Sub creative writing editor, Rebecca, takes a look at one, unusual, aspect of poor writing…
I thought I would turn the tables today and share with you the best of the worst examples of creative writing! The ‘Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest’ runs annually and makes a good laugh out of the whole thing. Asking authors to submit the worse opening lines to novels, which I believe are separated into different categorys. The contest boasts rules that are ‘childishly simple’ and the grand prize of ‘a pittance’.
The contest is named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who opened his novel Paul Clifford with the most infamous worst way to start a story:
“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.”
Check out the list of winners since the start of the competition in 1983 here: http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/lyttony.htm
Whilst many poke fun at some writers’ tendencies to over complicate their writing with crazy nonsensical metaphors and imagery, they do help new and young writers determine what is bad writing. We are surrounded during our education with good, great and even fantastic literature, but it doesn’t hurt to take a look at things we should avoid in our own writing.
I shall leave you to pick apart the first ever winner of this bad writing contest and see if you could write something even better…or do I mean worse?
‘The camel died quite suddenly on the second day, and Selena fretted sulkily and, buffing her already impeccable nails–not for the first time since the journey began–pondered snidely if this would dissolve into a vignette of minor inconveniences like all the other holidays spent with Basil.’
–Gail Cain, San Francisco, California (1983 Winner)