If You Were to Translate | Edward Bulwer Lytton | Environment

Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the BulwerLytton Fiction Contest

, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

In the following paragraphs, the first by the estimable Bulwer-Lytton himself, and the rest by contest participants, indicate into which tense you would put the underlined verb (preterit or imperfect, and WHY (description, completed action, weather, happened once, etc.)
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.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830) ______________________________________________________________________________ (7) There once was a nasty, evil troll who lived beneath a bridge and took pleasure in collecting gold from the unsuspecting users of the infrastructure; however, no one used the bridge because an evil troll lived under it so the troll didn’t do much of anything. (6)________________________________________________________________________________ Before they met, his heart was a frozen block of ice, scarred by the skate blades of broken relationships; then she came along and like a beautiful Zamboni flooded his heart with warmth, scraped away the ugly slushy bits, and dumped them in the empty parking lot of his soul. (7) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ And now a message from the Darwin Awards: The Darwin Awards are a tongue-in-cheek honor, originating in Usenet newsgroup discussions circa 1985. They recognize individuals who have supposedly contributed to human evolution by self-selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own
(unnecessarily foolish) actions. The manager of an apartment house was surprised to find the legs of a corpse sticking out of an apt. window. Police entered the apt. and found the deceased man’s head soaking in a sink full of hot water. Apparently the man had returned home after a night of drinking and drugs. He decided to slip in through the kitchen window. The window was fixed at the base and tilted out, giving him just enough room to squeeze his head through as far as the sink before he got stuck. While flailing around trying to escape, he turned on the hot water tap. Police were not sure why he had not turned off the water, pulled the plug or, perhaps more important, entered through the front door, since they found the keys that were in his pants pocket. (20)

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