Elmore Leonard on “said.”

The latest blog post over at ElmoreLeonard.com made by his assistant, Gregg Sutter, points readers to an audio interview with Leonard by Kendra Nordin about his Ten Rules of Writing, now in book form, plus a brief accompanying article by Elizabeth A. Brown. The article’s funny, and the interview is one of those rare instances one gets to actually hear Leonard speak. For a chance to both see and hear Elmore Leonard, check out the extras on the Out of Sight, Get Shorty (2-disc), and Jackie Brown (two-disc) DVDs.

This takes me back to my July, 2007 post, “Your words are dead to me,” I [something besides ‘said’], a post I mentioned as one of my top ten favorites of 2007, in which I become a non-fan of the North Carolina educational system. They’re declaring common vocabulary to be “dead words” and that “said” is deader than dead can be. If a writer wants to use the word “awesome” instead of “wonderful,” the way to stop them isn’t to tell them not to do it. Talk to them about why word choice is one of the most important parts of writing as craft. They may be writing about a character who would only have words like “awesome” in their vocabulary. If that’s the case, then why stifle it? If it’s a matter of whether “awesome” is appropriate for an academic essay analyzing Young Goodman Brown, then it’s a matter of working with these young writers on establishing tone and voice, not editing self and vocabulary.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If a young writer desires to expand their vocabulary, they need to read more. As for “said,” I demand to know what magical word is supposed to be so much better.


1 thought on “Elmore Leonard on “said.””

  1. I would agree with you. Awesome might fit the “voice” beautifully. That is why writing is a talent and while we might go to school because we want to know more about it, we cannot go to school to acquire talent.



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