I swam over to the Center for Fiction last week to hear Elmore Leonard in conversation with Jonathan Santlofer.
Jonathan Santlofer was an exceptional moderator. He was concise, conversational, and didn't insert himself into every question. He should be cloned and made to moderate all panels forevermore.
Elmore Leonard told us:
"I spent 10 years writing short stories, or ten years 'getting better'."
"I started out imitating Hemingway till I found out he (Hemingway) had no sense of humor."
"I always write from the point of view of a character, major or minor."
"I never intrude. I never want to be seen telling the story."
"If it sounds like writing, rewrite."
"Outlining means you go with an idea that could be old or outdated as the novel develops"
"Not outlining allows for surprise and something else to happen."
"Verbs other than 'said' for dialogue call attention to themselves."
"Don't muck it up with -ly words"
"I write longhand then use a typewriter. No computer. No email."
"Watch for words that don't belong in the book because they are not natural to the characters"
The event even made NY Magazine's Approval Matrix -- thankfully on the correct side of the grid!