Monday, May 11, 2009

10 Rules for Writing Fiction

In celebration of Elmore Leonard’s visit to our fair city this week, I give you his “10 Rules for Writing Fiction”:

(Some of these are spot on. But man, does he have a lot of rules for what you should NEVER do. Never use a prologue? What if a prologue is exactly what the story needs? And Rule #3 has always bothered me. Never use any word but “said” to carry dialogue? If a character is upset while speaking, is “How dare you?” she said really better than “How dare you?” she cried? All right, all right, enough. I love and revere Elmore Leonard. Go to this event if you can: this Thursday (5/14) at the Free Library. You won’t be sorry.)


Becky said...

The thing about never using a word other than said to carry dialogue is one of those showing and telling things.

"Cried" is telling the reader something they should know from the context.

But these rules are more guidelines. There's always a time to break them it's just knowing when it is.

Greg Ippolito said...

True. But Leonard sticks to these rules quite literally. I've never seen any other word than "said" carry dialogue in his work.

But hey, it works for him.