Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Elmore Leonard: 1925-2013

Elmore Leonard, 87, passed away last night. He was born in New Orleans, but spent most of his life in Detroit. He wrote 45 novels, many of which were made into movies. His books were, he said, "about people, with guns, in dire situations."

Leonard served in construction during World War II. After the war, he worked at an advertising agency, but got bored. So he started writing Westerns in his free time. He quit advertising to write full-time in 1961 and eventually moved into crime writing.

I always start with the characters. I get to page 300 and I start thinking about the ending.

The first part moves along O.K., and then I have to think about the second part, because the second part keeps it going. And then you've got to get to some new things, say around page 250. There is always those surprises near the end.
The first of his crime novels, Big Bounce, was rejected 84 times before it was published as a paperback in 1969.

He didn't have a best-seller until his 60th year, and few critics took him seriously before the 1990s.

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“You asking me,” Catlett said, “do I know how to write down words on a piece of paper? That’s what you do, man, you put down one word after the other as it comes in your head. It isn’t like having to learn how to play the piano, like you have to learn notes. You already learned in school how to write, didn’t you? I hope so. You have the idea and you put down what you want to say. Then you get someone to add in the commas and shit where they belong, if you aren’t positive yourself. Maybe fix up the spelling where you have some tricky words. There people do that for you. Some, I’ve even seen scripts where I know words weren’t spelled right and there was hardly any commas in it. So I don’t think it’s too important. You come to the last page you write in ‘Fade out’ and that’s the end, you’re done.” ~Elmore Leonard, Get Shorty
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1 comment:

Kathy Smart said...

Elmore Leonard also wrote 10 Rules of Writing. It was near the end of his life so should be full of wisdom. Have you read it?