The best of the worst fiction books

SHABNAM DASTGHEIB
Last updated 15:45 22/08/2012
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DIEGO OPATOWSKI/Fairfax NZ
WHO'S BAD? Leslie Craven of Hataitai, who won the historical fiction category of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for deliberately bad writing.

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It takes a love of words and multiple attempts to write the opening paragraph of the world's worst novel, as Wellington man Leslie Craven has discovered.

Craven has been named a winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which challenges entrants to write the first sentence

Last week, from thousands of entries from around the world, Mr Craven was singled out as the best of the historical fiction category with this gem:

The "clunk" of the guillotine blade's release reminded Marie Antoinette, quite briefly, of the sound of the wooden leg of her favourite manservant as he not-quite-silently crossed the polished floors of Versailles to bring her another tray of petit fours.

Craven said he came across the contest a couple of years ago and thought he would have a go this year. He had always ''kind of liked words'' and was inspired to submit six entries.

''The one that should have won, did. There is no prize, the only prize is the glory. I can't say it was like winning Lotto because I haven't done that yet but it did feel really good.''

He said those close to him were excited by the win but he had no desire to expand the paragraph to a full novel.

''My wife was delighted. She is very proud of me and has been emailing everyone right, left and centre to tell them. My mother in Blenheim was quite intrigued. The network is happy.''

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest has been sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State University since 1982. In its second year it had more than 10,000 entries and still attracts thousands more each year.

See this year's winners here.

Give it a go! Write us a bad  intro in the comments below.

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- The Dominion Post

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