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5 Quotes on Writing from Elmore Leonard

Categories: Brian Klems' The Writer's Dig.

elmore-leonard-writers-digestWe’re saddened to hear about the passing of literary legend Elmore Leonard (I absolutely loved his book Get Shorty when I read it in high school). He was a great writer and will be remembered through his wonderful work for years and years to come. In honor of Leonard’s passing, we’ve pulled five memorable quotes on writing from our Writer’s Digest interviews archive, as we were fortunate to get to speak with him several times over the years. Here they are.

“… The writer has to have patience, the perseverance to just sit there alone and grind It out. And if it’s not worth doing that, then he doesn’t want to write. …” (1982)

“A writer has to read. Read all the time. Decide who you like then study that author’s style. Take the author’s book or story and break it down to see how he put it together.” (1982)

“The main thing I set out to do is tell the point of view of the antagonist as much as the good guy. And that’s the big difference between the way I write and the way most mysteries are written.” (1982)

“It is the most satisfying thing I can think of, to write a scene and have it come out the way I want. Or be surprised and have it come out even better than I thought.” (1997)

“Write the book the way it should be written, then give it to somebody to put in the commas and shit.” (my favorite) (1997) [Like this quote? Click here to Tweet it!]

* Special thanks to Writer’s Digest intern Priyanka Mehta for scouring the archives to find these gems.

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6 Responses to 5 Quotes on Writing from Elmore Leonard

  1. warjna says:

    These 5 quotes alone will help me to be a better writer! Thank you for posting these. (Especially the last one!) Mr. Leonard will be missed.

  2. Kingsman says:

    Just came back from the awards dinner at the Killer Nashville mystery/thriller writers’ convention, and the keynote speaker, Dr. D.P. Lyle, shared that last quote with us. Thanks, Elmore Leonard, for the legacy of encouragement you leave for us fledgling writers!

  3. hlvilla@ymail.com says:

    Thank you for posting a tribute that includes some of Mr. Leonard’s amazing quotes.

  4. rdebeers says:

    I interviewed Elmore 20 years ago and asked him 43 questions, and he gave me some interesting answers. Are you all interested in what he said to me in private? I also interviewed Gregory MacDonald.

  5. JR MacBeth says:

    Elmore Leonard, RIP. Love that last quote, but the one about the antagonist POV is great. For me it’s not easy.

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