Since 1982 the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest has challenged participants to write a truly awful opening sentence to the worst novel never written. The whimsical literary competition honors Sir Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel Paul Clifford begins with “It was a dark and stormy night.”
Each year, the contest receives thousands of entries, and every summer their Panel of Undistinguished Judges convenes to select winners and dishonorable mentions for such categories as Purpose Prose and Vile Puns.
The 2022 Grand Prize Winner is hilariously terrible as usual:
“I knew she was trouble the second she walked into my 24-hour deli, laundromat, and detective agency, and after dropping a load of unmentionables in one of the heavy-duty machines (a mistake that would soon turn deadly) she turned to me, asking for two things: find her missing husband and make her a salami on rye with spicy mustard, breaking into tears when I told her I couldn’t help—I was fresh out of salami.”
Chosen from over 5000 entries, the winner of the 40th Annual Lyttoniad is John Farmer of Aurora, Colorado.