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"...wearing various smiles on their faces."
April 25, 2013 6:08 AM   Subscribe

The 2013 Lyttle Lytton Contest winners are here.

For the uninitiated, the Bulwer-Lytton contest is a competition to compose the worst possible opening sentence for a work of imagined fiction. As these entries became more bloated, with Faulknerian rambling clauses fitting in every bad idea their authors wanted to shove in, Adam Cadre introduced the Lyttle Lytton contest, which has the same premise but constricts entries to 200 characters, thus preserving the soul of wit.
posted by Navelgazer (23 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
It seems appropriate that the first runner-up was written by a guy named Cormac.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:12 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


YOU TAKE THAT BACK
posted by shakespeherian at 6:32 AM on April 25, 2013


Am I the only one who thinks the Lyttle Lytton contest has gotten progressively less funny with each passing year?
posted by kyrademon at 6:51 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


> And then it occurred to me to try doing a Google search on the phrase "various smiles on their faces" — and I got multiple hits. 

Six hits, 1 of them the original Lytton post, 2 of them (including this one) commenting on the Lytton post, and the other 3 coming from fanfics. I'm not sure how that jibes with the idea that "it's no longer so inappropriate as to mark this as the best entry of the lot. "
posted by Panjandrum at 7:02 AM on April 25, 2013


I think the Lyttle Lytton Contest has grown progressively less amusing as I've gotten to know Adam Cadre's writing better. He's a smart guy and he does neat things, but his writing style is irritating as hell and the more you notice it, the more frustrating it becomes.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:17 AM on April 25, 2013


Like any of these, once there's a history of established winners people start trying to game the contest and imitate what's won in the past.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:30 AM on April 25, 2013


Am I the only one who thinks the Lyttle Lytton contest has gotten progressively less funny with each passing year?

The grand-prize winner is never the best one. This year is no exception, as this is so gloriously inept I could spend hours going over how utterly wrong it is on all levels:
“BOOM!” said the bomb very loudly.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:32 AM on April 25, 2013


“BOOM!” said the bomb very loudly.

I wanted to initially say, "Boston says it's too soon," but that's pretty funny. And I live in Boston.
posted by kinetic at 7:40 AM on April 25, 2013


One of my entries was used as an example of a not-good-enough-to-be-runner-up entry a few years ago. Here were the two I submitted this year:

As he lay there dying, he thought "Why am I dying?"

"Meow!" the cat said. "Meow meow!" Something was amiss in Catland.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:41 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think it gets worse every year - some years are just better than others and this wasn't one of the best. Still, there are some gems in there, like "Taft slid slowly, carefully into the bathtub. He knew that it would be the best bath that he and the bathtub had ever had."

That one is just so cringe-inducingly wrong that it's why I look forward to this contest every year.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:43 AM on April 25, 2013


I dunno, they've never come close to their high-water mark year (2004), which had two never-to-be-topped entries, both of which also failed to win:
The dame had balls, you had to give her that, and a Jetta.
and
I know who the murderer is, Kevin blogged.
posted by Mayor West at 8:00 AM on April 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't like it. I don't like any of it. It is all wrong. It is not funny. I might have missed the point.
posted by It is better for you not to know. at 8:09 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This would be funnier if I weren't currently editing a book full of sentences at least as bad as these. I mean, sure, one or two are funny. Three hundred pages of this stuff is excruciating.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 8:09 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


...six hundred pages is a Stephanie Meyer novel.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:14 AM on April 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


I knew the dame was trouble the minute she slunk through the door of my 1940s detective agency.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:59 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


"We cannot have the sex," he sparkled vampirically.
posted by elizardbits at 9:00 AM on April 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Speaking of bad writing, could he have made it less clear that the first sentence was the actual winner?
posted by dersins at 9:27 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


900 pages is a David Foster Wallace novel.
posted by Mister_A at 9:28 AM on April 25, 2013


The Shiba Inu pope absolutely killed me.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:22 PM on April 25, 2013


David Foster Wallace never wrote a sentence short enough to qualify for the Lyttle Lytton.
posted by workingdankoch at 2:59 PM on April 25, 2013


I don't think the entries have gotten "worse." They have just gotten better at making Adam Cadre laugh, and he has a very particular sense of humor.
posted by Nomyte at 4:11 PM on April 25, 2013


Metafilter: it was a strange way to begin a novel, but then again, I'd never tried to write a novel that chronicled its own writing in real time before, even during those ghastly aeons while my consciousness was trapped in the infinite mindscape on Zeta Prime.
posted by mubba at 7:51 PM on April 25, 2013


My own unchosen entry for this year was something like:

"While the dwarves had dozens of words to describe family, they had no word for caution, which was not to say that they couldn't display such a trait from time to time."
posted by Navelgazer at 10:18 PM on April 25, 2013


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