The winner of The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest has been announced (terrible website btw, check the wiki for better info). This particular contest (named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, author of the infamous line, “It was a dark and stormy night…”) is a test of not how good you are at writing, but at how good you are at writing bad. The person who comes up with the best (worst) opening sentence of an imagined (bad) novel wins. David McKenzie took home this year’s prize with the following hum-dinger:
Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin’ off Nantucket Sound from the nor’ east and the dogs are howlin’ for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the “Ellie May,” a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin’ and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests.
I chuckled a bit when I read that one, then I read the wiki page for some of the past entrants and I didn’t find it so funny anymore. Observational humor (funny cause it’s true) reaches a breaking point where too much honesty is no longer funny and it’s just depressing. That’s kind of the way I felt reading these. Whoever wrote them was spot-on in their attempts at bad writing. I should know. 90% of story submissions I get start out like this. Pretentious, disengenuous, and, worst of all, dishonest. People desparately pretending to be something that they aren’t, which almost always makes me want to punch things and vomit simultaniously.
Kudos, Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest winners. You’re bringing laughter through the tears.