Go ahead, write badly! (yes, I said that!)

You Suck, You Win!

That’s the spirit! The spirit of the Buler-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Every year for the past 28, San Jose University’s English Department has sponosored this competition. It wants you to write so badly, it’s good. It wants you to create the worst opening sentence for a novel. It wants you to keep it to a single sentence of some 50 to 60 words.

Edward George Buler-Lytton. You may not recognize his name but you’d well better recognize his venerable contribution to painful composition:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. — from “Paul Clifford” (1830)

Here’s this year’s topper in good bad writing:

For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss–a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil. –Molly Ringle, Seattle, Washington

And last year’s (coincidentally, also in my area):

Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blown’ off Nantucket Sound from 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 Jonesw be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests.David McKenzie, Federal Way, Washington (2009 Winner)

And one more:

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city, their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist breath through manhole covers stamped “Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.”Gordon Spik, Washington, D.C. (2008 Winner)

Victors receive bragging rights. And should they happen to find themselves in San Francisco, they may wanna swing by the swanky Swig and raise a self-congratulatory toast with a cocktail named Dark and Stormy Night (ginger beer topped with Zaya rum). After all, what writer is without pen in one hand, drink in the other?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mkirkd
    Sep 25, 2010 @ 09:23:21

    Love it thanks for posting this…I used to live in San Jose and actually owned some rental property next to campus.


    • allycatadventures
      Sep 26, 2010 @ 12:34:03

      @mkirkd – Perhaps your rental property was a hovel for one of those writers trying his/her hand at good bad writing! 😉


      • mkirkd
        Sep 26, 2010 @ 17:49:14

        You know it could have been…we rented to students from San Jose State. We had some good and some bad…ones were communists and my ex saw the wife passing out some communistic papers one day and they left some old communist billboards in the basement.
        One renter burned down the whole top floor that was a mess but it ending being a blessing as we rebuilt the whole place and got more space and better rents. My ex got it in the divorce.


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