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Famous First Words

Posted by TestOut Staff on

There's a pretty good chance that almost no one who stumbles across this blog post will have ever read, or even heard of, the 19th-century English novel Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Let's face it, there are probably plenty of people who teach English literature who have never read or heard of Paul Clifford. Bulwer-Lytton's novel is not quite so lost to time that it's out of print altogether ... but the current paperback edition is ranked No. 1,890,901 on Amazon.

A dark and stormy night

On the other hand, there's an excellent chance that most people would recognize the incipit, or opening line, of Paul Clifford. That's because of Snoopy, the beagle owned by Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz's seminal comic strip Peanuts, who frequently sat atop his doghouse, paws on typewriter, attempting to launch his writing career by penning a bestselling gothic romance. Yes, Paul Clifford is the original source of Snoopy's foreboding, "It was a dark and stormy night."

Snoopy never seemed to get more than a phrase or two beyond those seven words, whereas Bulwer-Lytton added 50 additional words just to that one first sentence: "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."

Sheesh. It's no wonder that Paul Clifford is 965 pages long, right? If you subscribe to our PC Pro training course and fire up your first lesson in LabSim, you'll find that our own incipit isn't nearly as fraught with ponderous drama: "Welcome to the PC Pro course. In this course, we're going to talk about computer systems — how they work, how to maintain them, and how to repair them." That pithy little introduction, however, isn't the beginning of our story: It's the beginning of yours.

What happens after you log in that first time is entirely up to you. You're the main character, and you'll make all of the key decisions. Just bear in mind that a great novel can enlarge the mind and feed the soul, but a great IT course can lead to education, certification, future employment, and a solid career in a thriving industry. Who knows? You may even have time to write your own novel on the side. And if that ever happens, well, we've already given you your first seven words.

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