Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.The inspiration for the contest is the writing of the Victorian novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. The opening of Paul Clifford is the model that contestants strive to emulate:
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."The site has a page called "Sticks and Stones" featuring examples of bad writing by published authors who are paid for their work.
One of my favourites from the 2006 contest:
It had been a dark and stormy night, but as dawn began to light up the eastern sky, to the west the heavens suddenly cleared, unveiling a pale harvest moon that reposed gently atop the distant mesa like a pumpkin on a toilet with the lid down.
Gerald R. Johnson