Friday, August 17, 2012

I Love The Bulwer-Lytton Bad Writing Contest

Every year about this time, I look forward to the results of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

I know, it sounds stuffy and boring, but it might be the only writing contest out there that's a hoot.
Edmond George Bulwer-Lytton, for
whom the bad writing contest
is named

Sponsored by San Jose State University, the contestants vie to write the worst first sentence of a novel they can think of.   The awards are given to writers in several genres, including romance novels, westerns, you name it.

According to contest organizers, the award is named after Edmond George Bulwer-Lytton, who had that famous opening line of a novel: "It was a dark and stormy night."

You probably recognize that line as the work of the Peanuts character Snoopy, when the dog goes into novelist mode.

The 2012 awards just came out, and here are some of the best examples.

"As he told her that he loved her, she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny dead deodicide burrowiing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are the  windows of the soul and if so, his soul needs regrouting,"... overall winner Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England.

"She slinked through the door wearing a dress that looked like it had been painted on. Not with good paint, like Behr or Sherwin-Williams, but with that watered down stuff that bubbles up right away if you don't prime the surface before you slap it on and - just like the cheap paint -the dress needed two more coats to cover her." --Sue Fondrie, Appleton, Wisconsin, winner of the crime catagory.

"Corinne considered the colors (palest green, gray and lavender) and texture (downy as the finest velvet), and wondered, "How long have these cold cuts been in the refrigerator,"  Linda Boatright, Omaha, Nebraska, runner up in the purple prose catagory.

"He got down from his horse, which seemed strange to him as he had always believed that you got down from a duck or a goose," Terry L. Johnson, Tularusa, New Mexico, runner up in the bad pun category.

"Ronald left the world as he entered it: On a frigid winter night, amid frantic screams and blood soaked linens, while relatives stood nearby and muttered furious promises to find and punish the man responsible," Rebecca Oas, Atlanta, Georgia.


  1. I always thought it was hilarious that "A Wrinkle In Time," Madeleine L'engle's book that has won numerous awards, begins with: "It was a dark and stormy night."

  2. Thanks for the mention, Matt. That one was fun to write, and it made use of my vast paint knowledge.
    Sue Fondrie