Saturday, August 16, 2008
The Best of the Worst
The title of Lori's Thursday Thirteen is a famous line and I doubt there is a writer out there that hasn't read it before...It was a dark and stormy night. I think it is considered one of the most cliched openings ever. But who wrote it? Snoopy? Um...no. I must say, Snoopy (and his artist Charles M. Schultz) certainly immortalized it. But the deathless prose were written by Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton.
The full line was:
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
His opening sentence was so memorable...and painful...that it is commemorated yearly by San Jose State University which has sponsored an annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
So my beauties, I challenge you. Capture the florid majesty that is a dreadful first line... The comments await your worst efforts. :-)
Just to get you started, I shall share one of mine. I wrote this when I was in my early 20s and even though it is indeed, VERY BAD, I have a fond spot in my heart for it. Why? Every time I read it, it makes me giggle.
"Ho, there you vile wench," her black-clad father cried in wrath, pointing his long, bony finger at her as she fled into the crimson glow of a perfect sunset.