"It was a dark and stormy night," so begins one of the most reviled first lines in literary history, composed by that somewhat obscure 19th century British author, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. Since 1982 the English department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, challenging entrants to compose the opening sentence to "the worst of all possible novels." The contest has attracted international attention, as journalists and television hosts (ranging from Charles Osgood to George F. Will) have commented on this tribute to the hackneyed writing style of the much-maligned author. On the contest homepage, visitors can read about the contest details, learn more about Bulwer-Lytton and his literary legacy, and peruse a list of the grand prize winners from the past 20 years. Overall this is a fun site to browse through, and one that may serve as a catalyst for additional submissions to this annual competition.
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