darkness.’ Bulwer-Lytton was widely mocked for his melodramatic use of weather to illustrate the atmosphere in his novel and the phrase has been considered a literary cliché ever since.
Since 1982 Bulwer-Lytton’s name has been attached to an annual prize for the worst opening lines in novels. But here’s the thing about what was originally termed purple prose, in our cinema and TV filled age Bulwer-Lytton’s opening line appears to be extremely visual. Something’s coming, you can feel it and the hairs begin to stand up on the back of your neck. As if to prove the point that using it as her opening line didn’t stop Madeleine L’Engle’s novel from hitting the big time or the big screen, Disney made it into a movie. You can judge for yourself whether using the phrase in Paul Clifford made it a terrible book or a ripping yarn by checking it out at Goodreads.com.
human being I’m going to be spending time with and dialogue often does that better than five paragraphs of action.
We have a few weather related scenes in the diamondanddoranmysteries and whether you agree that poor Edward Bulwer-Lytton was guilty of purple prose or not, or, like me, you enjoy Snoopy’s dark and stormy night, what I hope you look for in your mystery novels are great atmosphere and compelling characters to go with a twisty plot. When you have those three things, purple or not the prose will make you happy.