fiction · Uncategorized

Elmore Leonard’s Rules: The Irresistible Novel

In chapter 19 of The Irresistible Novel, Jeff Gerke takes a closer look at Elmore Leonard’s rules. Elmore Leonard is a famous author of tons of famous novels including Fifty-Two Pickup, Be Cool, Out of Sight and Mr. Paradise. The point of adding this chapter to The Irresistible Novel is to show that even the most seasoned writers neglect to follow industry “rules” and that “rules” they have established for themselves may not always apply to everyone. Hence, making the point of the entire Gerke book clear: Each of us has a writing voice that is unique to us. (And also, rules are stupid!) Here is a look at the ten Elmore Leonard rules:


*Click on highlighted rules to take a look at Gerke’s take on that rule from earlier chapters.

Rule 1- Never open a book with weather

Rule 2- Avoid Prologues

Rule 3- Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue

Rule 4-Never use an adverb to modify the verb ‘said’

Rule 5- Keep your exclamation points under control

Rule 6- Never use the word ‘suddenly’ or ‘all hell broke loose’

Rule 7- Use regional dialect sparingly

Rule 8- Avoid detailed descriptions of characters

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

Rule 10-Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip

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