Martin Amis On Elmore Leonard And Elmore Leonard On Elmore Leonard
I just got a letter questioning the way I wrote something, and I wrote back with a bit I will often include at the bottom of a column when I worry that some over-zealous copy editor will “correct” something I’ve written in a column.
I wrote back to the guy:
Very observant, and yes, technically, it would be half of everything THEY own, but I was writing from the man’s point of view. I will often go by what Elmore Leonard advises in his 10 Rules of Writing: “If proper usage gets in the way, it may sometimes have to go.”
If you’re interested in Elmore’s work (I recommend Swag), Martin Amis did a wonderful intro of him at The National Book Awards we just attended, referring to a bit of his rule-breaking and how he writes in the present participle: “We are in a kind of marijuana tense.”
Amis comes up after a brief intro by a woman.
By the way, the “10 Rules” came from a speech Elmore scrawled on two sheets of yellow paper that he gave at a conference called Bouchercon. It was Gregg’s idea to turn the “10 Rules” into a book, and he shepherded it along and got Harper Collins to agree to do it.
My favorite and probably the most important: “Leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” (I live in terror of boring people. If you pay for a book, or take the time to read my column, I want you to have a great ride. A book containing science and information, as Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, my next book, does, can’t always be a laugh riot, so I at least strive to be very clear and to use interesting words and ways of saying things so people will get pleasure out of the entire ride…word after word after word.