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Published on June 6th, 2010 | by Ronan


Broken Spine #27: The Big Opening

It’s that time of year again folks. No, not the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny, but something far more hilarious. The winners of the 2010 Lyttle Lytton Contest have been announced.

Charlie Choc Factory Opening Line

For those of you who don’t know, the Lyttle Lytton Contest was established in 2001 and celebrates the worst first line of a novel. It’s an offshoot of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Wheras the Bulwer-Lytton Contest can have entrants of any length (and usually does), the Lyttle Lytton Contest is only open to opening lines of twenty-five words or less.

The 2009 winner of the longer contest was this beauty 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.

I think the Lyttle Lytton contest works even better because of the brevity of the entries. Thus you can read a dozen awful beginnings in the same space of time. Previous winners and runners-up have included:

Mary (who dies at the end, so don’t get all surprised like the stupid person who wrote me on my other book) loved Joe, a lot.
Nathan Eady
If you’re going to start reading my novel, please stop touching yourself like that.
Nick Montfort
Bound, blindfolded, and buttered, at last Leopold knew the semblance of peace.
Ronan Leggatt
Gordon strove to be a nice pimp.
Peter Berman
It was just like Jack The Ripper, only, this time, Jack was a she, and possibly some form of time-traveller.
Devin O’Reilly
Michael had always wanted to lactate.
Jennifer Arnold
This is the story of your mom’s life.
Rachel Lambert
We write the year 2347, a world abound with nuclear alacrity, when suddenly Frank enters with a smile.
Christos Talanoez
John, surfing, said to his mother, surfing beside him, “How do you like surfing?”
Eric Davis
Pika … chu, thought Pikachu.
“Ooh la la!” whispered Larry in French.
Jim Van Donsel

For the full list of 2010 Winners and Runners-Up, as well as many more gems, check out the Lyttle Lytton Contest’s official website.

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About the Author

Music blogger turned book/TV blogger. Avid follower of the Irish soccer team.

One Response to Broken Spine #27: The Big Opening

  1. Keleher says:

    Good post, Ronan, remarkable what gets past an editor and published 🙂

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