Elmore Leonard on Writing

You might think it would be hard to find an author more dissimilar to Trollope than the American hard-boiled thriller writer Elmore Leonard, but in an interview in 2006, he revealed some uncanny parallels with Trollope. 

Going right back to how he got started he describes how he used to get up at 5am and write fiction before going off to work at his day job. For the record he, like Dorothy L Sayers, worked writing advertising. 

Then there is his focus on character rather than plot. He describes how he uses the first 100 pages of his novels simply to allow the characters to introduce themselves. 

And he says that dialogue is key. Readers skip through novels but they always read the dialogue. This mirrors Trollope’s own thinking. When he was cutting nearly a quarter of the wordcount to reduce The Duke’s Children from a four volume to a three volume length to suit the demands of his publisher, he preserved the dialogue very nearly intact even at the expense of making drastic cuts elsewhere. 

Finally, there is the parallel of the huge output. Leonard, like Trollope, had published more than forty novels at the time he was interviewed and reached 49 in total by the time of his death in 2013. 

To hear the interview go to:



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