COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Lovers of stripped-down prose and oddball characters can now view some of the late, best-selling crime novelist Elmore Leonard's vast collection of handwritten notebooks, typed manuscripts and screenplays.
Choice samples from the collection go on public display Wednesday at the University of South Carolina's Thomas Cooper Library on the school's Columbia campus.
The famed author wrote novels such as "Get Shorty," ''Be Cool," and the story line behind the current FX series "Justified." Leonard was renowned for crime writing with a cool flavor, spare dialogue and assorted sleazy criminals, characters and crooks.
University of South Carolina Dean of University Libraries Tom McNally said Leonard visited the campus last year, saw its archives of modern American writers and wanted his papers to go there.
The university purchased the Leonard material, but officials and Leonard's family declined to discuss the terms.
Highlights of Leonard's collection include many handwritten manuscripts on the custom-made, unlined yellow paper that Leonard favored.
He started his career writing short stories for Western-themed magazines, and several original copies of the publications are in the collection.
A handwritten draft of what became known as "Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing," later published by The New York Times, holds a special place in one glass-covered case. In it, Leonard warned writers to avoid such flourishes as prologues, adverbs and overwrought descriptions and to keep their exclamation points under control.
His rules were a masterpiece of brevity, yet in the first draft each point took multiple sentences to explain, said Jessica Dowd Crouch, the USC archivist who prepared the collection for display.
"You can see the whole process how he wrote so many of these manuscripts," Dowd Crouch said. The entire collection will be ready for researchers to study in about 18 months, she said.
Leonard died in August 2013 at age 87 at his home in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Township, where he did much of his writing.
He won an honorary National Book Award in 2012. Nearly all of his books since he wrote "Glitz" in 1985 became best-sellers. Hollywood adapted his work into dozens of movies and TV shows, including the films "Be Cool" and "Get Shorty," which starred John Travolta as Miami loan shark Chili Palmer.
The Leonard material will be on display through the end of October.
The collection at USC includes:
— Materials related to all of Leonard's more than 40 novels from his 60-year career.
— Leonard's original screenplays including "Joe Kidd" and "Desperado."
— Screenplays adapted by Leonard from his works including "52 Pick Up," ''Stick" and "Cat Chaser."
— Correspondence between Leonard and authors such as George V. Higgins, John D. MacDonald, John Grisham and Dean Koontz.
— Photographs and scrapbooks of Leonard and his family, friends and celebrities.
— About 1,300 books from Leonard's personal library.
— Multiple awards that Leonard received.
— Two of Leonard's typewriters, his writing desk and two director's chairs.
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