POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jul 27, 2011 AT 20:29 IST ,  Edited At: Jul 27, 2011 05:29 IST

Sue Fondrie, who describes herself as "a full-time teacher of teachers and part-time awful prose writer" was declared the winner of the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Sue Fondrie is an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh who, in the words of the Contest results, "works groan-inducing wordplay into her teaching and administrative duties whenever possible.  Out of school, she introduces two members of the next generation to the mysteries of Star Trek, Star Wars, and--of course--the art of the bad pun."

Prof. Fondrie becomes the 29th grand prize winner of the contest that began at San Jose State University in 1982.  Since 1983 the BLFC has continued to draw acclaim and opprobrium.

The contest challenges entrants to compose bad opening sentences to imaginary novels takes its name from the Victorian novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who began his Paul Clifford with “It was a dark and stormy night.”

At 26 words, Prof. Fondrie’s submission is the shortest grand prize winner in Contest history, proving that bad writing need not be prolix, or even very wordy:

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.

In keeping with the gravitas, high seriousness, and general bignitude of the contest, she will receive . . . a pittance.

The Runner-Up was Rodney Reed from Ooltewah, TN:

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.

The prize is judged by categories, from "general" to detective, western, science fiction, romance, and so on. This year's winner for Purple Prose was Mike Pedersen from North Berwick, ME:

As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue.

The runner up in the Purple Prose category was Jack Barry from Shelby, NC:

The Los Angeles morning was heavy with smog, the word being a portmanteau of smoke and fog, though in LA the pollutants are typically vehicular emissions as opposed to actual smoke and fog, unlike 19th-century London where the smoke from countless small coal fires often combined with fog off the Thames to produce true smog, though back then they were not clever enough to call it that.  

The Winner in Historical Fiction was John Doble of New York City:

Napoleon’s ship tossed and turned as the emperor, listening while his generals squabbled as they always did, splashed the tepid waters in his bathtub.

And the Runner-Up in the same category was Andrea Rossi fromWilmington, NC

The executioner sneered as the young queen ascended the stairs to the guillotine; in the old days, he thought, at least there was some buildup, a little time on the rack or some disemboweling, but nowadays everyone wants instant gratification.  

For the full list of winners in different categories and even the dishonourable mentions, check out the Award Page

The rules to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest are childishly simple: Each entry must consist of a single sentence but you may submit as many entries as you wish. (One fellow once submitted over 3,000 entries.)

Read more about them here

POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jul 27, 2011 AT 20:29 IST ,  Edited At: Jul 27, 2011 05:29 IST
Follow us on Twitter for all updates, like us on Facebook for important and fun stuff

Post a Comment
Share your thoughts
You are not logged in, please log in or register
Must See
Daily Mail
Jul 09, 2012
11:18 PM


I published some observations in several internet pages as to the popularity of
Rabindranath Tagore. We the Bengalis deeply respect him for his
beautiful writings and songs.

A few words about the Nobel Prize for Rabindranath Tagore:

1. Tagore was presented as an Anglo-Indian before the Nobel Committee.
This was never disclosed by Visva Bharati;

2. Ignoring Americans, it was for the first time that the Nobel Prize
for literature was awarded to a non-European;

3. Interestingly, Tagore never visited the Swedish Academy for about 7
years even after the award (when he was awarded the Nobel Prize he was
in England and not in Calcutta);

4. Tagore never made any contact or speech marking the Nobel Prize (he
just made a two-line acknowledgement only);

5. The British Ambassador received Tagore's Nobel prize in person;

6. The prize medal was home delivered at Jorasanko in Calcutta (or in

7. None of the Nobel Committee members either knew Bengali or ever
read Tagore's writings; and

8. The library of the Swedish Academy had no book by Tagore
accessioned in its record at that time. What do these points signify?

I do not want to interrupt any body. I understand that Rabindranath
Tagore is sacrilege to many of his fans. But the truth should not be
suppressed by way of propaganda.

I cordially welcome the objectively substantiated replies to my above
points. In fact, if can get such satisfactory replies then I shall
surely stop my project on the subject towards publication of a book.
Even Swedish Academy confirmed some of the above points.

By my survey results it appears that 80% of popularity of Rabindranath
Tagore is due to his getting the Nobel Prize. At least the facts
reveal it. I take this opportunity to say that no book on the history
of Bengali Literature ever mentioned even the name of Rabindranath
Tagore until 1912 when the poet was about 52 years of age.

My above observations are not based on the figments of imagination but
available facts.

Looking forward to objectively substantiated replies with good
references, if any.

A.B.M. Shamsud Doulah
G.P.O. Box 351, Dhaka-1000

A.B.M. Shamsud Doulah
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Jul 29, 2011
01:55 AM

My favorite: "As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue."

Dallas, United States
Order by
Order by
Short Takes
click for more
recent tags
Aamir Khan
Rahul Gandhi
A. Sanzgiri
Boria Majumdar
Dr Mohammad Taqi
Freya Dasgupta
G. Rajaraman
K.V. Bapa Rao
Landing Lights
Maheshwer Peri
Namrata Joshi
Omar Ali
Our Readers Write Back
Outlook Web Desk
Outlook Web Desk
Prarthna Gahilote
Shefalee Vasudev
Srishti Gupta
Sundeep Dougal
Sunil Menon
recent comments
The Paris Climate Change Conference is all set to begin...
Poll Started on: Nov 28, 2015
Belgium may be famous for its chocolate, beer and for...
Srishti Gupta


OUTLOOK TOPICS:    a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   
Or just type in a few initial letters of a topic: