Friday, October 18, 2013

Hallowe'en Bulwer-Lyttons I

I've previously described the concept behind the Bulwer-Lytton contest [1], but I'll briefly refresh you on the main points. The gist of it is to write the worst possible opening line for a novel. There is a formal contest held every year by the English Department of San José State University [2], but my friends of the former BYU 38th Ward Book Club and I like to hold an informal one every year for Hallowe'en (as part of what we call The Kingdom of Horror). What follows are the worst first lines I could come up with in the inaugural year of the Hallwe'en Bulwer-Lytton (2011). I am only posting my own creations here; however, if you just can't get enough of bad opening lines, you can also read those of my friends.[3] (Warning: Some are not for the faint in heart.)

  1. Billy could not believe his eyes, so the first thing he did that day was pluck them out.
  2. Tina, the undead cheerleader, groaned half-way through her complicated flip as one of her arms detached and flew out into the crowded bleachers.
  3. ChocoMidas couldn’t figure out why masses of increasingly violent children were following him until he noticed that everywhere he stepped sprouted chocolates and candy, but by then it was too late—some of them were already gnawing on his feet.
  4. “No one is afraid of a werewolf with mange,” Professor Burkholder muttered as he waited at the vet clinic.
  5. The glowing, ravenous-looking, sharp-toothed, massive, angry-eyed jack-o’-lantern wasn’t going anywhere.
  6. My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down.[4]
  7. When Hampton came home that evening he discovered that Jill had thrown out every last scrap of food in the house—but that not being enough to make her stick to her diet, she was now looking at him with ravenous eyes.
  8. Having his blood replaced with cockroach juices was only the beginning of Randy’s problems.
  9. As the infernal portal began to open beneath him, all Carl could think of was that now there would be no one to take care of his dead grandmother’s petunias.
  10. “It all ends here,” Patrick’s belt announced and then proceeded to constrict around his waist.
  11. While everyone else ran through the streets shrieking when mice began dropping from the sky like hailstones, Mariko calmly deployed her umbrella and continued her afternoon stroll.
  12. “There is no finer beverage than zombie drool,” Beaufort said with a snobby air, “but it must be carefully prepared to bring out its finer qualities.”
  13. Katrina’s life was never the same after one of her eyeballs started gyrating along all three axes at a constant speed, because she could still see and this caused her regular motion sickness.
  14. Josh probably could’ve gotten away after he fell into the center of the coven of vampires he was spying on, except that he bloodied his nose in the process, giving them an intense, attractive scent to track him by.
  15. The fierce, sharp-toothed kobolds surrounded Tina and then began singing their dinner song, “It’s a small world after all…”
  16. The witch drew one wart-rimmed, ragged, grimy fingernail across Barbara’s creamy skin and then said, “Let me tell you about the MaryKay products available for your skin type, Darlin’.”
  17. Dr. Haegel was dismayed to discover that the special potion had turned him not into a superbeing, but into an Angora rabbit.
  18. Grant and Nick were enjoying a quiet evening of playing snooker when the table began flinging the balls at their heads.
  19. One day Mary woke up covered with strange little bumps all over her—and things only got worse when the skin began to peel back from them to reveal dozens of little eyeballs.
  20. Gregory watched in horror as the small lump travelled up his torso and onto his left arm, only for a gray head to pop out and announce, “I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque.”
  21. As Dr. Mallory began making the last careful incision in the reptilian alien’s brain, it sneezed.
  22. Hugh didn’t know what to think when a small army of black widows approached him in his kitchen, one stormy night, and began to read to him a list of grievances.
  23. As Cindy stared at the pallid skin, pronounced widow’s peaks, blood-red lips, unusually long canines, heavy eye shadow, and dreary clothing of the rest of the participants, she began to suspect that this wasn’t her AA meeting.
  24. “I really wish you wouldn’t,” Janie’s toast said to her one morning, as she was about to bite it.[5]
  25. The troll squealed in terror as the giggling toddler stuck scented dryer towels to its many spines and horns.
  26. In frustration Cthulhu destroyed another city, desperately searching for his missing teddy bear.
  27. When a socially-backward family moved into the house next to their forest, the pixies knew they would have to change their tactics if they wanted to lure the teenaged boy to their lair—they changed their appearance to mimic Marvel superhero action figures.
  28. Henry the Sheep (née Henry Filbert Buckingham III) watched languidly, chewing his cud (a new experience for him), as the fungoid creatures approached, evaluated him, and decided to colonize his digestive tract—thus ending his brief flirtation with rumination.
  29. “Wait!” Bill the Werewolf shouted as he tried to spit out the toothpaste foam and chase after the fleeing crowd, “It was just a joke!”
  30. Frustrated with the way this game of flapdragon was going, Fabian snatched up the dish of burning brandy and threw it into the surprised face of his stuffed giraffe.
  31. Despite the lackluster title of being the world’s second reanimated corpse-pastiche (she preferred to say corpse-potpourri) creature, Blumstein’s Monster managed to make a name for herself by being the very model of cordial behavior and etiquette.
  32. Dracula, waiting atop the chilly and foreboding Empire State Building, began to despair that his date for dinner, Teri Fayed (on whom he intended to dine), would not be meeting him—not knowing that she’d been struck down by a taxi cab in her rush to meet him and that she now languished in a hospital two miles away, losing all of that precious blood he so yearned for.


[1] See my post Christmas Bulwer-Lyttons.

[2] See

[3] See

[4] Okay. I cheated. I didn't actually write this one: it's the opening line of Twilight. Heh, heh… (But, you can read my reviews of the RiffTrax treatments of the five Twilight movies here, here, here, here, and here.)

[5] The first time I read this one to Leann she misheard me. The result is, perhaps, superior: “I really wish you wouldn’t,” Janie’s toe said to her one morning, as she was about to bite it.

Image attributions:

Giant Angora Rabbit is by Oldhaus and Dewyn, available at Giant Angora Buck-rebalanced.jpg.

Jack-o'-Lantern Projected on the Wall is by Matthew Gordon, available at projection.jpg.

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