Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mr. Clarity goofs off (2)

I got a kick out of the 2012 results of the Lyttle Lytton Contest. In this contest, which is run by Adam Cadre, each entrant tries to “compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.”

As you may imagine, that’s a lot harder than it sounds. For example, Mr. Cadre warns entrants that “wacky situations and intentional jokes are more suited to the beginnings of good comedic novels, not bad serious ones, and are therefore not really what this contest is about. On the flip side, significant butchering of the language (as opposed to subtle butchering) isn’t all that funny either.”

The winning entry for 2012 was:

Agent Jeffrey’s trained eyes rolled carefully around the room, taking in the sights and sounds.

And here’s one of the runners-up:

She had the kind of face that made you want to say hey, look at your face.

And one more:

“I’m a winner,” thought Seabiscuit, galloping across the finish line.

There’s also a portion of the contest for non-original entries: quotations from news copy or advertising copy that could make hilariously bad openings of serious novels. For example:

It was August 2009. On this sunny morning, Lake Como was a picture of tranquility, a striking contrast to the turbulence of the global apparel industry.

Mr. Cadre said many people enter “sentences from actual novels and other fictional works that they found particularly atrocious. This year I had almost the entirety of Twilight quoted to me by various entrants.”

The Takeaway: If you enjoy this sort of thing, read the 2012 results. They include not only the best entries but also Mr. Cadre’s witty comments.

See disclaimer.

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