Hooptedoodle: Great Advice from E. Leonard
I've read a lot of lists of Writing Tips, and they start to sound alike. Not so Elmore Leonard. His "biggie" is to "Try to leave out the part that writers skip," and he points out that we never skip dialogue when we're reading - just long passages of description or characters' thought processes. I must be a voyeur at heart because I LOVE to eavesdrop on my characters' conversations. When I made my first stab at screenwriting this summer, it seemed a pretty natural medium for me - letting the dialogue carry the story. Don't get me wrong; it's pretty challenging to think in pictures and to find ways to convey backstory without the dialogue becoming too didactic, but it was a great exercise in livening up blocks of prose in my fiction writing. If you decide to try it, do buy Final Draft software. It ain't cheap, but there's just no good way to set up the format for a script while concentrating on your story, and it's important to turn out a professional looking product if you want anyone to look at it.
E. Leonard has managed to cover adverbs, attribution, adverbs, exclamation points, and a bunch of other good stuff in this short NYT article. It's worth a few minutes of your time, I promise.