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Tuesday, February 23, 2010 

Never open a book with weather.

Letter in the Graun on one of those wonderful articles featuring writers telling everyone else how to write:

• "Never open a book with weather." advises Elmore Leonard (Put one word after another, Review, 20 February). There goes Bleak House.

Lewis Elton

As does Nineteen Eighty-Four, and doubtless dozens of other classic works of fiction. Especially daft considering what a famous opening Nineteen Eighty-Four has, and how I doubt anyone would change a single word in it:

IT WAS a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

To be fair to the Graun, it's only Leonard whose "advice" is so dogmatic. AL Kennedy's is the complete opposite, and makes me wish she was teaching creative writing.

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