Friday, January 7, 2011

Fabulously Fun Friday: The Worst Opening Lines in Fiction

Enjoy some of the worst opening lines in literatures, à la the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, sponsored by the English Department of San José State University,

“A small assortment of astonishingly loud brass instruments raced each other lustily to the respective ends of their distinct musical choices as the gates flew open to release a torrent of tawny fur comprised of angry yapping bullets that nipped at Desdemona’s ankles, causing her to reflect once again (as blood filled her sneakers and she fought her way through the panicking crowd) that the annual Running of the Pomeranians in Liechtenstein was a stupid idea.

—Sera Kirk, Vancouver, British Columbia

Paul Revere had just discovered that someone in Boston was a spy for the British, and when he saw the young woman believed to be the spy’s girlfriend in an Italian restaurant he said to the waiter, “Hold the spumoni—I’m going to follow the chick an’ catch a Tory.”

—John L. Ashman, Houston, Texas

As the fading light of a dying day filtered through the window blinds, Roger stood over his victim with a smoking .45, surprised at the serenity that filled him after pumping six slugs into the bloodless tyrant that mocked him day after day, and then he shuffled out of the office with one last look back at the shattered computer terminal lying there like a silicon armadillo left to rot on the information superhighway.

—Larry Brill, Austin, Texas
Dolores breezed along the surface of her life like a flat stone forever skipping across smooth water, rippling reality sporadically but oblivious to it consistently, until she finally lost momentum, sank, due to an overdose of fluoride as a child which caused her to lie forever on the floor of her life as useless as an appendix and as lonely as a five-hundred-pound barbell in a steroid-free fitness center.

—Linda Vernon, Newark, California (1990 Winner)
Professor Frobisher couldn’t believe he had missed seeing it for so long—it was, after all, right there under his nose—but in all his years of research into the intricate and mysterious ways of the universe, he had never noticed that the freckles on his upper lip, just below and to the left of the nostril, partially hidden until now by a hairy mole he had just removed a week before, exactly matched the pattern of the stars in the Pleides, down to the angry red zit that had just popped up where he and his colleagues had only today discovered an exploding nova.

—Ray C. Gainey, Indianapolis, Indiana
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11 comments:

  1. i love reading these. i think it's harder to come up with a bad line on purpose than it is to write one by accident.

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  2. @Michelle: I tend to agree. It's hard to be bad on purpose1

    @Kelsey: You're welcome! I always get a kick out of the Bulwer-Lytton contest.

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  3. OMG! You're so right. These are bad in a good way. I'm tickled pink by the one about Dolores and the five-hundred-pound barbell. Way too funny!!

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  4. Definitely, bad in a good way. I was the most amused by the last one. It starts off talking about something that sounds important, then moves onto talking about freckles!?! LOL

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  5. And zits. Don't forget the zits. :?

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  6. Are these the finalists from this year's competition? I've still got the book of all the entries from the first year they did the thing. Great stuff, all of it.

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  7. These are the winners from some of the earlier contests, in the '80s and 90s, I believe.

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