In connection with the death of Elmore Leonard at age 87, the prolific author’s 2001 New York Times article “Writers on Writing: Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle” resurfaced.
As someone who enjoys Leonard’s stories — and am a huge fan of the TV show JUSTIFIED based on Leonard’s character Raylan Givens, I found Leonard’s writing points especially insightful. And I am pleased to say that, after years of working on improving my fiction writing, I actually do many of the things he advises.
I particularly liked his point 8 because I personally am not very interested in authors’ physical descriptions of their characters — and I admit I have a very hard time writing this kind of description for the characters in my own books.
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.
Whether you are a writer or a reader, I think you’ll enjoy reading Leonard’s entire article now.
P.S. You might want to check out my newest fiction work on Wattpad to see if I’m doing a good job of following Leonard’s tips — click here to read chapters of the dystopian thriller THE MOTHER SIEGE.
© 2013 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks, including TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO PUBLISH AND MARKET YOUR BOOK IN THE AGE OF AMAZON and the romantic suspense spy thriller CIA FALL GUY.