The results from this year’s Bulwer-Lytton contest are in, and the future of western literature has never looked, um, brighter. Bulwer-Lytton challenges entrants to write the worst opening sentence possible for imaginary novels in a variety of genres, and they generally succeed horribly. A few choice examples:
(Children’s literature) Joanne watched her fellow passengers – a wizened man reading about alchemy; an oversized bearded man-child; a haunted, bespectacled young man with a scar; and a gaggle of private school children who chatted ceaselessly about Latin and flying around the hockey pitch and the two-faced teacher who they thought was a witch – there was a story here, she decided. – Tim Ellis, Haslemere, U.K.
(Fantasy) “Toads of glory, slugs of joy,” sang Groin the dwarf as he trotted jovially down the path before a great dragon ate him because the author knew that this story was a train wreck after he typed the first few words. – Alex Hall, Greeley, CO
(Romance) Like a mechanic who forgets to wipe his hands on a shop rag and then goes home, hugs his wife, and gets a grease stain on her favorite sweater – love touches you, and marks you forever. – Beth Fand Incollingo, Haddon Heights, N.J.
Though some of them actually have potential as hooks into a Pratchett-esque sort of book:
The day started out as uneventfully as any other, and continued thus to midday and from there it was nothing at all to ease into an evening of numbing, undiluted monotony that survived unmarred by even the least act of momentary peculiarity-in fact, let’s skip that day altogether and start with the day after. – Jon Starr, Rumford, ME
The worst part is that I know there are worse lines than most of those in actual published books (oh John Ringo no!)…if you have any, I’d love to hear them!