Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Winners

Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University in California has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

This year’s top 10 winners of the Bulwer-Lytton contest, a.k.a. “The Dark and Stormy Night Contest” (run by the English Dept. of San Jose State University), wherein one writes only the first line of a very bad novel:

10) “As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it.”

9) “Just beyond the Narrows, the river widens.”

8) “With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description.”

7) “Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the East wall: ‘Andre creep… Andre creep… Andre creep.'”

6) “Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved.

5) “Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eeking out a living at a local pet store.”

4) “Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do.”

3) “Like an over-ripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor.”

2) “Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear’; a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death — in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies.”

AND THE WINNER IS…

1) “The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog’s deception, screaming madly, ‘You lied!”

ADDED BONUS: GREAT LITERARY TAUNTS

“I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.”
— Stephen Bishop”

“A modest little person, with much to be modest about.” – Winston Churchill (about Clement Atlee)

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” — William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

“He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.”
— Samuel Johnson

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx

“They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” — Thomas Brackett Reed

“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” — Mae West

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” — Billy Wilder

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