Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Winners 2011 (Yikes)

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is a writing contest held annually and is sponsored by the English Department of San Jose State University. Writers have to "compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels," i.e., be bad, very bad.

The contest was started in 1982 and is named for English novelist and playwright Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, author of the much-quoted "It was a dark and stormy night". This opening, from his 1830 novel Paul Clifford, continues in perfect, purple prose:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
Well, the 2011 winners and losers are in: (be ready to cringe)

1st Place:

"Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories."

Sue Fondrie,Oshkosh, WI

At 26 words, Prof. Fondrie’s submission is the shortest grand prize winner in Contest history, proving that bad writing need not be prolix, or even very wordy.

2nd Place:

"As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.

Rodney Reed, Ooltewah, TN

For a list of all the happy entrants : http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2011.htm

Here's to hoping they never write that novel!

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