Sunday, February 22, 2009

Best Bad Opening Lines

Every year San Jose State University has the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest in which the contestants compete for the honor of writing the worst first sentence of a nonexistent novel. The contest was named for novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who was famous for his opening line..."It was a dark and stormy night." Anyone can submit an entry, but it's fun just to see the results. I thought I'd post a few of the past winners just for fun! My particular favorite is the 2007 winner. Love it!

Here's the full text of Bulwer-Lytton's opener:
"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."
--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

2008 Winner:
"Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped 'Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.'"
Garrison Spik, Washington, D.C.

2007 Winner:
Gerald began--but was interruped 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

I have to admit when I was 15, I used the "it was a dark and stormy night" opener for a fiction class story. Snickering, I declare that I got an A on that paper! Who would've thought the line would or had become famous as one of the worst opening lines. Certainly not the teacher who graded the paper!

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