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Friday, Aug. 22, 2008 at 10:39 am

So-Bad-They’re-Good Opening Lines

By Jeff Sexton
August 22nd, 2008

You gotta love a contest dedicated to preserving the fine art of crafting so-bad-they’re-good opening lines. The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Writing Contest is named after the original author of the line Snoopy made famous: “It was a dark and stormy night,” and continues to inspire the creation of beauties like this year’s winning entry from Garrison Spik:

“Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped “Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.”

And second-best part? Just get a load of his Bio and cited influences:

“The winner of 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is Garrison Spik (pronounced “speak”), a 41-year-old communications director and writer from Washington, D.C. Hailing from Moon Township, Pennsylvania, he has worked in Tokyo, Bucharest, and Nitro, West Virginia, and cites DEVO, Nathaniel Hawthorne, B horror films, and historiography as major life influences”

Who knew DEVO could be such a potent muse… And the best part? They actually have winners in separate categories for Adventure, Fantasy, Children’s Literature, and such, with my favorite being this winner in the “Purple Prose” category:

“The mongrel dog began to lick her cheek voraciously with his sopping wet tongue, so wide and flat and soft, a miniature pink fleshy cape soaked through and oozing with liquid salivary gratitude; after all, she had rescued him from the clutches of Bernard, the curmudgeonly one-eyed dogcatcher, whose own tongue — she remembered vividly the tongues of all her lovers — was coarse and lethargic, like a slug in a sandpaper trenchcoat.”

So go find your own favorite and treat yourself to some fine Friday reading..

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Comments (6)

  1. Jeff, Glad to see you fixed the grammatical error in the original post title. It was a good reminder that even the best copy writers should have someone else check their (!) work.

  2. Also a good reminder to never edit when you are completely jet lagged. :-)

  3. Maybe i should enter the contest, as a dutch speaking belgian this cane result in some hilarious outcomes.

  4. Everybody needs to check their writings, even better to let it be checked by a third party.

  5. “coarse and lethargic, like a slug in a sandpaper trenchcoat” – Please stop disparaging Republicans.

    ” … a miniature pink fleshy cape soaked through and oozing with liquid salivary gratitude” – ah, you are a Hillary supporter, this explains a lot.


  6. It’s such a bad opening line it peaks my curiosity of how much worse it could get. =)

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Jeff is a Persuasion Architect, Web copywriter, blogger, and instructor of FutureNow's Persuasive Online Copywriting workshop. Follow Jeff Sexton on twitter

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