What Would Elmore Do?


What would Elmore Do?

I have learned to ask myself this question whenever I write myself into a corner, or run into a writer’s block, or simply can’t think of something darkly clever to say. I just try to figure out what Elmore Leonard would do, and it all seems to go down like a shot of Bourbon on a warm, sunny day.

I understand that writers for the TV show Justified were made to wear bracelets with the letters WWED – to remind them of the show’s great inspiration, and the creator of the character Raylan Givens. This was a very good idea, because Elmore Leonard made it very easy for you to know exactly what he would do. His 10 Rules on Good Writing should be in reaching distance of anyone writing anything… ever. What’s more, the principles apply to the art of presenting — especially given that storytelling is so important.

Two rules I feel are especially applicable:

  • Never open a book with the weather
  • Leave out the part that readers tend to skip

Applied to presentations — avoid clunky, cliched openings. They’re boring and we all know what it’s like outside. And, cut out the parts you wouldn’t sit through yourself. That’s when people tend to fall asleep.

And, if in doubt, listen to the master himself:

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Wipe the slide clean and start again. Otherwise you’ll just be forcing an unwilling audience to sit through your weather-laden, bullet-ridden monologue. And in the words of Raylan Givens… “I think I’d rather stick my dick in a blender.”

Here are a few more tips from Elmore Leonard I found on SlideShare.

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