The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is an annual competition sponsored by
San Jose State University and created by Scott Rice that challenges
entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible
novels. The contest takes its name from Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, an
industrious Victorian novelist whose "Paul Clifford" (1830) set a
standard for pot-boiling openers: "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."

"Sultry it was and humid, but no whisper of air caused the plump, laden
spears of golden grain to nod their burdened heads as they unheedingly
awaited the cyclic rape of their gleaming treasure, while overhead the
burning orb of luminescence ascended its ever-upward path toward a
sweltering celestial apex, for although it is not in Kansas that our
story takes place, it looks godawful like it." --Judy Frazier, Lathrop,
MO, 1991 Winner

"The hail pattered against the window like popcorn popping in a
well-buttered saucepan; the lightning flashed like a lightbulb when the
refrigerator door is opened; the thunder rumbled distantly like a
single, lonely chocolate bonbon rolling about in the cookie jar. All of
these things kept Cherry awake as she tried to keep her mind off of her
diet." --Laurie M. Tossing, Mesa, AZ

"Among us comedy writers, the pun is considered the lowest form of humor
and a sure sign of burnout, which is why when I tried to sneak one by,
my associates had me committed to the Institute for Disturbed Comic
Writers at Vail, Colorado. So I now know why they say 'Use a pun, go to
Vail!'" --Robert M. Quan, San Francisco, CA

"Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from
eeking out a living at a local pet store." --Richard W. O'Bryan,
Perrysburg, OH

"He died as he had lived, a dirt-poor but happy farmer, Mother Nature's
caretaker in the heartland of America, and now as his son, Bud, listened
to the reading of his father's will, bequeathing his last earthly
possession, a female sheep, he could hear his father's pun-loving voice
resounding in the lawyer's reading of 'This ewe's for Bud.'" --Jack
Markov, Philadelphia, PA

"Gloria was a woman of violent contrasts: her navel as white, soft, and
desirable, was an innie, while her car, black, swift, and powerful, was
an Audi." --Brian W. Holmes, San Jose, CA

"'My left eye has been slowly shifting over to the right side of my
face!' she floundered." --Trevor Dennie, Gloversville, NY

"Adam woke with a stitch in his side and a strange woman in his bed."
--Stephen P. Scheinberg, Wilmington, DE

"Pondering her predicament, Susie Jo-Ellen could sense a solution
forming in the back of her mind, but getting it to the front of her mind
was like the long, slow, twisting, tortuous journey of water through the
corroded, mineral-encrusted, lime-laced West Texas water pipes, and like
the water, when it finally got there, it was no good." --Pam N.
Shurley, San Angelo, TX

"Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the meaning
of the word 'fear', a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit
in the eye of death; in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies."
--Eddie Lawhorn, Huntsville, AL

"He was a man of principle with hair as orange as those soft spongy
cones you see lined up on the highway just before a road worker sticks a
stop sign out right in front of your car so a bulldozer can cross the
road at two miles per hour to totally screw up your whole day." --June
Obrochta, Pittsburg, CA

"Being turned into a cockroach was a shock of epic proportions, but at
least Twinkies still tasted the same." --Jeremy Rice, San Jose, CA

"Something told Dorothy she was not in Kansas anymore; maybe it was the
color of the sky, maybe it was the air around her, maybe it was the sign
on the side of the road that said, 'Welcome to Missouri.'" --Kevin J.
Day, Richmond Hts., MO

"There was something about her that turned Kamuk on: perhaps it was her
hair; perhaps it was her body; perhaps it was her husky voice (so husky
it would pull a dog sled); no, it was definitely the way she clubbed
seals." --Kyle B. Crocker, Spokane, WA

"Hallowe'en's coming... Our story commences with an account of the
ghoulish death of the Duke of Breathwaite which, although of little
importance to the main events unfolding herein, establishes the
atmosphere quite nicely." --Michael Haynes, Lantz, Nova Scotia

"The evilly gibbous moon shed its leering light upon the moor and the
running figure of Ronald Brownley, who, with hands clutching the
forbidden amulet and ears filled with the hellish ululation of thousands
of bounding, spectral hounds, realized that it had been he, and he
alone, who'd cast the horribly portentous deciding vote against the
town's leash law." --Joette M. Rozanski, Toledo, OH

"It was at moments like this, with the snow drifting gently past the
window on a crisp winter night as he sat in front of the crackling fire
holding her hand and gazing into her eyes, that he often wondered what
had become of the rest of her." --Peter Tilley, Englewood, CO

"The first indication I had that things were not quite as they should be
in my host's household was when I noticed that his butler dragged his
foot behind him ... on a rope." --Richard W. O'Bryan, Perrysburg, OH

"The partially clouded moon rose like a half-eaten marshmallow over a
weenie-roasted horizon, making the field of dead Girl Scouts look even
more grim and foreboding, in spite of the unusual crispness of the
air." --Margaret Baker, Philadelphia, PA