"Tiffany had always dreamed of attending the Gathering..."
July 15, 2019 4:11 PM   Subscribe

It's taken him three months longer than usual but the Adam Cadre's 2019 Lyttle Lytton Contest Winners are here!

I didn't win this year, because Cadre wouldn't know funny if it bit him on the ass, but the upshot is that this isn't a self-link. Yay!
posted by Navelgazer (21 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
A few of these were funny. I liked the text-replace one a lot, and there were six or seven others that got a chuckle out of me.

But a couple of them are ... completely ordinary similes? Like, not even weird similes? And one he calls out for having hilarious phrasing and structure is just a normal sentence? Bizarre.
posted by kyrademon at 4:38 PM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this feels more like an awkward simile contest than a collection of plausible and plausibly-bad opening sentences.
posted by ardgedee at 4:56 PM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

my winner:
"If I’d have known then that it would be my own brother under the clown mask, under the phantom pirate mask, I never would’ve agreed to split up and check it out, not for a million Scooby Snacks.
-Gabriel Stevenson"
posted by wellifyouinsist at 4:56 PM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

(Mind, some of them are still really funny.)
posted by ardgedee at 4:56 PM on July 15, 2019

I do kind of hate to say it, but it does feel like the contest winners have kind of gotten progressively less funny over the years. Maybe it's just that the novelty has worn off for me, and that I'm turning into an Old.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:57 PM on July 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

Congratulations to Pope Francis, I guess.
posted by ckape at 7:01 PM on July 15, 2019

yeah i’m not feeling this year’s entries and maybe this is an old people thing that is now over. though a part of me is like “wait the competition is super weak now i should submit something.”

i mean it’s not like winning the lyttle lytton would make up for that pulitzer shitshow back in ‘74 but still it would be nice.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:53 PM on July 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

None of these, created or found, are up to the standard of the caption (neighs hoarsely) I saw on Game Of Thrones, which is simple two word perfection.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:20 PM on July 15, 2019 [9 favorites]

Seeing "Windowpane" dives me crazy of late...
posted by Windopaene at 11:20 PM on July 15, 2019

When I first heard of this award (and Bulwer-Lytton), I was immediately disappointed that it awards made-up opening sentences, and not actual opening sentences. It ends up essentially an in-joke of bad-writing tropes, multiple steps removed from what it is criticizing. The competitors' main conflict is to write something offensively bad without creating something utterly implausible -- which, to me is a conflict that is dependent on the very subjective judgment of what is or isn't plausible.

I'd be much more interested in seeing a list of the worst actual opening lines in novels. (Of course, in order to not be mean-spirited, only writers of some renown and success should be eligible.) But it'd be much more revealing.

(Also, "It was a dark and stormy night" is actually a pretty darn good opening line. Striking, sensory, direct, unpretentious. The issue with Bulwer Lytton is that he didn't put a period there, and he wrote the whole rest of the sentence too.)
posted by lewedswiver at 11:23 PM on July 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


I want to attend the Gathering...

Alan never invites me.
posted by Windopaene at 11:27 PM on July 15, 2019

National Lampoon used to run a feature called Lines from the Slushpile which collected "excerpts from unsolicited manuscripts sent to a prominent editor of serious fiction". There's a decent selection of examples here, including the one that's stuck in my mind for over 30 years:

"Well," she said suavely, "viola for now."
posted by Paul Slade at 12:19 AM on July 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

It took me a long time to figure out that Ella's name was originally Ruth.
posted by kyrademon at 2:33 AM on July 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

MetaFilter: Utterly implausible without being offensively bad.
posted by zaixfeep at 2:53 AM on July 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I demand we add our comments here using the same syntax as the entries submitted in this context, like a many-limbed aquatic nightmare whose only true menace is to be understood by the populace lurching about on land, on only two limbs, and badly.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:07 AM on July 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

That request makes my pert jugs, which usage totally proves that I am not just a pervy cishet dude, ache with excitement. Which I am sure happens, because, as mentioned, totally understand the internal lives of chicks.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:25 AM on July 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yeah, recent years seem to lean a little too heavily on bad similes, rather than returning to their roots of syntactical weirdness and absurdism. There's nothing in the last few years that can compete with 2002-2004 stalwarts like "The dame had balls, you had to give her that, and a Jetta." or "Jennifer stood there, quietly ovulating."
posted by Mayor West at 5:42 AM on July 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

"Jennifer stood there, quietly ovulating" is my gold standard for judging these. This year's crop is not golden.
posted by Quasirandom at 8:11 AM on July 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also, "It was a dark and stormy night" is actually a pretty darn good opening line.

Agreed, and as supporting evidence I'll point out that Madeleine L'Engle used it (ending the sentence there) to open A Wrinkle in Time, to good effect.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:34 AM on July 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

"Jennifer stood there, quietly ovulating."

"But I thought you were on The Pill," ejaculated Roger, releasing his pent-up anxiety.
posted by zaixfeep at 1:06 PM on July 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

"Jennifer stood there, quiietly ovulating." is my favorite Of Montreal song.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 2:58 PM on July 17, 2019

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