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Bulwer-Lytton 2012: Cathy Bryant Wins Worst Opening Sentence Competition

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The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2012 is the latest in an annual series of competitions to find the worst-possible opening sentence to a novel.

The competition has been run since 1982, and is sponsored by the English department at San Jose State University. It is named after the Victorian novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who wrote the immortal opening line "It was a dark and stormy night." All are welcome to enter.

Entries are divided into categories, with a single overall winner. This year's champion was judged to be Cathy Bryant of Manchester, UK, who came up with this disgustingly unforgettable line:

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.

The competition's creator, Professor Scott Rice (aka the Grand Panjandrum) gave this zinger his own special commendation:

As an ornithologist, George was fascinated by the fact that urine and feces mix in birds’ rectums to form a unified, homogeneous slurry that is expelled through defecation, although eying Greta's face, and sensing the reaction of the congregation, he immediately realized he should have used a different analogy to describe their relationship in his wedding vows. — David Pepper, Hermosa Beach, CA

Other favorites of ours from this year's contest include the winner of the Crime category:

She slinked through my door wearing a dress that looked like it had been painted on … not with good paint, like Behr or Sherwin-Williams, but with that watered-down stuff that bubbles up right away if you don’t prime the surface before you slap it on, and – just like that cheap paint – the dress needed two more coats to cover her. — Sue Fondrie, Appleton, WI

and one of the same category's "Dishonorable mentions":

The smooth hand I was caressing felt as if it belonged to a Persian monk that had been rubbing moisturizing body oils on his fellow monks all day (but not in a gay way, come on, he’s a monk for God’s sake), when in all actuality the hand belonged to a body that I had just pulled out of the Potomac for forensic investigation. — Kevin Bruemmer, San Antonio, TX

Also noteworthy was the Romance runner-up:

"Your eyes are like deep blue pools that I would like to drown in,” he had told Kimberly when she had asked him what he was thinking; but what he was actually thinking was that sometimes when he recharges his phone he forgets to put the little plug back in but he wasn’t going to tell her that. — Dan Leyde, Edmonds, WA

and finally, this unforgettable pun, adjudged to be the Western category's runner-up:

He got down from his horse, which seemed strange to him as he had always believed that you got down from a duck or a goose. — Terry L. Johnson, Tularosa, NM

Click here to read all of the other Bulwer-Lytton 2012 winners and honorable mentions.

The competition's website states that "The contest accepts submissions every day of the livelong year." If you can do better - or worse - why not give it a try?

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