American crime novelist Elmore Leonard, who died Aug. 20, was known for hard-boiled characters and lean prose. In a Detroit News obit, editor and close friend Otto Penzler said Leonard wrote every day in longhand on unlined legal pads, ordering a thousand a year.
“I’ve seen his manuscripts,” Penzler said. “I can see the amount of rewriting he did. He didn’t change words so much as sentence structure … to maintain the cadence. There was a cadence to his writing, frequently compared to jazz.”
Good writing flows. Bad writing stumbles. When your own words are not in rhythm, you may need an editor to make them sing.