Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

I first heard about this contest on NPR a few months back. For those of you that don't know, it's basically a parody contest of literature to honor Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), the creator of such lines as "the pen is mightier than the sword," "the almighty dollar," and "it was a dark and stormy night." The contest involves creating a bad opening for an imaginary novel. The winner gets the international acclaim and $250.

This year's results are available here. They're really quite clever and fun to read.

But the contest had me thinking about writing some bad openings, so I thought I'd try one or two here. You all should populate the comments with your own bad openings. It's a lot of fun. Enjoy.

1. It wasn't the smell of toasty sardines, or of the burning wig sitting on the fish pile, or of the flaming cheap clothes and even cheaper perfume that made Jessica Jameson uncomfortable with the situation; it was that all she could think about was that this was going to ruin her dinner date at Long John Silvers later this evening.

2. They say all men are born, but they've never really met Lefty Joe, the mighty gunslinger from Topeka that stands well over eight feet tall, that's almost two and a half meters, and towers of his horse just like a child stands over an ant hill with a magnifying glass, only Lefty Joe doesn't carry a magnifying glass.

That's it for now. For more info, Wikipedia offers a little, plus the past winners. You can go there from here.

And now, my favorite winner, from 1993, by Wm. W. "Buddy" Ocheltree:

"She wasn't really my type, a hard-looking but untalented reporter from the local cat box liner, but the first second that the third-rate representative of the fourth estate cracked open a new fifth of old Scotch, my sixth sense said seventh heaven was as close as an eighth note from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, so, nervous as a tenth grader drowning in eleventh-hour cramming for a physics exam, I swept her into my longing arms, and, humming "The Twelfth of Never," I got lucky on Friday the thirteenth."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your ringing endorsement. It's always good to know when my warped little mind is appreciated.
Take care,
Wm. W. "Buddy" Ocheltree