August 18, 2011

Give Me Your Worst...


...Fiction, that is.


Thick rain is beating against my windows and thunder is rattling anything not tied down, as it crashes overhead, while cars whiz past, splashing grey loops on my lawn, like a bowl of spit-soggy Cheerios, half chewed by a two-year-old.

From "Peanuts" by Charles Shultz

San Jose State University sponsors an annual competition for the worst opening literary lines, based upon the infamous opening line of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel, Paul Clifford. The contest asks writers to intentionally create the worst/cheesiest/most grotesque opening lines for literature and submit them for a chance at publication, and a pittance. Literally. The prize is a pittance.


While most people are familiar with the beginning of this line, you might not be familiar with the full text: "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," (Bulwer-Lytton). Geez. What a mouthful!

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest has spawned some truly hysterical creations. The 2011 Winners in all categories were a riot to read. The categories range from Vile Puns to Historical Fiction to Crime; there's even a dishonorable mentions section!

One of my favorites (though there were many to choose from) was the Romance winner, Ali Kawashima, who submitted: "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."

For some additional humor, check out The Huffington Post article, which includes pictorial representations of some of the winners!

In the spirit of deplorable literature, what is the worst opening line you can come up with?

Be sure to check out the contest winners by clicking on the links above or visiting the main site hereBulwer-Lytton Contest.