Law Review: Bulwer-Lytton Contest winners |

Law Review: Bulwer-Lytton Contest winners

As you faithful readers recall, we annually present a handful of our favorite Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest winners.

For you new readers, the Bulwer-Lytton Contest is named after novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton who wrote many famous novels including “Paul Gifford” which started with the immortal words, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Supposedly that’s often-parodied bad writing (although it is better than anything I ever do).

The contest rewards rookie writers composing intentionally bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Pretty clever stuff.

n n n

Cassie smiled as she clenched John’s hand on the edge of an abandoned pier while the sun set gracefully over the water, and as the final rays of light disappeared into a star-filled sky she knew that there was only one thing left to do to finish off this wonderful evening, which was to throw his severed appendage into the ocean’s depths so it could never be found again – and maybe get some custard after. (Overall winner)

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Dreaded Pirate Larry was somewhat worried, as he looked down at his boot, where his first mate was stretched out, making whooshing sounds, attempting to blow him over, that despite having the fastest ship, the most eye patches, and the prettiest parrots, his crew may need a few lessons on the difference between literal and figurative, as evidenced by the rest of the crew applying ice to the timbers. (Runner up)

n n n

I knew that dame was trouble as soon as I set eyes on her, see: there was a stain on her clingy dress, wine, difficult to get out (you notice these things when you’ve been in the business as long as I have); there was a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of her high heel, cherry, that would leave a gristly pink trail following her every step (you pick up on these things when you are as experienced as I); and when she coolly asked me directions to the detective’s office, I pointed her down the hall and went back to mopping the floor.

n n n

Eli Jacob Crowley, the famed pioneer figure who spearheaded America’s westward expansion by blazing the Crowley Trail in 1838, was an awe-inspiring figure of a man, as stout as a four-century-old oak, as intellectually complex as the fronds of a Florida palm, as singularly focused as the trunk of a Giant Sequoia, though in all other respects, not like a tree at all.

n n n

Commander of the Bengal Lancers Lord Reginald Buckman, KCIE, was a strong, strong man, not “strong” like some onions, though he ate them often, and particularly enjoyed them sautéed in lard, a generous amount, but lightened with a bit of white wine, not too dry, alongside fresh calves kidneys, though goat would do in a pinch.

n n n

Dave’s fear surged in his chest, like those bombs they put in ski slopes to trigger avalanches, but this one didn’t explode and instead came down in a natural avalanche that covered the ski-resort parking lot and poured into the open window of Dave’s car, which is why he was so scared, sitting in his snow-filled car with a live bomb in his lap.

n n n

Hi, my name is Neptune Galapagos Cooper, I’m 13, I live in the suburbs with my middle-class white family (my SUPER ANNOYING little brother, my parents, who are sooooo lame, and my dog Bailey, the only one who really gets me) and there’s one thing you should know about me: I’m not like other girls. (Children’s literature winner.)

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Jimmy-The-Bull lay sprawled in a puddle of his own blood, which spread out like a bright-red Rorschach test, in which Detective Williams had so far identified a butterfly, a puppy and the Eiffel tower, but was vaguely disappointed that there was nothing resembling Jimmy’s trademark bull, although the coroner had seen a giraffe, which he claimed was close enough, since it was also a ruminant.

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For rookie detective Lara Stinson, the hardest aspect of her most recent case was not discovering that the adolescent victim had been thrown from the tenth story of the apartment building by his own grandmother, but rather trying to spell “defenestration by octogenarian” in her subsequent report.

n n n

It was a dark and stormy night: the wind whistled like an old man with drugstore teeth trying to teach his grandkids to say, “She sells sea shells by the sea shore,” causing the little shavers to wonder why Peepaw was suddenly talking like Daffy Duck, whether he’d just had a stroke, and if any of them was in the will.


For the hot scoop – who and what to vote for on Nov. 6 – go online to for Porter’s Picks in his Law Review columns on Oct. 12 and 19.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at or

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