One day while working my way through one of my dad’s work storage rooms (aka, a room of things he can’t get rid of for sentimental/monetary value but may secretly wish would be blown away like Dorothy’s house in Wizard of Oz) I came across a stack of papers that took me off task.
Okay, that’s not hard to do.
It was a print up of entries for a contest called the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Each entry was one horribly inflated, engorged, overworked sentence and I realized what it was: a bad fiction contest. Namely, a bad opening sentence contest. And the contest was inspired and named for the famous opening line to Edward George Bulwer-Lytton’s book Paul Clifford: “It was a dark and stormy night…”
Okay, I only knew that from Charlie Brown.
I was ecstatic. I love literature. I love good literature. And I love bad literature. And a contest like this was right up my ally. In fact, my husband has a tiny notebook that fits in his church jacket so I can write bad novel opening lines for him during church. (Sorry, we’re trying to grow up.)
A friend recently sent me an article about this year’s winner. Sue Fondrie of Oshkosh, Wisconsin won with this tiny display of literary atrocity:
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.
I know. Such talent.
While mine pale in comparison I thought I’d share a few of my bad fiction starters:
#1. A cloud settled over the humid church, and the sound of old ladies flapping their fans masked a growing sense of danger; it was only a matter of time.
#2. As he emerged from the pool, water dripping off him like a broken strand of pearls, the woman thought, what have I done?
#3. The sweet puddle of melted ice cream had attracted dozen of ants and insects, much like Sara’s ability to attract despicable men.
Vote on your favorite in the comments please. Or, better yet, add your own.