It was a dark and stormy night…

 

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

You may be familiar with the above six-word story. Legend (stress the “legend”) has it that Hemingway bet some fellow colleagues that he could spin a “novel” (stress the use of this word as an adjective) in exactly six words – and off the top of his head, no less. We now know this as flash fiction, and while it’s suspect that this event ever took place, it’s still a powerful example of the maxim “less is more.”

You may also be familiar with the title of this post, what is considered by some pundits to be the worst opening to a book, what Writer’s Digest called the “literary posterchild for bad story starters.” Sorry, Mr. Bulwer-Lytton.

“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.”

Well, as it turns out, I received a challenge today. A literary challenge. From a Goodreads bot. Let me be clear about something: I don’t take no literary challenges from a freaking nameless, faceless piece of software.

The challenge? Write a horror story in two sentences. I did not shrink from this herculean task. I stood up to the bots of the world.

If you’d like to read my story on Goodreads, click here.

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