You can’t tell me what to do!

I agree with almost everything Dr Meg Sorick says here. Great piece that new writers in particular might want to read. Mind you, there are a few experienced writers who would benefit from this advice too!

Meg Sorick, Author/Artist

I came across this photo/list of Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing on Pinterest. It’s an excerpt fromhisessay of the same title. I thought it would be interesting to see if you all agree or disagree with these rules.


Here’s my opinion:

1. Personally, I love a story that starts with “It was a dark and stormy night…” (just kidding, unless the author is trying to be ironic).

2. How about the prologue? Is there a bit of the story that just needs to be set off by itself? I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a problem with a prologue.

3.”Said” seems to have no grey area. Writers either demand that “said” be used exclusivelyor they hate having to stick to “said.” Some say it’s the mark of an inexperienced writer to use words other than “said.” Whatever. Sometimes, words like “whispered,” “murmured,”or “shouted” just need to be used, I…

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2 thoughts on “You can’t tell me what to do!

  1. Ah, the old prologue debate. Sometimes a short ‘intro’ is needed to set the scene before the story itself begins. I’ve never had a problem with this, either as reader or writer.
    As for dialogue tags, I avoid them all, including ‘said’ whenever possible. But there’s some truth in the old adage that ‘said’ becomes invisible to the reader and therefore never intrudes.
    ! – but only 2 or 3 per 100k? What about dialogue?
    Any sentence that begins ‘suddenly’ automatically has me screaming internally, ‘amateur’! Unfair, probably, but that’s my reaction.
    Characters that are described in detail form a fixed picture in the mind of the reader, one that may then clash with that reader’s personal life experiences of such a type and therefore make it difficult for the reader to engage with the character. I usually fall back on the technique of having characters describe each other, which allows the reader to avoid this problem by assuming the description is biased or the result of an unreliable narrator.
    Places and things only need detailed description if it’s essential to the understanding of the story. Again, it can generally be achieved through the eyes of one or more characters.
    And, 10 – obviously!


  2. Hmmm…
    1) Yup. Except I do occasionally. If it’s integral to the story.
    2) Prologue? Chapter one, surely.
    3) Sorry, no. that way blandness beckons.
    4) Yup. See point 3 above.
    5) Fair cop.
    6) Okay, there are alternatives.
    7) Yup
    8) Other than your main characters, anyway.
    9) Probably yup.
    10) Naturally!

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