Writing Advice

Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard

5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.

6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

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.

Stephen King

Stephen King

5. You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’thave time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.

6. Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy, the work is always accomplished one word at a time.

10. Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

Anne Enright

1. The first 12 years are the worst.

Anne Enright

10. Remember, if you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day, not ­counting weekends, it changes you. It just does. It may not improve your temper, but it fixes something else. It makes you more free.



Hilary Mantel

1. Get an accountant.

Hilary Mantel

2. Read Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. Then do what it says, including the tasks you think are impossible.








And, Mark Twain

Mark Twain

1. Use the right word, not its second cousin.

2. Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

3. As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.

4. You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it.

5. Take a turn around the block & let the sentiment blow off you. There is one thing I can’t stand and won’t stand, from many people. That is, sham sentimentality

6. Use good grammar.

7. Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

8. Use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. Don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.

9. The time to begin writing is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.

10. Write without pay until somebody offers pay.

And more of the same…

What if Gary Adams Used a Narrator

Reunion Participant Gives Hotel in Maryland .005 Stars

My hotel room before they gave it to someone else.

Or, How to enjoy a reunion at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Greenbelt, Maryland when the hotel shuffles you off to the Holiday Inn, 7 minutes away.

Did I say I didn’t have a car? Do you know that in the D.C. area nothing is 7 minutes away? Do you know that at a reunion, after about six beers, you may not have a shuttle available back to the Holiday Inn at 3:00 a.m.?

This is what you see from the Holiday Inn shuttle bus each time you join your reunion.

Major League Soccer Makes Substantial Rule Changes

A covert One Monkey Typing investigation has revealed that the governing board of Major League Soccer (MLS) has met and has established new rules for league play. These new rules are designed to appeal to the American tastes in soccer. Details of the rules changes were provided by an MLS staffer whose identity cannot be revealed because she is not authorized to speak for MLS.  One Monkey Typing will protect her identity by referring to her only by her first name, Matalina.

The new rules:

  1. Each goal scored will now be worth 64 points. This will serve the American need for high scoring games.  Under this new scoring system, 73% of all league games last year would have gone over 100 points.
  2. The game will start, tied 5-5.
  3. Night games will be played without lights.
  4. Drama points will be awarded when players are tripped, collided with, or otherwise intentionally hindered severely by the opposing team. Each time a player goes down, a panel of three judges at midfield will vote on how believable the player was in portraying his injury. Points awarded by the majority of green flags:
    1. Twisted ankle – one point
    2. Bruised knee – one point
    3. Broken ankle or leg – two points
    4. Fractured ankle or leg – three points
    5. Head injury (conscious) – four points
    6. Head injury, concussion) – five points
    7. The NBA 24-second clock will be enforced.

Matalina also reported that the governing board was outraged by the behavior of players who scored a goal or won a match. Removing of shirts by players will be prohibited, especially by women players. Violating players will be fined $3.00.

With a Little Help From My Friends

Apologia pro Poemate Meo



…I have made fellowships -

Untold of happy lovers in old song.

For love is not the binding of fair lips

…But war’s hard wire wound strong.


With apologies to Wilfred Owen


These were very cheap.

Cheaper than a Kansas Jayhawk Big-12 Championship 2019 Cap.

One of the Best Views I’ve Seen of the Petrified Forest

High definition map. (Including the Painted Desert)!

Stuckey’s, Mile Marker 193, Oklahoma I-40

I was going to tell the manager that he needed to take out some weeds, but he was not available for a conference.

Ten Rules of Writing – Elmore Leonard


Elmore Leonard: Using adverbs is a mortal sin

1 Never open a book with weather. If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a charac¬ter’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead look¬ing for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways than an Eskimo to describe ice and snow in his book Arctic Dreams, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

2 Avoid prologues: they can be ¬annoying, especially a prologue ¬following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in non-fiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want. There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, but it’s OK because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks.”

3 Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But “said” is far less intrusive than “grumbled”, “gasped”, “cautioned”, “lied”. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated” and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.

4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs”.

5 Keep your exclamation points ¬under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

6 Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”. This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use “suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

7 Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apos¬trophes, you won’t be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavour of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories Close Range.

8 Avoid detailed descriptions of characters, which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”, what do the “Ameri¬can 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.

9 Don’t go into great detail describing places and things, unless you’re ¬Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language. You don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

10 Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.

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