The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

AW Blog Chain – Mini Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Posted by BigWords on July 9, 2011

This month’s AW Blog Chain is entitled “The Mini Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest” and, in the spirit of the great man (no laughing, please) we are obliged to provide the most overwrought, turgid, purple or just plain bad writing. Don’t worry, this is merely one of those “first line” challenges, so it won’t take up too much of your time. I went into this imagining that it would be a relatively quick bit of business to churn out something awful (hell, I write awful prose all the time), and as you’re probably wondering just how hard it it to write something deliberately badly…

In the early Tyburn evening, and under her light muslin veil, Mme. Vendredi – honored envoy of the court of von Bismarck – could almost have passed for beautiful, were it not for the pallor of the grave which hung around her.

Man, this is harder than it looks… Okay, so cod-Victoriana was probably the wrong choice to try, given that overblown hyperbole was practically invented for Victorian writers to play with. How about hokey space opera?

The Celestial Wanderer, flagship of the Covenant Of Worlds, had cowered in the Newt Nebula for three solar days before Captain Washington laid down the order to emerge, the cosmic war cannons readied for engagement.

Dammit. Still not hokey enough for the requirements of this challenge. Onto hard boiled, methinks…

The dame with the dirty blonde hair leaned forward and exhaled a mouthful of smoke in coiling whisps as tangled as the case,  her cigarette hanging limply on her lower lip.

Bad enough yet? Sigh. Probably not. The others playing in this months AW chain are as below; go give them some love. Maybe they’ll be better at manipulating their first sentences into a more suitable form for the sake of this (friendly) competition.

dolores haze
Ralph Pines
Diana Rajchel


22 Responses to “AW Blog Chain – Mini Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest”

  1. Yes, writing purposely bad is much more difficult than one might expect. There’s a balance necessary- one can’t go too far into absurdity.

    I must say I do feel bad for Lytton. An esteemed politician, novelist, poet, and playwright in his day, and now most only know him for THAT famous line, and the contest.

  2. SL Vitale said

    Liked your noun choice–“dame.” How obscure and pretentiously obsolete.

  3. bigwords88 said

    Gypsyscarlett – He should get more credit than he does, and the more I see of the contest, the sorrier I feel for his legacy.

    SL – It’s a proverbial tip of the hat to the late, great Bogey. Not that I’m entirely certain that he actually used it, but it sits perfectly with the now decidedly un-PC smoking.

    Sigh… More people should smoke in films. I miss smoking being acceptable.

  4. I think your worst line is the space opera one. The hard boiled wasn’t bad at all.

    And now you and Gypsy have piqued my interest in Bulwer-Lytton.

  5. bigwords88 said

    Don’t compliment the deliberately terrible lines. You’ll only end up confusing me. 😛

  6. […] to this month’s post) BigWords – (link to this month’s post) jkellerford – (link to this month’s post) Ralph Pines […]

  7. April said

    Bigword – I miss smoke being acceptible too! So unfair. Makes me feel guilty.

    Not bad attempts! They weren’t awful sentences, but they weren’t great either.

    It reminds me of when I was younger. I danced, and once I was in a musical and had to dance badly. It was more difficult than you’d imagine for a girl who’d studied ballet for years.

  8. bigwords88 said

    Yet some people – who are more than skilled enough in a subject – can perform incredibly awful routines on purpose, and make the whole thing gel together so well (or, uh… badly) that you would never know from evidence alone that they were, indeed, skilled to a very high level. Tommy Cooper’s magic routines come to mind, as well as (I think) Eric Morecambe. I’m sure that there is a story somewhere which details how he was trained as a pianist, yet in every sketch he ruins the performance.

    I’m going to have to try harder at forming really awful sentences. There’s a few Dan Brown books here, so I’ll take tips from a master before I attempt another…

  9. Proach said

    BigWords–you are so hard on yourself. They were ALL bad! Great job:)

  10. bigwords88 said

    Thanks. I think. 😉

  11. Still laughing at Proach’s comment…

    Given your moniker of BigWords, I expected you to weave a few more of ’em in there to send us all running to our dictionaries. I’d probably peg your first example as closest in spirit to Mr. B-L’s legacy. Enjoyed reading them all, however, and found the last one to be quite good.

  12. “Sigh… More people should smoke in films. I miss smoking being acceptable.”

    A friend suggested i see a certain flick. I looked it up to see what it was about. It said rated pg 13 for mild sexual situations and smoking. And I was like, good gawds…they have to rate smoking now in movies? What the frell will they do to classic old films where they lit up constantly? Smack NC-17 labels upon them?


  13. bigwords88 said

    Claire – Yeah. I let you all down with the lack of ridiculous words there.

    Gypsyscarlett – You’re thinking of To Have And Have Not, aren’t you? 😀 I could probably expound for weeks on how lacking recent cinematic adaptations have been in capturing an essence rather than merely replicating scenes and dialogue, like well-taught children preparing for an exam. It’s pointless raging against the inanity from certain quarters – at least most of the classics have been restored on DVD to something approaching the original intentions of their directors.

    If one person says they prefer the colorized versions over the originals, they’re in for a lecture…

  14. Proach has me laughing here too. I agree the fist sentence seems to fit the spirit of the exercise best. Nice job (bad job?) on all three.

  15. Jen said

    Bigwords, I think they were all pretty disgusting. Good job! I think my fave bad one was the Celestial Wanderer.

  16. bigwords88 said

    Thank you all.

    Having looked through the other entries, there are a couple which have gone above and beyond the call of bad writing. In a good way, of course. :D.

  17. […] (link to this month’s post) BigWords – (link to this month’s post) jkellerford – (link to this month’s post) Ralph […]

  18. Oh, yeah. That meeting between Bogie and Bacall is hot. But I think my fave smoking scene has to be the end of Now Voyager with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid. The famous line, their gaze, the music…

    And yes, I’m with you. I won’t buy any colorized versions of a film.

  19. Ellen said

    I vote for the last one! 😉 makes me think cheesy film noir…

  20. alexp01 said

    Despite your best efforts, it seems that all three turned out to be respectable lines! It probably helps that I have an affinity for sci-fi and noir 🙂

  21. bigwords88 said

    Respectable isn’t a word which gets used often in relation to me…

    I just uncovered some of the “poetry” I wrote as an angsty teen – on yellow paper, no less, and written in thick marker pen – and I’m thinking that is there is another round of this nonsense, I may be in with a shot at competing on a professional level of bad writing…

  22. […] to this month’s post) BigWords – (link to this month’s post) jkellerford – (link to this month’s post) xcomplex […]

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