Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sure, That's Horrible, but Mine's Horribler

What's the worst sentence you've ever written? How about the worst paragraph? Is it the one you just wrote before you started reading this post? Somewhere else in your current work? A previous work? C'mon, folks, this is cards-on-the-table time.

We all do 'em, or at least we think we do. But are they really that awful? Sometimes when I've reviewed my work, the sentence that I thought was so Medusa-like turns out not to be so bad. But while revising, another screamer will pop up that needs to be buried in a landfill.

Now, what happens if you try, really try, to write a lunch-losing sentence? The worst of the worst. Well, if you think you're bad writer enough, here's your chance to find out. There are honest-to-Gaia contests where you can get your bad writing self out there and see if you have the wrong stuff. So, pull out your tired, your trite, your muddled clich├ęs, and check these out.

Oh, the illiteracy!

For sheer audacity, there's The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, named after the father of bad openers, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. Just try to beat "It was a dark and stormy night." Here's their site:

And, sadly, the only other contests of this ilk I could find have closed shop. Back in 1998, the journal "Philosophy and Literature" held their 4th annual Bad Writing Contest, but, alas, no longer. Here's a link to what little I found:

For many years, there was an International Imitation Hemingway Competition, but it too, has been edited out of existence:

The only active one I'm aware of is the Bulwer-Lytton, which I entered two or three years ago. I tried, really, really hard, to write something stinkingly bad, but I just wasn't good enough...or bad enough. Maybe one of my sentences in this here post would be a candidate?

I'll leave you with this. I'm reading a book called "Wretched Writing", by Ross Petras and Kathryn Petras. They've compiled some of the worst writing from a plethora of sources, including...gasp!...famous authors. Here's an example:

"They were both roughly the same age, in their very early fifties, though a hundred years earlier they would have appeared much younger." D. F. Jones, Colossus (1966)

Keep writing, friends, and badly.

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