Who first wrote “It was a dark and stormy night”…

and are you also guilty of bloated writing?

You can thank the Victorian writer/politician Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, for penning the now well-worn cliché, “a dark and stormy night,” to open his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford.” The phrase has since come to symbolize overwritten, melodramatic prose — a style Victorians considered the height of fashion.

The phrase is only a fragment of the full sentence, which reads: “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.”

The opener has become so notorious that there is even an annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest to compose the first sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

If you’re a writer/editor like me, when reading an overwritten sentence like Lytton’s you may think, Wait, that’s not altogether terrible, I can work with that. Afterall, it does paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind and isn’t that what every author wants? Yes, absolutely, but it’s just too too much (note the extra ‘too’ there.)  The challenge is not to dull descriptions down, but to make them succinct. Here’s a stab at a rewrite:

‘In the London night, rain fell in torrents interrupted by violent gusts of wind sweeping up the streets, rattling along the housetops, and whipping lamp flames as they struggled against the dark.’

Perfect?  Hardly. There’s no such thing, but it is tighter. First drafts are often filled with overwritten, bloated descriptions. As writers, we want to get it all in there, but we also need to make sure every word counts. So look at your bloated word-babies with a cold editor’s eye and be ruthless in trimming them to their core, even if it hurts a bit.

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NanoMorphosis is Now An Audio Book

If you would rather listen to a skilled actor read my novel to you, now you can. I’ve attached the audio of Chapter 1 to this post and you can listen to it by clicking the play button on the upper right. The full audio book is available on Amazon and Audible.com. It’s gotten nine reviews so far, all glowing. Free codes are available for reviewers, who should please contact me directly. Thanks!

Here’s the link on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/NanoMorphosis/dp/B07Q61XL6H/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

And here’s the link on Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/NanoMorphosis-Audiobook/B07Q61Y85T?asin=B07Q61Y85T

The Cost of Living: A Life for A Life is now an Audiobook too!

 

Coming to an earbud near you! 

Listen to this suspenseful audiobook now. Available on Amazon and I-tunes.  For fans of The Handmaid’s Tale (and everyone else).

What? You don’t have an Audible account? Fix that here: https://adbl.co/2QM2tR3

 Also available in e-book and paperback. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D3YY45Q

Creating an Audio Book

I’m dipping my toe into new waters of the book publishing business.  Audio books have become hugely popular, especially for young adults who don’t seem to find the time to sit and read. With an audio book, one can drive, walk, run, whatever, and listen at the same time.  This audio book of The Cost of Living: A LIfe for A Life will be available soon. 

New Review for “NanoMorphosis” from Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly seldom reviews Indie Books, so this was a bit like winning the lottery (except for the money part). Here’s what they had to say about NanoMorphosis:

“Anderson’s debut tackles human nature through a science fiction lens. On an overcrowded 22nd-century Earth, Daniel Walker, childhood survivor of an alien attack, is determined to carry on his murdered parents’ legacy and find a habitable exoplanet. Even as he gains public support, he is undermined by Senator Bromberg, a xenophobic politician with a secret life, and sabotaged by Dr. Cadmon Dhyre, a bioengineer trying to find a cure for a nanogenetic plague. Before Daniel’s ship leaves the solar system, Dhyre’s intelligent nanobots infect the mission, developing into Carrie, a sentient shape-shifter who sparks curiosity and fear among Daniel and his crew. On their return, Dhyre attempts to finish what he started and regain control over Carrie. Anderson ably explores the worst elements of human nature—while still leaving hope for the future…”