Bad Writing Award Winners Announced

Gabe Habash -- August 13th, 2012

The winners for the 2012 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have been announced, giving us this year’s best worst writing. The winner this year was Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England, who came up with this beautiful dud:

As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.

The annual contest awards the writers who can conceive of the very worst opening sentences imaginable. Started in 1982 at San Jose State University, the Bulwer-Lytton awards are a nod to the novelist and playwright Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose “It was a dark and stormy night” begins with the following:

“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.”

Here are some other winners from this year’s awards. Click here for the full list of awfulness.

She slinked through my door wearing a dress that looked like it had been painted on … not with good paint, like Behr or Sherwin-Williams, but with that watered-down stuff that bubbles up right away if you don’t prime the surface before you slap it on, and – just like that cheap paint – the dress needed two more coats to cover her. — Sue Fondrie, Appleton, WI

They still talk about that fateful afternoon in Abilene, when Dancing Dan DuPre moonwalked through the doors of Fat Suzy’s saloon, made a passable reverse-turn, pirouetted twice followed by a double box-step, somersaulted onto the bar, drew his twin silver-plated Colt-45s and put twelve bullets through the eyes of the McLuskey sextuplets, on account of them varmints burning down his ranch and lynching his prize steer. — Ted Downes, Cardiff, U.K.

William, his senses roused by a warm fetid breeze, hoped it was an early spring’s equinoxal thaw causing rivers to swell like the blood-engorged gumlines of gingivitis, loosening winter’s plaque, exposing decay, and allowing the seasonal pot-pouris of Mother Nature’s morning breath to permeate the surrounding ether, but then he awoke to the unrelenting waves of his wife’s halitosis. — Guy Foisy, Orleans, Ontario

As I gardened, gazing towards the autumnal sky, I longed to run my finger through the trail of mucus left by a single speckled slug – innocuously thrusting past my rhododendrons – and in feeling that warm slime, be swept back to planet Alderon, back into the tentacles of the alien who loved me. — Mary E. Patrick, Lake City, SC


10 thoughts on “Bad Writing Award Winners Announced

  1. Stoich91

    “Of the alien who loved me…” bahaha! This is definitely the best worst contest ever invented! It takes a real writer to so deliberately butcher art!

  2. Harold Augenbraum

    They probably could have just selected one of a couple of hundred sentences from the “Shades of Grey” trilogy and it would have won.

  3. Sue Fondrie

    Congratulations to Cathy Bryant! I pass her my guttering torch of bad writing in hopes that she will douse it in the coming year.

    1. Scott Elzy

      Your sentence is too funny. Would enjoy hearing more of this story?…You sure you didn’t get any painting suggestions from Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor? Congratulations for the win in “Crime”.

    2. Matt Borgard

      The Bulwer-Lytton winners get better every year, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. The grand prize winner is definitely absurd, but I’m not sure why Ms. Fondrie’s is on here at all. I defy anyone to claim they wouldn’t immediately buy a noir novel that started with that paint metaphor. I know I would.

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