Passed yesterday:Elmore Leonard.
Along with Ira Levin and Stephen King, I cannot read Mr. Leonard's work while I am writing. He's just too good, and too clever, and his words aren't words at all and so I feel immensely inferior and so I won't read until I'm done with my own crappy pile of story.
For Elmore Leonard, there are 10 Rules to Writing:
1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said”…he admonished gravely.
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."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
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.
"My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
Number 10 is my favorite. Wish more writers did that -- I'm finding myself skipping parts that make my eyes cross.