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Lyttle Lytton Contest
A yearly competition run by Adam Cadre since 2001, where people compete to submit the the most atrocious opening line to a novel they can think of, reaching for maximum entertainment. The contest is a derivative of the annual Bulwer-Lytton contest, which has the same purpose; Cadre started Lyttle Lytton when entries in the original contest started getting too unwieldy for his taste (the initial rules for the competition stipulated that an entry could feature no more than 33 words. The rules have since been revised such that the total length of an entrant's combined entries can be no greater than 200 characters). The contest website is here.

Though the crux of the contest is thinking of bad opening lines for novels, other challenges are offered from time to time- for example, writing a bad opening line of a play, or writing a bad ending line. A recurring alternate challenge is to submit bad opening lines found in actual published fiction (the "found" challenge).

Tropes exhibited by the contest or entries:

  • Buffy Speak:
    The general, one might have said, had a sly, sneering-smile expression upon his face.
    —Sara Barrett
  • Captain Obvious:
    The mega beasts were united by only one thing: their size.
    What Killed The Mega Beasts?, a Discovery Channel documentary, as quoted in the "found" challenge
  • Department of Redundancy Department: A lot of entries run off of this, going by the (correct) assumption that needless rambling is likely to make any decent writer or reader pluck their eyes out.
    John, surfing, said to his mother, surfing beside him, "How do you like surfing?"
    —Eric Davis, 2005 winner
  • Flowery Elizabethan English:
    "Hearken," he spake, drawing thither, "and alight thine eyes on yon comely maiden betwixt such knaves as they."
    —Joseph Smith
  • Freud Was Right/Innocent Innuendo:
    invokedDora liked to explore.
    —Nicole Dickison
    • Cadre elaborated that he'd spent months looking at this entry and still couldn't decide if it was intended to be suggestive or not.
  • Gun Porn:
    ‘Pfft’ — he knew the silent but deadly whisper of a silenced SIG SG 550 rifle with a 650mm barrel and a 254mm rifling twisting rate.
    —Chloe W.
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words:
    "Tune your ear to the frequency of despair, and cross-reference by the longitude and latitude of a heart in agony."
    The Amazing Spider Man #544, as quoted in the 2008 contest "found" challenge
  • Mixed Metaphor:
    He was marooned in the jaws of a human minefield, and with every step the noose grew tighter.
    —Sports columnist Jerry Izenberg in the New Jersey Star Ledger as quoted in the "found" challenge
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Used to great effect.
    Sing, O Muse, of Tiffany's wrath on Triple Coupon Day.
    —Naomi Chana

    Dr. Metzger turned to greet his new patient, blithely unaware he would soon become a member of a secret brotherhood as old as urology itself.
    —Alec Kyras

    To stand tall, to humbly crawl; to laugh, to cry; to puke bitterly, to suck on come what may — here follows my turbulent infancy.
    —Jason Melancon

    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. Steeling himself for battle, Fyandor, the oldest and bravest of the lamps, proclaimed, "Nay, foul wind, this will not be the night of our extinguishment!"
    —Winner of the "find the most horrible follow-up sentence to the proverbial It was a dark and stormy night... sentence" contest of 2003, Entry not signed
  • Show, Don't Tell: Since this is fundamental advice for good writing, it inevitably gets abused in this contest.
    Turning, I mentally digested all of what you, the reader, are about to find out heartbreakingly.
    —Top Changwatchai, 2001 winner
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Register shifts are a recurring theme:
    The evil Intergalactic Emperor surveyed the destruction he wrought. "Booyah!" he cried with glee. "I'm in ur base! I'm killing all ur mans!"
    —James Wall

    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. After blinking wordlessly at the scene for a few moments, Clarence exclaimed "This screen-saver sucks ass!" and switched back to the flying toasters.
    —Mark Silcox
  • Sour Prudes: Cadre said that he thought that what made the winning entry work so well was the devastating portrait it created of its fictional author:
    Because they had not repented, the angel stabbed the unrepentant couple thirteen times, with its sword.
    —Graham Swanson
  • Stylistic Suck: The whole point of the contest.
  • X Meets Y:
    It was just like Jack the Ripper, only, this time, Jack was a she, and possibly some form of time-traveller.
    —Devin O'Reilly
  • Your Mom:
    This is the story of your mom's life.
    —Rachel Lambert


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