Scottish Daily Mail

Dahl’s brutal tip for writer, 17


A BRUTALLY honest letter written by Roald Dahl to a teenager who asked him for advice on his A-level project has surfaced.

Budding writer Jay Williams wrote to the author in 1980 asking him to look at a short story he had written.

The 17-year- old did not expect a reply. But Mr Williams, who grew up near Carlisle, was delighted when he received a typed note signed by the man himself. However, in true Dahl style, there was a sting in the tail.

It began: ‘Dear Jay, You are asking too much of me. I get an awful lot of these letters. I have read your story. I don’t think it’s bad. Study Hemingway ... and learn how to write short sentences and how to eschew all those beastly adjectives.’

Mr Williams, now 51, and from Bristol, said: ‘After considerin­g his advice, I have to admit it was probably fair and I’ve taken heed of it ever since.’

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