How To Begin A Novel

It was the month of January, 1516.

The night was dark and tempestuous; the thunder growled around; the lightning flashed at short intervals: and the wind swept furiously along in sudden and fitful gusts.

The streams of the great Black Forest of Germany babbled in playful melody no more, but rushed on with deafening din, mingling their torrent roar with the wild creaking of the huge oaks, the rustling of the firs, the howling of the affrighted wolves, and the hollow voices of the storm.

The dense black clouds were driving restlessly athwart the sky; and when the vivid lightning gleamed forth with rapid and eccentric glare, it seemed as if the dark jaws of some hideous monster, floating high above, opened to vomit flame.

And as the abrupt but furious gusts of wind swept through the forest, they raised strange echoes—as if the impervious mazes of that mighty wood were the abode of hideous fiends and evil spirits, who responded in shrieks, moans, and lamentations to the fearful din of the tempest.

It was, indeed, an appalling night!

An old – old man sat in his cottage on the verge of the Black Forest.

He had numbered ninety years; his head was completely bald – his mouth was toothless – his long beard was white as snow, and his limbs were feeble and trembling.

from Wagner, The Wehr-Wolf by George W M Reynolds

9 thoughts on “How To Begin A Novel

  1. Perhaps we should not continue to flatter George WM Reynolds by quoting such elevated matter in response to ‘Wagner, The Wehr-Wolf’. It will only encourage him, and I’m sure the world can do without such sequels as ‘César Franck, The Vampyre’, ‘Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, The Zombie’, and so forth.

  2. Does typing the name of the ‘Scottish’ play have the same effect as if one speaks it out loud…?
    Can someone try it and let me know what happens…?


  3. Is no one else shocked by this blatant plagarism of Paul Clifford?! Although this is something of a tradition (see, I can’t help but think Mr Reynolds is a bounder*. Or perhaps, says my inner good conscience, he was admitting his indebtedness by making ‘The night was dark and tempestuous’ his SECOND sentence? Hmmm.

    *The Wikipedia would seem to bear this out: ‘Although Reynolds was unusual in his religious skepticism (one of the main characters in The Mysteries Of London was a clergyman turned libertine) and political radicalism, his tales were aimed squarely at the tastes of his mostly middle- and lower-class audience; they featured “hump-backed dwarves, harridans and grave-robbers [who] groped past against a background of workhouses, jails, execution yards, thieves’ kitchens and cemeteries. His readers could depend on him to bring in the theme of maiden virtue rudely strumpeted as often as possible.”‘ I rest my case.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.