Awarding The Worst: The 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Winners

The winners for the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest – which asks people to submit terrible first sentences to fake novels – have been announced. The contest, which began in 1982 at San Jose University, derives its name from novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (pictured), who penned the iconic first sentence, “It was a dark and stormy night,” for his 1830 book Paul Clifford.

Now that you’ve got some background, get ready for some seriously atrocious sentences. The overall winner was written by Sue Fondrie, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin. Here it is:

“Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”

A growing pile of forgotten memories! Amazing. And yeah, we know. Somewhere, some writer is thinking, “Hmm… That’s actually not too bad.”

Here’s two more sentences from the contest that we enjoyed/hated:

“LaTrina—knowing he must live—let her hot, wet tongue slide slowly over Gladiator’s injured ear, the taste reminding her of the late June flavor of a snow chain that had been removed from a tire and left to rust on the garage floor without being rinsed off.”
– Betsy Replogle

“From the limbs of ancient live oaks moccasins hung like fat black sausages — which are sometimes called boudin noir, black pudding or blood pudding, though why anyone wouldrefer to a sausage as pudding is hard to understand and it is even more difficult to divine why a person would knowingly eat something made from dried blood in the first place — but be that as it may, our tale is of voodoo and foul murder, not disgusting food.”
– Jack Barry