Archive for February 15th, 2012

February 15, 2012

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

by limebirdster

“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 where our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

The first line of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton’s novel Paul Clifford is constantly repeated as being one of the worst opening lines ever written, and in honour of this, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC) challenges entrants to come up with something worse. It’s actually more fun than it sounds, trying to write badly.

At uni we were once given an assignment of writing a terrible opening paragraph and the whole class took great delight in cramming as many clichés, grammatical and syntax errors, and awkward phrasings into just a few lines as we could. The person next to me managed to squeeze “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” into a paragraph full of plagiarised lines.

But, after the ten minutes of hilarity when we read them all out, the exercise actually taught us far more than I thought it would. The point was to learn how not to open a story by making every mistake that we could think of in one go, but what it also showed me, was that we could all write.

dark and stormy night

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