If you’ve been around my blog you know that over the years I’ve loved to celebrate something – Bulwer-Lytton day! It’s a time to celebrate bad writing. And this year’s winner is outstanding.
She had passed the wind farm — spinning air into gold near the improbably, yet somehow appropriately, named Lake Winnebago — on the drive from her golden delicious home in Appleton to the state capital of Wisconsin.
“I always wondered what happens to birds that fly into them,” said Sue Fondrie, attempting to account for her grisly, yet somehow oddly appropriate, winning entry in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which began at San Jose State 29 years ago. “I’ve looked at the bottom to see if there is a pile there, but there never is one.”
The contest challenges entrants to compose truly awful opening sentences for imaginary novels, and perhaps inevitably, Fondrie’s mind turned to the pile of dead birds she had so often imagined. “Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine,” Fondrie wrote, “chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”
At 26 words, Fondrie’s submission was the shortest grand prize winner in contest history, proving “that bad writing need not be prolix, or even very wordy,” as the judges noted with repeated redundance. Fondrie said she thought it might work in Twitter’s 140-character format, but at 169 characters, the only tweets coming from her winning entry would be the inchoate chorale of dead birds.
All the winners can be found at the official website.