Knebworth House-home of the Bulwer-Lytton's
Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, renowned author of the 1830 classic, Paul Clifford, whose opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night", memory is preserved by the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest sponsored by San Jose State University.
The contest asks writers to submit the worst possible opening sentence to an imaginary novel.
This year's winner, Sue Fondrie of the University of Wisconsin, submitted this future classic:
"Cheryl's mind turned like the vanes of a wind powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories."
For my money should should have won just for inventing the phrase "sparrow-like thoughts".
Novels not your thing? Perhaps Historical Fiction better suits your temperament. John Doble of New York won the category with his entry: "Napolean's ship tossed and turned as the emperor, listening while his generals squabbled as they always did, splashed the tepid waters in his bathtub."
Purple prose winner, Mike Pedersen scored with "As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a saphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue."
Most English speakers know the opening to Paul Clifford without having a clue who wrote it or why, however Bulwer-Lytton is remembered for creating another well known turn of phrase. Edward created "The pen is mightier than the sword" for his 1839 play Richelieu.
I've submitted the openings of several posts over the years all to no avail.