Rebel Without a Pause

Ten years ago my favorite contemporary writer, Elmore Leonard, published his “10 Rules of Writing” in a New York Times article.

Rule #1: Never open a book with the weather.

With that in mind, here is the opening line of my in-progress Chet Helms biography:

“One day in 1931 the rains stopped and the winds began.”


I didn’t ignore Mr. Leonard’s weather rule on purpose; I simply wasn’t thinking of his rule or anyone else’s rule when I wote that sentence, which, by the way, I ain’t dropping.

When I mentioned my egregious rule violation to my friend Malinda, she laughed and told me to read the opening line of a book I had published in 1978. I dug up a copy of “A Hallelujah Jamboree: The Sister Mary Mummy Stories,” a collection of allegedly humorous scribblings, and flipped it open.

Chapter 1, line 1:

 “After a solid week of spewing forth violent thunderstorms that were brief in duration but strung together tighter than an expensive strand of pearls, the morning sky finally displayed the sun against a cloudless, blue background.”

Oooops again.

I won’t mention what I’ve done with the other nine rules.

Published in: on June 13, 2011 at 2:22 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m happy to see some news, and that you are still working on Chet’s biography !
    I’m looking forward to read your book. I am not a specialist in writting, but I do think that it is not a matter if you break these rules in writing with the weather. After all, psychedelic artists around Chet who designed posters also broke the rules of art and advertisement !

  2. You are such an upstart.

  3. FRAUD!!!!!! however, having taken your writing advice for a long time, i will now discount most of it. or take pause AND liberty to be like you. and here i have your E.L. rules taped above my computer. geeez.

    zsa zsa

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