Chronicling the journey of writing

by Veronica Louis

Three exclamation marks

Image: Veronica Louis

I recently came across Elmore Leonard’s writing rules and thought that he was right on the money. The recently deceased novelist wrote many books that were later adapted into film such as Get Shorty, Be Cool and Rum Punch (Jackie Brown). Leonard overall, encouraged authors to show instead of tell, to remain invisible and to rewrite if the writing sounds like writing.

My favorite suggestion? “If proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.” That’s right, in the world of literature rules are meant to be broken.

The ten rules are described in detail in Leonard’s New York Times article Writers on Writing; Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle

A Summary of the 10 Rules

1. Never open a book with weather.

2. Avoid prologues.

3. Never use a verb other than ”said” to carry dialogue.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ”said” . . .

5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

6. Never use the words ”suddenly” or ”all hell broke loose.”

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

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

Describing the Indescribable

August 3rd, 2013 | Posted by Veronica Louis in Authors | Writing - (3 Comments)

by Veronica Louis

The  Little Prince Illustration

Image: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

There are times when I’m upset, I turn to writing to break down my emotions into words, transcribing sentiments into strings of letters and spaces. Perhaps that is why the word indescribable has always intrigued me, because by definition it’s something that cannot be described. Essentially, using the word indescribable to describe anything is a paradox.

I believe that there are no limitations to manipulating words to express unique or “indescribable” sentiments. Just like the rapid brush strokes on canvas can capture motion and the photographic composition can reflect nuances of light, writing can depict the depth of one’s soul.

Perhaps that is why the classics stay alive, and comfort us like dear old friends, long after their authors have left our realm. A good book can never die because a good book captures the essence of life. (more…)

by Veronica Louis

Journal d’un ecrivain en pyjama

Book cover: Mance Lanctôt

For my B-Day, this past January, a very close friend of mind gave me Dany Laferrière’s book: The World is Moving Around Me. Beautifully translated by David Homel from the French original Tout bouge autour de moi, the book was about Haiti’s 2010 earthquake recounted by the Haitian author and poet, Dany Laferrière.

I delved quickly into the book, soaking it up as if I was a literature-deprived sponge. The World is Moving Around Me is divided into a number of written snapshots of the earthquake aftermath focused through the eyes of a poet who paints a drab photo with just the right tone and hue of words. Take this passage of the book for example…


A 7.3 magnitude earthquake is not so bad. You still have a chance. Concrete was the killer. The population had joined in an orgy of concrete over the last fifty years. Little fortresses. The wood and sheet-metal houses, more flexible, stood the test. In narrow hotel rooms, the TV set was the enemy. People sit facing it. It came right down on them. Many got hit in the head. (more…)

An article by Veronica Louis for

Photo: C. Beauregard

Photo: C. Beauregard

In 2010, we couldn’t turn on the radio or pick up the paper without hearing about Dany Laferrière’s L’Énigme du retour (The Return). The Prix Médicis-winning novel is the fascinating first-hand account of the author’s return to Haiti after 33 years in exile. This past January also saw the release of The World is Moving Around Me, the English translation of his heart-wrenching Tout bouge autour de moi. The book, a lyrical description of the moments, hours and days following Haiti’s terrible 7.3 magnitude earthquake in 2010, is nothing short of remarkable. (more…)


by Veronica Louis

Chuck Palahniuk: Literary MastermindWho is Palahniuk? Two words: Fight Club. Before the film starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton became a cult classic, it was a book written by none other than Mr. Chuck Palahniuk.

Authors to me are like über superstars. I would gladly wait in line for hours to meet my favorite author, but I’m not so sure I would do the same for my favorite musical act. So when I heard that Palahniuk was coming to Montreal in 2009 for a book reading tour to promote his book Pygmy, I was more than eager to purchase the book the day it was released and attend the event.

In real life, Palahniuk was a hoot. I remember him having a natural charismatic attitude and cracking jokes every other sentence. I don’t remember why, but the night of the book reading he was wearing a kilt. And he owned that kilt like a supermodel owns six-inch stilettos.

After the book reading I patiently waited in line to get my book signed, I was flushed with anticipation as my turn was approaching.

“Chuck! I love your books! All your books!” I gushed. “You are amazing!” I’m telling you… I was star struck. He was all smiles as he thanked me. “I want to write too,” I told him. And he told me that the trick was to write the way I spoke. That way, the result can reflect reality. I thanked him profusely for his advice. He signed my book, and I felt inspired. (more…)