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 2008-2010.
Although it was late at night and the snow was gently falling, Martin, who had gathered the young maidens together in the village church and was now, at the stroke of midnight, leading them across the town square, responded to the town constable’s enquiry as to what he was doing by replying, “I herd the belles on Christmas Day.” —
– Jim Tweedie, Long Beach, WA
Before they met, his heart was a frozen block of ice, scarred by the skate blades of broken relationships, then she came along and like a beautiful Zamboni flooded his heart with warmth, scraped away the ugly slushy bits, and dumped them in the empty parking lot of his soul.
— HowieMcLennon, Ottawa, ON –
Bill swore the affair had ended, but Louise knew he was lying, after discovering Tupperware containers under the seat of his car, which were not the off-brand containers that she bought to save money, but authentic, burpable, lidded Tupperware; and she knew he would see that woman again, because unlike the flimsy, fake containers that should always be recycled responsibly, real Tupperware must be returned to its rightful owner.
— Jeanne Villa, Novato, CA –
Certainly most people in Morris’ place would have had certain misgivings about being stranded aboard a life raft, facing the unrelenting hunger and the possibility of having to eat the weaker members of the crew just to eke out the chance of survival for a few more days, but as Morris was an Asiatic black bear he had absolutely no qualms about it whatsoever.
– Charlie Hill, Auckland, New Zealand –
Dr. Fulton Crisp DMD, stoic superintendent of the prestigious Northwoods Dental College, entered the symposium for new students, took the dais amid the clamor of the first day of classes, produced a #6 dental pick from a pocket, held it aloft for all to see and spoke the immortal words, “May I have your attention please, this is not a drill, repeat this is not a drill.”
— Jim Biggie, Melrose, MA –
He had a drink in his hand and a hole in his heart, a hole big enough to drive a Honda Odyssey minivan with satellite linked navigation and a multi-angle rear view camera down the anterior vena cava, execute a three-point-turn at the atrioventicular valve (thanks to the rear view camera), then exit the pulmonary artery without ever once scraping the Celestial Blue Metallic finish that comes standard on the EX-L.
—Mark Schweizer, Tryon, NC –
He spotted her as he left the Mudville baseball field, a handsome young woman sipping tea on the front porch swing of her house, and, though the boos and catcalls from today’s game still rang in his ears, the Mighty Casey decided that for the first time in his life he would not at all mind being associated with a swing and a Miss.
— Tom Wallace, Columbia, SC –
If Vicky Walters had known that ordering an extra shot of espresso in her grande non-fat sugar free one pump raspberry syrup two pumps vanilla syrup soy latte that Wednesday would lead to her death and subsequent rebirth as a vampire, she probably would have at least gotten whipped cream.
– Margo Coffman, Corinth, MS –
I will not repeat what she said when she came home and found out I’d been spraying Endust on her dog and throwing treats under the bed to get him to harvest the dust bunnies, but you wouldn’t think a young lady would even know any words like that.
— J. Andrew Cleland, Gray TN –
Niles deeply regretted bringing his own equipment to the company’s annual croquet tournament because those were his fingerprints found on the “blunt instrument” that had caused the fatal depression in his boss’s skull and now here he stood in court accused of murder, yes, murder in the first degree with mallets aforethought.
— Linda Boatright, Omaha, NE –
No man is an island, so they say, although the small crustaceans and the bird which sat impassively on Dirk Manhope’s chest as he floated lazily in the pool would probably disagree.
— Glen Robins, Brighton, East Sussex, U.K –
Old Man Dracula forgot to put his teeth in one night, and so had to come home hungry, with a sort of “nothing dentured, nothing veined” look on his face.
– Matthew Pfeifer, Beaman, IA –
Sherlock Holmes brusquely dismissed his companion’s theory that the victim had died from an allergic reaction to either seasoning or seafood, saying “Watson, although the problem is alimentary, it is neither the Thyme nor the Plaice.”
– Owen Roberts, Edina, MN –
Some stories are so compelling they almost seem to write themselves, but not this one.
– Betsy Dorfman –
The Contessa’s heart was pounding hard and fast, like an out-of-balance clothes washer, which can get that way if you mix jeans with a lot of light things, though the new ones have some sensor thing to counteract that or shut off, but the Contessa’s heart didn’t have anything like that, so she had to sit down and tell Don Rolando to keep his hands to himself for a while.
— John Hardi, Falls Church, VA –
There were earthquakes in this land, terrible tsunamis that swirled flooding torrents of water throughout, and constant near-blizzard conditions, and not for the first time, Horatio Jones wished he did not live inside a snow globe.
— Rich Buley-Neumar, Amityville, NY –
Using her flint knife to gut the two amphibians, Kreega the Neanderthal woman created the first pair of open-toad sandals.
— Greg Homer, Placerville, CA –
Vowing revenge on his English teacher for making him memorize Wordsworth’s
“Intimations of Immortality,” Warren decided to pour sugar in her gas tank, but he inadvertently grabbed a sugar substitute so it was actually Splenda in the gas.
— Becky Mushko, Penhook, VA –
Well . . .” began the mother as she attempted to answer her daughter’s question, amid fuzzy memories of a balmy night in Cuba, several empty bottles of pineapple rum lying around the bed she had shared with the Captain accompanied by the worst headache she could remember, “I wouldn’t use the word ‘accident.’”
– Alex Main, Springboro, OH –
When working-class Rosalind had been turned into a frog herself after kissing the enchanted Prince, she and her anguished croaking were shown on countless newsreels worldwide; and even decades after her “15minutes of fame” had lapsed the problem of upward mobility for working women is still commonly demonstrated by invoking Rosie the Ribbitter.
— John Cavanagh, Deer Island, OR –