Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bad vs. Evil

I’m a sucker for bad writing. Ten years ago, I won the “Worst Western” division of the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest, and a few years later I got a “Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mention.”

The B-L contest for the two or three individuals who haven’t yet heard about it, requires entrants to write the worst opening line for the worst novel they haven’t yet written. The name of the contest honors Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose novel Paul Clifford began with the ignoble line, “It was a dark and stormy night.” This line was later made famous (or infamous?) by Charles Shultz, who had the cartoon beagle Snoopy use it for the beginning of his novel.

I didn’t enter the 2006 contest (too lazy), but I’m eagerly awaiting the announcement of this year’s winner. Usually the announcement comes in mid-July.

In the meantime, I’ve become a fan of the Evil Editor, who lists book titles of authors who are querying him about their books, critiques the query, and rewrites the query letter. Before the query are half a dozen or so possible plots. Readers are to “guess the plot” before reading the query. The one or two sentence plot synopses submitted are usually far-fetched and funny.

The temptation was too much. I started contributing my own dreadful synopses to “Guess the Plot.” So far, Evil Editor has used four of my contributions:
#80 Blood and Skin
A clumsy dermatologist comes to terms with his ineptitude and finds love with a plastic surgeon who looks terrific in a bikini thanks to her do-it-herself surgeries.

#88 Whirlwind Harvest
Researching a method to harness energy from tornados, hurricanes, and cyclones, a reckless young scientist is blown away by what he finds.

#96 Sandstorm
Curtis the Camel, bullied by the other camels because of his glowing neon ears, becomes a hero when he leads the caravan to safety.

#97 A Guardian’s Tale
An English lord, suddenly finding himself guardian of the children of the deceased sister he didn't know he had, hires a governess to whom he's strangely attracted--before realizing she's the ghost of the deceased sister he did know he had.

None of my plots came close to what the the authors intended, but doing each synopsis proved a good writing exercise for me. I recommend you try it.

Or better yet, submit your query so I can write the synopsis. I promise it'll be really bad.


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