Tag Archives: san jose state university

bad writing can get you somewhere.

New Jersey correspondent Madeline has brought a delightful competition to my attention. Every year, San Jose State University holds its Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest–encouraging people to write their most painfully bad first line to an imaginary book. Why is it called Bulwer-Lytton, you ask? Because Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (what a name!) is the literary mastermind behind the 1830 novel “Paul Clifford” that forever burdened us with “It was a dark and stormy night”. Thanks for that, Eddie. Let’s also thank this year’s winner, Garrison Spik, for his contribution to society:

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped ‘Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.’

Haha, well done sir! You are a gentleman and a scholar. Here is another epic submission. This one comes from Beth Fand Incollingo:

Like a mechanic who forgets to wipe his hands on a shop rag and then goes home, hugs his wife, and gets a grease stain on her favorite sweater — love touches you, and marks you forever.


In my opinion, to win this competition you either have to be an incredibly corny and bad writer (read: a 13 year old girl…or boy) or a really good writer who knows bad writing (read: remembering your own writing when you were a 13 year old girl…or boy). And just for the record, Mr. Spik and Ms. Incollingo, I put you both in the good writer who knows bad writing category.

Feel free to comment with your best/worst first lines. No prizes, just the SWTCTW glory of being witty. Now I’m going to go reread my old journals in search for literary gems of my own.

[Posted by Kathleen]

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