Winner of the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton contest


24 Responses to “Winner of the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton contest”

  1. I feel like this at work…

  2. you know what would be great? if they released these things with a creative commons license. i would like to use some of the lines in my interactive fiction.

  3. bruckelsprout says:

    Sparrow-like thoughts?  As in thoughts of bird seed and insects?  Running from squirrels and chasing birds of prey that stray close to your nest?  I have sparrow-like thoughts all the time.

  4. Teresa Nielsen Hayden says:

    I’ve never been all that thrilled with the Bulwer-Lytton competition or its winners. That sentence is just baroque and purple. It isn’t bad. It lacks the elegance of (for instance) Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s “Before him, the road receded in both directions,” which is the actual first line of an actual published novel.

    • Shmuel says:

      “I’ve never been all that thrilled with the Bulwer-Lytton competition or
      its winners. That sentence is just baroque and purple. It isn’t bad.”

      Of course, the same goes for its inspiration, the infamous “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.”

      The BLFC is what it is, and it’s quite good for what it is. Complaining that it’s not a different sort of contest seems to miss the point…

  5. KBert says:

    Purple Prose:
    his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled
    with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened
    to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a
    loss as to why he felt blue.There are some gut-busters via the link!

  6. millie fink says:


    Must Be More Subtle About My Environmentalism . . . urgh!

  7. thebelgianpanda says:

    yeah, there are some real gems in there (even the dishonorables).  one of my favs i think was:

    The beast lumbered toward the maiden, its fetid breath announcing its presence to her (since she couldn’t see him due to the blindfold her captors had tied around her head), its jaws gaping open like a sub sandwich with too much meat, so that no matter how hard you try, you can’t possibly keep the lettuce or the tomatoes from squeezing out onto the table or, worse, your lap.

    • Kingazaz says:


      No. You made that up. It’s very funny, but nobody included that in their serious work. Was it “serious” work? Was the person not writing to be silly?

      No, you made that up. I simply won’t believe otherwise.

      Edit: Ooooooh, OK, it’s not real. Gotcha.

      • thebelgianpanda says:

        I *wish* I had the talent in creative writing to have come up with some of the lines in that contest.

        Deanna waited for him in a deliberate pose on the sailor-striped chaise lounge of the newly-remodeled Ramada, her bustier revealing the tops of her white breasts like eggs–eggs of the slightly undercooked, hard-boiled variety, showing a nascent jiggle with her apprehensive breath, eggs that were then peeled ever-so-carefully so as not to pierce the jellied, opaque albumen and unleash the longing, viscous yolk within–yes, she lay there, oblong and waiting to be deviled.

  8. millie fink says:

    Similarly (you’ll see what I did there)– caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

    Not “real,” in the same way that the Bulwer-Lytton entrants aren’t real, but funny nonetheless.

  9. millie fink says:

    (Oooh, Disqus spacing is funky!)

  10. Steven Lord says:

     I prefer the introduction to John Scalzi’s “The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City”

    • thebelgianpanda says:

      OH. MY. FSM.

    • Guest says:

      I’ve finished reading the fourth in the ‘Old Man’s War’ series, so I had to check this out.

      Night had come to the city of Skalandarharia, the sort of night with such a quality of black to it that it was as if black coal had been wrapped in blackest velvet, bathed in the purple-black ink of the demon squid Drindel and flung down a black well that descended toward the deepest, blackest crevasses of Drindelthengen, the netherworld ruled by Drindel, in which the sinful were punished, the black of which was so legendarily black that when the dreaded Drindelthengenflagen, the ravenous blind black badger trolls of Drindelthengen, would feast upon the uselessly dilated eyes of damned, the abandoned would cry out in joy as the Drindelthengenflagenmorden, the feared Black Spoons of the Drindelthengenflagen, pressed against their optic nerves, giving them one last sensation of light before the most absolute blackness fell upon them, made yet even blacker by the injury sustained from a falling lump of ink-bathed, velvet-wrapped coal.’

      Wow.  I see what you mean.

  11. thebelgianpanda says:

    actually i am seeing a theme here–i am enjoying the ones related to food quite a lot more than the others.  maybe i should go make myself a sammie…

  12. Suzanne Fondrie says:

    I’d like to encourage all of you to try your hand at entering next year’s contest. You, too, can be awful.

    Sue Fondrie

  13. thebelgianpanda says:

    congratulations Suzanne!  :)

  14. Dicrel Seijin says:

    As I read more and more, I occasionally felt near-physical pain. So saying, sure I’ll enter next year.

    I do wish I could use some of these as examples in my fiction class.

  15. adamnvillani says:

    Ehh, I really wish someone would win this contest with a short sentence. It’s more like a contest of who can drag out bad analogies to awkward places than a contest of focused, concise badness.

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