Terrible prose wins literary prize
Tuesday 26 July 2011
A sentence in which tiny birds and the English language are both slaughtered has taken top honours in an annual bad writing contest.
Sue Fondrie won the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest in the US for her sentence comparing forgotten memories to dead sparrows.
The contest asks writers to submit the worst possible opening sentences to imaginary novels.
Ms Fondrie wrote: "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."
The University of Wisconsin professor's 26-word sentence is the shortest grand prize winner in the contest's 29-year history.
Contest judges liked that Fondrie's entry reminded them of the 1960s hit song "The Windmills of Your Mind," which was described as an image that "made no more sense then than it does now."
The contest is named after British author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel "Paul Clifford" begins with the oft-quoted opening line "It was a dark and stormy night."
The contest solicits entries in a variety of categories. John Doble of New York won in the historical fiction category:
"Napoleon's ship tossed and turned as the emperor, listening while his generals squabbled as they always did, splashed the tepid waters in his bathtub."
To take the prize for best purple prose, Mike Pedersen relied on a pile of synonyms:
"As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue."
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant