The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest has been honoring terrible writing for nearly thirty years now, and this year’s winners are worthy of their titles. The contest is named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who wrote the famous passage, “It was a dark and stormy night…” which Snoopy immortalized in an even more famous Peanuts comic. What most people don’t realize is that this was just the opening phrase of the full sentence:
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.
This is a lovely example of overwrought Gothic prose, and a worthy inspiration for future bad writers, who are now recognized for their efforts.
The rules of the contest are this: The entry must consist of a single sentence.
That’s it. There are of course rules about the form of submission and whatnot, and a recommendation as to word limit, but those are secondary to the One Rule.
And so, without further ado, I present the winner of the 2012 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, submitted by Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England:
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.
What joy! A geeky entry won! Except, alas, there is a spelling error that the contest judges didn’t catch: it’s demodicids, not deodicids. Other than that, it was great.
I have to admit, however, that my personal favorite is not the grand winner but rather the Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award, given to David Pepper of Hermosa Beach, California, for this glorious entry:
As an ornithologist, George was fascinated by the fact that urine and feces mix in birds’ rectums to form a unified, homogeneous slurry that is expelled through defecation, although eying Greta’s face, and sensing the reaction of the congregation, he immediately realized he should have used a different analogy to describe their relationship in his wedding vows.
Perfection. I have nothing to add to that.