Sunday, August 15, 2021

Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest: It was a Dark and Stormy...

I look forward to the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest Winners every year. What a wonderful celebration of creative purple prose.

Founded in 1982 at San Jose State University in California, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest challenges entrants to compose opening sentences to the worst of all possible novels. The contest was the brainchild of Professor Scott Rice. Sentenced to write a seminar paper on a minor Victorian novelist, he chose the man with the funny hyphenated name, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. Best known for The Last Days of Pompeii, his novel Paul Clifford began with the famous opener that has been plagiarized repeatedly by the cartoon beagle, Snoopy.

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. --Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford 


A lecherous sunrise flaunted itself over a flatulent sea, ripping the obsidian bodice of night asunder with its rapacious fingers of gold, thus exposing her dusky bosom to the dawn’s ogling stare. -- Stu Duval, Auckland, New Zealand 

Grand Panjandrum's Special Award 

Victor Frankenstein admired his masterpiece stretched out on the lab slab; it was almost human, OK, no conscience or social awareness, and not too bright, but a little plastic surgery to hide the scars and bolts, maybe a spray tan and a hairdo, and this guy could run for President! -- David Hynes, Bromma, Sweden 

Adventure Winner  

When I asked our novice Safari guide Guy Pommeroy to identify what that roaring sound was he replied (and these were his last words), “It sounds to me like someone with a bad case of bronchitis; I’ll check and be right back.” --Greg Homer, San Vito, Costa Rica 

Dishonorable Mentions 

Among the more useful life lessons that jumping out of a perfectly good airplane teaches you are that money isn’t everything and that species chauvinism can really limit your opportunities for finding happiness, thought D.B. Cooper as he canoodled with his common-law Sasquatch wife D'un'h in their cozy lean-to deep in the sodden Cascade foothills. --G. Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, CA 

The collapse of the Taiping Rebellion and my subsequent wanderings to avoid the deadly clutches of vengeful imperial agents form the basis of this narrative, a narrative whose very existence and use of the first person pretty much ruin any sense of suspense that might have made it worth reading. --Drew Herman, Port Angeles, WA 

As Dr. Steinbeck fought off the stone monstrosities that had ambushed the expedition crews deep within the Mayan pyramid, his lifelong friend, Dr. Williams, chose to heed his colleague’s wise words and “run while you still can”—a choice that ultimately left us stuck with him for a protagonist rather than the infinitely more intriguing late Dr. Steinbeck. --Derek Lepoutre, Pickering, Ontario, Canada 

Crime & Detective Winner 

The Big Joe Palooka murder wasn’t just another killing, another homicide, another manslaughter, another slaying, another hit, another whack, another rubbing-out, another bumping-off, another assassination, another liquidation, another extermination, another execution—but it was nothing new for Johnny Synonymous, Obsessive-Compulsive Crime Fighter. --Paul Scheeler, Buffalo, NY 

Dishonorable Mentions 

"Irony,” bombasted Inspector Simons, "is when someone believes themselves more clever than anyone else in the room, but in fact they are careless, and foolish, like the murderer— MATILDA DANNER—yes, Matilda, YOU killed—wait, um . . . where's Matilda?" --Mark Meiches, Dallas, TX 

The cat purred like a Geiger counter beside the fireplace which crackled like gunfire (which reminded Detective Greenwich of his service in The Ukraine and The Latvia), this feline being the only witness to the murder of the wet nurse and, unless purring counts, he wasn't talking. --Michael McDermott, Dublin, Ireland 

Detective Hill raised his service pistol and pointed it at the suspect, a master of disguise hiding in plain sight as a living statue in central park: “Freeze!” he called out. -- Justin C. McCarthy, Cranston, RI



It was a dark and stormy . . . morning, Gotcha! -- this is just the first of innumerable twists and turns that you, dear Reader, will struggle to keep abreast of as I unfold my tale of adventure as second plumber aboard the hapless SS Hotdog during that fateful summer of 1974. -- Louise Taylor, Paris, France 

Dishonorable Mentions 

It was a dark and stormy night, as disorienting and miasmic as the inside of the bag of an industrial strength vacuum cleaner with a shredded HEPA filter being dragged over a steel foundry floor.-- Jeff Laurence, Carmel, CA 

It was a dark and stormy night that caused Beryl's anxiety to flare up, that and the giant mutated Madagascan Hissing cockroach which had taken residence in her kitchen, and earlier that evening had made light work of Nibbles, her ageing Mini Lop Rabbit. --Hwei Oh, Sydney, Australia 

Dark and stormy, the night screamed like a ravished virgin .... the dark, stormy night ranted madly in a barometric tantrum .... it was an ebonic nocturnal tempest .... the stygian typhoon of eventide .... prosopopeic fuliginous Nyx, enceinte as it were with lachrymal lamia farouche as Hecate, disbosomed upon her terrene demiorb an empyreal borasque. --Jack Holiday, Burbank, CA

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in Torrance, but not in nearby Rancho Palos Verdes, which was unusual given the two towns' proximity. --Steve Lauducci, Bethlehem, PA 

Read More Winners and Entries Here.

1 comment:

rgain said...

These are wonderful. Thanks for sharing this and so many other wonderful things in your daily email.
Rosanne, Canon City, Colorado