For very different reasons, each of these three writers had an impact on me at an early age, long before I ever entertained any notions of writing at all, much less for publication. I first was drawn to Mr. Leonard due to his stories set in my home state of Florida, but before writing mystery novels he also was known for his western tales. He's long been acknowledged as someone with a gift for crafting wonderful dialogue and razor sharp, authentic descriptions to set a scene. When I started writing, I read his famous "Ten Rules of Writing" essay, then went back and reread a few of his novels to see if he practiced what he preached. Practice it, he did. My favorite of his rules are the ones you may have heard before, even if you didn't know who may have said them:
Rule #10: "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."
And, his one rule that he uses to summarize the first ten: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
I'm not going to attempt to give my explanation of Mr. Leonard's "secrets for writing success." You're better off clicking on the link and reading them in the man's own words.
Frederik Pohl is someone I began reading almost by accident, after picking up a copy of his science fiction novel Man Plus when I was a teenager in the early late 1970s. I'd recently read Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and was looking for more Mars-based fiction, only to find that Mr. Pohl's novel was an altogether different animal from Mr. Bradbury's work. It didn't hurt that the main character in Man Plus becomes a cyborg in order to travel to Mars, which was something akin to Steve Austin, aka The Six Million Dollar Man, which I was enjoying at the time. Along with Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Richard Matheson, Joe Haldeman and Robert Heinlein, Frederik Pohl was part of my "golden age of science fiction reading," or the books I was enjoying at the age of 12 or 13. He's also the man behind the very wise Pohl's Law, which every writer, artist or other creator should always keep in mind: "Nothing is so good that somebody somewhere will not hate it."
Then there's Ann Crispin, to whom I was introduced thanks to a Star Trek novel she wrote in the early 1980s, Yesterday's Son. To this day, that novel remains popular with fans of such books, owing to her seemingly easy mastery of the characters and setting from what at the time was the only Star Trek television series. Her adaptation of the 1984 miniseries V still is one of my very favorite media tie-in works. I also read her original fiction, of course, but Ann ended up being one of my inspirations when I began writing tie-in novels of my own, because she never saw a need to distinguish between such novels and her own original fiction. To her, each was deserving of the best effort a writer could bring to bear. When asked about the difference between writing in someone else's "universe" and one of her own creation, her simple answer is one which also has served me rather well when confronted with such questions: "Personally, I believe a good story is a good story, no matter what universe it's written in."
Amen to that.
In addition to her fiction, Ann along with fellow author Victoria Strauss founded Writer Beware, a watchdog group with a mission to foster awareness regarding fraud, scams, and other illegitimate and illegal activities in and around the publishing industry. She and Victoria, along with everyone else working alongside them at Writer Beware, are among the best friends a new writer ever could have.
Elmore Leonard, Frederik Pohl and Ann Crispin: Thank you for decades of wonderful storytelling, and for not being afraid to mentor those smart enough to learn from your wisdom and hard-won experience.