Tuesday, June 14, 2005

It was a dark and stormy night

Think this phrase was made famous by Snoopy? No, it is the first sentence to a book written by an early 19th century novelist. This is the entire sentence.

"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)

In honor of this bad writing the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest was created. Each year writers compete for the wretched writing award. The website host a collection of winners and dishonorable mentions. Let's be happy that Snoopy used the original and not some of these.

The bone-chilling scream split the warm summer night in two, the first half being before the scream when it was fairly balmy and calm and pleasant for those who hadn't heard the scream at all, but not calm or balmy or even very nice for those who did hear the scream, discounting the little period of time during the actual scream itself when your ears might have been hearing it but your brain wasn't reacting yet to let you know. --Patricia E. Presutti, Lewiston, New York (1986 Winner)

Take a break from studying and read some of the entries. They should at least make you smile.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

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