Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bulwer-Lytton contest

The annual Bulwer-Lytton contact seeks out really bad writing.  Contestants are asked to come up with the worst opening sentence of an imaginary novel.  It's named for Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who opened a novel with the classic "It was a dark and stormy night."  The actual full opening sentence reads like this:

"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."

This contest has been going on for almost 30 years, and it never fails to amuse me.  This year's contest was won by Molly Ringle, a Seattle writer, with one of the best sentences I have ever seen:
For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss--a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil.

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