Tag Archives: bad writing

The Writer Magazine is back!

Just over a month ago, this blog reported that the Writer Magazine was on hiatus after 125 years in business. (The Writer magazine was founded in 1887 by Boston Globe reporters Robert Luce and William H. Hills who outlined nine goals for the magazine, including, notably: “To collect and publish the experiences, experiments and observations of literary people, for the benefit of all writers.”)

Editor Jeff Reich sent an email to his subscribers to break the news: “I’m sorry to announce that The Writer magazine will go on hiatus after the October 2012 issue, which is in production now. Kalmbach Publishing Co., which owns The Writer, is currently looking for a buyer for the magazine, and our hope is that The Writer will re-emerge under the careful stewardship of a new owner.”

Yesterday, Publishers Weekly announced that, ‘[a]fter a dozen years with Kalmbach Publishing Co. in Waukesha, Wisc., The Writer magazine will return to Boston, where it has been acquired by Madavor Media.

‘In addition to The Writer, Madavor acquired BirdWatching. “We are excited to include these brands in our lineup and to find innovative ways to expand them in new markets,” said v-p, group publisher Susan Fitzgerald, “We will continue to deliver the quality and authoritative content readers and advertisers expect.” She is committed to keeping the print edition of the magazine, and Madavor is retaining both Jeff Reich and Elfriede Abbe from Kalmbach as consultants. It will also follow through with a book of The Best of the Writer, to be published by year’s end.’

As reported by GalleyCat, authors who have graced the pages of the magazine include: Ray Bradbury, Patricia Cornwell, Jonathan Franzen, Gail Godwin, Pete Hamill, Stephen King, Sinclair Lewis, W. Somerset Maugham, Terry McMillan, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Perry, May Sarton and John Updike.

The magazine’s website is full of resources and writing aids, such as writing prompts, tips on getting published,  advice for the many common stumbling blocks of bad writing, and support in not losing hope.

Click here for The Writer Magazine website.

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Bad Writing Wins Awards

Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. The contest was the brainchild of Professor Scott Rice, whose graduate school excavations unearthed the source of the line “It was a dark and stormy night” by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when 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.”

Conscripted numerous times to be a judge in writing contests that were, in effect, bad writing contests but with prolix, overlong, and generally lengthy submissions, Rice struck upon the idea of holding a competition that would be honest and – best of all – invite brief entries. Already familiar with Bulwer-Lytton, Rice named the competition after him, as a nod to all overwrought prose.

The winner of this year’s contest is Cathy Bryant, and this is the line that won it for her:

“As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.”

Here are some other examples from this year’s entries (via Publishers Weekly):

She slinked through my door wearing a dress that looked like it had been painted on … not with good paint, like Behr or Sherwin-Williams, but with that watered-down stuff that bubbles up right away if you don’t prime the surface before you slap it on, and – just like that cheap paint – the dress needed two more coats to cover her. — Sue Fondrie, Appleton, WI

They still talk about that fateful afternoon in Abilene, when Dancing Dan DuPre moonwalked through the doors of Fat Suzy’s saloon, made a passable reverse-turn, pirouetted twice followed by a double box-step, somersaulted onto the bar, drew his twin silver-plated Colt-45s and put twelve bullets through the eyes of the McLuskey sextuplets, on account of them varmints burning down his ranch and lynching his prize steer. — Ted Downes, Cardiff, U.K.

William, his senses roused by a warm fetid breeze, hoped it was an early spring’s equinoxal thaw causing rivers to swell like the blood-engorged gumlines of gingivitis, loosening winter’s plaque, exposing decay, and allowing the seasonal pot-pouris of Mother Nature’s morning breath to permeate the surrounding ether, but then he awoke to the unrelenting waves of his wife’s halitosis. — Guy Foisy, Orleans, Ontario

As I gardened, gazing towards the autumnal sky, I longed to run my finger through the trail of mucus left by a single speckled slug – innocuously thrusting past my rhododendrons – and in feeling that warm slime, be swept back to planet Alderon, back into the tentacles of the alien who loved me. — Mary E. Patrick, Lake City, SC

They still talk about that fateful afternoon in Abilene, when Dancing Dan DuPre moonwalked through the doors of Fat Suzy’s saloon, made a passable reverse-turn, pirouetted twice followed by a double box-step, somersaulted onto the bar, drew his twin silver-plated Colt-45s and put twelve bullets through the eyes of the McLuskey sextuplets, on account of them varmints burning down his ranch and lynching his prize steer. — Ted Downes, Cardiff, U.K.

For the full list of bad writing, have a look at the previous winners and runners-up here.

Click here to find out how Bryant got her inspiration.

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