And Now, Ladies & Gentlemen, the Worst Opening Sentence of 2011 . . .

Congratulations, Sue Fondrie! You have written the worst opening sentence to an imaginary novel in 2011.

That is, according to the good-natured judges over at the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Here’s Sue’s amazing (and surely deserving) effort:

“Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”

Sue, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin, is the 29th grand-prize winner of the contest. The runner-up sentence was perpetrated by one Rodney Reed of Tennessee:

As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.

According to Wikipedia (which I love, btw, I don’t care what you say), Edward Bulwer-Lytton was a bestselling 19th-century novelist who coined the phrases, “The great unwashed,” “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and the classic opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night.”


  1. Sue Fondrie says:

    Thanks for the mention, James! If you wrote badly like me, you’d never have been published.

  2. jimmy says:

    A star is in our galaxy! Sue, thanks for stopping by. Seriously, you have to know the qualities of good writing to intentionally craft a sentence that messy.

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