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Friday, 27 September 2019


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. 
CV of published material available on request. & @JoeCushnan


In recent times, I have tried my hand at writing flash fiction and around 2,000-word stories.   Some of them have been edited professionally and are out there for consideration.  So I wait.  But, as is often said, if you want to write and are any way serious about it, you've got to read stories written by the very best.  And one of the very best is Elmore Leonard.

My current book on the go is Fire In The Hole by Elmore.  It contains nine stories including Fire In The Hole, the basis for the brilliant TV series Justified.

As I read the stories for entertainment, I am also reading to learn what to say and how to say it.  He outlined his 10 tips for writing:

  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"…he admonished gravely. 
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. 
  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.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
Thank you, sir.

Elmore Leonard 11 October, 1925 - 20 August, 2013

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