Aspiring writers always ask me for writing tips. Here are ten, starting with the best tip I ever heard, from the late, great Elmore Leonard.

1. Leave out the parts that nobody wants to read.

2. Unattributed quotes are called plagiarism.

3. When writing an action/adventure novel or a murder mystery, remember, One death is a tragedy; multiple deaths are a sanitation problem.

4. If you want to write a novel in the first person, remember that suicide notes are written in the first person.

5. Limit the number of exclamation points you use! We call these bangers and screamers! Use them sparingly! Unless your character is speaking to a deaf person! Or calling his dog! Otherwise, please keep it down! Thank you!

6. Please try to limit your use of four-letter words. Unless your character is speaking to a real asshole.

7. Remember, you as a writer are competing for the reader’s beer money. Your book should be at least as good as a cold Bud.

8. If someone asks you what you’re working on, reply, “It’s not work. It’s a labor of love. I love sitting by myself in a f-ing room all day, telling myself stories.”

9. If your manuscript has been rejected by twenty publishers, it’s not you; it’s the manuscript.

10. What no spouse of a writer can understand is that the writer is working when he or she is staring out a window.

Here’s a bonus:

11. Editors can make a writer crazy. Just ask Moses who wrote the Fourteen Commandments.