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It was a dark and stormy night. . . .

You know, the first time that was used as a novel opener, it wasn’t a cliche.  It was all the imitators that came afterwards that made it tired and hokey.

And “dark night” wasn’t redundant, either, in an era when urban skyglow hadn’t yet blinded large numbers of people to the differences possible in a night-time sky.  A clear night with a full moon is a whole lot brighter than a cloudy night with a waning moon or no moon at all.  (There’s a reason why night-time assemblies of all sorts — dances, lodge meetings, and the like — used to be held on full-moon nights.  That way, people would be able to see the road on their way home.)

And right now, outside, it is indeed a dark and stormy night.  The crescent moon is completely obscured by clouds, and we’ve had thunderstorms rumbling through all evening.  The local volunteer fire departments have been called out at least twice for lightning strikes and downed trees smouldering on the power lines, and while we haven’t ourselves gotten any hail, other parts of the state haven’t been so lucky.

You could begin a novel with a night like this, if it hadn’t already been done.