Dark, Stormy


The worst sentence of the year is in. The winner of the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest at San Jose State University is writer Molly Ringle of Seattle, Washington. The BLFC is sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State. Contestants are told to “to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.”

Ringle’s sentence:

For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss — a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.

The prize, which San Jose State first awarded in 1982, honors (er, references) nineteenth-century English writer Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (pictured). The first sentence of Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel, Paul Clifford is infamous for its florid style and general badness:

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.

Ringle received $250 in prize money. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer