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Books Featuring the “Best” of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

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 has spawned a number of books featuring selections from the contest entries. To secure copies of any or all of the books for yourself and your innumerable admirers, you may order from Penguin Books, or you may choose from the selections below. . All review quotes from the Amazon page for the individual books.

diary and pen“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”: The Best (?) of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. First published in 1986. “Many of us know how to write bad Hemingway. Lots of us can write a bad novel noir, after, say, Raymond Chandler. But just a few pages of this book instruct us in a much broader range of bad writing. This book is a true classic and should be in every library. Or maybe, suppressed …” Available through Amazon Books.

Son of “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”. First published in 1986. “If I were you, I’d hunt down these books with the same enthusiasm that a headhunter would go after Mr. Potatohead.” Available through Amazon Books.

diary and penBride of Dark and Stormy. First published in 1988. “Like all of the others of its kind, this book is tremendously enjoyable for those who find amusement in the intentional lampooning of bad writing.” Available through Amazon Books.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The Final Conflict. First published in 1991. “Sometimes, a race to the bottom can be more difficult than one involving excellence. This book is a collection of sentences of very bad fiction and after you stop laughing and deconstruct the prose, it is easy to understand how difficult it is to write something so bad. … Amusing and atrocious, these sentences will make you groan as you read them and appreciate how bad they are. Which demonstrates how good the writers are, to make something this bad requires significant literary talent. Available through Amazon Books.

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Q&A

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Any good, FREE writing contests for Short Story or Fiction?

I've been writing for 4 years now and I've always been pushed to join writing competitions. I never thought I was ready but I want to try at it now! The problem is I'm having a hard time finding competitions that aren't outdated or have an entrance fee.
Does anyone know any Short Story or Fiction contests for the month of April or May that have no entrance fee and is open to all ages? Even sites that hold contests are welcomed to be shared. :) Thanks!

This interesting site holds contests, though there is no prize but notoriety on the site (joke) --though actually, all you do get is a listing as a winner.
I suggest you write something for the site and that way get to know how it works. It's a good site, for most ages (not little kids) and is a 'clean, well-lighted' place. I used to read a lot there myself. Oh, and free registration.
However, if you're looking to win a cash prize, the only way to do that is to put cash in the pot, in the form of a reader's fee, for that is where the money goes... to educated readers who take time to…