Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writing awards

All eyes are on Wellington tonight for the announcement of the 2011 NZ Post Book Awards. While we wait anxiously, let us amuse ourselves with the results just in from the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which celebrates deliberately bad writing in the form of the opening sentence of a novel.

The winner is Sue Fondrie who is an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin and lives in Oshkosh. Sore losers may grumble that being an academic gives her an unfair advantage. Her winning entry is:
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.
There are many categories – western, crime, romance, fantasy and so on – and the winners and runners-up in each are listed here, along with some others that the organisers thought deserved to be preserved. Winner of the adventure category was this:
From the limbs of ancient live oaks moccasins hung like fat black sausages -- which are sometimes called boudin noir, black pudding or blood pudding, though why anyone would refer to a sausage as pudding is hard to understand and it is even more difficult to divine why a person would knowingly eat something made from dried blood in the first place – but be that as it may, our tale is of voodoo and foul murder, not disgusting food.
Winner of the fantasy category:
Within the smoking ruins of Keister Castle, Princess Gwendolyn stared in horror at the limp form of the loyal Centaur who died defending her very honor; “You may force me to wed,” she cried at the leering and victorious Goblin King, “but you’ll never be half the man he was.
Runner-up for purple prose:
The Los Angeles morning was heavy with smog, the word being a portmanteau of smoke and fog, though in LA the pollutants are typically vehicular emissions as opposed to actual smoke and fog, unlike 19th-century London where the smoke from countless small coal fires often combined with fog off the Thames to produce true smog, though back then they were not clever enough to call it that.
Winner of the romance category:
As the dark and mysterious stranger approached, Angela bit her lip anxiously, hoping with every nerve, cell, and fiber of her being that this would be the one man who would understand—who would take her away from all this—and who would not just squeeze her boob and make a loud honking noise, as all the others had.
Among the also-rans:
Dawn crept up like the panther on the gazelle, except it was light, not dark like a panther, and a panther, though quiet, could never be as silent as the light of dawn, so really the analogy doesn’t hold up well, as cool as it sounds, but it still is a great way to begin a story; just not necessarily this particular one.

As the young officer studied the oak door, he was reminded of his girlfriend – for she was also slightly unhinged, occasionally sticky, and responded well to being stripped and given a light oiling.

The grisly scene before him was like nothing Detective Smith had ever seen before, but there were millions and millions of things he had never seen before, and he couldn’t help but wonder which of them it was.

Business was kinda slow at the ‘If You Build It’ sperm bank.
That last one, needless to say, was from Australia.

Monitor: Mick Hartley

1 comment:

helenalex said...

I initially thought the collection of also-rans was one entry, which made them even better.