The ugly results of the San Jose State University bad writing contest are in, and the winner–or loser depending on your perspective–is Dan McKay of Fargo, ND. He writes: “As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold . . .” It gets worse from there.
The contest web pages explain, “the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels.”
McKay’s is the overall winner, but other entries were recognized within their genres. I like this one by Randy Blanton of Murfreesboro, TN: “Because of her mysterious ways I was fascinated with Dorothy and I wondered if she would ever consider having a relationship with a lion, but I have to admit that most of my attention was directed at her little dog Toto because, after all, he was a source of meat protein and I had had enough of those damn flying monkeys.”
From the literary file, I find these hilarious, though funny is not as much the point as is bad prose.
Kristin Harbuck of Bozeman, MT writes: “She walked toward him, her dress billowing in the wind — not a calm and predictable billows like the sea, but more like the billowing of a mildewed shower curtain in a cheap motel where one has to dance around to avoid touching it while trying to rinse off soap.”
Devery Doleman of Brooklyn, NY gives us: “The night resembled nothing so much as the nose of a giant Labrador in excellent health: cold, black, and wet.”
Chris Bui of sunny Pensacola, FL carries on this wonderful metaphor: “After months of pent-up emotions like a caffeine-addict trying to kick the habit, Cathy finally let the tears come, at first dripping sporadically like an old clogged percolator, then increasing slowly like a 10-cup coffeemaker with an automatic drip, and eventually pouring out and noisily wailing like a cappuccino maker complete with slurping froth.”