Saturday, September 01, 2018

Overtly Over-the-Top and Overwritten

I have spent years now reporting the winners of the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which importunes readers and writers to send in their worst (that is, most humorous and over-the-top) opening sentences from never-to-be-finished books. And every time, I think to myself, I should try this. Really, I should. But I never do. Perhaps because nothing that springs to my mind ever seems quite as clever or ridiculous as what others have submitted.

Consider, for instance, this year’s Crime/Detective category winner:
He glanced at his unsuspecting guests, his slight smile hiding his hateful mood, his calm eyes hiding his evil intentions, and his smooth skin hiding his tensed muscles, skeletal structure, and internal organs.
That one came from Dave Agans of Wilton, New Hampshire. Or how about this hilarious Honorable Mention winner, proferred by Jay Dardenne of Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
Who knew what answers the elongated, odd-shaped gray trunk would reveal, but there was no doubt that in solving the mysterious homicide at the zoo the great weight of evidence pointed to the elephant in the room.
The following gem comes from Ralph Cutting of Kingston upon Thames, England, and also earned an Honorable Mention nod:
Inspecteur Rollin of the Paris murder squad lit a cigarette as he stood over the body of la prostituée engorgée (to those readers who don’t know French, a prostitute with her throat cut and, indeed, how else would one describe her—la pute, la fille de joie, la vendeuse de sexe, la travailliste de la rue?) which lay on the Voie Georges Pompidou under the arches of le Pont Neuf on the rive droite of la Seine which flows through the most beautiful city in the world.
Meanwhile, 2018’s Grand Prize recipient is San Jose, California, resident Tanya Menezes, who contest organizers explain is “the youngest winner in contest history,” at just 17 years of age. Her entry might also have come from the Crime/Detective category:
Cassie smiled as she clenched John’s hand on the edge of an abandoned pier while the sun set gracefully over the water, and as the final rays of light disappeared into a star-filled sky she knew that there was only one thing left to do to finish off this wonderful evening, which was to throw his severed appendage into the ocean’s depths so it could never be found again—and maybe get some custard after.
Really, folks, how does one compete with such so-bad-they’re-good examples of fiction writing? If you’d like to try youself, though, the deadline for the next contest is June 30, 2019.

To see all of this year’s Bulwer-Lytton winners and runners-up, in a dozen categories, simply click here.

(Hat tip to Kevin’s Corner.)


Marshal Zeringue said...

Honorable mention from Jay Dardenne of Baton Rouge. Would that be THIS Jay Dardenne?

Kevin R. Tipple said...

As always, thank you for the mention. Appreciate it!

J. Kingston Pierce said...

I don't know, Marshal, but it certainly could be the same guy. The contest results page gave no more information about him.