Spookymilk Survivor X — Challenge #5: Bantam Bulwyr

This week’s Spookymilk Survivor X writer’s challenge was another favorite of mine last time — Bantam Bulwyr!  What is Bantam Bulwyr?  The challenge is to write the worst possible opening to a novel that you can, in fifty words or fewer.

Interestingly, last time we had only 30 words to work with, yet this time around I really had to pare it to keep it to the requisite 50.  Here’s what I submitted:

The odds were good. Really, really good. Las Vegas stuffing-money-into-your-pockets good. And at that instant, with unread mail piled by the door and rain hitting the shingles of the ramshackled shotgun shack like cash registers, Nick begins filling out the application. An application … out of this life! Maybe. Crom willing.

Again, I decided to run with my first idea (actually, just the first two lines) and make it work.  My goals:

  • annoying writing style? check.  I chose to use short choppy sentences (and sentence fragments)… a long run-on in the middle
  • bad aliteration?  check.  Not only does “shingles of the ramshackled shotgun shack” flow with the sh’s, but I snuck “shack” in there twice.
  • useless pop-culture tie-ins?  check.  Love the sound of “shotgun shack” in Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime”, and the inappropriate nod to Conan the Barbarian with “Crom willing” I thought was a wonderful end to this opening paragraph…although that ended up biting me a bit.
  • worthless details?  check.  Not sure what unread mail has to do with anything, except that it doesn’t.
  • lame simile?  check.  Originally I had rain falling on the roof like coins, but that almost works.  Cash registers?  Not so much.
  • change of verb tense?  check.  And almost as importantly, I totally changed the opening up-beat attitude with a wishy-washy closing.
  • stupid exclamations!  check!

So, what were the judges thoughts?  RESULTS

K: This is an insane mishmash that doesn’t quite work for me because it darts around too much, obviously the work of a good writer trying to be bad. Pare this down to the middle section with the ridiculous and long simile, and we’ve got something here. The Conan reference at the end probably would have worked better simply as “God willing,” because now I want to know how the story fits into the Conan world. 2

DK: Tense changes are always going to get me, so it’s a little bit of a tiebreaker when there’s so many great/terrible ones. The application metaphor misuse is my favorite part. 4

Well, a 3 average is a little disappointing but nothing to sneeze at.  Interestingly, judge’s votes skewed all over the place, but it can do that easily enough when trying to intentionally write something horrible.  Team SPOILER ALERT! was in line to forfeit another player, but a non-sub by Can of Corn saved us, unfortunately for C o’ C 😦

We’ll see what havoc next week’s challenge brings…


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