Elmore Leonard

(Elmore John Leonard Jr.)

Elmore Leonard
Elmore Leonard
  • Born: October 11, 1925
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Novelist

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Elmore John Leonard Jr. was an American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. His earliest novels, published in the 1950s, were Westerns, but he went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures.

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A friend of mine who is in the publishing business knew I was writing a book, and he said, 'Have you said anything yet about the good guy? Because I know you spend so much time with the bad guys.' Because they're fun. So then you have to make the good guy fun, in order to compete. That's the challenge. Time ;Business, Commerce & Finance
Everyone has his own sound. I'm not going to presume how to tell anybody how to write.
I can write anywhere. But I don't use a computer, and I could never write on a laptop. I hate the sound of computers; it's too dull, like it's not doing anything for you. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I decided to write Westerns because there was a terrific market for Westerns in the '50s. There were a lot of pulp magazines, like 'Dime Western' and '10 Story Western' that were still being published. The better ones paid two cents a word. And I thought, 'I like Westerns.'
I do have fun writing, and a long time ago, I told myself, 'You got to have fun at this, or it'll drive you nuts.' Time
I do this a lot with names. I'll start with a name, and then for some reason he won't talk much, or he's older than I pictured him just because of a name I give him. So then I finally get the right name, and I can't shut the guy up. This always happens. There's always a character who gives me trouble that way.
I don't believe in writer's block or waiting for inspiration. If you're a writer, you sit down and write.
I don't get in a position to be frightened. I don't do anything dangerous, and I always pay my bills.
I don't have any of the modern electronics at all. I know the Internet would be a distraction. I would see things that interested me and never get back to writing.
I don't have any of the modern stuff. I don't have e-mail. I don't have a computer!
I don't want to write any more screenplays, I'll tell you that right now. It's a waste of time. You've got too many people who think they have the answer to a good screenplay and they don't. No one knows. Time
I get letters. I get several a week, I think. A lot of people want a picture, a lot of people just want an autograph.
I got halfway through 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.' I don't get it at all. What's the big thrill? It's boring.
I have fun writing. I don't make it a chore. I don't have to struggle with it.
I left advertising as fast as I could in 1961. And I haven't ever thought about going back.
I never know what I'm going to write next. If I'm still writing the book but I'm very near the end, and I begin to think of what I'd like to do next, then I'll know that what I'm writing is in hand. I'll think of an ending and it will be fine.
I never see my bad guys as simply bad. They want pretty much the same thing that you and I want: they want to be happy.
I once saw Dizzy Gillespie at a live show, and it made me want to go home immediately and start writing.
I really - I don't take my work that seriously, and I think that's what keeps me loose. If I try to write, if I catch myself trying to write, I'll fall right on my face. I'll see it. If I see in the prose that I'm - 'Boy, look at me writing,' I rewrite it. I rewrite it because I don't, because I think it's distracting. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I still read Hemingway. I still read his short stories because they're so good. He doesn't waste any words.
I think any writer is a fool if he doesn't do it for money. There needs to be some kind of incentive in addition to the project. It all goes together. It's fun to sit there and think of characters and get them into action, then be paid for it. Money, Coins & Minting
I think any writer is a fool if he doesn't do it for money. There needs to be some kind of incentive in addition to the project. It all goes together. It's fun to sit there and think of characters and get them into action, then be paid for it. I can't believe it when writers tell me 'I don't want to show my work to anybody'. Money, Coins & Minting ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I think the best advice I give is to try not to write. Try not to overwrite, try not to make it sound too good. Just use your own voice. Use your own style of putting it down.
I try to leave out the parts readers skip.
I used to be able to write five pages a day, every day, no problem. Now a good day is five or four pages, and that's from 9:30 A.M. until 6 P.M.
I want the reader to know what's going on. So there's never a mystery in my books.
I would say just start writing. You've got to write every day. Copy someone that you like if you think that perhaps could become your sound, too. I did that with Hemingway, and I thought I was writing just like Hemingway. Then all of a sudden it occurred to me - he didn't have a sense of humor. I don't know anything he's written that's funny. Humor
If I have several bad guys and I only want to end up with one of them, then I have to decide which one I want in the end. And normally it's the one who is the most interesting talker.
If I just sit here, what am I going to do? I don't have a trade. I don't teach or anything. I just love to make up characters and gradually build a story around them. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
If work was a good thing, the rich would have it all and not let you do it. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
If you take a few days to write an outline, you're just making up scenes that you think will work, that you think will be interesting. But as you write it, other ideas occur - better ideas that have to do with what you're writing. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I'm not aware of a cadence when writing, but I hear it after. I write in longhand, and that helps. You're closer to it, and you have to cross things out. You put a line through it, but it's still there. You might need it. When you erase a line on a computer, it's gone forever.
I'm not going to write for posterity. I'm going to write to make a buck.
It took me 20 years to buy an electric typewriter, because I was afraid it would be too sensitive. I like to bang the keys. I'm doing action stories, so that's the way I like to do it.
My characters have to talk, or they're out. They audition in early scenes. If they can't talk, they're given less to do, or thrown out.
My purpose is to entertain and please myself. I feel that if I am entertained, then there will be enough other readers who will be entertained, too.
Never open a book with weather. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.
People ask me, 'Why are you still writing books?' Like I'm still only writing to make money and as soon as I have enough I'll quit and go fishing? I like to write books. It's the most satisfying thing I do. Money, Coins & Minting
Really, when I write a book I'm the only one I have to please. That's the beauty of writing a book instead of a screenplay.
Sometimes female characters start out as the wife or girlfriend, but then I realize, 'No, she's the book,' and she becomes a main character. I surrender the book to her.
The bad guys are the fun guys. The only people I have trouble with are the so-called normal types. Their language isn't very colorful, and they don't talk with any certain sound.
The truth is that the writers who most influenced me weren't people categorized as crime writers. I'd say I learned more from John O'Hara, who isn't much read today but whose short stories I really admired, and Hemingway, who I think has lasted pretty good. Truth
There are 500 million people on Facebook, but what are they saying to each other? Not much.
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. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
There are some people who have been reading me for years, and they keep saying kind things about the writing. That's what you're writing for, to get people to respond to it.
To me, a book is a book, an electronic device is not, and love of books was the reason I started writing. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
To me, writing is the most fun. It's not always fun, but finally when you make it come out the way you want, it's then you can say, 'It's fun, boy.'
When I get an idea for a book, something appeals to me, it's usually a character. I'll see a picture of a female marshal in front of the courthouse in Miami and she's got a shotgun on her hip and it goes up on an angle. And she's good-looking. And I say, 'I've got to use her.'
When people ask me about my dialogue, I say, 'Don't you hear people talking?' That's all I do. I hear a certain type of individual, I decide this is what he should be, whatever it is, and then I hear him. Well, I don't hear anybody that I can't make talk.
When you are developing your style, you avoid weaknesses. I am not good at describing things, so I stay away from it. And if anyone is going to describe anything at all, it's going to be from the point of view of the character, because then I can use his voice, and his attitude will be revealed in the way he describes what he sees.
Writers - all writers, even screenwriters - like to make their mark. I don't think many screenwriters can write. They pass as writers.
Writing on the beach is not what it's cracked up to be. The sand blows, and you perspire, and the page gets all blotty and messed up, so I don't do that anymore.
Writing screenplays is not my business. I've written half a dozen, and maybe half of those were made. But it was never a satisfying experience. It was just work. You're an employee. You would be told what to do. Studio execs would cross out my dialogue and put in their dialogue. Business, Commerce & Finance ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force

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