Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Carolinas writers score in annual worst-sentence contest

Sure, most people can write mediocre prose. Or even bad prose. But to write a sentence that's so truly awful it wins a Bulwer-Lytton award, now that takes some talent.

This year, two Carolinas writers managed to craft sentences selected from thousands of entries as winners in Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Mary Patrick of Lake City, S.C., won in the science fiction category of the annual bad-writing competition. Her sentence:

"As I gardened, gazing toward the autumnal sky, I longed to run my finger through the trail of mucus left by a single speckled slug -- innocuously thrusting past my rhododendrons -- and in feeling that warm slime, be swept back to planet Alderon, back into the tentacles of the alien who loved me."

And Amy Torchinsky of Greensboro took the vile puns category with:

"Though they were merely strangers on a train, as she looked North by Northwest through the rear window, Marnie knew beyond a shadow of a doubt the trouble with Harry was that he was a psycho -- his left and right hand middle fingers (formerly extended in the birds position) were menacingly twisting a rope in the form of a noose; certain of her impending death as surely as she could dial M for Murder, she was overcome by intense vertigo."

Since 1982, San Jose State University's English Department has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a literary competition aimed at finding the opening sentence of the worst possible novel. It is named for a Victorian novelist, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose novel "Paul Clifford" begins with the famous line, "It was a dark and stormy night."

This year's overall winner, Cathy Bryant, hails from Manchester, England. Her sentence:

"As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting."


Jay Hanig said...

I have to say the overall winner's line was just grout! I feel moved to write a celebratory haiku:

Darkness falls on me
Lacking flashlight batteries
My wit splits the night.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how the author doesn't even use a complete sentence in the second line of this article. This is so laughable.

Anonymous said...

There's not even one pun in the second submission. Do you know what a pun is?

Anonymous said...

People who aren't writers shouldn't be writing critics. If they ARE writers, they should just enjoy the article and not try to make their light brighter by spitting on another's flame. Anyone who sees it will be more impressed by the spitter's bad manners than the brightness of the remaining candle.

Someone thought it was "laughable" that the second line (Or even bad prose.) was an incomplete sentence.
First of all, the author of the column was not in the contest and therefore not eligible for the bad writing award. Second - does this person ALWAYS speak in complete sentences? Hmmmmmmm...

Someone said there were no puns in the pun submission.
They asked, "Do you know what a pun is?"
I would like to reply, "Do you know who Alfred Hitchcock is?"