Quotes On Writing From Elmore Leonard

5 QUOTES ON WRITING FROM ELMORE LEONARD
Categories: Brian Klems’ The Writer’s Dig.
August 20, 2013

We’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)

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

“Confessions of a Naked Writer”

Writing a screenplay, book, article, tv commercial, blog, blah, blah, requires the writer to have the ability to tell a story. How does a writer tell a story? For openers, a beginning, a middle, an end, and a main theme that holds everything together like the roots of a tree, opens the door for writers.

What does the writer do next? Find their voice. I repeat, find their voice. Voice? Writing? How does that work?

Read Daniel Quinn’s “Ishmael”, Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes”, and anything Elmore Leonard has written. Then, listen and read Garrison Keillor. He is the master storyteller. And, you will make discoveries about your writing voice.

Donald L. Vasicek
Writing/Screenwriting Consultant
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net

Brrr!!!

Author in Chicago's Millenium Park on Michigan Avenue

“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”

by
Donald L. Vasicek
First North American Serial Rights
About 600 words

Maybe it was the Mayan symbol for sun tatoo just down
over your rounded, smooth shoulder. Or the sleeveless,
flower print dress garnished with those white, little
daisies against the background of the navy blue cloth, that sort of
of clung on your hard body like a sack. I don’t know what
caused it.

I know I watched your breasts heaving against the
flowers, behind the cloth each time you took a breath. I
knew they were there.

And as you talked, I watched your smooth lips, like
quarters of fresh peach slices, cause some magic. Yes,
it was magic that day.

Up and until then, I always thought of you
as sweet, young and in China. I wanted to help you like I
do Panther now that the embolism took away most of his
right hind leg.

You know, sort of a be-there-all-the-time-guy to catch
you when you fall, I guess. Who in the hell knows? Well,
shit, I know and I’m bleeding to death because of it.

I walk the halls of life like a paper cup blowing
across a parking lot. First, I shoot off like a rocket.
Then, I pause. I wait. I need an attack. And something
comes along and pushes me so violently I zig zag and bump
up and down.

Then, just as brutally, I’m sucked up into this vacuum
and whipped like cream. I fly from side-to-side and drift
up into the air like God gave me a gentle shove. Finally, I
flutter to the asphalt parking lot and a Humvee runs over
me.

Since that day I’ve been a stranger to myself.
It was the words you spoke that day. It was how you
spoke them. It was how you talked limitlessly, unguarded,
secure, happy and confident in yourself. You burrowed into
me with your shyness tapping your finger just above your
mouth on the right side. Your words. Your unruffled face.
The sparkle of your blue eyes against your pristine black,
so black, wavy, soft hair, mauled me. And yet, your hair
was sort of a rust color like Panther’s sheer black coat
when a sliver of sun slices across him like it did to you
across the table from me that day.

It’s a dichotomy, you know. Faultless black with a
wedge of rust in it. Nothing is perfect, or is it?
It were as though I changed from one minute to
the next that day. We met for lunch just like we had all
those times before. To talk film. Books. To talk
writing. Politics. Denver. Columbine. Jeff. Moving to
LA. The Women In Film Group. Your dad. Your mom.
Juney and Anthony. Baltimore. Your script.
My script. My, my, my.

And when you pushed the salad into your mouth, you
know, the lettuce, the tomato, the cabbage, the sprouts,
the sunflower seeds, the carrots, the cucumbers and the
pinch of vinegar and oil, I watched you like I beheld THE
CIDER HOUSE RULES. They sort of folded into each other and
disappeared somewhere inside of you.

It was like reading an Elmore Leonard novel. I couldn’t
wait to get to the next word, the next sentence, the next
paragraph, the next page, the next chapter and the end of
the book. Even though I was working my ass off immersed in
you without even realizing it, the essence of your being
permeated my subconscious mind. It nailed the fortress of
your sum and substance into me. I was hammered into a
consciousness that twisted my life around like a corkscrew.

Before that day, I perceived you as a sweet, young
woman who was bright, worldly, naive about the film
business and your heart, and attractive. I never gave one
thought to loving you. Not one thought before that day.

You were too genuinely nice to me. Too innocent-like. So,
so delightful. You accepted me for who I was. A
writer/filmmaker. Mostly positive, pleasant, but a pariah.

A renegade. I spoke like one about how we treat animals
and how we should treat animals. And about guns and
Charlton Heston and how I wondered if I should send him a
card of praise everytime someone was killed by a gun or
when he read the BIBLE on PBS. Somehow, it reminded
me when I first noticed that our town mayor was
someone who murdered animals and he went to
church every Sunday. How can that be?

You laughed. Just laughed and looked into my eyes.

I’m still not sure if you agreed or disagreed with me. The
thing that probably riveted me to you more than anything
else was how closely you and I were able to talk with each
other. We were able to be our human selves.

Isn’t that remarkable? It made me feel as though
we were one. Since then, I haven’t been able to
think about anything or anyone else except you.
Well, maybe, except Panther and my writing.

How can this be, darling? You’ve gone off with some
handsome dude, a good guy, and I saw you being pregnant,
and I didn’t even get to tell you that I love you.