The 2015 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Winners

For the 33rd year in a row, the English Department at San Jose State University has rewarded aspiring or otherwise writers for the worst opening line in a (non-existent) novel. The annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is named for Victorian novelist Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton who once began a book with the phrase “It was a dark and stormy night…” and cemented those words as a writing cliche. Congratulations to Dr. Joel Phillips of West Trenton, New Jersey, who won the top honor with this gem:

Seeing how the victim's body, or what remained of it, was wedged between the grill of the Peterbilt 389 and the bumper of the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT, officer "Dirk" Dirksen wondered why reporters always used the phrase "sandwiched" to describe such a scene since there was nothing appetizing about it, but still, he thought, they might have a point because some of this would probably end up on the front of his shirt.

There were also runners-up recognized and winners in various categories such as horror, fantasy, romance, and children’s literature. Many “dishonorable mentions” are included on the winners’ page as well. A special categories recognizes “vile puns,” won by John Holmes of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Locals know it as Pinocchio Rock, because it's shaped like a proboscis, and lies at the edge of the cliff.

And more than one from the winner’s page paid tribute to Bulwer-Lytton’s famous line, like this dishonorable mention in the “Purple Prose” category:

The night was dark; which is a bit redundant, since night is by definition dark, unless it's a stormy night when lightning causes moments of brilliant light, or except in places like Norway or Alaska where summer nights can be pretty light, but still, most of the time when you say “night,” people are going to think “dark.” — Joseph E. Fountain, Fredericksburg, VA

Read many more horrible sentences at the winners’ page. -via Metafilter

See also: previous years’ winners.


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