Jim Porter: More Bulwer-Lytton awkward writing
A few weeks ago we published, as we do annually, some of the Bulwer-Lytton writing contest winners — amateur writers who pen horribly written opening paragraphs of a pretend novel.
We received a lot of “atta boys,” so we’re gleaning a few more winners from last year’s Bulwer-Lytton contest.
But before that, here are some home-grown entries:
“A cold stench of sweat, tobacco, and saltpeter, with whiffs of bleach and ammonia, met Elsa’s nose as she crossed the entrance hall of the Moulin Rouge without greeting the cleaning ladies who, at ten o’clock in the morning, were scrubbing the music hall that had set the legendary heart of Montmartre beating where Lautrec and Picasso kicked up their heels and caught the clap.”
— opening sentence of “Goat Song: Murder and Mayhem in Montmartre” by Chantal Pelletier (2000), submitted by UNR English Professor David Fenimore.
“What was not to love about Sarah? Her eyes were bright, her cheeks flush with youth, her skin smooth as alabaster, and her hair tumbled in luxurious curls over her shoulders towards the depths of her cleavage. Oh, her cleavage — deep and unknown, taunting, tempting, calling me — not like when my mom calls to remind me to turn my socks right-side in before I put them in the laundry basket, not that kind of call.”
— Submitted by Maia “Princess” Schneider.
“Sue, dazed and confused, picked herself up and looked around at the crunched cars and bloody mass of tangled bodies, she didn’t know exactly what had happened but she knew she hadn’t done anything wrong; she didn’t know what to do, then she heard a faint voice ‘Sue.’”
— Submitted by yours truly.
“When the slinky redhead slunk into the throbbing, strobe‑lit nightclub, Elwood’s eyes fastened on her the way a toilet plunger will fasten onto a hard surface if you shove it down just right, but her returning glance, while smoldering, was actually more caustic and burned his tender ego the way liquid Drano can burn your hand if you spill some on it, having disregarded the manufacturer’s warning.”
“The sharks circled the leaking raft like a pack of rabid personal‑injury attorneys at a five‑car pileup, and Clarence could just taste the fear (which tasted like chicken) and wondered morbidly if he too, might taste like chicken.”
“He had a drink in his hand and a hole in his heart, a hole big enough to drive a Honda Odyssey minivan with satellite linked navigation and a multi‑angle rearview camera down the anterior vena cava, execute a three‑point‑turn at the atrioventicular valve (thanks to the rear view camera), then exit the pulmonary artery without ever once scraping the Celestial Blue Metallic finish that comes standard on the EX‑L.”
“On their first date he’d asked how much she thought Edgar Allan Poe’s toe nails would sell for on eBay, and on their second he paid for subway fair with nickels he fished out of a fountain, but he was otherwise charming and she thought that they could have a perfectly tolerable life together.”
“The patterns of our lives, like the weave of an oriental rug, the tans and reds, the thin silken threads, the thick woolen yarns, the cross weaves or the double hooks, and, yes, even the berber loops that are really out of style these days, sure are hard to figure sometimes.”
“Mrs. Irene Bartlett was so taken with the account of the annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the transformational moment when Lot’s wife was miraculously turned into a pillar of salt, that she became a Shaker.”
“It was a dark and stormy night when, in the course of being snoopy, I happened upon the most extraordinary dog — sitting at an old‑school typewriter upon the roof of his doghouse — who grumbled that he was working for peanuts.”
“Betty had eyes that said come here, lips that said kiss me, arms and torso that said hold me all night long, but the rest of her body said, ‘Fillet me, cover me in cornmeal, and fry me in peanut oil’; romance wasn’t easy for a mermaid.”
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at email@example.com or http://www.portersimon.com.såa
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