Skip to comments.Wordsmith wins annual contest given to bad writing
Posted on 07/16/2002 4:27:18 AM PDT by 2Trievers
A word-puzzle creator has won the 21st annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for horrible writing.
Rephah Berg, of Oakland, triumphed over thousands of entrants from around the world.
The judges at San Jose State University liked how her composition "was a combination of something atrocious and appropriate," said Scott Rice, the professor who began the contest in 1982.
The winning sentence was: "On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained."
The contest, which seeks the worst beginning to an imaginary novel, is named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, a British writer whose 1830 book "Paul Clifford" begins with the oft-mocked cliche, "It was a dark and stormy night ..."
"There are literary contests on campuses, and they're often deadly serious and end up producing some terrible writing," Rice said.
"I thought, why not be up front and honest about it and ask for bad writing from the get-go?"
Berg, who won in the detective category last year, wrote 10 entries this year. She said she could not recall her inspiration for the winner, but noted that it follows a pattern commonly found in successful Bulwer-Lytton entries.
"There's a sudden change in diction, a drop in tone," she said. "From academic prose, the style suddenly plunges into a mundane image, almost a slang tone."
Berg said she has been a copy editor for 25 years and began her career with a company that sells notes on lectures at the University of California, Berkeley.
"The professor looked down at his new young lover, who rested fitfully, lashed as she was with duct tape to the side of his stolen hovercraft, her head lolling gently in the breeze, and as they soared over the buildings of downtown St. Paul to his secret lair he mused that she was much like a sweet ripe juicy peach, except for her not being a fuzzy three-inch sphere produced by a tree with pink blossoms and that she had internal organs and could talk."
St. Paul, MN
Winner: Detective (And the grumsters personal favorite)
"Chief Inspector Blancharde knew that this murder would be easy to solve-despite the fact that the clever killer had apparently dismembered his victim, run the corpse through a chipper-shredder with some Columbian beans to throw off the police dogs, and had run the mix through the industrial-sized coffee maker in the diner owned by Joseph Tilby (the apparent murder victim)--if only he could figure out who would want a hot cup of Joe."
Winner: Purple Prose
"The blood dripped from his nose like hot grease from a roasting bratwurst pierced with a fork except that grease isn't red and the blood wasn't that hot and it wasn't a fork that poked him in the nose but there was a faint aroma of nutmeg in the air and it is of noses we speak not to mention that if you looked at it in the right profile, his nose did sort of look like a sausage."
Go to the website to see more great bad writing... It's perfect Monday morning stuff - but it's of a Tuesday we speak....
What in the world is a hot cup of Joe?
From context, I would guess it's coffee... but where did "Joe" come from?
Or was the the murdered guy's name?
It's java, yes. The term has been around since the 40's. Some say the term comes from "Joe Awful Coffee's" a once famous restuarant out West. Others say it comes from the bags which were stamped J.O.E. (Java something something) and other's that it was named after the captain of some ship who banned rum in favour of bean juice on his vessels. But wherever the term comes from, one can't deny the perky effect that a good cup o' joe has. The way it makes your eyes open up like two big oatmeal cookies...
In the spirit of the BBC's My Word.
Sly Stallone's Cockney cousin and manager was asked by the studio if they could make any follow-ons to Rocky.
He responded, "Y'd wan' wot, couppa, yo?"