It's a crime! (Or a mystery…)

Competition Time

The Guardian’s "culture vulture blog" is having fun with an invitation to readers to come up with their own attempts at bad first lines as celebrated by the Bulwer-Lytton literary prize. 

There are some pretty good attempts there, too.  To start with, I was quite bored reading them.  One made me chuckle.  Many had me cringing.

Here’s a crime related one from someone on there called ThePoetsThumb:

"The warm room grew cold, they huddled together, unsure of what their host had planned next, but united by a certainty that one of them, a group that representetd the finest architectural minds on the planet, was about to die."

So here’s the "It’s a crime…" competition: enter your own attempt at a really bad first line for a crime thriller novel in the comments section.  It must be truly awful and no longer than one sentence, but of any length you choose.  I’ll send a pristine new copy of a crime novel I’ve just read to the author of the first line that I consider to be worst of the bunch.  You can enter as many times as you like.  Close of business will be midnight British summer time on Sunday July 23rd – that way I can continue to have some fun when I get back from the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival!


11 comments on “Competition Time

  1. Debi
    July 14, 2006

    This is brilliant!
    I’m racking my brains but each time I come up with a really good bad one I think it might be a really good one full stop!
    I’ll keep trying but make no promises …

  2. crimeficreader
    July 18, 2006

    Now, I was going to add a couple of attempts of my own when I made this post, in order to get your creative juices flowing, but I didn’t feel inspired that night. Tonight is different and my head is bombarded with all sorts of thoughts, so I’ll give it a go!
    “A full range of carrots was displayed on the table: shredded; diced; Julienne; sticks; curls; slices, thick and thin; chunks; whole, and finally, exquisitely carved and shaped, as you’d find in a posh Chinese restaurant, but not a flower, no, this carrot had become a dagger, a sharp one at that.”
    “The air was humid, heavy and dead, just like the numbness in Eric’s left foot and just like the whole body of Tony Delario lying to the further left of it.”
    “Joanne Jennifer Jameson picked up some of the implements needed to conduct a post mortem and made a start; her lack of full qualification and training meant nothing to her.”
    Would you read on? I sincerely hope not!

  3. Clare
    July 18, 2006

    Of course no one ever found out who did the deed, and by the time Agatha Poirot had ruled out every possible suspect in the village no one much cared; whoever was responsible, everyone privately thought, had already done enough time listening to the tedious witterings of the old woman – which I am, neverthless going to describe in detail here.

  4. crimeficreader
    July 18, 2006

    Thanks Clare – a good one!
    As you clearly know what’s horrible and “force ten in groan time”, you must also appreciate what is excellent in the genre?
    Ever thought of making that turn you mentioned?

  5. Clare
    July 18, 2006

    Well it’s obviously a male, 24, left-handed, with an overbearing mother, an over-developed inferiority complex, virgo, a gold tooth, a liking for Satre, reads Play Boy on the bus every morning to work, is a long-term Elvis fan, last went on a date three days ago and has a mole on his chin – but no, I’m sorry I can’t tell you if he’ll strike again, we’ll just have to wait and see, said the psychological profiler.
    Someone stop me, I am addicted now…

  6. crimeficreader
    July 18, 2006

    Oh Clare, you clearly read a lot of crime fiction to know the pitfalls…
    LOL – that’s a good one!
    Please feel free to vent forth with all other thoughts to provide that moment of relaxation between drafts…

  7. Chris
    July 19, 2006

    It was a dark, but star-lit, and fortunately not too stormy night – in fact, almost dawn – as Crispin scuttled mysteriously along inside the secret passage, the weight of his revolver pressing awkwardly against his round objects; fortunately, he could see the light at the end of the tunnel, although he couldn’t be sure it wasn’t torchlight, instead of the dawn, which was a tad annoying.

  8. Maxine
    July 26, 2006

    It was a dark and stormy night when I went to Manderlay again and found that a universal truth is that every woman in want of a misty, gloomy sphere of fog shrouded the graveyard in mystery.

  9. Maxine
    July 26, 2006

    PS I posted mine without looking at the others, and see that Chris had the same cliche-start as me!

  10. Maxine
    July 26, 2006

    oops, and Clare, but hers is too good!

  11. crimeficreader
    July 26, 2006

    As I haven’t had time to do the judging yet, I’ve decided to extend the deadline to 31 December 2007.
    Just kidding.
    It’ll be 23:59 Sunday 6 August 2006 instead.
    Thanks Chris and Maxine for your wonderfully awful entries. You can have as many tries as you wish. I may even give out second and third prizes as I have some spare books.

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