How many times have you written something and thought it was worse than anything ever written? Feel better about yourself by perusing the entries to the 2016 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest! This is the 34th year that the English Department at San Jose State University has rewarded writers for the worst opening line in a (non-existent) novel. The annual 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. Besides honoring Buller-Lytton, the contest is to “to encourage unpublished authors who do not have the time to actually write entire books.” Congratulations to William "Barry" Brockett of Tallahassee, Florida, who came up with this sentence:
Even from the hall, the overpowering stench told me the dingy caramel glow in his office would be from a ten-thousand-cigarette layer of nicotine baked on a naked bulb hanging from a frayed wire in the center of a likely cracked and water-stained ceiling, but I was broke, he was cheap, and I had to find her.
Yes, that right there is an omen that the novel following it will be difficult to get through. There are also winners, runners-up, and honorable mentions in the categories of adventure, crime/detective, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, romance, science fiction, puns, children’s literature, and a special “purple prose” category. There are also miscellaneous honorable mentions because they had a lot of bad writing entered this year. See them all at the contest winner’s page. -via Metafilter