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Category: On Writing

Some Advice on Writing Advice: Elmore Leonard’s Rules

Elmore Leonard was one of the greats. I own and love Out of SightKillshot, Get Shorty, Mr. MajestykValdez is Coming and a few more. He’s one of the writers I wish I could write like, but my propensity for wordiness often precludes it. He is still an inspiration and a titan.

He has a list of “10 Rules for Good Writing” that you can find pretty easily online. Like other writing advice lists, it is considered fairly unassailable by some. Understandably, at least on the surface. Advice from a legend is priceless. Strangely, though, his rules do not align with the content his ten favorite books. I haven’t read every single one of the books on that second list, but the ones I have read tell me that several of his favorite books–per his official website–contain things that flout the “rules.” READ MORE

The Problems with Paying Writers with “Exposure”

Generally speaking, exposure alone can be worth it. The television show Shark Tank provides easy evidence of that. For any not inclined to immediately click out of this post, the linked inc.com article breaks down just how beneficial an appearance on the show can be to a business that has a product to sell directly to consumers, regardless of whether the business hooks a “shark” as an investor. Bombas socks, for instance, got passed on by every investor on the show, but nonetheless saw their sales skyrocket. I even looked into buying a pair, but just can’t bring myself to spend quite that much on socks; even so, I’d have never even known of Bombas if not for the Shark Tank appearance, and the stats evince that the same applies to many other people. 1 More importantly to many other buyers. And that’s just one example of many from the inc.com article. In many of those cases, the owners of the business come out ahead by not getting an offer, since they get an increase in revenue without having to relinquish any of their business interest (at least not since Mark Cuban killed ABC’s previous policy of demanding a percentage of any company’s equity or royalties in return for just appearing on the show). READ MORE

Story Turn-offs: Obvious Meaningful Names

In my teenage years, when I first started taking writing at least semi-seriously, but still thought I could somehow be a successful screenwriter while still living in San Antonio, I wrote a very, very, very bad script called Reaper. This was in the post-Scream slasher renaissance, so naturally I’d written a whodunit slasher story, and just as naturally I tried to get way too “cute” and “clever” with it. Probably the worst of many bad things featured in that script was the last name of the man who’d eventually be revealed as the killer: Ankou. READ MORE

One of the Keys to Keeping “Unlikable” Characters Tolerable

The recent box-office disappointment Rough Night drew obvious comparisons to the movie Very Bad Things given the shared premise of “accidental killing of stripper/sex worker leads to cover-up and further criminal behavior.” In speaking of Very Bad Things, several of the film’s detractors have pointed to just how vile and insufferable the characters were. Sure, it’s a dark comedy/thriller, so at least some of its characters are expected to be criminals. And it’s far, far, far from being the first or only movie whose primary characters are unsympathetic, selfish and even murderous assholes. And while there are certain people who are just never going to be on board with watching or reading a story featuring “unlikable” unsympathetic characters, there are many others (like me) who find such stories interesting, provided that the story is, well, interesting, and provided that the unlikable characters aren’t utterly insufferable. READ MORE

Why Write Horror? Because it’s always there…

It’s not much of a stretch to surmise that most horror writers will, at some point, be asked, “Why do you write that stuff?” Depending on how it’s asked it can either be seen as valid or annoying. If asked out of genuine curiosity, it’s the former; when asked with thinly veiled derision, it’s the latter. But I think most horror writers would probably acknowledge, if they’re being honest, that they’ve asked themselves that same question at least once. READ MORE