Forum: Prospective Challenges

Discussing: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

I don't know if many people are familiar with the Bullwer-Lytton annual fiction contest, but it is one of the funniest writing contests around.

Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. The contest ... was the brainchild (or Rosemary's baby) of Professor Scott Rice, whose graduate school excavations unearthed the source of the line "It was a dark and stormy night." Sentenced to write a seminar paper on a minor Victorian novelist, he chose the man with the funny hyphenated name, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who was best known for perpetrating The Last Days of Pompeii, Eugene Aram, Rienzi, The Caxtons, The Coming Race, and--not least--Paul Clifford, whose famous opener has been plagiarized repeatedly by the cartoon beagle Snoopy.


Bullwer-Lytton Site

The contest has a sub-set for sci-fi/fantasy opening lines, but they don't really capture that je ne sais quoi (perhaps, the je ne wanna say quoi) of Tolkien fanfic.

So, here's the challenge:

Write the single best opening line for the worst fanfic story ever. One sentence. In that sentence shall be everything you need (and do not wish) to know about the story. Sentences that are both perfect and perfectly terrifying glimpses into the tale that comes afterwards.

You know you want to....

Ang

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

hehe -- I did this with a group of friends once.

Unfortunately, have no clue where I stuck those opening sentences. Don't think that they were for fanfic though. But frankly, a universal search and replace would probably solve the problem.

So, yeah - I'll put up my hand.

Lindorien

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Heh-heh - I knew this was a Nuzgul you can't refuse... No excuse for anyone not to try this! There have to be at least five people willing to write the best worst opening line in Tolkien fanfic history. It's shorter than a drabble! Dwim, I know you want to write one about Aragorn. You know it , too. Listen to the siren song.... Who can do justice to the Legomance? Any takers? Surely there is a Feanor opener like no other just begging to be written? Punsters, here's your chance. This challenge was *made* for writing a groaner. Just one little sentence. That's all we ask.... Toodles - Ang

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

I'll play. God knows I can write a bad opening line.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

I'll play. God knows I can write a bad opening line.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Msebasky -

not to get picky or anything...

Msebasky: Sure, Lindorien, like you NEVER get picky...

but...

MSebasky: there's always a but with her. ALWAYS!

You are STUTTERING!

Does that mean you shall write TWO awful opening lines? Because I know you are more than capable...

**Ducks all manner of pointlessly flying food**

Lindorien - claiming the right to write THE WORST opening line ever conceived.

Ang: Am I just allowed to choose one from one of my own works, or does it have to be original to the challenge? She asked innocently.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Yeah, yeah... alright, alright...

I'll bite...

You are a pest, you know, my dear?

Ariel

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Yeehaw, this sounds like fun. And just one line? Surely I can think of just one bad line.

And Marta and I were just thinking we don't have enough humor nuzgûl. Very timely, Ang.

So yeah. I'm in.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Ang: Am I just allowed to choose one from one of my own works, or does it have to be original to the challenge? She asked innocently. You are permitted to plagiarize yourself with impunity and also write up as many original lines as your fiendish brain can concoct. No limits on the number of opening lines you may submit. Ang

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Let's see...

Lindorien counts on fingers, a proud product of the American Public Education System:

Ang
MSebasky
Ariel
Dwim
Me

This puppy is walking! Let's post her up there Ang, before anybody gets cold feet!

The possibilities for shlock are endless.

Lindorien

Shlock - rhymes with clock - Yiddish for 'slag', 'dross'; a defective or fake article.

yes yes - I'm working on the Quidditch-Yiddish dictionary.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

You are a pest, you know, my dear?

I'm a pest
I don't jest
I admit I am the best
when it comes to whining, moaning
and the occasional groaning

But...

I'm the best
I'm obsessed
Please all come and join my fest
They'll be food and drink aplenty
and also some quite cute genties

So...

I shall wait
Hook the bait
It is time we see our fate
that in writing lousy lines
we are sublime.

That's it
we're all done now
how now is that brown cow?
I am a pest
I need my rest
and I don't jest.

(Sing it to the tune of 'Be our Guest' from Disney's Beauty and the Beast - It works. And don't send any ticking packages to my door. I shall only toss them into the pool with all the others.)

Lindorien

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

That was fast.

All right, folks, go to it.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Dwim - that link goes to an editable version of the challenge.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Er... it shouldn't anymore...

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

These are so short, it seems a waste to post as a story. Should we post it to a forum discussion? Or am I the only one who shudders at the thought of someone clicking on my newest 'story' and finding something like:



His cerulean blue eyes peered through the stray wisps of golden hair into mine and I saw his innocence - for despite being 3000 years old it had never crossed his mind to consider procreation - and I knew that my violet eyes, silver-blonde hair, and scupltured shape would make short work of that failure of imagination.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ahem ... Yes, Lyllyn, I think you're right. The entries should go into a forum thread, then they can go into chapter groups, like best/worst puns, Legomances, the wisdom of the elves, Shire sayings, or whatever categories seem appropriate, with HA Writers as the "author". So, is that your first entry, m'dear? Ang

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

So, Ang, where's yours?

Actually, this is fun and easy enough to do several. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

My best effort. Yeah, you knew it was going to be Denethor, coming from me. What you didn't know was, it was going to be Denethormance.

Denethor leaned out of the balcony of the Steward's House -- he would have fallen over, if not for his brother's restraining arm, and would have gladly endured the pain to be closer to her -- as he tried to catch a better glimpse of the beautiful Lady of Dol Amroth; she proved that it was not only Dol Amroth's broodmares that surpassed all the others, and he wondered if his flesh would ever burn for any beside her.

Cheers, Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

And another...

"You didn't see many dwarf-couples, Gimli mused: most preferred craft, or could not find a suitable wife due to the shortage of dwarf-women; and those who could have had any dwarf-woman they wanted -- himself for instance -- seemed to prefer the elfness of certain Valar-blessed princes of Greenwood."

(Ang, these are addictive!)

Cheers,
Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Oh.

Oh yeah.


I'm in!

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

And I had to come up with the opening lines to a couple of Faramir fics I would not want to read:

"Fifteen-year-old Faramir blinked back tears as he shook his red hair out of his deep blue eyes and braced himself for yet another jolt of the back of his father's hand across his face before the Steward of Gondor once more satisfied his lusts on the younger son who reminded him so of his dead wife."

"Faramir’s heart was heavy as the simple sight of water flowing from flagon to goblet reminded him of his vision of his brother’s funeral boat floating on the river: Alas, poor Boromir, why did I send you to your death?"

(Ang, these are addictive!)

Dangerously so.

Cheers, Liz

Edit: any complaints about these should be directed to Marta, who encouraged me to write the angsty one and suggested I make the abuse in the other one a little more specific

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

My best effort.

Alas, I spoke too soon.

"Frodo's freakily large eyes looked up at Smeagol bearing down on him and, as he pushed him off the cliff outside Shelob's lair, he remembered fondly that night on the stairs to Cirith Ungol, that one night they shared after Sam had fallen asleep. "

Cheers, Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Groan.... What have I done?!? Ang, going off to hide under the couch with the cat

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Well, I think its legit to call these stories. As legit as it is to call the drinking songs stories.

So - I don't want an HA Writer's forum list on this.

how bout we each just put up our entries as chapters under our own names?

Because personally, I don't mind at all if somebody clicks on my names and finds my opening lines.

This isn't like drabbling LOTR. Its not a group effort. my effort is my effort and I want my name attached to it. And I think this passed all the criteria for a legitimate challenge.

So - how about we enter as our own stories and then post each opening line as a separate chapter?

Lindorien



 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Groan.... What have I done?!? Ang, going off to hide under the couch with the cat

Let loose a monster! What did you expect?

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Hmm. I had already started a beta story with chapters. The challenge is still open, if you don't mind, I'll just stick mine there when I'm done.

Thanks.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Groan.... What have I done?!? Ang, going off to hide under the couch with the cat

Watch it that the cat doesn't bite you. You seem to be the only one not suffering from affliction by something fanged.

Cheers, Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Oh, I'm afflicted (I've got some opening lines for Bilbo, for Denethor, etc.) but I'm nicely tied up in some tutorial posting. No time for playing right now [Ang saunters off, whistling an innocent tune].

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

M Sebasky, I just read the entry you have up. I hope you take this in the right way (an admiring wince?) but this has to be the worst of it's type. Lyllyn

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Thank you, Lyllyn. I aim to stink.



 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Mine's here. Blurgh. I need a bath.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Vulgarweed... that link doesn't work; I think you linked from the "My Stories" version? Anyway, by going under your author's name I found this. You should feel dirty. Very dirty. Now I don't feel so bad for suggesting Frodo/Gollum slash. Cheers, Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

There; it should just show up on the Challenges page now.

Glad you, um, enjoyed it, if that's the word.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

One more, and then I really am off to bed.

Boromir's eyes passed over the five empty bottles of miruvor and the lovely, equally hung-over twin sons of Elrond passed out on the riverbanks as he continued his futile search for his pants; suddenly he was rather glad he was 110 days from home.

Cheers,
Marta

Edit- On second thought this would also work for that placeholder I have for the "Boromir meets his first elf" challenge.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Badfic? You bet.

My 2 are here

I will go hide under a rock now.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Not sure if we're still supposed to post the lines here, if we put them in our stories, but...

No, Eomer decided, there was no Lady of the Golden Woods -- a sorceress, yes, but she had proved herself no lady that night he strayed into Dwimordene last summer.

Cheers, Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

as he continued his futile search for his pants;

So, Marta, how did "his pants" get translated to "his tunic" when you posted this on-line?

"Pants" is better. So much better. Umm, I mean worse. So much worse, which is better.

- Barbara

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Okay, here's my delightfully turgid opening line, the one that kept me awake much of the night:

Legolas wheeled -- shocked that in this Valar-forsaken dark catacomb he abruptly faced his one true love, his mad, impetuous folly of youthful optimism, his forbidden desire, his desperately-kept dark secret, his contemptibly-abandoned lover -- and then nocked his arrow and steeled himself to conclude the final bitter parting with the justifiably-enraged spurned female, all in the eternity of the few split seconds following Boromir's words: "They have a cave troll".

- Barbara

[Edit:] I'll put this in a story later tonight -- running out the door right now, but I couldn't wait to share, um, inflict that upon you folks.

[Edit 2:] "Famous First Lines" is up and submitted to the Challenge.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Pants is better. So much better. Umm, I mean worse. So much worse, which is better.

Agreed!

Edit: And Barbara - that is perfect!

My entries are here

Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

So, Marta, how did "his pants" get translated to "his tunic" when you posted this on-line?

What, to the HA list? I *almost* posted pants, but decided I should keep it marginally PG-13 for the list.

And I agree, pants is better... er, worse.

Cheers, Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Bartender, make that two blurghs!

- Barbara

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

And your talent for it is admirably boundless.

- Barbara

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Hmmm, I should learn how to write descriptions from that one...

- Barbara

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

And Barbara - that is perfect!

Thanks, Liz! It was distressingly easy to write it in such a bad style...

- Barbara

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

You know, you really never can have too many fangy pets...

It occurred to me that, while one challenge is good, two challenges are even better. Or rather, a challenge within a challenge.

So here's my idea: keep writing your own lines as you are. Don't mess with what's working. Some of them are fabulous. but for the challenge within the challenge, I'd be interested to see who can write the shortest best worst first line (if you catch my meaning).

My personal best is 28 words. Can anyone beat that?

Cheers, Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

My contributions are here.

The shortest one is twenty-seven words, right now, but I am going to keep trying.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Tehta, those are quite wonderfully awful (yes, that's a compliment!)

OOCness is also a major mark of a badfic for me, so I particularly enjoyed the Finrod one - but they were all great (in a dreadful way).

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

I'm rather embarrassed of this, but I'm afraid my love of filk should not be combined with this challenge. This came quite unbidden. Enjoy (if that's the word for it).

Here's the story of an elf named Finwë,
Who adored his first wife with love's purest flame,
But their fiery son, ooh what a temper:
She died, and he's to blame;

And it's the story of a gal named Indis,
Who gave her husband two sons tried and true;
Yet he loved them not like his first boy,
No matter what they'd do.
Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Marta, your love of filk is indeed a dangerous thing! Very clever.

And I have an 18-word entry for the challenge:

"As Boromir breathed his last, Aragorn regretted there had been no time to tell him his true parentage."

Liz

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

My personal best is 28 words. Can anyone beat that?

Yes, but it's cheating, sort of along the lines of your filk (and I just cut the word count by 25%, to comply with, um, canon constraints):

The Entish Version of Moby Dick

Call me Room-tum-room-tum-roomty-toom-tum-a-lalla-lalla-rumba-kamanda-lind-or-burúmë-boom-boom-rumboom-boorar-boom-boom-dahrar-boom-boom-dahrar-boom-ta-runda-runda-runda-rom-ta-runa-runa-runa-rom-burárum.

- Barbara

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

She died, and he's to blame;

Quite nice, Marta. The contrapuntal themes are extraordinarily well-developed, with good operatic form.

However, if my recall of the original classical piece is correct, I don't think the fourth line scans correctly. Shouldn't the meter be something like this:

She kicked the bucket, and he's to blame;

Awaiting your response to this music critic with bated breath...

- Barbara

P.S. Unless my guess of which classical piece this mimics is incorrect...

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

However, if my recall of the original classical piece is correct, I don't think the fourth line scans correctly. Shouldn't the meter be something like this:

She kicked the bucket, and he's to blame;


According to my MP3, the first verse of the Brady theme song is:

Here's the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls.
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother,
the youngest one in curls.


Six syllables on that fourth line, and six syllables in my original, whereas yours has nine. I think my original fits better, though I am interested as to what song you think I'm mimicking, if it's not the Brady Bunch.

Cheers, Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Regarding PERSONAL BEST on THE SHORTEST horrific opening lines:

Erin's Daughter just wiped up the floor with all of us.

It's those quiet ones, ya gotta watch.

Lindorien

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Yes, but it's cheating, sort of along the lines of your filk (and I just cut the word count by 25%, to comply with, um, canon constraints):

Cheating, indeed! Don't make me say we have to go by character-count rather than word-count here.

Just out of curiosity, what word did you cut?

The Entish Version of Moby Dick

Now give me a thousand more words or so, and you've got an entry for "A Tale By Any Other Name."

Cheers,
Marta

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Ummm, I thought it was the "The Ballad of Jed Clampett", the theme song for the Beverly Hillbillies:

Come 'n listen to my story 'bout a man named Jed
Poor Mountaineer barely kept his family fed
An' then one day, he was shootin' at some food,
An' up thru the ground came a bubblin' crude.

[Spoken:] Oil that is! Black gold! Texas tea!


You can hear the tune at Beverly Hillbillies (but I warn you: it plays the curséd tune automatically, after which you will never get it out of your head... 'tis madness).

*Barbara will now slink over to the Generation Gap and jump into the abyss...*

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Just out of curiosity, what word did you cut?

The first line of Moby Dick is:

Call me Ishmael.

I originally thought it was:

They call me Ishmael.

In my defense, it was late at night. (And, not one of my reviewers noticed! So there!)

Now give me a thousand more words or so, and you've got an entry for "A Tale By Any Other Name."

Please refer to my replies to that evil spawn, Lindorien, in this thread of my discussion:
Elena Tiriel - Star Gazings: Famous First Lines

- Barbara, who is now feeling deflated, stupid, beseiged, and very, very, very, very, very, very, very old *sniffle*

[Edit:] That's 'besieged'. Feeling even more stupid...

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Barbara - your "Entish version of Moby Dick" line is quite perfect.

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Thank you, Tanaqui!

 

 

Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Here are my contributions to the cause:

The Birds and the Bees and Other Atrocities

 

 

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