Oh, those dual Stromberg carbs!
August 1, 2005 10:54 AM   Subscribe

2005 Bulwer-Lytton winners announced! As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed...

Thus begins the winner of the 2005 Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest. The winning entry was written by Dan McKay, a Microsoft analyst from Fargo, ND.

One of my personal favorites received The Grand Panjandrum's Special Award: India, which hangs like a wet washcloth from the towel rack of Asia, presented itself to Tex as he landed in Delhi (or was it Bombay?), as if it mattered because Tex finally had an idea to make his mark and fortune and that idea was a chain of steak houses to serve the millions and he wondered, as he deplaned down the steep, shiny, steel steps, why no one had thought of it before.
Previous year's winners MF linked here, here, here, here, and, of course, here. Is this a record? A sextuple post?
posted by jasper411 (17 comments total)
The "Fantasy Fiction" winner is pretty good, too:

"Why does every task in the Realm of Zithanor have to be a quest?" Baldak of Erthorn, handyman to the Great Wizard Zarthon, asked rhetorically as he began his journey began to find the Holy Hammer of Taloria and the Sacred Nail of Ikthillia so Baldak could hang one of Zarthon's mediocre watercolors, which was an art critique Baldak kept to himself unlike his predecessor, whom Zarthon turned into the Picture Frame of Torathank.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:14 AM on August 1, 2005

It's like they are writing intentionally bad lines for the purposes of humor. Which it makes it way less funny. I hereby offer up a disinterested *yawn*
posted by xmutex at 11:30 AM on August 1, 2005

I like the line you quoted Jasper, it made me laugh. All of them together get a bit tedious.
posted by OmieWise at 11:32 AM on August 1, 2005

Obligatory footnote pointing to the Little Lytton Contest.

I actually kind of find it funnier than the big one, which seems to be primarily about unnecessarily extended metaphors and bad puns. The "Purple Prose" winners are similar, but none of them really beat the Little Lytton guys for pure cringe-worthy prose.
posted by Occultatio at 11:33 AM on August 1, 2005

Oops... here's the full list of Little Lytton contests
posted by Occultatio at 11:36 AM on August 1, 2005

Occultatio - those are *hilarious*! I'd never heard of the Little Lytton - thanks so much for the link!
posted by jasper411 at 11:39 AM on August 1, 2005

“The night resembled nothing so much as the nose of a giant Labrador in excellent health: cold, black, and wet.” Best. Dark. And. Stormy. Night. Variation. Ever.

Also earning points for brevity: “The assassin drew his dagger - a simple line drawing in black ink on rose-tinted vellum.”

But then, I never said I liked brevity.
posted by wendell at 11:59 AM on August 1, 2005

Almost all of these are just jokes, not bad prose. I think people are missing the point.

This one I like, though:

Captain Burton stood at the bow of his massive sailing ship, his weathered face resembling improperly cured leather that wouldn't even be used to make a coat or something.
posted by Khalad at 12:59 PM on August 1, 2005

I know who the murderer is, Kevin blogged.
Nice one, Skot.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:08 PM on August 1, 2005

Dishonorable Mentions

Because of her mysterious ways I was fascinated with Dorothy and I wondered if she would ever consider having a relationship with a lion, but I have to admit that most of my attention was directed at her little dog Toto because, after all, he was a source of meat protein and I had had enough of those damn flying monkeys.

Randy Blanton
Murfreesboro, TN

I love this one... Who hasn't dreamed of eating Toto... At least he's keeping in character...
posted by Psharden at 1:30 PM on August 1, 2005

"Swim, swim, swim," thought the whale, flopping his floppers.
posted by gigawhat? at 3:13 PM on August 1, 2005

The Little Lytton is prolly the best section--if you haven't checked it out it's the same rules but 25 words or less. Which keeps the over-elaboration at bay.

Now, you're all aware of my vocal campaign against the global slave trade, so what I am about to confess may raise a few eyebrows. Ha!

The problem with a lot of these is that they're overdone and overwritten (like that fantasy winner listed above), and couldn't possibly be the opening sentence of a book by anyone's stretch of the imagination.

posted by zardoz at 4:51 PM on August 1, 2005

And once again, we must mention that Lytton was a good writer, who was given a bum rap when Charles Schulz used the opening line of Paul Clifford as the opening of Snoopy's ever-unfinished opus. Recommendation:The Last of the Barons.
posted by QuietDesperation at 5:18 PM on August 1, 2005

As the sun sank low beyond the glistening horizon, even that far into the dusk, the violent rays shot up from below, lighting up the undersides of the clouds in magnificent oranges and golds, turning the owls and bats and starlings black against the sky and sending chills through Myrna, who paused from squeezing the last lactic acid from the dripping curds inside the cheesecloth.

Ed Buhrer
Louisa, VA

Elegantly awful. That's my favorite this year.
posted by climalene at 5:27 PM on August 1, 2005

Chalk me up as another who prefers Little Lytton. The Berman Prize from last year's competition ("I know who the murderer is, Kevin blogged.") is bad (good) enough to win any of these contests, IMO.
posted by aparrish at 7:22 PM on August 1, 2005

The best ones are lyrical, beautiful, and end with a thud.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:25 PM on August 1, 2005

My favorite:
"Wet leaves stuck to the spinning wagon wheels like feathers to a freshly tarred heretic, reminding those who watched them of the endless movement of the leafy earth-or so they would have, if only those fifteenth-century onlookers had believed that the earth actually rotated, which they didn't, which is why it was heretical to say that it did-and which is the reason why the wagon held a freshly tarred heretic in the first place."
posted by joedan at 12:52 PM on August 14, 2005

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