Writing Lessons from Johnny Ramone

You can take a lot of the late Johnny Ramone’s comments about effective songwriting and performing, as expounded upon in what is supposedly the last interview he ever did, and apply it to the craft of fiction writing. (He looks a little puffy in the video, probably from the treatment for the prostate cancer that was soon to kill him. Remarkably good-humored, though, given that he was undoubtedly aware of the bleak prognosis facing him; no whiner, he.) The relevant material starts at around the ten-minute mark:

My transcript:

I always thought, I don’t know why bands — especially opening bands — why they wanted to play longer than they had to. They always wanted to fight for more time. And you’re always better off playing shorter. You get all your best material, you leave ’em wanting more — if you’re any good — and you don’t overdo it with mediocre material. Most bands only have a song or two that’s worthy, anyway.

To my mind, this is reminiscent of Elmore Leonard’s well-known dictum, that in writing his novels, he always tried to eliminate all the boring stuff that readers skipped over. And that’s why his books are so fast and tight and enjoyable — just like a Ramones song!