Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Terrible prose wins literary prize

Words of pain - a sentence mangling the English langauge has taken top prize in a literary contest

A sentence in which tiny birds and the English language are both slaughtered has taken top honours in an annual bad writing contest.

Sue Fondrie won the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest in the US for her sentence comparing forgotten memories to dead sparrows.

The contest asks writers to submit the worst possible opening sentences to imaginary novels.

Ms Fondrie wrote: "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."

The University of Wisconsin professor's 26-word sentence is the shortest grand prize winner in the contest's 29-year history.

The contest is named after British author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel Paul Clifford begins with the oft-quoted opening line "It was a dark and stormy night."

The contest solicits entries in a variety of categories. John Doble of New York won in the historical fiction category:

"Napoleon's ship tossed and turned as the emperor, listening while his generals squabbled as they always did, splashed the tepid waters in his bathtub."

To take the prize for best purple prose, Mike Pedersen relied on a pile of synonyms:

"As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue."