"I write them to find out what happens...I don't write for anybody else." So says Elmore Leornard in Today's NYTimes. And just to illustrate what a master of characterization and dialogue he is this is what he gives us:
"There's one name in the phonebook who repairs typewriters," Mr. Leonard said, adding, "he says he can live on $6,000 a year. He lives in a trailer park."
That is all he says about the typewriter guy, but with those spare details, the typewriter guy comes alive in the room, full-blown.
That economy and precision have enabled a career that has lasted more than 50 years. One day ran into the next, one book became another, and now Mr. Leonard is a nearly 80-year-old man who has just written his 40th book.
Economical and precise to be sure. One of the masters of dialogue and characterization, and yet, I'm just never tempted to read Elmore Leonard more than once... In fact, will I be buying this new book? Does it matter? Check out the podcast. Hmmm...
Oh, and check out Leonard's 10 rules for writing. Hmm again. That 10th rule, the one about leaving stuff out that the reader skips, that's a good rule. Of course, how does one know what the reader will skip? Can we really say all readers will skip the same bits? I'm thinking now that maybe I want to have the privilege of skipping or not...but maybe that's just me.