For your enjoyment, truly awful opening paragraphs of books, courtesy of the 2015 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, sponsored by the English Department at San Jose (CA) State University. Edward George Bulwer-Lytton was a minor Victorian novelist.
This annual contest began in 1983, and you can read all winning submissions at the site. Here are some of my favorite 2015 winners.
I knew that dame was damaged goods when she first sauntered in, and I don’t mean lightly scratched and dented goods that a reputable merchant like Home Depot might offer in a clearly marked end display sale; no, she was more like the kind of flashy trashy plastic knockoff that always carries a child-choking hazard that no self-respecting 11-year-old Chinese sweat shop kids would ever call theirs.
— Tom Billings, Minneapolis, MN
Ozymandias looked upon his mighty statue and despaired, amazed that the sculptors could have gotten his nose so wrong and wishing the darned thing would just crumble into pieces and blow across the lone and level sands, but leaving his legs since they were actually rather flattering.
— Margaret Stein, Omaha, NE
After weeks at sea, Captain Fetherstonhaugh and his hardy crew had at last crossed the halfway point, and he mused that the closest dry land now lay in the Americas, assuming of course that it was not raining there.
— David Laatsch, Baton Rouge, LA
This is a story about love, but not just any kind of love like how you love the feeling of trading in a pair of soggy, old socks for fresh ones, or the taste of salty French fries dipped in a chocolate milkshake, I’m talking about the other kind of love.
— Anna Sagstetter, Fort Wayne, IN
The doctors all agreed the inside of Charlie’s intestinal tract looked like some dark, dank subway system in a decaying inner city, blackened polyps hanging from every corner like tiny ticking terrorist time bombs, waiting to burst forth in cancerous activity; however, to Timmy the Tapeworm this was home.
— E. David Moulton, Summerville, SC
When the corpse showed up in the swimming pool, her dead bosoms bobbing up and down like twin poached eggs in hollandaise sauce, Randy decided to call the police as soon as he finished taking pictures of his breakfast and posting them to his Facebook wall.
— Laura Ruth Loomis, Pittsburg, CA
Portly, abrupt Bart Simeon plodded through the citadel with a bearing of tension and anger that was like a tinderbox lying by a roadside waiting for a careless motorist to toss his or her cigarette butt out the window, most likely the passenger if the container lay on the right side of the road, or perhaps the driver with a brusque flick to the left, unless of course if they were in England, in which case it would be the opposite.
— Anthony Hahn, Astoria, OR
“My name is Vangir,” the stout dwarf announced, “son of Valdir, son of Tolfdir, son of Torsson, heir to the dwarf kingdom of Darag-Vur, King of the Under-Folk, ring-giver, dragon-slayer, M.D., DDS.
— Austin Stollhaus, Louisville, KY
With his lamp giving off a dull yellow glow General Washington sat up late into the night contemplating his problems: Not enough food, not enough clothing, not enough men, and that idiot Private Doodle who kept putting feathers in his cap and calling it macaroni.
— Dan Leyde, Shoreline, WA
Duane made a very unfortunate zombie; the coroner had removed his dentures and all of his clothes before he reanimated–thus he was destined to stagger naked through the woods, attempting to gum small animals to death.
— Stephanie Leanne Myers, Baton Rouge, LA
It was debatable what Felicity enjoyed most about the night – the delicious dinner, the marvelous movie, or the satisfying sex – but one thing was clear and that was that she hoped she wouldn’t be doing it alone again next time.
— Randy Blanton, Murfreesboro, TN