The English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest since 1982. It is a literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence for the worst possible novel. The following submissions are the ones I liked best from the years 2006-2007 and 2021.
A major city’s new community policing guidelines have struck a notable compromise: police will first attempt to defuse all conflict situations by singing, “Stop, in the Name of Love,” but the public should know that holding palms out like The Supremes is optional, as is “before you break my heart!”
– Kevin Kinzer, Spokane, WA –
As the dawn begin to break, Debby and Robert, their arms tightly wrapped around each other, watched in awe as the sky turned a brilliant pinkish red as the sun’s rays inched their way down the slopes of the craggy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, but this was Canada so the rays were centimetering their way down the slopes.
– Daniel Leyde, Shoreline, WA –
Even though Bambi the deer grew up to become a sleek and powerful 10-point buck, the other deer frequently chided him about his name, which was a perfectly fine name for a cocktail waitress but not so much for a male deer.
– Greg Homer, San Vito, Costa Rica –
Hiram had been a three-toed dragon, well on his way to a promotion to Imperial five-toed dragon, when he accidentally choked on the pink chiffon scarf of Princess Chloe’s hat, and his coughing set the new oaken parapet, on the old stone bulwark, ablaze, thereby earning a demotion to Troll 3 — now his only responsibility was to keep billy goats off the bridge.
– Michael L. VanBlaricum, Santa Barbara, CA –
Lady Guinevere heard it distinctly, a sharp slap, as if a gauntlet had been thrown, and yet it was hardly plausible that she, perched delicately on the back of her cantering steed, should be challenged to ride faster, since protocol determined that Arthur should ride in front, then she, then Lancelot, for that was the order prescribed by Merlin, ever since he invented the carousel.
– Celine Shinbutsu, Hino City, Tokyo, Japan –
Post-game cake, long a clubhouse tradition for the Mudville Nine, was taken off the menu when new manager Sperb Farquhar made it clear that everybody, including the team’s sluggers, would be called on to sacrifice bundt.
– David Laatsch, Baton Rouge, LA –
She clung to the memory of their love like those tiny bits of used tissues he always left in his pockets, which mostly ended up in the dryer lint basket although enough of them welded themselves to her favorite navy blue, polar fleece pullover, rendering it as permanently flawed and unappealing as his name tattooed on her butt.
– Pamela Patchet Hamilton, Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada –
Stanley frowned, his brow wrinkled like the furrows of a newly ploughed field in the far reaches of East Anglia, England’s prairie, when the mighty Massey Ferguson has just completed its traverse of God’s good soil in the heat haze of a late August afternoon, and wondered for the umpteenth time where on earth he had left his reading glasses.
– Pamela Hibbert, Crowthorne, Berkshire, England –
The droppings of the migrating Canada geese just missed the outdoor revelers at the inaugural Asian math puzzle competition, marking the first time that dung flew over the Sudoku Fest.
– Kevin P. Craver, Lakewood, IL –
The easy and comforting roll of the saddle was second nature to Luke, and as he gazed off into the distant setting sun, he wondered whether he had enough change for one more ride at the supermarket before he had to return to the home.
– Glenn Lawrie, Chungnam, South Korea –
The nervous and untried exotic dancer seemed to cling protectively to her brass pole like the edge of a roll of plastic wrap when you are looking for the beginning of the roll and it seems like it’s healed up or melted into the rest of the wrap until finally you just give up and use foil or wax paper instead.
– Dwight Jenkins, Sun City, CA –
The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife, not even a sharp knife, but a dull one from that set of cheap knives you received as a wedding gift in a faux wooden block; the one you told yourself you’d replace, but in the end, forgot about because your husband ran off with another man, that kind of knife.
– Lisa Lindquist, Jackson, MI –
With one bound she was at the bookcase reaching for the heaviest book she could find to halt her attacker, a thesaurus of indeterminate, inconclusive, or unstipulated weight, ponderosity, or heftiness, with which she intended to pummel, lapidate or belabor her assailant’s skull, cranium or brainpan.
– Stu Duval, Auckland, New Zealand –