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Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Elmore Leonard died the other day.
America’s best living crime novelist was 87 years old.

For years as a wanna be mystery writer I would have loved to know Elmore read my stuff.  But that’s hard to do when no publisher wants to play.

But Elmore obviously knew his trade.  He had 43 books published with almost all of them having film options.

Among Leonard’s classics are “Out of Sight,” Get Shorty,” “Stick,” and “Glitz.”

Elmore Leonard
 Back in 2007, I found a copy of USA Today while flying home to San Diego.  That issue carried a feature on Elmore Leonard in which he described Ten Tips on How to Write Successful Crime Novels.

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said."
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

After re-reading my fledgling novel, I managed to break all ten rules and probably others not yet invented.

I’m skipping rewriting my novel until I finish reading all 43 of Elmore’s books.

Elmore Leonard Novels Made into Movies:

“Mr. Majestyk” (with Charles Bronson)
“Valdez Is Coming” (with Burt Lancaster)
“52 Pick-Up” (with Roy Scheider)
“Stick” (with Burt Reynolds)
“The Moonshine War” (with Alan Alda)
“Last Stand at Saber River” (with Tom Selleck)
“Gold Coast” (with David Caruso)
“Glitz” (with Jimmy Smits)
“Cat Chaser” (with Peter Weller)
“Out of Sight” (George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez)
“Touch” (with Christopher Walken)
“Pronto” (with Peter Falk)
“Be Cool” (with John Travolta)
“Killshot” (Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke).
“Get Shorty” (with John Travolta)

Excerpt from “Stick:”

“...Stick’s name was Ernest Stickley, Jr.  He was forty-two years old, born in Norman, Oklahoma, but raised in Detroit where his dad had come to work at Ford Rouge.  Stick looked like he was from another time: dustbowl farmer turned hobo.  He was at a low point in his life.

He and Rainy had met in Jackson, Michigan when both of them were staying at 4000 Cooper Street, gateway to the world’s largest walled prison: Stick was doing seven to twenty for armed robbery; Rainy three to four, possession with intent to deliver, after they told him, “You walk you talk,” which meant probation, and he turned them down, hung in and did the full three.  Rainy got out a few months before Stick’s release date.  He told Stick to come down to Miami and get some sunshine, some fresh air, meet some chicks.  Stick said he was going down there anyway to see his little girl; he hadn’t seen her since she was seven.

What they were doing now was not recreation; it was a way to make a buck...”

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