O Evangelho segundo Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard tem uma lista de 10 erros que se pode cometer ao escrever literatura.

Veja só:

1. Never open a book with weather.
If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

Conheço pelo menos um escritor que invarialmente abre seus livros assim, gente que o mundo vem lendo há séculos. Mas Leonard, claro, é melhor que ele.

2. Avoid prologues.
They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.
There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s ”Sweet Thursday,” but it’s O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: ”I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy’s thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That’s nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don’t have to read it. I don’t want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story.”

Por que Leonard não contou isso para Balzac? Assim o pobre Honoré evitaria começar seus livros com prólogos que duram até várias páginas. E seria um escritor tão bom quanto Leonard.

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 to get 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.”

Meu Deus, e todos aqueles escritores que achavam estar fazendo um grande trabalho ao escrever os tais outros verbos? Dickens, seu merda!

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.

Bem, nisso ele tem razão, na minha opinião. O ponto de exclamação é o crachá da incompetência.

6. Never use the words ”suddenly” or ”all hell broke loose.”
This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use ”suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

De repente, não mais que de repente, Vinícius de Morais é um incompetente.

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories ”Close Range.”

Acho que foi Hemingway quem disse que toda a literatura americana descende de “Huckleberry Finn”. Dat’s right. E o livro é praticamente todo escrito em dialeto escravo. Mas como se sabe, Leonard vai deixar uma impressão muito mais duradoura na literatura americana que Mark Twain.

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s ”Hills Like White Elephants” what do the ”American and the girl with him” look like? ”She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

Não é que esteja errado. Tampouco está certo. A questão é que esse item finalmente demontra a razão de ser dessa lista: Leonard quer que todos os escritores do mundo escrevam como ele. Direito dele.

9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
Unless you’re Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison. But even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

Leonard deveria ter lido “O Pai Goriot” com mais atenção. E veria que a descrição da pensão de Mamãe Vauquer, ou a descrição do quarto do pai Goriot em comparação aos de suas filhas, são fundamentais para a compreensão do espírito da história. Mas talvez ele tenha razão, já que é um escritor muito, muito melhor que Balzac.

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.

Tem razão. A questão é saber que partes são essas. E se o sujeito sabe, certamente não está preocupado com a lista de Leonard.

3 thoughts on “O Evangelho segundo Elmore Leonard

  1. Ele mesmo disse que os livros dele são puramente comerciais. Só entretenimento. Literatura pra passar o tempo, pra se divertir. Por isso essas regras.
    Isso não quer dizer que os outros estilos são uma merda. Nem que este é o jeito ‘certo’ de escrever.

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