By the way, that’s just a figure of speech. Please don’t hit me in the face with a shovel.

As a writer I constantly have to fight the urge to tiptoe cautiously into a new project. I don’t want to make a mistake; I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot; I don’t want to lose my readers before they’ve finished the first paragraph. Well, guess what – if I start off writing like a coward I will have made a huge mistake and my readers will leave.

Don’t bore me. Get my attention with the opening sentence. Grab me by the throat and don’t let go. Hit me in the face with a shovel. Please don’t make me wait until page seventy before your book gets interesting, because if you do I won’t be around, even if your name is Stephen King.

Elmore Leonard said that after writing a draft of his novels he would go back through them and strip away all the boring parts. That’s excellent advice from the best crime fiction author I have ever read. Lose the adverbs and, please, lose the excessive, flowery, navel-gazing, introspective, self-congratulatory description
that you learned in a creative writing class or a writing seminar. It’s more likely to bog down the story than add to it. As a reader, I will skim those parts. If there are enough of them, I will give up on the book. If you’re writing, or trying to write so-called literary fiction, please warn me so I can avoid your work.

Thanks for listening. Forget what I said about the shovel in the face thing. I said forget it!

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