Time for the annual awarding of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, given to the best of the worst writing. (And if you think it’s easy to write badly, you should give this contest a try. A friend of mine, Wendy Lawton, won the prize in the children’s category one year–I’m so proud of her.)

This year’s winner was Jim Gleeson, 47, of Madison, Wisconsin. His entry:

“Gerald began–but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them ‘permanently’ meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash–to pee.”

ROFLOL! Gleeson’s prize was $250.

The contest, in case you didn’t know, takes its name from Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel “Paul Clifford” famously begins, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Entrants are asked to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Citations are handed out for several categories, including “dishonorable mention” awards for “purple prose” and “vile puns.”

Want to try your hand at it? Leave YOUR entry for the contest below–and I’ll work on mine. (If this is Thursday, I’m at the Philadelphia writer’s conference, so I’m running to and fro. And guess what? It’s even hotter here than in Florida!)



  1. CrownLaidDown

    Ahhhh! I know I write badly all the time, and have the worst of puns and the purplest of prose, but today, now that you ask, I find that I’m at a complete loss.
    I will think on it.
    Have a wonderful conference!

  2. Kay

    Off the top of my head:

    Mary, an aspiring chef, wanted to try a new recipe for cassoulet au poulet so she went into her garden to gather herbs when she was horrified to realize that she had no idea how to distinguish the best of thyme from the worst of thyme.

    I know I can do worse.

  3. Accidental Poet

    Jennifer, who was the middle child of three, two girls and a boy, although she was the oldest girl, meaning that the oldest of her siblings was a boy, and coincidentally the only blond and also the shortest, but with the longest hair, and, annoyingly, the nicest straightest teeth of anyone Jennifer had ever met, either within her family or without, although her cousin Terrence, an only child, had some pretty impressive dental work done in his early years, fell asleep.

  4. Kay

    Ha ha, Poet, I know people who talk like that!
    I’m related to some.

  5. Anonymous

    Thanks to Kay for a laugh that has the neighbors ear drums reverberating! Clyde

  6. Angela

    You guys crack me up. And I’ve had no time to prepare anything for this, but I’m willing to take a stab at it off the top of my head–the key ingredients seem to be length, metaphor, and punch line, right?

    Okay, here goes:

    Angie Hunt bent to kiss the tip of her mastiff’s nose, which was multicolored with fleshy pink spots much like the ooze generated by the 1940’s black and white version of The Blob, not the newer version which had multifarious goo in every other scene, and thought that perhaps the vet was right and the dog was allergic to the plastic bowl from which he ate–not because of the fleshy pink orbs, but because Charlie Gansky persisted in rubbing his head along her leg like one of those dog heads that bobble up and down in the back of granny cars cruising I-95 and headed from New York to Miami.

    Whew. That is harder than it looks!

    Have a great day!


  7. Nicole

    These are all doggone funny. Oh–is that a . . . pun?

  8. Ane Mulligan

    I think accidental poet wins for your blog, Angie. That was AWFULly good! LOL


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