Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard (1925 - 2013)

cover art 52 Pickup

I hate that in its obituary for Elmore Leonard, the New York Times felt the need to sniff down its long, blue-blooded corporate nose, and call him “a modern master of American genre writing” [italics mine]. I’m sure no offense was intended, and I suspect Leonard wouldn’t have objected, but still, the qualification is wholly unnecessary. He was a master. Period. And the fact is, he didn’t aspire to the literary pantheon. He preferred to be read, and his influence was not limited to other "genre" writers. There are a lot of people referred to as "writer's writers," Elmore Leonard was a writer's writer's writer. He was that good. He was not only the consummate craftsman, he was a bit of a visionary. Leonard was one of those people who come along when an art form has gone a little soft, become a little too reliant on convention and its practitioners a little too pleased with themselves, who strips the form down and re-imagines it, and in so doing revitalizes the art. Elmore Leonard did that twice, for the western and then crime fiction.

If you regularly write anything more complex than a grocery list and you haven’t memorized Leonard’s 10 Rules for Good Writing, do it now...

No, really. I'm serious. NOW

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