Did you ever read a line in a book and wonder what sort of parents set such a writer loose in the world? You know, I firmly believe that bad writers should be punished by society in some way. There are others, however, that dedicate scholarship to finding the worst lines. Cue the The Bullwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. It’s kind of like the Razzies, but for literature.
Whereas the Odd Title Contest I featured here, looks exclusively at the title, the Bullwer-Lytton Fiction Contest judges the content. The prize honors the worst line each year. The name of the prize comes from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton who was the novelist who coined the phrases, “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar”, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, and the famous opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night.” The Baron wasn’t considered such an awful writer in his day–in fact he was a bestselling author. It doesn’t detract from the general stink permeating from his most notorious line:
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.
Now, given that “bad” and “worse” are two very subjective things, is it possible for everyone to come to a consensus on what the “worst” is? Do we all agree, for example, that the Baron Lytton’s phrase is the worst written?
Let’s see. Take the Bad Line or Worst Line quiz to see if you agree with the Bullwer-Lytton judges….
My score after the jump.