The Bulwer Lytton Winners for 2020

Oh, I’m glad I happened to spot a link to this post!

I’m absolutely certain you all want to see the winners for the Bulwer Lytton Contest this year.

Here is the Grand Prize winner:

Her Dear John missive flapped unambiguously in the windy breeze, hanging like a pizza menu on the doorknob of my mind.

Lisa Kluber, San Francisco, CA

There are, of course, lots of other winners. Let me see … quite a few fun entries … I like this one, from the Romance category —

It had been fifty-seven days since Madi left him, and still her stinging parting words slithered through Brett’s mind and echoed jarringly in the emptiness of his life like a half-frozen iguana falling out of a tree in an unseasonable Cozumel cold snap.

Lisa Hanks, Euless, TX

Here, I think, is my actual favorite:

“Dilly, Dilly,” Nelda sobbed, “Tell me you still care, Dilly,” as his blood spurted rhythmically onto her freshly-starched, pink pinafore—the one given to her on her 16th birthday by her maternal grandmother, Nana Gertrude, the one she had worn the previous Sunday to the witch dunking, the one she swore never to stain— which was now permanently stained, but she mused that it didn’t matter since it was in the same color family.

Pat DuVal, Arlington, VA

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9 thoughts on “The Bulwer Lytton Winners for 2020”

  1. Call me Ishmael, for my tale is that of the only survivor of the attack by a great white whale on the “Pequod,” our Nantucket whaling vessel, and though the story is so fantastic you may be tempted to question my veracity, I need only remind you that writers write and readers read, and you really should stay in your own lane.
    John Hardi, Falls Church, VA

  2. I think this is my favorite:

    The first thing I noticed about the detective’s office was how much it reminded me of the baggage claim at a nearby airport: the carpet was half a century out of date, it reeked of cigarettes and cheap booze, and I was moderately certain that my case had been lost.
    Paul Kollas, Orlando, FL

  3. Very good examples of very bad writing indeed!
    I think I’ve got a Bulwer Lytton book from Project Gutenberg on my TBR list, as his name was mentioned occasionally and I’d never heard of him. But if these are examples of his style of writing, I don’t think I can bring myself to read it.

    Also, I just ran into another example of one of my pet peeves in the ‘author consistently confuses two words’ category, which should have gone in that post a few weeks back, but I didn’t remember it at the time.
    I think I’ve seen it with several authors: they confuse coiffeur (a fancy hairdresser) with coiffure (a fancy hairdo). It always throws me out of the story if a lady pushes an errant strand of hair back into her coiffeur, as my mental picture immediately adds a French hairdresser to the scene, then I need to do a double-take and remove the guy again…

  4. I do like the faux noir detective sentence. So close to the actual style, and yet so far away….
    As for actual noir fiction, Raymond Chandler still has one of the all time best first paragraphs–in any genre. “…meek housewives test the edges of their kitchen knives and eye their husbands’ necks…”

  5. Here go: the anti-Bullwer-Lytton quote. I often think of it when I hear about West Coast fires. That desert wind really is unpleasant, especially if it comes with smoke.

    “There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

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