"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."

—From the novel Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1830)

Dark and stormy night house hit by lightning

Once again, it is time to submit entries to the 31st annual Bulwer-Lytton Bad Fiction Writing contest hosted by San Jose State University. Try as I might for the past three years to write the most dreadful opening passage to a novel, I have yet to be judged insufficient enough to take top prize. I am not, however, daunted by this academic oversight. Perhaps this will be the best year of my worst success!

* * *

"After 25 years of a fruitless, not to mention breadless, marriage, Wanda Wallenda inched her way along the thinnest of wires stretched to the breaking point across the Grand Canyon's abyss of divorce, and although she had made it nearly halfway—even without a safety Netflix—she wondered if she wouldn't be better off just taking the plunge."

* * *

"Sy Attica, who couldn't be any more of a serial killer if his victims possessed consecutive social security numbers, sneaked up and stabbed a middle-aged woman (if we presume she has the shelf-life of 128 years) in the back with an ice pick, an assault, according to statistics, he has perpetrated on at least 40 percent of our country's population usually resulting in not only systemic pain but the simultaneous theft of their most prized possession: mental health."

* * *

"Day by day and time after time, the Wasabi tribe braves the heat to tail the wildebeests as they meander to their favorite watering hole, where crafty crocodiles have cried a river of tears with hopes of cutting the smarter individuals from the herd (though wildebeests are notorious for having nano-brains), knowing the dumber ones will follow and inadvertently bring some Wasabi to the feast with them."

* * *

"Tiffany entered the Algonquin Hotel's lobby bar, took a semi-conscious seat at a round table, where, sipping a no-longer trendy Cosmopolitan, she surveyed the singles scene with her one especially good eye and then, after a time of reflection in the mirror, wrote on her cocktail napkin ‘Men will not make passes at girls in Google glasses.'"

* * *

"The sommelier resisted using the typical description of Barolo as tasting like scrapings from the bottom of a recently unearthed Pompeian urn, opting instead for something more contemporary: this convoluted red conjures the eclectic riff of a Miles Davis composition, with the pungency of night-blooming jazz men permeating the air and subsequently the nose but unfortunately hitting a sour note after crash-landing on the palate."

* * *

"Johnny Yuma, a self-ordained rebel without a cause, often laments his having been too young to enlist in the Marines at the outbreak of WWII, and now, 70 years later, still seeks psychological counseling for pre-traumatic stress disorder and the reason behind his continued need to have an Axis to grind."

* * *

"Everest was the first-born son of two skydivers, and despite a closet full of colorful jumpsuits and cool nylon gear, he entered his teen years and found himself unable to avoid a complete mental free-fall at the thought of coming out to his parents as an acrophobic, knowing they probably would try to downplay it by telling him he had a bad altitude."

* * *

"The Laidlaws made the one-hour trip along the razor's edge of coastline from their home in Dover to Point B, the Bonham estate owned by her mother, where she had hoped to overcome a suspicion that her husband wants to kill her for the insurance money, even though he explained the reason he had opened her car door en route was because he perceived she needed more space."

* * *

"I remember the day Loren didn't wake up like it was yesterday—even though it was actually the day before—because, being the organized Capricorn he was, Loren had made a notation on his calendar that he had a premonition he wouldn't wake up that morning, which is ironic in that he had struggled for weeks with insomnia."

* * *

"Love was just around the corner wearing jeans, a flannel shirt and LL Bean trail boots, and Darlene couldn't have been more enthralled, for she had been pre-meditating to find her second husband—despite still living with the first—so when she laid adoring eyes on her hunky neighbor building something in his driveway, she couldn't help but wonder what was hanging on his tool belt."

* * *

Hmm…although I'm definitely treading in the deep end and a lifeguard is throwing me anvils, miraculously it seems I have yet to hit bottom. I guess I won't know for sure until one of these clunkers causes a concussion. Who knew writing bad fiction would be so hard—unless, of course, one can find inspiration on a dark and stormy night.

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