Friday Find: Peculiar Writing Contests

So I have this nifty book/calendar — A Working Writer’s Daily Planner: Your Year in Writing — that has various tools and tips for writers looking to organize their writing life.  A good portion of the book lists various writing contests, which is how I found this first peculiar contest…

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest challenges writers to create the worst possible opening sentence of the worst possible novel ever.  Excessive-yet-grammatically-correct clauses and punctuation are encouraged.  Writers can enter as many submissions as they want, but should keep their fake sentence below 60 words or so.  All work must be original and previously unpublished, and the official deadline is April 15.  The contest has been going on since the early 80’s, and previous winners (and their sentences) are also available on the site. (Since they’re all only a sentence in length, it doesn’t take long to read through them.)  There are some pretty creative sentences on there…and some pretty humorous ones, too.

After I read through that contest, I decided to do some random searching for others.  That’s when I found…

Silver Goggle’s, “The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetrameter: A Steampunk’s Shakespeare Anthology.”

…Which basically translates into Shakespeare-meets-steampunk.  Essentially, writers are challenged to re-invent classic works of Shakespeare, giving them a steampunk bent.  You can choose to write 10,000 words based on one of his plays or adapt any of his sonnets.  Use as much Shakespearean language as possible, but you must include steampunk elements as thoroughly as possible — in other words, it has to be unmistakably Shakespeare and unmistakably steampunk simultaneously.  Deadline is May 30.

I’m not sure if I’ll be doing either contest, honestly, though I’d love to try my hand at both.  I mean, purposefully writing a really bad, drawn-out opening sentence?  How awesome is that?  And the idea of steampunk Shakespeare sounds like an absolute blast.  Still, the first contest’s deadline is rather soon, and I’m not sure if I understand the steampunk genre thoroughly enough to do a proper job of the second task.  But these were both quite a find, if you ask me, and worthy of being passed along. 🙂

The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetramete



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4 responses to “Friday Find: Peculiar Writing Contests

  1. Those sound awesome! I have heard of the first one; many agents will mention it around the time the winners are announced. I’d have to read the site to get a good idea on how to write a good “bad” opening.

    The other one…I don’t think I could do that! Shakespeare AND steampunk? I should at least check it out though. It could be fun. 🙂

    • Yeah, I actually ran across a few blog posts from previous years that mentioned the first contest. It’s funny, but somehow, something that simple and random managed to get a lot of attention. 😛

      And if it’s any consolation, I don’t really think I can do Shakespeare and steampunk at the same time, either. I just love the idea so much. So, who knows…if I get daring enough, I’ll try it.

  2. I had to write a Chaucer tail once in that style, and that was hard enough! Although, the idea of trying to write a successful Shakespeare/steampunk novel is really tempting…but I know I’d totally fail. Thanks for sharing these great contests!

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