Joseph Clay – Author

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Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing – By: Elmore Leonard

Welcome to Book Review Friday

Reviews from an Authors Perspective.




This week’s review will be short, like the book, which you will be able to read its 89 pages in ten minutes. The title alone suggest that these are his rules that he uses when writing a novel, and not a comprehensive how to write instruction manual. Which simply means, don’t think you’re going to pick this little gem up, 5.25 wide X .750 tall X .875 thick, and read 89 pages of in-depth wisdom from Mr. Leonard, it ain’t going to happen. The printed text falls on the odd-numbered pages. The even-numbered ones, along with some of the odds, contain great illustrations by Joe Ciardiello or full of white space. Now on to the meat of the book, the ten rules, listed on a page all by their selves, hey, they are important, but a whole page for one sentence? The page or in a rare case pages that follow explains that rule, in a short one or two paragraph statement. The rules themselves have merit, the man wrote over 45 novels and made a good living putting pen to paper. I’m bad about breaking and following rules. The four below I break a lot, sometimes one of the editors will ding me, and sometimes they don’t.

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

#4 Never use an Adverb to Modify the Verb “Said.”

#8 Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

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

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing is a witty book, humorous at times, with good information tossed in making it a fun easy read. The message Leonard conveys is a simple one, all authors have his or her own style with weakness’ and strengths. Leonard compares his rules to other famous writers, and how if you are them, throw his rule out the window. From reading it I would venture to guess that Steinbeck was one of his favorites, he references him on more than one occasion.

The hardback cloth cover is pleasing to the eye and the dark brown leather that encase the spine, reminds me of ostrich hide. The pages are thick card stock material, not paper, adding volume to the book. They will last a while, even with constant use, although the card stock makes it hard to flip through the book. I checked the book I read out from the public library, the price on the back has it selling for 14.95 in the USA and 17.50 in Canada, I’m sure that was back in 2007 when published. The question that weighed in my mind, and maybe yours, are we willing to pay upper wards of 20.00 bucks for a book that is full of white space, you can read in ten minutes? My answer is yes, Elmore Leonard was a great American novelist who’ll be missed by readers and writers all over the world. I don’t like his writing style, see my review on Fire in the Hole, but this book is a corky explanation of the rules he follows. This Mr. Leonard book will grace my shelves. May I suggest, if you are a new author or a seasoned veteran with many writings under your belt, check the book out or stand there and read it, I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

I give Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing 4 out of 5 Stars.

That rating is high compared to what other people thought about this book. I think the low amount of stars given at times comes from misunderstanding what the book is about. I rated the book for what it was, and entertaining look into how Elmore Leonard thinks.

Joe Clay is a new author, check his work out on his Website, Smashwords and Kindle. Joe can also be found on Goodreads where he answers questions every Friday. To see what Joe is working on visit WIP.

Footnote Tidbits:

  1. The apostrophe followed by ‘s’ as in Leonard’s shows ownership. He is telling us the rules are his, you can take them or leave them.
  2. This blog has a higher word count than the book, maybe I added to much hooptedoodle.



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