Friday, September 7, 2012

Worst ever opening to a Romance Novel?

The English department at San Jose State University has held the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for the past three decades. It's a competition that challenges entrants to write the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.
The contest categories are: Adventure, Children’s Literature, Crime, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Purple Prose, Romance, Science Fiction, Vile Puns and Western. If you want to read all of the 2012 winners' entries click here.

Below are the winners and dishonourable mentions of the Romance category. If you can think of a terrible opening line please share with us using the comments box!

Alternatively you could try to write a really good opening to a novel and enter the Mail on Sunday's competition (think it's a UK only comp, sorry to the ineligible!) The entry has to be between 50 and 150 word and include the word 'train' in any context. The winner receives £400 in book tokens and a place on an Avon writing course but here are lots of other fab prizes. Judges are: Fay Weldon, James Buchan and Simon Brett. Send entry typed or clearly written with name, address, tel numbers and email address all on the same page, by Monday October 29th, to The Mail on Sunday Novel Competition, 84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB. Results announced next summer.

Winner: Romance

  • #“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


  • “Your eyes are like deep blue pools that I would like to drown in,” he had told Kimberly when she had asked him what he was thinking; but what he was actually thinking was that sometimes when he recharges his phone he forgets to put the little plug back in but he wasn’t going to tell her that. — Dan Leyde, Edmonds, WA

Dishonorable Mention:

  • Tucked in a dim corner of The Ample Bounty Bar & Grille, Alice welcomed the fervent touch of the mysterious stranger’s experienced hands because she had not been this close with a man in an achingly long time and, quivering breathlessly, began to think that this could be the beginning of something real, something forever, and not just a one-time encounter with a good Samaritan who was skilled at the Heimlich Maneuver. — Mark Wisnewski, Flanders, NJ
  • Chain-smoking as he stood in the amber glow of the street lamp, he gazed up at the brownstone wherein resided Bunny Morgan, and thought how like a bunny Bunny was, though he had read somewhere that rabbits were coprophages, which meant that they ate their own feces, which was really disgusting now that he thought about it, and nothing like Bunny, at least he hoped not, so on second thought Bunny wasn’t like a bunny after all, but she still was pretty hot. — Emma DeZordi, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec
  • Their love began as a tailor, quickly measuring the nooks and crannies of their personalities, but it soon became the seamstress of subterfuge, each of them aware of the others lingual haberdashery: Mindy trying to create a perfectly suited garment to display in public and Stan only concerned with the inseam. — D. M. Dunn, Bloomington, IN


Sally Clements said...

That's a fantastic blog post, Lorraine! I like the runner up best... (runs back to check opening of current wip nervously)

Maya Blake said...

These are hilarious, Lorraine! Thanks for sharing :)

Kathy Bosman said...

Thanks for the chuckle. Thought the bunny one was the funniest! Glad one of my books wasn't chosen for this competition!

Lorraine said...

I liked the runner up best too!

Thanks Kathleen, I'm glad I made you chuckle ;-)

Romy Sommer said...

Thanks for the Friday laugh, Lorraine. I'm with Kathleen on Bunny being the funniest!

Caroline said...

Hilarious! Are they for real, or "made up"? Caroline x

Michelle Copelin said...

Love them all - hope the author mentioning the Heimlich Manouvre has better luck at medical M&B submissions than I have had !