The annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest results are in from San Jose State University. This is the infamous award for worst opening sentence to a nonexistent novel. This years winner is Sue Fondrie with the following 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.
While one could question whether a turbine would drop pieces of bird carcass into a pile or just splatter them over a wide area, the imagery that goes with the sentence is undeniably vivid. Better, in my view, as an example of lousy composition is the runner-up by Rodney Reed:
As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.
What a set-up and let-down. All that vivid trauma and then … "words."
Reading the entries is more than good fun; it is instructive and cautionary about how not to write.