So bad, they're good
The Department of English at San Jose State University awards a prize annually to the person who submits the worst first sentence of a novel (fortunately, the rest of of the novel does not need to have been written.) The contest is named in honor of the 19th century novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (pictured above), who launched into "Paul Clifford" (1930) with the following immortal lines:
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents -- except at occasional intervals, where 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."
The first winner of the award, in 1983, was Gail Cain, with this submission: "The camel died quite suddenly on the second day, and Selena fretted sulkily and, buffing her already impeccable nails -- not for the first time since the journey began -- pondered snidely if this would dissolve into a vignette of minor inconveniences like all the other holidays spent with Basil."
Another: "Haul away on those slug guskets, you bilge-scum!" roared the aged captain, leaning wearily against the starboard clog-hutch and watching as the mizzen spittlestoat rose majestically upward until it cuzzled atop the upper spit flukes, and cursing his fate that rum and advancing years compelled him to continually improvise names for the rigging of his own ship but then deciding, with a resigned sigh, that it didn't really matter." -- Geoffrey Braden
This one from Lisa Kluber: "Her Dear John missive flapped unambiguously in the windy breeze, hanging like a pizza menu on the doorknob of my mind."
"The trees sighed with pleasure as the wind caressed their limbs, the lake lapped contentedly at the shore, the grass waved cheerily to all and sundry, and the moon smiled benignly between the playful clouds while George buried his latest victim." --Nick Waites
The award recognizes a number of categories. This one won the Children's divison this year: "Three bears arrived at their den to discover a yellow haired girl sleeping, and as she was neither too hot nor too cold, neither too soft nor too hard, but just right, they ate her." -- Neil Prowd
And lastly, this year's Grand Prize winner from John Farmer of Aurora: "I knew she was trouble the second she walked into my 24-hour deli, laundromat, and detective agency, and after dropping a load of unmentionables in one of the heavy-duty machines (a mistake that would soon turn deadly) she turned to me, asking for two things: find her missing husband and make her a salami on rye with spicy mustard, breaking into tears when I told her I couldn't help—I was fresh out of salami."