"It was a dark and stormy night. . ."
Snoopy, the struggling first-time novelist, never seems to make it past that opening line.
He might have better luck using new novel-writing software called First Aid for Writers from author and and University of California, Irvine, writing coach Sol Stein.
First Aid is designed to guide fiction and non-fiction writers through works in progress, Mr. Stein explained.
For example, if you're writing a short story and you're having trouble with a first paragraph, you copy that section to First Aid, fix it, then move it back to your word processor.
First Aid comes with a unique guarantee: If you can't fix the problem using the program, fax a copy of the trouble spot to Stein's company in New York and a living, breathing book editor will respond.
First Aid is Mr. Stein's follow-up to WritePro, a fiction-writing tutorial he created and introduced three years ago. More than 60,000 copies of WritePro have been sold, Mr. Stein said.
DOS and Macintosh versions of First Aid should be available in several weeks. The software will be sold in computer chains such as Software Etc. and Egghead, or directly from Stein's company, WritePro Corp., in Scarborough, N.Y. Suggested retail price is $299.
For more information call (800) 755-1124.
Trekking up the charts. The computer game designers at Interplay in Santa Ana, Calif., are cheering. Their newest offering, "Star Trek: The 25th Anniversary" is a hit. The game, two years in the making, has sold more than 50,000 copies since Feb. 7 and made its debut at No. 1 in a list of best-selling games compiled for Prodigy.
In a new store. Dell Computer, the Austin, Texas, mail-order upstart that has bigger rivals running scared, will begin selling computers in Price Club stores in April.
Dell has created a new line of computers for Price Club called Dell Precision. The U.S.-made line will include four desk-top machines and a notebook, with microprocessors ranging from 386SX to 486. All computers will come with a hard disk drive, two floppy drives, 14-inch color monitor, keyboard, modem, mouse and several software programs. Price Club will set retail prices.
Dell already sells computers through CompUSA computer stores and Staples, the office supply chain.
They'll do Windows. Personal computer users may be installing millions of new Windows soon.
Microsoft Windows 3.1 -- the long-awaited update of one of the best-selling programs for IBM-compatible computers -- is expected to go on sale April 6.