06 May 2008

It was a Dark and Stormy Night: Best of the Worst

"The most wasted of days is that in which one has not laughed."
-Sebastian Chamfort

I did not get much reading done these past few days, what with Zooey and all. Mostly I flicked through magazines, the literary equivalent of fast food.

Today is a gorgeous day, 72 degrees by noontime, and I am not about to waste it; I'll spend the afternoon taking pictures and weeding the vegetable plot.

But for now, I could use a good laugh. And when I need a good laugh, I turn to the winners of the annual Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest: in which awards are given to the very worst opening sentences for novels thankfully unwritten.

So, without further ado! My favorite winners of 2007:

Danny, the little Grizzly cub, frolicked in the tall grass on this sunny Spring morning, his mother keeping a watchful eye as she chewed on a piece of a hiker they had encountered the day before.
Dave McKenzie
Federal Way, WA

She'd been strangled with a rosary-not a run-of-the-mill rosary like you might get at a Catholic bookstore where Hail Marys are two for a quarter and indulgences are included on the back flap of the May issue of "Nuns and Roses" magazine, but a fancy heirloom rosary with pearls, rubies, and a solid gold cross, a rosary with attitude, the kind of rosary that said, "Get your Jehovah's Witness butt off my front porch."
Mark Schweizer
Hopkinsville, KY

Samson looked in the mirror and, when he saw what a fantastic haircut Delilah had given him, he went weak at the knees.
Neil Prowd
Charnwood, ACT, Australia

Professor Radzinsky wove his fingers together in a tweed-like fabric, pinched his lips together like a blowfish, and began his lecture on simile and metaphor, which are, like, similar to one another, except that similes are almost always preceded by the word 'like' while metaphors are more like words that make you think of something else beside what you are describing.
Wayne McCoy
Gainesville Fl

The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife, not even a sharp knife, but a dull one from that set of cheap knives you received as a wedding gift in a faux wooden block; the one you told yourself you'd replace, but in the end, forgot about because your husband ran off with another man, that kind of knife.
Lisa Lindquist
Jackson, MI

She had curves that just wouldn't quit, like on one of those car commercials where a stunt driver slides a sexy new sports car around hairpin turn after hairpin turn while some poor musician, down on his luck and having been forced to sell out his dream of superstardom for a lousy 30-second ad jingle, sings "Zoom, zoom, zoom" in the background.
Amber Dubois
Denver, CO

Her hair was the color of old copper, not green with white streaks like you see on roofs and statues where birds have been messing, but the kind you find on dark pennies from back in the nineteen-forties or fifties after God knows how many thumbs have been rubbing Abe Lincoln's beard.
Michael A. Cowell
Norwalk, CA

There was a pregnant pause-- as pregnant as Judith had just told Darren she was (about seven and a half weeks along), which was why there was a pause in the first place.
Tracy Stapp
Santa Ana, CA

What a pity Dave was too young to have seen "2001: A Space Odyssey," for he might have been able to predict what would happen next, when the ape standing next to the big black slab picked up the tapir bone.
Ann Medlock
Lenah Valley, TAS, Australia

"So that was your Earth emotion 'love'," gasped Zyxwlyxgwr Noopar, third in line to the holo-throne of S-6, as he hosed down his trunk and removed the shallots.
Mike Bollen
Brighton, UK

Racing through space at unimaginable speeds, Capt. Dimwell could only imagine how fast his spaceship was going.
Gary Smith
Florissant, CO

I was in a back alley in Fiji, fighting desperately and silently for my life, fighting desperately for oxygen, clawing at the calm and almost gentle pressure of the fabric held over my face by implacable, ebony thighs when I realized -- he was killing me softly with his sarong.
Karl Scott
Brisbane, Australia

Morty, a dedicated track and field athlete, was disqualified and charged with animal cruelty after giving Viagra to his 20-foot boa constrictor and using the snake to pole vault.
JL Strickland
Valley, AL

His hat fit his head as snugly as a manhole cover does the thing it fits into.
Steve McAllister
Austin, TX

Miles Otterman thought he could get away with carving his initials on the old oak tree in the town square - and he just might have if Sheriff Mitchell hadn't recognized his MO.
Terry Drapes
Taipa, Macau

If you think that the resemblance between the characters in this book and any person living or dead is only coincidental, you're just not trying hard enough.
Janina Eggensperger
Conway, AR

Everything about Randy proclaimed him to be a man's man, though neither in the sense of being the kind of man women are drawn to and men want to be nor in the homosexual sense, rather, in the sense of being a highly efficient and well-compensated valet.
Barbara Lauriat
Oxford, England

Jake entered the small suburban bank, his face as cold and frozen as Theodore Roosevelt's on Mount Rushmore while at the same time his sweaty hands clenched and unclenched nervously in his pockets like one of those fast motion movies of flowers blooming and dying, to open a savings account.
Frank Leggett
Sydney, NSW, Australia

With "Bambi" eyes and an angelic face made for singing "The hills are alive" while traipsing across an Alpine meadow, Heidi Weissbrot seemed as pure as driven snow to older folks around Peach Blossom, but among boys her own age, there was a nasty rumor that her purity was more akin to snow driven to the river in dump trucks after being scraped from roads and parking lots.
Tom Rohde
Minneapolis, MN

The crater of the volcano glowed red against the black sky, looking as if God had taken a drag of His cigar - if He smoked - which of course, He didn't.
Wendy Spoelstra
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

John lay in the morning dew next to his sleeping love as the pink hues of the sun rose over the rolling hills, illuminating a tender scene where for the first time satisfaction had come for a happy couple, who had fought all manner of obstacles to come to this one glorious moment, defiant in the face of Montana's repressive bestiality laws.
Dan Stuart
Burlington, VT

Dane worked the Spyrograph furiously, first red, then green, then red again, and finally blue; the pattern he sought was in there somewhere, and the correct combination would open the doors to a euphoria only known to dogs getting their stomachs scratched and parakeets viewing themselves in the mirror.
Matthew Warnock
Elgin, IL

"I'll have a pack of cigarettes please, no, Marlboro 100's . . . lights please, in a box, yeah, no, wait, give me a soft pack, no, not those, the ones right above them, no, no, right next to those, yeah, wait, make it two packs, no wait, how much are they . . . no, one pack will do me, and a lighter please, no the other one, yeah, that one will be fine," he said quickly.
Shane Spears
Blytheville, AR

Happy Day! A new round of opening lines were submitted by an April 15th deadline, so soon I'll be able to showcase the 2008 Best of the Worst".

Also: this means I have over 11 months to write up my own submissions. Go me in 2009!

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