The Best of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2010

I’m a little late with this one this year, but here we are. My favorites of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, with the complete list here. [Also, can somebody please build them a new homepage? Unless the homepage is a meta-joke and supposed to be this bad.] It’s a pretty weak year, though. :(


For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss–a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.
Molly Ringle

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The Best of Bulwer-Lytton 2008

Yes, here we are again, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest came to its end for this year. And, as last time, I will give you the best of. Here you can read everything.

The Winner

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped “Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.”
Garrison Spik, Washington, D.C.

Winner: Adventure

Leopold looked up at the arrow piercing the skin of the dirigible with a sort of wondrous dismay — the wheezy shriek was just the sort of sound he always imagined a baby moose being beaten with a pair of accordions might make.
Shannon Wedge, New Hampshire


“Die, commie pigs!” grunted Sergeant “Rocky” Steele through his cigar stub as he machine-gunned the North Korean farm animals.
Dave Ranson, Calgary, Alberta

Winner: Children’s Literature

Joanne watched her fellow passengers – a wizened man reading about alchemy; an oversized bearded man-child; a haunted, bespectacled young man with a scar; and a gaggle of private school children who chatted ceaselessly about Latin and flying around the hockey pitch and the two-faced teacher who they thought was a witch – there was a story here, she decided.
Tim Ellis, Haslemere, U.K.

Runner-Up Detective

The hardened detective glanced at his rookie partner and mused that who ever had coined the term “white as a sheet” had never envisioned a bed accessorized with a set of Hazelnut, 500-count Egyptian cotton linens from Ralph Lauren complimented by matching shams and a duvet cover nor the dismembered body of its current occupant.
Russ Winter, Janesville, MN

Winner: Historical Fiction

As she watched the small form swing backwards and forth from the crystal chandelier – hands on hips, sniffing the air and squeaking inaudibly – it suddenly became clear to Madame de Pompomme that she had done the wrong thing asking Jacques to find and bring back her long-lost sister: for, whilst her coterie would doubtless be enchanted for a short while, the novelty of Janine having been raised by bats since the age of two in caves of the North-west Congo would soon wear off in seventeenth-century France.
Simon Terry, Broadfield, Crawley, West Sussex, U.K.


Our tale takes place one century before the reign of Alboin, the Lombard king who would one day conquer most of Italy and who would end up being murdered by his own wife (quite rightfully, I’d say, since Alboin made a drinking cup out of her daddy’s skull and forced her to drink from it), when our little Sonnebert was seven years old.
Edo Steinberg, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Winner: Purple Prose

The mongrel dog began to lick her cheek voraciously with his sopping wet tongue, so wide and flat and soft, a miniature pink fleshy cape soaked through and oozing with liquid salivary gratitude; after all, she had rescued him from the clutches of Bernard, the curmudgeonly one-eyed dogcatcher, whose own tongue — she remembered vividly the tongues of all her lovers — was coarse and lethargic, like a slug in a sandpaper trenchcoat.
Christopher Wey, Pittsburgh, PA


The complementary crepuscularities of earth and sky shrank away from one another as the roseate effulgence of a new dawn burst forth, not unlike a reclining pneumatic beauty’s black silk stocking splitting apart at the seam to reveal the glowing radiance of an angrily sun-burned leg.
Graham Thomas, St Albans, Hertfordshire, U.K.

Winner: Romance

Bill swore the affair had ended, but Louise knew he was lying, after discovering Tupperware containers under the seat of his car, which were not the off-brand containers that she bought to save money, but authentic, burpable, lidded Tupperware; and she knew he would see that woman again, because unlike the flimsy, fake containers that should always be recycled responsibly, real Tupperware must be returned to its rightful owner.
Jeanne Villa, Novato, CA


Like a mechanic who forgets to wipe his hands on a shop rag and then goes home, hugs his wife, and gets a grease stain on her favorite sweater – love touches you, and marks you forever.
Beth Fand Incollingo, Haddon Heights, N.J.

Dishonorable Mentions

He was a dark and stormy knight, and this excited Gwendolyn, but admittedly not as much as last night when he was Antonio Banderas in drag, or the night before that when he was a French Legionnaire who blindfolded her and fed her pommes frites from his kepi.
Leslie Muir, Atlanta, GA

Carmen’s romance with Broderick had thus far been like a train ride, not the kind that slowly leaves the station, builds momentum, and then races across the countryside at breathtaking speed, but rather the one that spends all day moving freight cars around at the local steel mill.
Bruce Portzer, Seattle, WA

Winner: Spy Fiction

Special agent Mark Park’s strong chin and firm mouth showed that he was a man to be reckoned with, while his twinkling blue eyes revealed surprising depths of kindness and humor, the scar on his cheek a past filled with violence and danger, and his left ear a fondness for M and Ms, but only the red ones.
John R. Cooper, Portland, Oregon

Dishonorable Mentions: Vile Puns

Jan Svenson, having changed his fortune in the annual “Scandinavian King of the Beach” in Santa Cruz with a bottle of black hair coloring and thus standing out in a sea of fair-haired rivals to win the coveted title, realized the ironic truth of the old adage “That in the kingdom of the blonde, the one dyed man is king.”
Matthew Chambers, Parsons, WV

Nell Gwynn, a descendant of the famous English actress and friend of King Charles II, decided she would help French aristocrats, who were being decimated by the guillotine during the French Revolution, cross to safety in England by hiding them under her voluminous skirts and putting off French customs inspectors by confronting them with a face and arms covered with angry red pimples, earning for her the sobriquet of Scarlet Pimple Nell.
Alec Kitroeff, Psychico, Greece

Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mentions

Behind his pearly white smile lay a Bible black heart, not like the Psalms with its, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” but like Revelations where God just smites people.
Elaine Deans, San Jose, CA

There are certain people in the world who emanate an aura of well being — they radiate sunshine, light up a room, bring out the best in others, and fill your half empty glass to overflowing – yes it was these very people thought Karl, as he sharpened his mirror-finished guthook knife, who were top of his list.
Jason Garbett, London, U.K.

Though her beloved Roger had departed hours ago, Lila remained in their rumpled bed, daydreaming about his strong arms, soulful eyes, and how, when he first fell asleep, his snoring sounded not unlike two grizzly bears fighting over a picnic basket full of sandwiches, but as he drifted off into deeper slumber, his snoring became softer, perhaps as if the bears decided just to rock-paper-scissors for it instead.
Lili R. Lillie, Alamo, CA

Emerging from the dark and dusty wine cellar of Lord Parker after a year of fattening up on wine, truffles, and caviar, head butler Hastings, sans his servility and his tan, was well larded and ready to slip into the Lord’s slippers after pickling Parker in a punt of port.
Jay Solmonson, Orinda, CA

The day started out as uneventfully as any other, and continued thus to midday and from there it was nothing at all to ease into an evening of numbing, undiluted monotony that survived unmarred by even the least act of momentary peculiarity-in fact, let’s skip that day altogether and start with the day after.
Jon Starr, Rumford, ME

Watching Felicia walk into the bar was like watching two fat Rottweilers in yellow spandex and spike heels that had treed a scrawny bleach blond cat at the top of a skinny flagpole that for some reason had decided to sprout casaba melons.
Melissa Alliston, Coraopolis, PA

Her name was Mauve, like the color of paint, which was apt: not only was she “pretty as a painting,” she was also “smart as paint,” and certainly as thin (assuming sufficient solvents had been added); she was, however, Arnold discovered when she stepped from the shower, a lot more fun to watch dry.
Steven W Alloway, Granada Hills, CA

When he concentrated, his thick black eyebrows furrowed, looking not unlike a pair of Hypercompe scribonia caterpillars on a collision course over the bridge of his nose, but unlike them, his eyebrows would never evolve into giant leopard moths, and would find better places to hover after nightfall than around her 40-watt backporch light.
Jane Auerbach, Los Angeles, CA

Earthy ochre and russet hues in the lifeless leaves which rustle under his feet, and spiral down from the majestic trees above, signal that October has now arrived, but of course he knew this already because he has a calendar above his breakfast bar in the kitchen.
Roz Black, Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

As she skipped past the giant mushroom Alice was not surprised — because, after all, she had always suspected it was opium and not simply hookah, as many Lewis Carroll defenders had claimed, and tar heroin had since become a much cheaper and more available alternative — to see the track marks up and down the Caterpillar’s abdomen.
Chris Carlos, City of Industry, CA

The homicide detective was an aging woman with a crusty and somewhat ill-tempered personality, an individual who reminded me of the kind of woman my mother, a Sunday-school teacher, would have been if she had been a crusty and somewhat ill-tempered homicide detective.
Bill Crumpler, McKinney, TX

I heard her husky breathing as she came up the stairs, breathing exactly the way a sled dog breathes after competing in the Iditatrod as she sauntered into the room her hips swiveling from side to side like a Sherman M-4 tank with a 75mm gun forcing its way through the hedgerows of Normandy after D-Day in 1944.
Bruce Hanne, Citrus Heights CA

Carey, unnerved by an affair that had suffered through weeks of volatility, walked unsteadily, her dress etching complex runes in the fine patina of dust along the antiquated floor, to a rose-scented box of love letters in a vain attempt to find solace, like a security fund struggling to find liquidity in the US sub-prime mortgage market.
Ray Pasimio, Chicago, Illinois

As a cold winter sun was just rising above the lonely French village of Vicres-le-Buffeur, the forlorn figure of a man dressed in rich Arabian silks could be seen crouching in the center of the market square, crying softly and cradling in his arms the limp and lifeless body of what appeared to be a large hamster.
Arndt Pawelczik, Hennef, Germany

Like almost every other post-Hegelian neo-hipster angst monkey at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Rene flatly rejected the labels society placed upon him.
Bob Salsbury, Spokane Valley, WA

It was common knowledge around town that Bill drank like a fish, the kind of fish that consumes large quantities of cheap scotch on a daily basis.
Brent Sheppard, Morganton, NC

Although the family resemblance was almost palpable, there was no glint of recognition in the eyes of the separated-at-birth-but-nearly-identical quintuplets–Pixie, Trixie, Moxie, Gertie, and Howard–as they reached for the same size-10 champagne-colored lace Teddy in Filene’s basement that fateful Thursday morning.
Julia Tryk, Shaker Heights, OH

Rudy’s feline senses tingled as he watched Minerva pour a glass of milk, thrusting his tongue outward involuntarily, urging him to inexplicably lick his hand and smooth his cowlick, but he could not let Minerva know about the vampire kitten that had sucked his neck–attacking him with a feral ferocity that belied its adorable whiskered face–and how the meowing and purring that had become an integral part of their lovemaking was really just an injection of half-dead Calico.
Tara Lazar, Basking Ridge, NJ

Surveying his shattered and splintered ship, Baskin pronounced it wrecked, glanced at his first mate, Robbins, and began a careful assessment of his new surroundings: sand as white as whipped cream, lush greenery layered like a cake against the fruit-filled treeline, a vanilla sky blended into an evening as dark as chocolate with a pie-shaped moon, prompting him to wonder aloud, “what’s so unappetizing about being stranded on a desserted island?”
Jay Dardenne, Baton Rouge, LA

The Best of Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2007

These are the first sentences I like the most, you can find all the winners here.

Grand Panjandrum’s Award

LaVerne was undeniably underdressed for this frigid weather; her black, rain-soaked tank top offered no protection and seemed to cling to her torso out of sheer rage, while her tie-dyed boa scarf hung lifeless around her neck like a giant, exhausted, pipe cleaner recently discarded after near-criminal overuse by an obviously sadistic (and rather flamboyant) plumber.

Andrew Cavallari
Northfield, IL

Winner: Children’s Literature

Danny, the little Grizzly cub, frolicked in the tall grass on this sunny Spring morning, his mother keeping a watchful eye as she chewed on a piece of a hiker they had encountered the day before.

Dave McKenzie
Federal Way, WA

Dishonorable Mention

Out of a hole in the ground popped a bunny rabbit which had a long thick orange carrot between its teeth and a big splotch of mud on its back that had dried into a dirt clump the size of a tumor.

Veronica Perez
Palm Springs, FL

Runner-Up (Detective)

She’d been strangled with a rosary-not a run-of-the-mill rosary like you might get at a Catholic bookstore where Hail Marys are two for a quarter and indulgences are included on the back flap of the May issue of “Nuns and Roses” magazine, but a fancy heirloom rosary with pearls, rubies, and a solid gold cross, a rosary with attitude, the kind of rosary that said, “Get your Jehovah’s Witness butt off my front porch.”

Mark Schweizer
Hopkinsville, KY

Dishonorable Mention

What shocked Juliette as she entered the room was not that there was an escaped convict under her coverlet snuggling with her best teddy bear, but that there was a knife through his back, “And who,” she wondered out loud, steadying herself against the faux-taffeta wallpaper, “would stab a teddy bear?”

Katie Alender
Studio City, CA

Winner: Fantasy Fiction

Lady Guinevere heard it distinctly, a sharp slap, as if a gauntlet had been thrown, and yet it was hardly plausible that she, perched delicately on the back of her cantering steed, should be challenged to ride faster, since protocol determined that Arthur should ride in front, then she, then Lancelot, for that was the order prescribed by Merlin, ever since he invented the carousel.

Celine Shinbutsu
Hino City, Tokyo, Japan

Dishonorable Mention

At Elvenheim there was great joy, in that the legendary Ring of the Nordlings had been retrieved from the evil Sudlings by the hero Bill Baggydrawers, who it must be said looked nothing like a hero, at least none I’ve ever seen, and the Ring had once again been placed on the middle finger of the left hand of the Elvenking, who did rather resemble a king, even if his buck teeth made him look for all the world like a great rabbit.

Wayne McCoy
Gainesville Fl

Winner: Historical Fiction

Samson looked in the mirror and, when he saw what a fantastic haircut Delilah had given him, he went weak at the knees.

Neil Prowd
Charnwood, ACT, Australia

Winner: Purple Prose

Professor Radzinsky wove his fingers together in a tweed-like fabric, pinched his lips together like a blowfish, and began his lecture on simile and metaphor, which are, like, similar to one another, except that similes are almost always preceded by the word ‘like’ while metaphors are more like words that make you think of something else beside what you are describing.

Wayne McCoy
Gainesville Fl


The highway coiled up and around the mountain like a snake ready to strike because it was being harassed by one of those annoying guys on “Animal Planet.”

Brent Sheppard
Morganton, NC

Dishonorable Mentions

Marilyn’s main feature was her mountainous breasts, with an associated sharp ravine of cleavage–the breasts not awesome like Everest, but like one of the Highland peaks near Balquhidder, where the notorious outlaw Rob Roy spent his last days.

John O’Byrne
Dublin, Ireland

There was a numbing chill in the air–harsher than a localized anesthetic, far less jarring than your average epidural, but still effective at creating that tingly sensation which often precludes a general lack of feeling in one’s extremities or sometimes leads to uncontrollable drooling if administered within the confines of a dentist’s chair.

Randy Wilson
New Albany, IN

The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife, not even a sharp knife, but a dull one from that set of cheap knives you received as a wedding gift in a faux wooden block; the one you told yourself you’d replace, but in the end, forgot about because your husband ran off with another man, that kind of knife.

Lisa Lindquist
Jackson, MI

Winner: Romance

As her quivering lips met his, and her eyelashes fluttered softly on his sweating cheek, Dr Robbins reflected, “I didn’t realize she had upper dentures . . . in fact, her slippery plastic palate reminds me of going down a waterslide that hasn’t been properly chlorinated, as evidenced by the distinct nitrous and sulfurous emanations, or could it be sinus trouble?”

Philip Bateman
Kenilworth, South Africa


There was a pregnant pause– as pregnant as Judith had just told Darren she was (about seven and a half weeks along), which was why there was a pause in the first place.

Tracy Stapp
Santa Ana, CA

He held her desperately in his arms and stroked her silken hair, and as he drew her full red lips to his, he ravenously smothered her with lots of smooches.

Bill Kerschbaum
Ann Arbor, MI

Ruthanne felt as though she was frozen in time, staring into Steve’s eyes, deep turquoise pools of Tidy-Bowl blue, reflecting back the deep passionate love that Ruthanne felt in her heart because Steve certainly didn’t feel anything, being in a coma as he was, so what Ruthanne had reflected back to herself was what she herself felt, bouncing off Steve’s eyes, because there was absolutely zip going on behind those eyes.

Linda Morgan
Manassas, VA

Dishonorable Mention (Science Fiction)

Racing through space at unimaginable speeds, Capt. Dimwell could only imagine how fast his spaceship was going.

Gary Smith
Florissant, CO

Winner: Vile Puns

I was in a back alley in Fiji, fighting desperately and silently for my life, fighting desperately for oxygen, clawing at the calm and almost gentle pressure of the fabric held over my face by implacable, ebony thighs when I realized — he was killing me softly with his sarong.

Karl Scott
Brisbane, Australia

Dishonorable Mentions

A rather youthful Billy Joel was fascinated when he entered the Green Room at the Tonight Show and saw a group of matronly nuns hastily applying hair color to the noggin of the show’s next guest, Neil Young, whose agent offered an explanation from the corner of the room: “Only the good dye Young.”

Joe Wyatt
Amarillo, TX

Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mentions

A par on the final hole would clinch the U.S. Open for the in-form Tiger Woods but, in truth, this mattered little to Herbert Cruddle as a gigantic wave swept him over the side of his floundering shrimp trawler.

Terry Drapes
Taipa, Macau

His hat fit his head as snugly as a manhole cover does the thing it fits into.

Steve McAllister
Austin, TX

As master luthier Francesca turned the night-black ebony tuning pegs of her latest creation, a flamenco negra guitar with glowing palosanto back and sides, she thought about Vicente, his manly left hand soon caressing this same fretboard in an outpouring of mournful tarantas and siguiriyas, and at that very moment her g-string snapped.

Jim Holman
Gresham, OR

Joshua was as dumb as a bunny and not at all like the egg-carrying one, more like the one who has never gone to middle school, or even the schools at either end.

Patrick Baker
Caledonia, Ontario, Canada

Maurice slathered on the cherry colored lipstick continually, like some transvestite from a low-budget, 70’s rock opera, and plotted his next escape attempt, as he watched carefully once again while the absent-minded guard turned the knob to his prison with such ease, and cursed his Creator for giving him a luscious, silver, hairy back, but no opposable thumbs.

Cale Dempster
North Las Vegas

“Send an ambulance; I’m glistening profusely . . . bosom heaving . . . luscious, ripe orbs threatening to burst the seams of my black lace bodice . . . . pulse galloping apace like a knight’s sleek steed . . . exquisite pain radiating down my graceful, alabaster arm, shooting upward to the finely chiseled jaw . . . I shall swoon—oh, my address?” the romance writer gasped into the phone before collapsing.

Linda A. Fields
Framingham, MA

My tongue moistened my parched lips and my stomach started to churn as I hungrily admired Leslie’s hair, which loosely resembled my great aunt Betty’s daughter Cornelia’s famous tuna casserole–brown, dry and crisp around the edges, yellow and creamy in the center with just a hint of grease spilling out over the top.

Paula Price
California, MO

With “Bambi” eyes and an angelic face made for singing “The hills are alive” while traipsing across an Alpine meadow, Heidi Weissbrot seemed as pure as driven snow to older folks around Peach Blossom, but among boys her own age, there was a nasty rumor that her purity was more akin to snow driven to the river in dump trucks after being scraped from roads and parking lots.

Tom Rohde
Minneapolis, MN

The crater of the volcano glowed red against the black sky, looking as if God had taken a drag of His cigar – if He smoked – which of course, He didn’t.

Wendy Spoelstra
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

When Marcel sank his dentures into the tarte frappée aux moules demi-tantalisées à la provençale to be suffused not with a pot-pourri of gilded remembrances of infancy, nor with vignettes of past hurly-burlies on the chaise longue, but with a bland mélange of ephemeral insipidities of quotidian contemporaneity, “That takes the biscuit,” he thought, Madeleine’s forgotten the salt, again.”

Graham Thomas
St Albans, Hertfordshire, England

The Archbishop, imprisoned for ten years in various palaces where he was called “Traitor” instead of Christoph, returned home amid cheers of those who knew his happiness and stature soon would be cut short by the sword of the Black Knight, who was actually quite pale since sunlight doesn¹t penetrate armor, chain mail, and woolen underwear.

Mary Ann R. Unger
Ewing, NJ

Okay this got a little out of hand … but I couldn’t decide for less sentences. Though my favourite is probably the winner of Vile Puns.
To have this imagination… wonderful.