Friday, August 15, 2008

Bad Writing

Molly alerted me earlier this week to this site that gives advice on how to write bad fiction.

One tip, "Thou shalt commit no plot", prompted me to call to mind the ironic "Notice" Mark Twain posts at the beginning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

Interestingly enough, it was also this week that I first learned (HT: Mark Shea) of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, whose 2008 results were just released:

An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword," and phrases like "the great unwashed" and "the almighty dollar," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

And boy, there are some gems. Here is but one, which won Grand Panjandrum's Special Award—whatever that is:

Upon discovering that Miles Black, the famous phrenologist from Yorkshire was going to take up yodeling to lonely goats in Bali, James White decided to balance four planks of wood on a beer keg and call it an abstract work of art in the style of a famous fourteenth-century architect, just going to prove that people will read any old garbage if they think there will be a good pun at the end of it.

The rest of the winners, runner-ups runners-up, honorable mentions, etc., are here.

No comments: