Thanks to Les Edgerton:
I learned that a legend has died: ELMORE LEONARD
Hollywood never got his novels right, turning black comedy into slapstick.
His first novel, “The Big Bounce,” was filmed twice, in 1969 and 2004. After seeing the first version, he declared it to be “at least the second-worst movie ever made.”
In a much-told anecdote, he said that once he saw the remake, he knew what the worst one was.
Amused and possibly a bit exasperated by frequent requests to expound on his writing techniques, Mr. Leonard drew up “Ten Rules of Writing,” published in The New York Times in 2001.
“Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip,” “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it” and other gems spoke to Mr. Leonard’s puckish wit.
But put into practice, his “rules” do indeed capture the essence of his own spare style.
Take Rule # 3: "Never use a verb other than 'said' to carry dialogue."
Good writing is not about the writer (and the way he sounds or the size of her vocabulary) but about the story.
The writer must remain invisible.
Leonard explains Rule 3:
"The line of dialogue belongs to the character. The verb is the writer sticking his nose in; ... 'Said' is far less intrusive than 'grumbled,' 'gasped,' or 'cautioned.' "
Ditto for asseverated, a word that once sent him in search of a dictionary, thus breaking the spell of the story he was reading.
Rule 10 may raise hackles:
"Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."
This means "thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them."
Says he: "I'll bet you don't skip dialogue."
Acknowledging his approval of “Justified” was a major concession for Mr. Leonard,
who was candidly and comically disdainful of the treatment his books generally received from Hollywood, even commercially successful films like “Get Shorty.”
Mr. Leonard had an ear, and his main objective was to let his chatty characters have their say.
“I always write from a character’s point of view,” he said,
adding that he couldn’t even begin writing a scene until he had decided which character would be assigned the narrative voice.
In person and in private, he was very much like his hero in “Split Images”: “one of those quiet guys who looked at you and seemed to know things.”