The Bad Writing Contest


“It was a dark and stormy night …”

Writing the opening sentence of a novel is no easy task. In this class activity you will work in small groups to come up with the most melodramatic, silly, or groan-worthy first sentence of a novel. The glorious award that awaits you is eternal fame and the accolades of your fellow students. Or, if you have a nice teacher, you may receive an actual prize. 🙂

Here are just some of the benefits of doing this exercise:

  • Recognize the value of opening lines
  • Realize the importance of genre
  • Learn about syntax and grammar
  • Practice brainstorming

The Rules

Your entry should be the opening sentence of a novel (not an actual novel – you make it up).  It should not exceed 250 words (that would be a pretty long sentence), and it should be good at being awful.  Try make it funny in some way. It will help if you try and mock specific generic conventions (e.g., those of detective fiction, or of harlequin romance).  Watch out for grammatical mistakes such as run-on sentences.


Here are some ridiculous opening sentences:

I came upon him in a twilight clearing in the heart of the forest, his body glistening with sweat, tired from the chase, and I was glad to see him slurping the blood of a fawn–teeth white as pearls, blood red as apples–for I was under the impression that he never did any homework for our vampire class.

Detective Inkling was pretty sure he knew where this story is going, but you’ll have to read on to find out.

During the day, Sarah was an evolutionary biologist, but at night she did everything she could to avoid passing on her DNA to future generations.

For more examples, and a chance to enter an official bad writing contest, check out the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest.