It immediately set the precedent of being a financial failure, a
tradition many cons have followed.
The article calls the line "It was a dark and stormy night," which
opened his novel _Paul Clifford_, a "dreadful melodramatic opening."
Why? It's vivid, descriptive, and brief.
The rest of the sentence piles on 51 more words, in sharp contrast to
the short statement that always gets attacked. The one important piece
of information, that the scene of the story is London, is relegated to parentheses within the sentence.
The reason "It was a dark and stormy night" is considered bad may be
that Snoopy used it as the start of his aimless attempts to write
fiction. In one strip, he follows it with a series of non sequiturs,
which he promises to tie together.
_The Three Musketeers_ uses an essentially equivalent line, though in
French and not at the beginning of the novel.