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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My blog for 10/9/2013 More Elmore Leonard

Here are two more of Elmore Leonard's recommendations for writing.

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 to get the dictionary.  (Asservate means to declare positively)

It took me a while to learn this.  And I'm sure I've made some verb errors since I did know it.
But that's pretty black and white.  Leonard says "don't do it" then it's a pretty good idea to follow.

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."

They have a nasty way of sneaking into a sentence.  Ex:  "She reluctantly said.   He quietly said.  She very delicately mentioned."  Eek.

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