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Cathy Bryant Writes Worst Sentence of 2012

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England, has the wretched dishonour of being dubbed the worst writer of 2012 having copped this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The award, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary goes to the writer who creates the worst opening line to an imaginary novel.

Bryant’s entry rose above all the other bad prose submitted for the contest which gives awards in various genres including children’s literature, romance, crime, fantasy, historical fiction, purple prose, and science fiction. The competition also features runner-ups as well as dishonourable mentions.

The annual prize, which attracts entrants from across the world is run by the English Department of the San Jose State University. It drafts its name from Edward George Bulwer-Lytton from whose pen dripped the phrases “the pen is mightier than the sword” and the opening line “it was a dark and stormy night”.

Below we’ve included winning sentences from Bryant and a few other entrants for your reading (dis)pleasure.

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. — Cathy Bryant, Manchester, England



He swaggered into the room (in which he was now the “smartest guy”) with a certain Wikipedic insouciance, and without skipping a beat made a beeline towards Dorothy, busting right through her knot of admirers, and she threw her arms around him and gave him a passionate though slightly tickly kiss, moaning softly, “Oooohh, Scarecrow!” — David S Nelson, Falls Church, VA (Winner, Children’s Literature)



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 (Winner, Crime)



“I’ll never get over him,” she said to herself and the truth of that statement settled into her brain the way glitter settles on to a plastic landscape in a Christmas snow globe when she accepted the fact that she was trapped in bed between her half-ton boyfriend and the wall when he rolled over on to her nightgown and passed out, leaving her no way to climb out. — Karen Hamilton, Seabrook, TX (Winner, Romance)




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 (Winner, Western)