"What the heck is she saying??" you might have asked yourself...and what about vultures? Is she talking about the IRS? Accountants? Huh...cards??? "Nay", say I...I'm talking about 'The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest' also referred to as the 'It was a dark and stormy night' competition. You might have read about it when I won the Grand Prize in 2003. Oh, c'mon...it was on the front page of the Montgomery Advertiser...surely you couldn't have forgotten that? Well, okay...maybe you did. Sigh. Let me then enlighten and elucidate...
You see that long sentence I started my blog off with? The one that goes on and on and on and on. Well, that was intentional..and not just because I am a bad writer (oh, keep the remarks to yourselves) but because I was, at least in 2003, proclaimed as the BEST at being the worst. I won the dubious distinction of writing the worst opening line to a fictional novel...and that opening sentence, above, is a little bit like what you'll see in the competition. Need a better, er...um...worse...example? Here is my winning entry:
They had but one last remaining night together, so they embraced each other as tightly as that two-flavor entwined string cheese that is orange and yellowish-white, the orange probably being a bland Cheddar and the white . . . Mozzarella, although it could possibly be Provolone or just plain American, as it really doesn't taste distinctly dissimilar from the orange, yet they would have you believe it does by coloring it differently.
The rules can be found on their home page...but they are relatively simple. Write the opening line for a fictional novel...make it bad...but make it enjoyably bad. Longer is not necessarily better, but it seems they do tend to favour longer entries...but be careful on your punctuation...there's only so many words you can string together before it gets too monotonous. Monotonous doesn't cut it...badly well written does.
So, do you have what it takes to make the cut? Cut might not be the best choice of words...don't cut...but rather elaborate. Can you write famously bad...to get 14 minutes of fame? All forms of glory can be headed your way...I was interviewed on CNN Live (yes, in the daytime)...and a bunch of other radio/tv stations from California to Australia...I showed up on over 7000 hits on Google...more than Alex Trebek; less than Mel Gibson...my name and entry was in newpapers, literally from Albania to Zimbabwe...I even made the front page of USA Today. In a nutshell, I loved it...can you tell? Okay, so Letterman never called...and Conan O'Brien's people said I probably couldn't fill up six minutes of airtime. Uh huh...right. And Craig Ferguson wasn't around yet...what a pity. But I do try my best to get the word out to people who might not necessarily know about the contest because it really was both a fun experience and an honour to be chosen. Thank you again, Scott Rice.
(Professor Scott Rice, of San Jose University, is the originator of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest which has been running continually since 1982.)