Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: The Stuff People Skip

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 15 Jan 2006

At 07:04 PM 14/01/2006 -0500, you wrote:
>Jim responded to my comments:
>"I don't think you mean to imply that Leonard was laying down hard and
>fast rules that all others must follow, . . ."
>No, I did not mean to imply that.

Is there any rule in writing that can be laid down hard and fast that all must follow? I realize you two are talking more about Leonard's intent, but that must have been informed by experience. I can't think of any "rule" in writing that hasn't been broken somewhere to interesting effect. As to long descriptive passages, I frequently meet readers who tell me they enjoy reading them. They like the use of language to linger with the author over them.

Leonard doesn't avoid description either, but he tends to break it up and provide it on the run, and he uses his skill with dialogue to invoke familiar types of characters to his readers, which he then goes on to develop (or sometimes not) through their actions. One exception to this is the opening scene in Kill Shot, which, according to the then organizer of Toronto's International Festival of Authors, where Leonard was a guest, Leonard wrote in response to a challenge to show he could produce such descriptive passages if he was so inclined. I don't recall being bored by it.

I think. Something like that. Kerry

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