Friday, 3 July 2009


This year’s results for the worst opening sentence in an imaginary novel can be found here.

Here's the winning entry, by David McKenzie:
"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor'east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the 'Ellie May', a sturdy whaler captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."

The competition is broken down by genre, and one of my favourites is the runner-up in the Purple Prose category:
"Warily - as if his hands were a green-bean casserole in a non-tempered glass dish that had just come out of the freezer, and the patient was an oven that had been preheating for a good 75 minutes at 450F - the surgeon slowly reached into the incision and groped for the bullet fragment in the pancreas, at last finding it nestled near one of the Islets of Langerhans like a small wrecked lifeboat foundered on a sandbar as it floated in the fog, adrift in the Sea of John's Innards."

There are also plans to unveil real-life offenders, such as this clumsy line in Danielle Steele’s Star:
"She wore a dress the same color as her eyes her father brought her from San Francisco."
This would seem to take plastic surgery a little too far.

Or how about this gem:
"Anthony Rowley didn't look like a self-confessed sadistic rapist."
I bet he did.

Or this horrific simile:
"She wanted to wrap her legs around him the way a tree wraps itself around a mountain."
Oo-er, missus.

And what’s this all about:
"She popped the elastic at the top of the second sock and pushed her sexually ambiguous Timed watch up along the blond hairs of her handsome forearms."
My watches, alas, have only ever been unambiguous sexually.

Know you of any more?


Barb said...

"Sobriety, verging on unease, the object of Maddox's morning, so much having preceded him until this moment - a moment (glancing at Rachel's drawing above his head) when it felt as if he were about to reinvent himself." David Storey

TOM J VOWLER said...

Did you make that up, Barb? It's truly terrible.

Barb said...

I'm not sure whether to be flattered or insulted! I am merely reporting what the author wrote.

Although I'm sure I can do worse than that!

Nicola Morgan said...

Bloody hell. Dark and stormy night is anodyne compared to your other examples.

"She wanted to wrap her legs around him the way a tree wraps itself around a mountain." WTFH?

Vienna Maurel said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! Your post made me laugh out loud. I feel I'm not a bad writer after all!