Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bulwer-Lytton Results Are In

I'm sure everybody's blogging this today--or yesterday, if they were actually awake--but the results of this year's worst-possible-novel-opening contest have been announced. Here are a few of the winners:

The Winner
Gerald began--but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them "permanently" meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash--to pee.

Jim Gleeson
Madison, WI

The Barents sea heaved and churned like a tortured animal in pain, the howling wind tearing packets of icy green water from the shuddering crests of the waves, atomizing it into mist that was again laid flat by the growing fury of the storm as Kevin Tucker switched off the bedside light in his Tuba City, Arizona, single-wide trailer and by the time the phone woke him at 7:38, had pretty much blown itself out with no damage.

Scott Palmer
Klamath Falls, OR

Grand Panjandrum's Award
LaVerne was undeniably underdressed for this frigid weather; her black, rain-soaked tank top offered no protection and seemed to cling to her torso out of sheer rage, while her tie-dyed boa scarf hung lifeless around her neck like a giant, exhausted, pipe cleaner recently discarded after near-criminal overuse by an obviously sadistic (and rather flamboyant) plumber.

Andrew Cavallari
Northfield, IL

These are pretty funny--as are the winners in all the various genres--but I think my favorite out of all of them is this "Dishonorable Mention" from the children's literature category:

Out of a hole in the ground popped a bunny rabbit which had a long thick orange carrot between its teeth and a big splotch of mud on its back that had dried into a dirt clump the size of a tumor.

Veronica Perez
Palm Springs, FL

The other winners are kinda slapstick; that one is just bizarre. I think the thing I like about this contest is that, to write a "bad" opening, you have to subscribe to the idea that there is such a thing as a "good" opening, and be able to articulate what that isn't. This is worth thinking about! Overdoing it is just one way to be bad--I'd like to see this contest expand its range of badness.

Anyway, good for a few yuks!


TIV: the individual voice said...

What a great contest. I decided to post inspiring poems on my poetry blog recently and tried to find a good one by Jane Kenyon who I used to like and realize I now hate all her poems and so merely posted a passage of her typical use of cliches. You can learn a lot from bad writing. I can't even plow through these passages you posted.

TIV: the individual voice said...

Oh, I meant that as a compliment. These are horrifically, hilariously, mournfully bad.