“IT WAS a dark and stormy night” is probably one of the most-quoted sentences ever; a bad start to anything.

It begins the novel Paul Clifford (1830) which has sunk without trace, unlike its first line.

Bulwer-Lytton - have you heard of him? - wrote it; he also coined “The pen is mightier than the sword” and “The great unwashed”; better to be remembered for a few words than nothing.

He became rich, lived in Knebworth House, could have been King of Greece (he gave that one a miss).

Snoopy (the Peanuts cartoon) showed Charlie Brown this sentence as the start of his novel; Charlie Brown handed it back saying “Good luck with the second sentence”.

Oh, to be referenced in one of the greatest 20th century cartoons!

Neil gave us 15 minutes to come up with something to follow it.

Mary’s character was drunk, returning home from the pub through the storm, and fought a tree: “You damn fool!” he raged.

Sandra’s storm was on the night of a birth and the mother’s death, the child’s disturbed life beset by “her dark and sullen nature” .

This was followed by a discussion sparked by the idea that a storm at birth means a troubled life.

Lisa played with the tautology in the sentence, twisting it to city nights which are never dark but “pocketed and patched, stitched together out of glaring, eye-stinging contrasts”.

There were city lights… “those dazzling, man-made, hide-your-eyes blinders – more illumination than you’ll ever find in the grey daytime.”

A man contemplating suicide - inspiration for another book?

Eugenie, out with her dog – “wet was not her favourite state” – in the storm, used her mobile phone light to rescue a kitten trapped in a hedge, taking it home to recover by a log fire.

Rita indulged in a stormy rant about the council’s failure to clear up treacherous fallen leaves after autumn gales, a clever take on the theme.

Pat, indoors on her stormy night, reading a murder fiction, drinking wine, when “horror upon horror” a hooded man stands before her with bloodstained knife. She wakes to find book on floor and an empty wine bottle.

Martin followed rhythmic echoes of “The boy stood on the burning deck” in his poem about a ship which escaped a storm “And safely reached Jamaica/A cautionary tale indeed/For all who doubt their maker!”

Chris’s elegiac poem centred on a deer appearing in the storm-lashed garden “all gawky grace/Yearning neck and tranquil face.”

Neil told of Murderers Bay in New Zealand named after natives who killed six sailors sheltering from a storm there - a true story taken from Abel Tasman’s log of his voyage in 1642.

Joan’s story featured a writer trapped overnight in a haunted house in a storm - the ghost was Bulwer-Lytton himself; the man’s fate was to stay there forever writing out that one sentence, over and over again.

If you’d like to join in the writing fun, come along to Airedale Writers Circle on the first Tuesday of each month, 7.30pm at Sight Airedale, on Scott Street immediately behind Keighley Library.