Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The First Sentence -- Hook, Please

First off, if you saw the title of this and thought it'd be remotely helpful . . . yeah, sorry about that.

    It won't be.

    But it's amusing, and in my book, amusing is always a plus.

    Apparently, there's a contest every year -- called the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest -- to see who can write the worst opening sentence for an fake novel.  (Anyway, I hope these are fake. Eek.)

    The 2011 grand prize winner is Sue Fondrie, a professor from Wisconsin.  This is her entry:


        "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."


    Pretty bad, eh? 

    There are different divisions within the contest -- you can read a few of them, and the original article where I learned all this brain-enriching stuff, here

    Really, I don't do morals of stories, but I guess the main lesson is this:

    If you're having trouble nailing the opening sentence of your novel, be sure to keep all the attempts -- the more laughable, the better.

    You could always enter next year's contest.

    So now I have to ask:  What's the worst opening sentence you've ever read?  What made it so bad -- or is it wince-inducing and self-explanatory?

15 comments:

Bethany Elizabeth said...

ha, what a funny idea! I never thought of that. :) Oh wow... bad first lines. I'd have to think about that.

Erin Blankenship said...

The worst always start with, "This is a story about...". Could it get any worse? Of course, my experience Is mostly with high school essays, not novels. Maybe we should have a contest next year to see who could write the worst beginning. Thanks for the idea!

Ashley said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog. I know what you mean about not being able to use colored pencils with most pencil sharpeners. :)
Thanks for the comment on my blog - it appears we are both writers. Neato!
~Ashley

Devin said...

Thanks for checking out my blog! I can't nessecarily thing of a 'worst opening sentence', but it always bugs me (especially at school) when my fellow classmates start their essays with "Today I'm going to tell you [a story about]..." because that is really quite poor literary skills in general, not to mention creative processing.

Jenna Cooper said...

I haven't heard of this, although I have seen the worst analogies ever and they are pretty awful!

I wanted to let you know that I've given you a blog award here: http://findingthewriteway.blogspot.com/2011/07/liebster-blog-award.html

Lynda R Young said...

Anything that opens with a dream sequence...

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Bethany -- Me neither! I thought it was interesting, though.

Mrs. Blankenship -- I love the idea of using it for school! Sounds like a blast. And you're right, I don't think it could get much worse than that...

Ashley -- You're welcome! Seriously, that sounds like a good sharpener. I hate using manual ones for colored pencils. And awesome!

Devin -- Welcome! And that's definitely annoying. A waste of time and words.

Jenna -- Worst analogies? Sounds scary. And thanks! I'm on my way to check it out right now.

Lynda -- Great point. I hate those because I'll get involved in what's going on, and then none of it was real. Plus all the characterization that was done through the actions/dialogue in the dream is usually lost.

Melinda (Simply Smitten) said...

Lol ~ well, at least that bloody sparrow chopping line was worth a good chuckle! Thanks for stopping by my blog and putting a smile on my face. :)

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Melinda -- True! It could've been awful *and* boring. And you're welcome! The same to you.

chelleyreads said...

Wow, what an awesome idea. And that opening sentence was pretty darn funny. Great post!

-leslie
booksandmakeup.blogspot.com

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Leslie -- It definitely amused me. I'm glad you thought it was funny, too. Thanks!

Taylor Lynn said...

Okay, that's too funny about the contest! It actually sounds pretty fun. ;) The opening line of a story is definitely important... you want one that's interesting, but not too confusing or anything. Or long. Mine might be a little bit long right now... have to think about that. xD

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Taylor -- It does, doesn't it? And I know what you mean. Mine was too long at first, so I cut it and made it too short...it's all about finding that balance, I guess.

Michelle Fayard said...

This post started my day with a smile! How refreshing to occasionally not worry if what you've written is perfect but take a moment to be silly and come up with some truly awful prose. I'm glad K.V. Briar told me about your blog, and I'm glad to be a new follower as well. :)

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Michelle -- Glad it made you smile! It's a different perspective of openings, isn't it? Thanks for coming to my blog and following!