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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Admit it—you've always wanted to write that Great American Novel. You may have even heard lawyer/bestselling novelist Phillip Margolin share writing tips during last month's Minnesota State Bar Association convention.

But when you finally put pen to paper, please don't start your book with this sentence:

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.
That line was the winner of this year's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. An anathema to good writing, the contest challenges writers to compose the worst, most garrulous opening sentence for an imaginary novel.

Here's another gem, this one from a Minneapolis writer, which snagged a Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mention:

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.
The Bulwer-Lytton contest is named after the Victorian novelist who penned "It was a dark and stormy night"—the gold standard for purple prose. Click here to read all of this year's winning entries.

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