Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2011

Since 1982, the English department at San Jose State University has held a competition seeking the worst possible first sentence to a novel. From vile punnery to the most flowery wording, these are the best of the worst that’d make you throw down a novel in disgust.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be runner-up in the fantasy category with this entry:

Veronica, two months pregnant and attempting to get her boyfriend to notice, and Ricky, who wanted to end things with his expansive girlfriend, sat at a table-for-two around lunchtime at the Olive Garden in Columbus, Ohio, eying the bottle of house rosé which, unbeknownst to them, doubled as the portal key to Khrysandelt: The land where everything glitters slightly more than normal.

Andrew Allingham

Oh, don’t worry, I didn’t win. There are many, many more sentences that deserve that illustrious honor. These are some of my favorites:

Grand Prize
Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.

Sue Fondrie
Oshkosh, WI

Dishonorable Mention: Purple Prose
Like a bird gliding over the surface of a Wyoming river rippled by a gentle Spring breeze, his hand passed over her stretch marks.

Patty Liverance
Grand Rapids, MI

Winner:  Romance
As the dark and mysterious stranger approached, Angela bit her lip anxiously, hoping with every nerve, cell, and fiber of her being that this would be the one man who would understand—who would take her away from all this—and who would not just squeeze her boob and make a loud honking noise, as all the others had.

Ali Kawashima
Greensboro, NC

Winner:  Sci Fi
Morgan ‘Bamboo’ Barnes, Star Pilot of the Galaxia (flagship of the Solar Brigade), accepted an hors d’oeuvre from the triangular-shaped platter offered to him from the Princess Qwillia—lavender-skinned she was and busty, with two of her four eyes what Barnes called ‘bedroom eyes’—and marveled at how on her planet, Chlamydia-5, these snacks were called ‘Hi-Dee-Hoes’ but on Earth they were simply called Ritz Crackers with Velveeta.

Greg Homer
Placerville, CA

Runner-Up: Western
Sunburned and lost, Jake tightened the noose around Randy’s diaper-white neck and growled, “Any last words, varmint?” to which Randy replied, “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, Jake–that’s where all the fruit is!” which marked the first and last time Jake and the boys hired a life coach to lead one of their cattle drives.

Lisa Kluber
San Francisco, CA

You can read the rest of the award winning entries here. Definitely be sure to check out past winners by changing the year in the url. Oh, and submit your own.

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