on the net for free.

This makes the Kindle version very poor value indeed.
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169 of 194 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A slap in the face of the aspiring writer November 28, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What we have here is an 85-page hardback book that has the contents of a 4-page article from the New York Times. How is this possible? You can use cardstock instead of paper, to make the book 3/4" thick. Then you put one paragraph on a page. And on other pages, you put one sentence. Make 85% of the book white space, and make the book pretty small. Add some pen and ink drawings on some pages. Pretty soon, this hardback book is starting to look like a hardback book. You can't bend the pages (remember that they are made of cardstock). How long does it take to read this hardback book? A little bit longer than reading an essay in the NY Times. The pages are easier to turn in the NY Times.

It is interesting that the Tag Suggestions provided by Amazon.com include the terms "ripoff" and "rip off". I'll choose "rip off" as it takes up more space and will make this review seem much more like the length of a hardback book.
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86 of 100 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a bit of a joke November 1, 2007
If you want a book that will help you improve your fiction writing, this, in my opinion is not it. It is nothing more than a magazine article stretched to fill a book. And i use the word "fill" loosely; there is a lot of white on the pages. Disappointing, too, because the author does know a thing or two about dialogue; he just chose not to share any of that in this book. For something really worth reading, I suggest Stein on Writing, and The Art and Craft of Novel Writing, by Oakley Hall.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Elmore Leonard's rules for writng like Elmer Leonard February 25, 2008
This book is considered by many readers a rip-off, a magazine article bloated into a book.
My own thought upon reading the rules themselves is that they are simply Leonard's rules for describing his own successful form of mystery story - telling.
His rules are primarily rules for what not to do, rules for making the writing economical, for making the story move without distraction.
Do not open the story with descriptions of the weather: Do not write a prologue: Never use a verb for dialogue other than 'said': Avoid detailed description of characters: Don't go into detail describing places and things: If it sounds like 'writing' correct it i.e. He explains that 'writing' is that too complicated in which one begins sentences with dependent clauses.
All in all a quite meager recipe although it does describe Leonard's practice.
If one wants to read something wonderful although a bit unkind on rules and writing one should look at Mark Twain's great essay on the errors in the writing of Fenimore Cooper.
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67 of 79 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sight Unseen November 12, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I ordered this "book" prior to its release because I couldn't see how I could go wrong with Elmore Leonard. But I did go wrong, very wrong. It is, as other reviewers have detailed, a flimsy, no-brainer of a book, whose contents would barely fill the dustcover of one of Mr. Leonard's bonafide masterpieces.

Never buy a book on the strength of its cover: A hackneyed, yet valid, addage that I disregarded with true regret. On the strength of this experience I will never order another book without being able to glimpse its contents first.

I am also disappointed that Amazon would ballyhoo this book and solicit preorders without some caveat to fans of Mr. Leonard who had good reason to expect so much more.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed January 12, 2008
I was very disappointed in the content of this book. I was expecting some meaty advice on writing and instead got cute pen & ink drawings and no helpful info. A waste of time and money!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think this is something Elmore could have given his admirers for free. I regret I didn't read the reader reviews before buying the book, and that I naively assumed the Kindle sample was not representative of what an honourable author and publisher would charge hard money for. I don't know what the hard cover version consists of, but I am sure the Kindle version has fewer than 1000 words. Yes, maybe these 10 lessons are the distillation of a hard fought search for truth that brought Elmore the writing success he has enjoyed, and for sure, one can't put a price on truths that are invaluable. But most of us are on a budget, and Elmore isn't doing this for the money at this stage in his career, so I feel taken advantage of. Because of this experience, I wonder how many of Elmore's books I am not likely to buy in the future.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elmore Leonard, 10 rules of writing May 19, 2009
When I found out my long time favourite pulp writer Elmore Leonard had written about writing, it did not take a lot of thinking before I ordered the book.
A writer of journalistic texts myself, I always try to pick up what masters like Leonard have to say on the subject.
Leonards views are similar to what i already adapted,but some knew stuff were found to.
And the layout is really nice, just as the illustrations.
Leonards rules are the best you can get, and he has adapted them on this text too, which makes it short and effective.
Maybe a bit too effective.
It doesn't take more than half an hour to read through the book.
But on the other hand, that is part of his message.
Take away everything unnecessary.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, great tips
I purchased this for someone I am mentoring to help improve his storytelling. Before giving it, I read it. I thought it was easy to read, concise and to the point. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Barbara K. Langley
5.0 out of 5 stars Short Review
Because a review of Elmore Leonard should be short. I bought this book the day he died, and read it that same day.
Published 13 days ago by Bard of Calandra
2.0 out of 5 stars Waste
This was a disappointment. The rules could have been printed on one sheet of paper and been more effective. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Roger Deas
1.0 out of 5 stars Elmore Leonard, yes; this book, no.
The rules are short and witty, but there is no need to buy this $10 book. Just consult the web or the NYTimes.
Published 28 days ago by Sun Storm
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the money. Short. Predictable, obvious.
Not worth the money. Short. Predictable, obvious. I expected much more. this is an obvious attempt to get a magazine piece into a full book size. Someone should be ashamed.
Published 1 month ago by Charles Kerlin
5.0 out of 5 stars To the Point and Enjoyable
Elmore Leonard hits the nail on the head with these guidelines. This collection of rules should help any writer improve their craft.
Published 2 months ago by Judy
1.0 out of 5 stars It`s been recommended as wonder - but its 7 sites long.
Being so incredibly short it`s not worth any price.
I`ts just 10 rules and couple of pictures - nothing more.
Published 3 months ago by M. Hojwa
2.0 out of 5 stars Coffee Table book
I didn't realize this was merely a coffee table book when I ordered it. Probably my fault for not checking the specs closely enough, but it's just a few pages long, with one of his... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Chila Woychik
2.0 out of 5 stars good advice for 99cents
Save your money. Excellent advice but I didn't realize I could read it in five minutes or less. Rest in peace, Elmore.
Published 3 months ago by Lou Zitnik
5.0 out of 5 stars rules were made to be broken
I don't know who said that, but certainly it wasn't Mr. L:
If it sounds like writing then rewrite it. "The rain in Spain fell . . . . "
Published 3 months ago by AR
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