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Elmore Leonard #Writing Tip Number 10

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Elmore Leonard, Rule #10

photo of writer Elmore Leonard

A good friend of mine, accomplished writer Charlie Price, shared a list of rules that make for better writing. I’m looking at this list, and #10 is intriguing. I think it’s good advice, but the problem is that I don’t know, without asking, what people skip when they read.

So I’m asking. What do you gloss over when reading an author you like?

I add the “author you like” because I’m assuming that you’ll skip a book or author entirely if it’s not to your liking. But assuming that a storyteller has hooked you, lured you in, then what would be the best way to “lose you.”

I have some theories on this point. If the conflict lags, or description is too long, florid or cliché, or the plot so murky that you have to bail out to get your bearings, then the author is in trouble, and the kindest thing you can do, short of hurling the book across the room, is to fast forward.

So my question to you, and I genuinely would like a reply, post or email, is to tell me what you (as a discerning reader) think this means. You might also give an example.

I’ll share the best suggestions I get.



#writing stuff – Aerogramme Writers’ Studio


Aerogramme Writers' Studio

This is a strong contender for my favorite website for writers. I’ve seen their stuff shared on Facebook, and decided to visit.

Dangerous move!

I wanted to spend all afternoon reading one article after the next. Great tips, funny videos. All in all a great writer’s hangout.

Check it out.

Who’s In Charge Here? Choosing the Right POV to Tell Your Story #SFWC15

@robblightfoot #annietucker

Photo of Annie Tucker at the San Francisco Writer's conference 2015

Annie Tucker at SFWC15

Annie Tucker, developmental editor and writing coach

Asked the audience to give her examples of point of view. There are a number.

1st person – “I”

2nd person “you”

3rd “a number of pronouns apply”

1st person is usually the author telling you about his or her experiences.

She will be reading examples of things she thinks work. See “The Goldfinch.”

“Because nothing much else was open and there was nothing else to do, I wandered back in the direction of…”

Also excerpts from Joan Didion’s the Year of Magical Thinking and The Black Castle.

These concepts apply to both fiction and non-fiction. The first person lets you establish a relationship between the narrator and the reader and other characters.

The first person can be an effective tool when writing from a POV of the opposite gender. It bridges the gender gap. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but it allows you to establish a relationship.

Now, 2nd person. The “you” voice is the most restrictive of the three. In the example she is to share, it suggests the “you.”

A member of the audience jumped in to give an example of a 2nd person example in a recent Indian writer.

Annie commented and said that what she wants to talk about most of this session is 3rd preson.

Types considered pros/cons

3rd person limited – author remains consistently in the mind of one character. This is a good starting point for authors to establish consistent character and voice.

Read an example from Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.”

3rd person objective is tricky to pull off (best to do 3rd limited or omniscent)

In 3rd objective the narrator does not share any of the character’s thoughts, feelings, objectives other than through action. Example – from Hemmingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”

Another interruption from “Jeff.”

Now we are looking at 3rd omniscent. This grants the most access to characters’ minds. This will allow you to explore different plot lines through different character’s eyes.

Example used italicized words to show unverbalized thoughts. In a single chapter, from paragraph to paragraph, the author jumps back and forth.

Another example, Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.’ 148-160 Capote alternates between 7 characters. It was easy to follow, but this is a feat. Not recommended for beginning writers.

Last suggestion – a problem that is common in what she sees. She calls this “those narrators.”  This is when the author jumps into the mind of a character that you’re not supposed to have access to.

She gives problem/examples and some suggested fixes. (She had before/after slides hard to see from the back of the room.)

She calls this head-jumping. In the middle of John’s thoughts we are suddenly in the mind of his girlfriend. This can be done but not in the same sentence or paragraph.

Her fix was to have John observe the actions of his girlfriend, but not go in her mind.

Another example the narrator talke about John, but suddenly includes his girlfriend by saying “they both enjoyed the stunning view.” This is solved by having John verbalize his feelings to his girlfriend and then she, through dialog, share hers.

Q-How often do you tell an author it’s in the wrong POV, and what is there response?

A-This is what I do in my coaching practice. I have developmental edits with ongoing weekly conversations for 4-6 months. I have not said that, but I do see the “ghost narrators” that I’ve referred to. I have also suggested eliminating some points of view, from 5 down to 3. But never made a global recommendation. This is a part of my coaching style, but if I thought they needed it, then I’d tell them.



The 6 Keys to Your Success as a Writer: Judith Curr Sunday Morn Keynote #SFWC15


#judithcurr @judithcurr

San Francisco Writer’s Conference 2015

photo of Judith Curr

Judith Curr

Judith talked about her background in the cosmetics industry. Came to US is 1996, a tumultous time. This was a time of consolidation. (She’s with Atria Publishing Group Now). Atria was founded with 2002, a new Imprint. Enliven is a holistic house.

Another imprint is Keywords, a digital imprint. New imprint for a new kind of storyteller.

“It’s always important to say one’s intentions.” Your imprint or any of the names you want to come with should speak to your intention. Atria is plural for atrium, a place for our staff to grow and flourish, and the books should enrich and nourish. The goal is to connect authors with readers.

Also, you want to make sure your name is at the top of the list… so it starts with “A”.

She projects a list of books.

Questions to ask:

Why this book? It will take time and energy to get it out. Are you willing to go the distance?

Story – Is it compelling? Does it have a good resolution? Do you love/hate characters? Is there a narrative arc?

Slide of sample books and reviews. Can’t read the small text. Wonders… The Well Confessions of an Awkward Black Girl…

Who will read the book? Is is a large audience or a niche? (The sayings of Rod Serling).

There are many ways to be able to judge this.

Third question. How will you tell them about it? The publishers are the curators. It’s like an art collection. They decide what to put their time and energy behind.

Techniques – eg author with a following is to let audience know a new book is for sale. This won’t work with a new author.

Outdoor advertising. Brad’s creation Scott Harbor. Latest book is Act of War. Atria bought billboards outside Jacksonville military base.

Mobile ads increasingly more important and people have phones on them 24/7. People will be reading more as screens get larger.

Online ads – click through. You then you know where the orders came from.

Physical book tours – Very important. Last year they did a fall-in-love tour. Each alone didn’t have enough, but they put them together. They have a shared audience. They put a requested RSVP in the area of the bookstore, this allows them to tell the bookstore to order more books.

Social media – YouTube, Facebook, etc – you have to decide where to put your energy.

Give things away  – When all else fails. But usually this is a reward or a valued added. Eg, a short story with an ad on the back of the book. Be careful how you get people used to giving things away.

Charting and responding to online chatter.

What works for some won’t work for all. Be sure to look at the analytics. Judith shared a chart and talked about knowing when you did something verses results.

We live in a cirular world. Online informs the physical world which is then reflected in an online response.

Book Signings, Conferences, and Marriage Proposals

“Book boyfriend” some people will go to an event and meet kindred spirits because not all their peers read what they do.

Many other opportuninies. Goodreads seems to create more physical books sales than ebook sales. Look at Goodreads and make friends there. Pay attention to the reviews.

There are thousands of bloggers. Atria says “we make the news and you report the news.” They have a password protected space for top bloggers to get exclusive breaks.

Wattpad – interesting writers site. Some do it chapter by chapter. It’s free and mobilized as well.

Sometimes people send you cake. That’s nice.

Fourth question is setting your expectations. This is about money and what success looks like for you. There’s no point in saying my book will be a NY Times bestseller. What is the expectation? Publication? Four, five-star reviews with the NY Times?

Think about your goals for sales, by type – hardcover, softcover, ebook

Where will you sell? Remember your goal is to sell many of one kind of book (yours) book sellers want to sell many books of any type.

What do you want?

What are your skills?

What activities should you assign to others?

What publishing model is best for you?

Do you enjoy collaboration?

What are your financial expectations?

Is this a hobby or a career? Somewhere in between? A legacy? A marketing tool for other businesses?


Price points important. Doesn’t mean lowest is best?

Days of Facebook marketing are coming to an end.

Must constantly look at innovations

Publishing not just an art, it’s a business

Some things only an author can do. To hear, see and speak.

It not the answers you have but the questions you ask.

Have you answered them all?

Told a story where a friend was about to be given a suprise gift. A cake. It was covered, awaiting her arrival. She wasn’t due to arrive until the end. After a while, someone asked: “What kind of cake is it?” The answer, becoming increasingly obvious (slide of a melting cake) is that it was an ice cream cake.

So now, the last question she asks is “do I have all the information I need?” In other words, what kind of cake is it?

Judith Curr, President and Publisher, ATria Publishing Group



facebook /JudithCurr

Q and A –

Q – What are the characteristics of good fiction?

A- Well, it should be readable?

Q-Should ebooks stay at $9.99

A-I don’t want to go to jail. The Dept of Justice has regulations about publishers speaking in public about price and pricing.

Judith got Celestine Prophecy published in Australia. It’s a book about values and synchroncity.

Here is Judith’s bio from the Corporate Website:

Judith Curr

Executive Vice President and Publisher

Atria Books

Judith Curr is currently Executive Vice President, Publisher and founder of Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.  She is responsible for all the editorial and publishing activities of the imprint, which includes Washington Square Press, Strebor Books, Atria/Beyond Words, and Atria Books Español

Atria Books is the publishing home of many major bestselling authors including Vince Flynn, T.D. Jakes, Shirley MacLaine, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner, Maria Celeste Arraras, Daisy Martinez, Brad Thor, Zane, and Rhonda Byrne’s international bestselling phenomenon The Secret.

Ms. Curr has led the Atria imprint since it was launched in 2002. Prior to Atria, Ms. Curr had been President and Publisher of Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books since 1999.

Ms. Curr began her publishing career in 1981 as part of the team that founded Transworld Publishers, the Australian subsidiary of Bertelsmann. Initially responsible for publicity and marketing,  she was promoted to Publisher and Executive Director in 1986, and oversaw the publications of an international and local list of authors including Paul Barry’sThe Rise and Rise of Kerry Packer and by John Bertrand’s Born to Win.  Ms. Curr came to America in 1996 to be Senior Vice President and Editor in Chief of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House Inc.  Prior to joining the publishing industry she held marketing positions at Christian Dior Perfumes

A native of Australia, Ms. Curr grew up as one of seven children, on a farm in the southern highlands of New South Wales. She has been chair of the cultural advisory committee for the Council of the City of Sydney, and a board member of the New South Wales Craft Council and the New South Wales Law Society.  Ms. Curr and her husband live in New York City and Long Island, New York where she is on the board of the Women’s Media Group and advisory committee to Girls Learn International Inc.