Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle… by Elmore Leonard

Posted on by lola in Uncategorized | Comments Off

 I absolutely luv this list on the rules of writing- especially the last one! Published in the New York Times in 2001 it’s a timeless list I hope all you budding (and published) writers will find useful- I know I did!

 

WRITERS ON WRITING; Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle 

 By Elmore Leonard  (Published: July 16, 2001)

1. Never open a book with weather.

If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

2. Avoid prologues.

They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.

There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s ”Sweet Thursday,” but it’s O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: ”I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy’s thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That’s nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don’t have to read it. I don’t want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story.”

3. Never use a verb other than ”said” to carry dialogue.

The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with ”she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ”said” . . .

. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ”full of rape and adverbs.”

5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

6. Never use the words ”suddenly” or ”all hell broke loose.”

This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use ”suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories ”Close Range.”

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s ”Hills Like White Elephants” what do the ”American and the girl with him” look like? ”She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

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

Unless you’re Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison. But even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

And finally:

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

 

Brilliant stuff! Read the full article here:!

My LitFactor article is up!

Posted on by lola in Uncategorized | Comments Off

I wrote an article recently about working a day job and writing.

Whilst a bit tongue n cheek, I did include some truths…                                         litfactor

LitFactor is a literary matchmaker, designed to unite unpublished authors with literary agents, online, to support the discovery of new writing talent.

Click here to read the article!

 

Enjoy,

 

Lola

Where is Half of a Yellow Sun?

Posted on by lola in Uncategorized | Comments Off

I am of course referring to the movie adaptation of  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s lovely novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’.  I read this book many moons ago and have been waiting for the film adaptation to appear at the cinema (I already have my movie partner  -YBS that’s you!)

I just need the date, movie peeps! Having researched online, all I can find is ‘awaiting a UK release date’.  In the meantime, here’s a lil video about the movie.

 


I am sooo looking forward to the current batch of movies starring Black/British actors.   The films ’12Years a Slave’ and ‘Mandela’ are musts for me and The Butler, which I saw last month, was a phenomenal movie.  I am soooo proud of Idris, Chiwetel and David.

At this point, I have to mention a movie I saw on the plane this week called ‘Fruitvale Station’. This stars a wonderful actor named Michael B Jordan (no, not the sportsman!) who is absolutely brilliant. I am not sure if we will get a release date here in the UK but I really hope so. Everyone should watch this movie. Oh and I must also mention another movie I watched on the plane; ‘Parkland’ about the events after the assassination of  President John F Kennedy. Only a few days before, I visited the Sixth Floor Museum at Deeley Plaza, where the assassination took place and it was very eerie indeed. So, watching the film so soon after was helpful. It focused on people we have not heard much about over the years,  like the doctor who treated the president and what he went through on that day.

 

At this rate, I will have no time to write!!

Until next time,

 

Lola