The 2012 Lyttoniad Contest has announced their winners and this year, they are a doozy.
As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting. — Cathy Bryant, Manchester, England
"Hang on there," you might exclaim and rightly you should. "That's not a very well-written sentence!"
And you would be right.
The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest isn't about the best sentence. Oh no. This contest wants your downright worst opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.
Remember, "It was a dark and stormy night?"
Writers around the world learn to avoid such mundane cliches, and yet, this contest, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, wants them, desires, them, nay, needs them.
The Bulwer-Lytton website explains that the contest (hereafter referred to as the BLFC) "was the brainchild (or Rosemary’s baby) of Professor Scott Rice, whose graduate school excavations unearthed the source of the line “It was a dark and stormy night.” Sentenced to write a seminar paper on a minor Victorian novelist, he chose the man with the funny hyphenated name, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who was best known for perpetrating The Last Days of Pompeii, Eugene Aram, Rienzi, The Caxtons, The Coming Race, and – not least – Paul Clifford, whose famous opener has been plagiarized repeatedly by the cartoon beagle Snoopy.
No less impressively, Lytton coined phrases that have become common parlance in our language: “the pen is mightier than the sword,” “the great unwashed,” and “the almighty dollar” (the latter from The Coming Race, now available from Broadview Press)."
Sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State University, this competition has been running since 1982.
Last year's champion was Sue Fondrie, of Oshkosh, WI. (Yes, there seems to be a real place called Oshkosh, imagine that!)
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.
Our own, (well, close to our own, at least he's in the same state and there isn't a line of clothing named after the town) David Lippmann from Austin, Texas, was the winner of the Fantasy division:
The brazen walls of the ancient city of Khoresand, situated where the mighty desert of Sind meets the endless Hyrkanean steppe, are guarded by day by the four valiant knights Sir Malin the Mighty, Sir Welkin the Wake, Sir Darien the Doughty, and Sir Yrien the Yare, all clad in armor of beaten gold, and at night the walls are guarded by Sir Arden the Ardent, Sir Fier the Fearless, Sir Cyril the Courageous, and Sir Damien the Dauntless, all clad in armor of burnished argent, but nothing much ever happens. — David Lippmann, Austin, TX
How do I enter the contest?
If you are of a strong enough constitution to write for the Bulwer-Lytton Contest, then here's how:
- Each entry must be just one sentence, but you may submit as many entries as you wish
- Sentences may be of any length, but it's recommend not to exceed 50 to 60 words.
- Entries must be original, ie. unpublished.
- Entries are accepted all year.
More information is available at the Bulwer-Lytton website. Good luck!