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