Every year the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest invites writers “to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels”. This year I decided to give it a shot. How bad could writing bad writing be after all? The intro to the “worst” novel has to be a sentence between 50-60 words in it. I was taught in my journalism college that the perfect newspaper sentence was between 14 and 18 words. So clearly my education wasn’t enough to cope with such a task.
I would have to invoke the spirit of Charles Dickens, that master of the long sentences. But his sentences were beautiful and something clearly from the mind of a genius. Mine would have to be ugly. I also remember one sentence in A Hundred Years of Solitude that lasted a few pages! But even that was more of a literary roller coaster pleasure ride.
Finally, in my own moment of inspiration, I wrote four really bad intros at one sitting. I emailed them and waited for the results. I didn’t win anything, not even a special mention. In the end, I guess they were simply not bad enough. Guess I’ll have to simply try again next year and see if I can sing Michael Jackson’s “I’m bad, I’m bad…” with some sort of conviction.
I am reproducing below my Not-so-prize-Winning Entries:
He was born in Hiroshoma, only to die during the N-blast, re-incarnated as a cockroach to be crushed, reincarnated again as a car which crashed in the test drive, in the end it would destroy itself the moment it was created, releasing energy which was measured by scientists in the long run to measure impending doom.
When he visited Obama he found it ironic as he observed the great man’s black shadow fall on a white napkin, which happened to be on a black tablecloth on a white floor in a black room (as the electricity just failed) in the White House in a grim black world, with white sunshine.
The quark flew out of the proton, destroying the atom, unsettling the molecule, upsetting the chemical structure of the cell of the bacteria nested in his stomach lining and he burped loudly even though his stomach was dry and empty and an unheard of scientific phenomena just passed by, like a million others.
She heard the song Mamma Mia and so watched the movie and thought of her Mamma who she visited and who just died a second before she arrived wishing she had picked up the ABBA cassette a little earlier so she could have got a last glimpse of her alive Mamma.
(For more information about the contest, check the Wikipedia Entry)
© Sunil Rajguru