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“Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of 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.”
Elmore Leonard
“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing
“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.”
Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing
“Psychopaths... people who know the differences between right and wrong, but don't give a shit. That's what most of my characters are like.”
Elmore Leonard
“It doesn't have to make sense, it just has to sound like it does.”
Elmore Leonard, Freaky Deaky
“There are cities that get by on their good looks, offer climate and scenery, views of mountains or oceans, rockbound or with palm trees; and there are cities like Detroit that have to work for a living, whose reason for being might be geographical but whose growth is based on industry, jobs. Detroit has its natural attractions: lakes all over the place, an abundance of trees and four distinct seasons for those who like variety in their weather, everything but hurricanes and earth-quakes. But it’s never been the kind of city people visit and fall in love with because of its charm or think, gee, wouldn’t this be a nice place to live.”
Elmore Leonard
"Wonderful things can happen", Vincent said, "when you plant seeds of distrust in a garden of assholes."
Elmore Leonard, Glitz
“I spent most of my dough on booze, broads and boats and the rest I wasted.”
Elmore Leonard, LaBrava
“Write the book the way it should be written, then give it to somebody to put in the commas and shit.”
Elmore Leonard
“I'm very much aware in the writing of dialogue, or even in the narrative too, of a rhythm. There has to be a rhythm with it … Interviewers have said, you like jazz, don’t you? Because we can hear it in your writing. And I thought that was a compliment.”
Elmore Leonard
“I started out of course with Hemingway when I learned how to write. Until I realized Hemingway doesn't have a sense of humor. He never has anything funny in his stories.”
Elmore Leonard
“Fate was working its ass off when it got us all together.”
Elmore Leonard
“A man can be in two different places and he will be two different men. Maybe if you think of more places he will be more men, but two is enough for now.”
Elmore Leonard, Valdez Is Coming
“And she thought if you don't have the desire to fight or wait for something there's no reason for being on earth.”
Elmore Leonard, Last Stand at Saber River
“I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
Elmore Leonard
“There were a lot of terms you had to learn, as opposed to the shylock business where all you had to know how to say was 'Give me the fuckin money.”
Elmore Leonard, Get Shorty
“I always felt, you don’t have a good time doin crime, you may as well find a job.”
Elmore Leonard, Raylan
tags: humor
“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.”
Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing
“It's my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing.”
Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing
“You never know what somebody might tell you,' Chris said, 'when they think you're somebody else.”
Elmore Leonard, Freaky Deaky
“all over the world...the past was being wiped out by condominiums.”
Elmore Leonard, Cat Chaser
“Avoid Prologues. They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword.”
Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing
“You thinkin bout the time I shot you and you rose from the dead? It only happens once in your life." He turned to Carol again and she said:

"Were you actually aiming at his hat?"

"I hit it didn't I?”
Elmore Leonard
“There’s something happening here, I know it. It’s right in front of my face, but I just can’t see it.”
Elmore Leonard, Unknown Man #89
“I don’t think writers compete, I think they’re all doing separate things in their own style.”
Elmore Leonard
“The shots left a hard ringing sound within the closeness of the brick walls. Terry held the pistol at arm's length on a level with his eyes--the Russian Tokarev resembling an old-model Colt .45, big and heavy--and made the sign of the cross with it over the dead. He said, "Rest in peace, motherfuckers," turned, and walked out of the beer lady's house to wait at the side of the road.”
Elmore Leonard, Pagan Babies
“You know what people who go to nude beaches look like?"

"Tell me."

"People who shouldn't go to nude beaches."

"Is Chili Palmer joining the tour?'

"I wasn't told"

"Ask Nick for me."

About a minute went by. Now he heard Nick saying, "Tell him if he goes near Chili Palmer I'll see that he suffers excruciating pain and will never fucking walk again in his life."

And, then Robin's voice: "Nick said to tell you that if you go near Chili Palmer he'll have your legs broken."

"Why couldn't he say it like that?"

"He reads, but the wrong books.”
Elmore Leonard, Be Cool
“The one thing Leonard won't tolerate is fancy prose. As he states in his 10 Rules of Writing: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
Elmore Leonard
“when you're really cute that's all you have to be, you make a career out of it. someone asks you what you do, you say, 'nothing. i'm cute.”
Elmore Leonard, Killshot
“But when you begin with bullshit the conclusion you reach is still bullshit.”
Elmore Leonard

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