3 Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But “said” is far less intrusive than “grumbled”, “gasped”, “cautioned”, “lied”. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated” and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.
4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” … he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs”.
5 Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.
Writing tips: Elmore Leonard’s, 10 Rules of Writing
Image: digital library unt edu
Inky: So the yard sale was a huge success except it rained afterwards, and I caught a cold while cleaning up, along with the allergy. Here I am, 72 hours later, one huge doctor’s bill, a bottle of antibiotics for the graduation of a cold into bronchitis, and a cough that sounds like it has been dredged from the depths of hell itself. Murphy’s Law, or rather Inky’s Fable if I just could figure out the moral….