For three decades, the deeply silly Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest has challenged entrants to write the opening sentence to terribly bad books.
The books aren’t real, but the best (bad) openers typically cram a whole lot of story into one convoluted phrase.
This year, a Texan won the romance category. Karen Hamilton of Seabrook wrote:
“I’ll never get over him,” she said to herself, and the truth of that statement settled into her brain the way glitter settles onto 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 onto her nightgown and passed out, leaving her no way to climb out.
“One of my friends put a link on Facebook, and I thought, ‘Well, heck, why not?’ ”
Her winning sentence, she added, is in no way based on personal experience.
“No, I’ve never had a half-ton boyfriend,” she said Wednesday.
Instead, the phrase that kept running through her head – “I’ll never get over him” – became the seed of a long-winded pun.
Hamilton, 55, has earned accolades for her wordplay before, taking second place three years running at the O. Henry Pun-Off in Austin.
But these sorts of honors don’t come with a windfall of cash. When asked what she won for her winning sentence, Hamilton said: “Bragging rights and, apparently, an article in the Chronicle.”
The contest categories include adventure, children’s literature, crime, fantasy, historical fiction, purple prose, romance, science fiction, vile puns and western.
The overall winner was Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England, while another Texan – Bill Hartmann of Dallas – took runner-up in the crime category with:
“Chester and Harry, you don’t have the stomach for this, but Dick and I do,” the leggy blonde said in a throaty voice as she headed back in to finger – and hopefully nail – the brains and muscle of the strong-arm syndicate, the heel that gutted her niece.
The contest, sponsored by San Jose State University’s English department, takes its name from Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, who wrote a doozy of an opener for his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford:”
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.
As the contest website points out, even Snoopy saw fit to plagiarize the first few words.
Source: http://www.chron.com By: Maggie Galehouse
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