Every year, authors compete for the worst opening line to a novel in the Bulwer-Lytton contest. Details of the contest and all this year’s winners in categories ranging from mystery to romance can be found here. But my personal favourites are below and include a winning entry from Vancouver, B.C. Enjoy!
“The victim was a short man, with a face full of contradictions: amalgam, composite, dental porcelain, with both precious and non-precious metals all competing for space in a mouth that was open, bloody, terrifying, gaping, exposing a clean set of asymptomatic impacted wisdom teeth, but clearly the object of some very comprehensive dental care, thought Dirk Graply, world-famous womanizer, tough guy, detective, and former dentist. ” Basil McDonnell, Vancouver, B.C.
“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. ” Jack Barry, Shelby, NC
“Wearily approaching the murder scene of Jeannie and Quentin Rose and needing to determine if this was the handiwork of the Scented Strangler–who had a twisted affinity for spraying his victims with his signature raspberry cologne–or that of a copycat, burnt-out insomniac detective Sonny Kirkland was sure of one thing: he’d have to stop and smell the Roses.” Mark Wisnewski, Flanders, NJ
“They called her The Cat, because she made love the way she fought, rolling rapidly across the floor in a big, blurry ball of shrieking hair, fury, and dander, which usually solicited a “Shut up!” and flung shoe from one of the neighbors, and left her exhilarated lover with serious patchy bald spots and the occasional nicked ear. “Lisa Kluber, San Francisco, CA
“Sunburned and lost, Jake tightened the noose around Randy’s diaper-white neck and growled, “Any last words, varmint?” to which Randy replied, “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, Jake–that’s where all the fruit is!” which marked the first and last time Jake and the boys hired a life coach to lead one of their cattle drives. “Lisa Kluber, San Francisco, CA
“No one walked down Bleak Street at night—not where hobgoblins hobnobbed, skeletons skulked, vampires vamped, and the dumpster behind the Chinese buffet smelled like zombies.” Bill Hartmann, Dallas, TX
“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.” Sean Griffin, Tacoma, WA
“They kissed with the fury and suction of a dart that was shot onto the back of the bus driver’s fat bald head by the red-headed kid that was too big for his age (the rumor was he was “held back”) and everyone knew was going to end up in prison, or perhaps a prop comic if he straightened out in time.” D. Drake Daggett, Omro, WI
Check out Penguin Canada’s book trailer for The Beggar’s Opera here! It’s pretty cool!