Picture taken from his website.
It's archived on the BBC iPlayer site and you can find it here:
The Sins of Literature
The series features contributions from lots of leading authors and gives an insight into the working lives of many prominent writers.
The three programmes include:
1) Thou shalt not bore
How to avoid writing 'the bits that readers skip'
2) Thou shalt not hide
A look at how isolation can be both a help and a hindrance to writers
3) Thou shalt not steal
A discussion on plagiarism - with different viewpoints, some of which are actually rather surprising...
The timing of the shows is rather poignant as they feature heavily the "10 rules of writing" as laid down by the great crime writer Elmore Leonard, who passed away this week.
This link to the New York Times article that he wrote explains them in detail.
But here is a summarised list.
- Never open a book with the weather.
- Avoid prologues.
- Never use a verb other that "said" to carry dialogue.
- Never use an adverb to modify "said".
- Keep your exclamation marks under control - he advocates no more than 2 or 3 per 100,000 words.
- Never use the words "suddenly" or "All hell broke loose".
- Use regional dialects, patois sparingly.
- Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
- Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
- Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Of course the fun of the list is seeing just how many of these 10 rules you can break and get away with. Many famous writers proudly state how many rules they break and that's OK, because when all is said and done, not all of us want to be Elmore Leonard.
Rest in Peace, Sir.
PS I've broken at least 5 of those rules :-)