Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Be a frenemy of English!

As "reported in "New words for frenemies of English," the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, participants are asked to write the beginning of the worst possible novel.

Here are 2009's winners.

And here's my favorite, by Eric Rice of Sun Prairie, Wisc., in the detective category:

"She walked into my office on legs as long as one of those long-legged birds that you see in Florida - the pink ones, not the white ones - except that she was standing on both of them, not just one of them, like those birds, the pink ones, and she wasn't wearing pink, but I knew right away that she was trouble, which those birds usually aren't."

Would you like to participate? Here are the rules of the contest, which I've shamelessly taken from just like Snoopy took "It was a dark and stormy night" from Bulwer-Lytton.

The rules to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest are childishly simple:

* Each entry must consist of a single sentence but you may submit as many entries as you wish. (One fellow once submitted over 3,000 entries.)
* Sentences may be of any length BUT WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT ENTRIES NOT GO BEYOND 50 OR 60 WORDS, and entries must be "original" (as it were) and previously unpublished.
* Surface mail entries should be submitted on index cards, the sentence on one side and the entrant's name, address, and phone number on the other.
* E-mail entries should be in the body of the message, NOT IN AN ATTACHMENT (and it would be really swell if you submitted your entries in Arial 12 font). One e-mail may contain multiple entries.
* Entries will be judged by categories, from "general" to detective, western, science fiction, romance, and so on. There will be overall winners as well as category winners.
* The official deadline is April 15 (a date that Americans associate with painful submissions and making up bad stories). The actual deadline may be as late as May 30 (the 2009 results will be released by mid-June).
* The contest accepts submissions every day of the livelong year.
* Wild Card Rule: Resist the temptation to work with puns like "It was a stark and dormy night."
* Finally, in keeping with the gravitas, high seriousness, and general bignitude of the contest, the grand prize winner will receive . . . a pittance.

Send your entries to:
Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest
Department of English
San Jose State University
San Jose, CA 95192-0090, or

To inflict your BLFC entry electronically, digitally stimulate Bulwer's nasal member (and please include your name, phone number, and addresses--Gastropoda and e-mail [Note: this data is for our contact information, not for public consumption.]

You get bonus points (in the form of a "WHAAAA???")if you use Merriam-Webster's new words for 2009.