Tuesday, January 22, 2013

1st Baron Bulwer-Lytton Writing Contest

The Bulwer-Lytton Writing Contest is a competition to write the worst possible opening sentence of a novel, in a homage to Bulwer-Lytton, one of whose novels began with the infamous "It was a dark and stormy night ...". (1) Any such sentence should be florid, dramatic, and disconnected.

This is not the novel that had the famous sentence, this is another novel of Bulwer-Lytton about the Rosicrucians.

My friend, Steve Speer, in NYC believes that Bulwer-Lytton has been swept under the rug of history, and does not get the recognition that he deserves.  And so, in his honor, I have written my first attempt at a Bulwer-Lytton-like opening sentence.

I can not tell you with what loathing I approach the disagreeable task of presenting to you, against my will, the events leading up to the disaster which you all know so well, which even now brings the taste of failure to my mouth as I write on this bitterly cold and windy morning on the desolate island of my exile, abandoned by all society and left to an undeserved and miserable fate.
[Modified per anonymous's suggestion on 1.23.2013]

Read about the Bulwer-Lytton Contest here:

The contest itself is here:

The Wikipedia page on 1st Baron Lytton is here:


1.  The sentence in its entirety, is "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." It is from the novel Paul Clifford by Bulwer-Lytton first published in 1830.


  1. Very good, but it should be 'the' disagreeable task, not 'this', as you have 'this' later on and he would certainly not have repeated it in one sentence, however florid and logorrhoeac his sentences.

    1. I completely agree, I was using this vs. the form as an affectation and twice is too much.

  2. failing to have found my login or to faintly remember my password or other such combination of letters numbers, and arbitrary characters that I can't pronounce let alone remember, I must post again as an anonymous #2 in the hope that you might recognize some usefulness though not too much from some alternate pondering upon how bad you might be able to achieve the goodness of a truly awful Bulwer-Lytton opening paragraph, which I must remind you was in it's fullest, an honest attempt to enGross the reader without any particular recognition of quality or the lack thereof which seemed all to common in that day and age. Thus I recommend ending your opening sentence above with "left to a hopefully miserable fate". (!)

    Good night...

    1. The careful reader will note that the above comment is itself written in a style we may call pseudo-bulwer-lytton.