More rules, you say. Yes, and they are probably also wrong. What is true is that editors like to find excuses to reject, and it's better not to give them any. On the other hand, they aren't always right.
Well, every creative writing professor I ever had tried to tell me how to write my books. Sometimes they came right out and told me, sometimes they gave me very low marks for what I now have a publishing contract to write. So, I was glad to read Elmore's "rules" knowing perfectly well they weren't rules for everyone, just a way to open up the discussion and let people know that maybe it is okay to do things your own way.
And, "He don't know shit," doesn't tell you any more about that character than, "He doesn't know what he's talking about," tells you. In each case they give you a hint at how the character feels about language and that's all. Anything else is what you bring to it.
Leonard doesn't demand other write that way: those are his rules, how he does it. (At least, as John says, what he's willing to admit to.)
What I referred to as dismissive was the comment about "writing for people who don't like to read." While Leonard may have more going on than he admits to, those rules sum his books up pretty well. I can't believe he writes for people who don't like to read; they're not going to read the books, and someone has bought a lot of them. (Got to be more than John and Jack and me paying for his pool.)
Unless we're talking about a more elevated plane of reading that can only appreciate writing worthy of it. That's a different argument. ;)
There's a big difference between writing as a commercial enterprise and writing as art. What Joe's talking about is getting published, and he knows a lot about that and that's fine.
But the actual writing is something else.
If you want to write good, solid, marketable genre fiction, there's nothing wrong with that. But as we've discussed here many times, it's not for everyone.
I still see it as the difference between wanting to make money serving people food. Some people are perfectly happy owning a franchise, a McDonalds or an East Side Marios and some people want to own their own small gourmet restaurant and be a chef. It's all good, I've eaten at all of those kinds of places and been happy with the meals.
But to serve food at a McDonalds you don't need to learn how to cook, you don't need to study cooking, start as a sous-chef (or whatever they're called) and even come up with any of your own dishes.
Whichever one makes you happy is the one you should do.
I like the food analogy. I like what Chandler said in "The Simple Art of Murder":
"It seems to me that production of detective stories on so large a scale, and by writers whose immediate reward is small and whose need of critical praise is almost nil, would not be possible at all if the job took any talent. In that sense the raised eyebrow of the critic and the shoddy merchandizing of the publisher are perfectly logical. The average detective story is probably no worse than the average novel, but you never see the average novel. It doesn’t get published. The average—or only slightly above average—detective story does."
The point is that writing something is easy, but writing well is not. Instruction can help with that a lot, I think.
Now that was conciliatory, John M. Thank you. I don't suppose there's anyone here who doesn't know that hardboiled isn't for me. I don't admire it. I'm also not particularly on the noir bandwagon.
But I have read and praised books that others have called hardboiled and noir. I would just call them good novels. Perhaps they were the ones that "transcended" the genre.
I just checked out this review, and it looks to me as if the authors don't have much of anything fresh to say. But what really turned me off was their dictum that in most books, pets should have about as high a profile as an armchair. In general, the presence of pets adds immensely to my enjoyment, as long as they're not overdone. But then, dogs figure prominently in both my books. (My cat just came in and rubbed against my leg, though, reminding me that this emphasis will change in future works.)
For a good mystery how-to, the best I've read in recent years is Chris Roerden's Don't Murder Your Mystery. I like Stephen King's book, too. All in all, reading these books can't hurt - as the 12-steppers say, "Take what you need and leave the rest."
Owning a bookstore, I have read almost every "How to Write" book published and got a good chuckle from most. Stephen King's is more autobiographic and a fun read. For a beginner, these are invaluable tools. For an author, these refresh memories of days gone past.
As to rules and "reading is best way to learn", hmm, I watch golf on TV and can't hit a ball. I read several thousand books before I attempted to write my first story. That attempt killed a few trees and is collecting dust on some old hard drive. I found the best way to learn was to write, write, and write more. The second best was to beta read and comment for other authors. Each time I beta read, I recognize some quality that can be improved in my work.
As to POV consistency, passive vs active, adverb or no adverb, dialogue tags other than said, long descriptive passages or action until your reader passes out, cliff hanger paragraph endings, a hook in the first sentence, don't use exclamations!!!, and watch those pronouns. Wow, with all those rules in place I can write a computer program to write my story. A good novel follows good writing practices. These practices generally adhere to some rule somewhere, but they are definitely not universal. Every writer has ther own level of how forcefully they follow each rule...I think they call this the voice....and with so many rules at so many levels, we have millions of possible writing styles or voices.
In summary, refine your voice and pray others like it.