A little inspiration for those of you thinking to go all Bulwer-Lytton this week.

Ah, the Last Days of Pompeii! Good Times.

For those of you seeking inspiration for the Bulwer-Lytton contest, here are some selections from the 2010 winners, well actually, not, but the runners-up  and dishonorable mentions which we think are even better than the winners in almost all cases.

Grand Prize Runner Up

Through the verdant plains of North Umbria walked Waylon Ogglethorpe and, as he walked, the clouds whispered his name, the birds of the air sang his praises, and the beasts of the fields from smallest to greatest said, “There goes the most noble among men” — in other words, a typical stroll for a schizophrenic ventriloquist with delusions of grandeur. — Tom Wallace of Columbia, SC

Adventure: Runner-Up:

When Hru-Kar, the alpha-ranking male of the silver-backed gorilla tribe finished unleashing simian hell on Lt. Cavendish, the once handsome young soldier from Her Majesty’s 47th Regiment resembled nothing so much as a crumpled up piece of khaki-colored construction paper that had been dipped in La Victoria chunky salsa. — Greg Homer of Placerville, CA

Detective: Runner-Up:

As Holmes, who had a nose for danger, quietly fingered the bloody knife and eyed the various body parts strewn along the dark, deserted highway, he placed his ear to the ground and, with his heart in his throat, silently mouthed to his companion, “Arm yourself, Watson, there is an evil hand afoot ahead. — Dennis Pearce of Lexington, KY

Historical Fiction: Runner-Up:

The band of pre-humans departed the cave in search of solace from the omnipresent dangers found there knowing that it meant survival of their kind, though they probably didn’t understand it intellectually since their brains were so small and undeveloped but fundamentally they understood that they didn’t like big animals that ate them. Mike Mayfield of Austin, TX

Purple Prose Runner-Up:

The wind whispering through the pine trees and the sun reflecting off the surface of Lake Tahoe like a scattering of diamonds was an idyllic setting, while to the south the same sun struggled to penetrate a sky choked with farm dust and car exhaust over Bakersfield, a town spread over the lower San Joaquin Valley like a brown stain on a wino’s trousers, which is where, unfortunately, this story takes place. Dennis Doberneck of Paso Robles, CA

Romance: Dishonorable Mention:

Cynthia had washed her hands of Philip McIntyre – not like you wash your hands in a public restroom when everyone is watching you to see if you washed your hands but like washing your hands after you have been working in the garden and there is dirt under your fingernails — dirt like Philip McIntyre.Linda Boatright of Omaha, NE

Winner: Western

He walked into the bar and bristled when all eyes fell upon him — perhaps because his build was so short and so wide, or maybe it was the odor that lingered about him from so many days and nights spent in the wilds, but it may just have been because no one had ever seen a porcupine in a bar before.Linda Boatright of Omaha, NE


There are more winning submission on the contest website. We encourage you to pop over and read them before sending in your final and finely polished sentence. And ok, we have to say it, we’d probably actually read and publish a “genuine” book submission from Linda Boatright.


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Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 8:08 AM  Leave a Comment  
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