Daily Archives: 1 January 2008

How not to write in the year ahead

The department of English and comparative literature at San Jose State University has announced the winner of the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, and the winner is Jim Gleeson of Madison, Wisconsin, for this passage. The goal of the contest is to submit bad opening sentences for imaginary novels.

Gerald began—but was interrupted 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.”

The runner-up is Scott Palmer of Klamath Falls, Oregon.

“The Barents sea heaved and churned like a tortured animal in pain, the howling wind tearing packets of icy green water from the shuddering crests of the waves, atomizing it into mist that was again laid flat by the growing fury of the storm as Kevin Tucker switched off the bedside light in his Tuba City, Arizona, single-wide trailer and by the time the phone woke him at 7:38, had pretty much blown itself out with no damage.”

Also read: How to write badly—a proud winner tells all