That time again: Bulwer-Lytton contest for bad writing

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Bulwer-Lytton: No wonder he looks sad

And this year’s winner is … an Oshkosh professor, who wins the worst sentence of the year with this stinker:

Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.

Rather than hiding the dishonor, the University of Wisconsin even ran a picture of its grand prize winner, Suzanne Fondrie, in its newspaper.  Perhaps as a bad example to her students.

Try, try again

Fondrie has an additional distinction: Her 26-word entry is the shortest in the Bulwer-Lytton contest’s nearly 30-year history. It’s another proof of the old adage:  Shorter is better.  Or worse, in this case.

Fondrie is a salutary story for the rest of us:  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

“I had two others (entries), but I guess they were too good to be bad,” Fondrie explained to UW Osh Kosh Today.

The prize is part of an annual bad writing competition launched in 1982 at San Jose State University. The contest was named after Victorian novelist Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, an author infamous for writing the opening line: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

The runner up, Rodney Reed of Ooltewah, Tennessee, made a political statement with his entry:

As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.

There certainly were.

You can read the rest of the winners here.



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5 Responses to “That time again: Bulwer-Lytton contest for bad writing”

  1. Sarang Says:

    The thing that really caught my eye this time was the entirely random echo of Edward Fitzgerald in “a noose of light,” http://glassbottomblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/noose-of-light-goose-of-love.html

  2. Sue Fondrie Says:

    I see that winning the Bulwer-Lytton contest has made me Fondrier-ier. Or Fondrie-ry.

  3. Cynthia Haven Says:

    Apologies, Sue. The sources I was reading had Frenchified your name. I’ll correct tout de suite.

  4. Cynthia Haven Says:

    And congratulations!

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