Wretched writing for a stormy night

Good for a guffaw are the entries in The Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest, “where WWW means ‘Wretched Writers Welcome’.”

An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for “The Last Days of Pompeii” (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and phrases like “the great unwashed” and “the almighty dollar,” Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the “Peanuts” beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years …”

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents-except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” -Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830).