Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

Great American crime novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard  passed away Tuesday at age 87. In his 60-year career, Leonard wrote nearly 50 novels. Among his best-known works are Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, and Rum Punch. His short stories include ones that became the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the current TV series on FX, Justified.

In 2001, Leonard wrote an article for the New York Times explaining his 10 fundamental rules for writing – an article that is well worth re-visiting. He opens his article with, “These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story.”

The following is an abridged version of Leonard’s article. You can read the complete NY Times article here.

At W5, we believe storytelling is fundamental in our report writing. People relate to stories. We all grew up on stories. We tell stories every day. It is ingrained in our DNA. And there is always opportunity to improve our storytelling skills. And, although you may not be a writer in the sense that your stories get published like Elmore Leonard, hopefully you’ll still find value in his 10 rules.

Rest in peace, Mr. Leonard.

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