My buddy novelist Joel Goldman has sent me the top 10 winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Contest (aka Dark and Stormy Night contest) conducted by San Jose State University’s English department. Contestants compete to write the first line of a really bad novel. Here are the winners:
10. "As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it."
9. "Just beyond the Narrows, the river widens."
8. "With a curvaceous figure
that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with
lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes,
perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had
a beauty that defied description."
7. "Andre, a simple peasant, had only
one thing on his mind as he crept along the East wall: ‘Andre creep. Andre
creep. Andre creep.’"
6. "Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the
cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley
sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved."
5. "Although Sarah had
an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eeking out a living at a
local pet store."
4. "Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then
penguins often do."
3. "Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with
cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel
2. "Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn’t know the
meaning of the word ‘fear’; a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit
in the eye of death– in short, a moron with suicidal
And the winner is. .
1. "The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness,
crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle
window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping
in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving
the magnitude of the frog’s deception, screaming madly, ‘You