It was a dark and stormy night

It was a dark and story night – that’s a weak sentence. Nothing is happening and it’s all a matter of the verb. Notice that it’s the verb “to be.” How about – Lightning smashed through the sky. Rain pelted our campsite. Low black clouds covered the sky.

The key is the verb “to be” in all its forms, is, was, has been, will be, etc. Every time you replace the verb “to be” you make your writing stronger. I shouldn’t say “you;” I should say “me, I.” I have a long way to go.

When you finish a page or a chapter, click on tools and run the section through the grammar checker. At the end it will tell you how many passive sentences, how many words per sentence and the reading ease of the section. For example, this blog
0 passive sentences
11.2 words per sentence
93.5% the reading ease
2.7 the grade level that can read this

(It’s my belief that we should aim down the grade level. Then more people can read our work)


2 responses to “It was a dark and stormy night

  1. Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s famous opening line to his 1830 novel, Paul Clifford! There must be something about it, though, otherwise it wouldn’t have endured so long. I wrote a post mentioning Bulwer-Lytton ( which includes some very funny winning entries to the tongue-in-cheek competition held in Bulwer-Lytton’s honour each year. Entrants have to come up with the worst possible opening to a novel.

    Btw – good advice about active/passive and short sentences etc. I agree. (Although, I wouldn’t advise uniformly short sentences; that would become boring.)

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