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But enough about borderline cases—let’s get to the winner of the 2018 Lyttle Lytton Contest:
As I felt the vampire sexily drinking the blood from my neck, the warmth between my legs grew both in wetness and in fear for my life.
Which is not to say that there were no other strong contenders! Take this year’s runner‑up:
The girl with the vegan pork regarded me with eyes more kind than the nonviolence on her plate.
On to the honorable mentions, and I believe we’ll start with an entry from the found division:
Meghan Markle could not wait to say yes to Prince Harry when he proposed during a cosy night in over a roast chicken.
(Actually, while I am amused by the idea that the chicken was the clincher in securing an enthusiastic acceptance, it’s really the whole pileup of prepositional phrases and subordinate clauses that makes this work.)
Eric‑san had only one goal in life: make Kimiko‑chan his waifu‑chan.
But before getting too attached to Kimiko‑chan, Eric‑san might want to heed the words of the Master, making a return appearance after last year’s debut:
“Thou must bewarest of woman, little Abu,” quoth wisely the Master. “For while her eyes holdeth the sweetness of a hundred dates, her lips holdeth the sting of a thousand scorpions.”
|▸||Adult: “Every child has a sweet tooth! Would you like some sweets?”|
|▸||Child me, with visions of Crunch bars and Caramellos dancing in my head: “Yes please! Thank you very much!”|
|▸||Adult brings out a plate of dates|
|▸||Child me dies a thousand deaths|
So, yes, the notion that the date is the ultimate unit of sweetness gave me a little zap of recognition that secured this entry’s spot among the honorable mentions.
Holding a more sanguine view of women than the Master does is this entry:
Commander B. G. Robinson is very feminine and graciously endowed: everything she has two of are perfectly matched, coordinated, and move with a wonderful grace that is called “woman.”
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The
Outrageous Okona” shooting script
Let me tell you about Sally. Her tits were good.
Sam Kabo Ashwell
She walked in with a dress the paralyzing green of the BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth 2014 Edition Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard by Razer (4.5 stars, 37 customer reviews)
Our eyes are always pointing at things we are interested in approaching, or investigating, or looking at, or having.
12 Rules for Life by Jordan
I had always been the kind of woman to put my career first, but as I prepared to abandon my crying children to go to work for the hundredth time, a thought struck me—“Was this His plan for me?”
You find a cave (you’re a male Half‑elf). The female Full‑elves inside try to restrain their libidos, but that’s like butterfly nets trying to stop 100 mph of uncooked rice.
Agent Gunner Storm closed his steely grey eyes and pictured the erotic sphere of Lady Liberty’s bare breast as he thrust into the terrorist princess.
Continuing with the sex‑focused entries:
The award show was a veritable orgy—not of sex, but of cultural appropriation.
Bari Weiss, New York Times,
Another topic of many entries each year is the pain of relationships gone bad. Here are three that run along those lines:
My lamestream friends told me to start dating again, but I knew the jet fuel of love couldn’t melt the steel beams of my heart.
Texas “Cheap Shot” Jack, the famous Newark poker player, sighed about his life. Matters of the heart—unlike the hearts he held in his hand—could not be folded so easily.
The tongue has no bones, but it is strong enough to break a heart.
Power of Positivity Facebook page
And since sad protagonists have taken over the proceedings for the time being, let’s continue with this one:
A tear rolled down her face like a tractor. “David,” she said tearfully, “I don’t want to be a farmer no more.”
The puddle detective Amelia Stone stepped into reminded her of a pool of blood or sins as dark as the muddy water.
There is no human hunger like unto the hunger for pride.
Moving from hunger to its natural companion:
“It looks like this continent is out of water,” I said in Antarctica, as a rookery of penguins waddled thirstily by.
Dany approached the castle. (If you’ve forgotten about Dany, reread books 3 - 6). In her hand, she held the sword Justificier (reread book 7), still bearing the blood of Durin (reread book 9).
The brute was reminiscent of an ancient Ethiopian warrior, bristling with muscle and melanin, yet Charlie was unfazed.
Here’s a contestant who managed to get two entries selected in 2014, landed two more in 2015, and now scores yet another two‑fer in 2018:
Unhesitantly I skydove, commending my body into the lightweight but capable hands of my parachute.
Tad quit school to paint the canvas of Google Maps, his dad’s Camry his brush and his mind his own.
Every so often we have a special jury prize, when those who review the Lyttle Lytton list before it goes up make a case for an entry that they feel has received insufficient acclaim. This was originally going to go in the list of perennials under “unusual approaches to detective work”, but apparently it revolves around a topical reference I didn’t get but that other people find really funny, so here is this year’s jury prize winner:
THE BULLET JOURNAL OF KELSEY JOY
That actually wraps it up for the original entries this year, so I guess that before I finish up with the remaining found entries, I’ll put together that list of perennials I’ve been talking about. Again, these are all highly worthy entries, so cheers to all who appear—the tropes are just a little familiar after eighteen years. Here we go:
- Word error
He opened the door fastly. —Stan Clooney
- Eyes and hair
Haileighe Summers sat, tears crossing her azure eyes, as Xackary Florets, the chestnut‐haired love of her life, lay expiring. —Daria
- Obnoxious objectivist
Join me, traveler. Join me in slaking my thirst for truth at the wellspring of Reason. —Aidan Lockett
- Reference to better‑known work
The wizard’s beard was long, much like Gandalf’s in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, who was also a wizard. —Luke Fowler
- Fun with onomatopoeia and personification
RING! John stood up to see what the doorbell wanted. —Brad Porter
Back then, few believed that World War III would involve fighting, not with guns and swords, but with hearts and minds. —Benjamin Johnson
- Mixed media
Setup of Act One, Scene One “The Killing”: please set your Oculus filter to sepia and put on Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor (WoO 59, Bia 515). —Bjorn Edstrom
My name is Amy and you’re going to like me because I’m a strong female character! —Samantha Pine
Olivia wore a sexy red dress that was just sexy enough that people who saw her thought she was sexy but knew she wasn’t a slut. —Mary Potts
- Murder of people and of the language
“How could I have done this?” cried Jeremy, during a solemn reaction to his beloved corpse, whom he called a wife. —Jude Loveless
And we’re back! Of the five remaining found entries, the first may seem a little unfair, as it dates to 1911. But when it popped up in my inbox, I couldn’t resist:
Queen Aquareine had a stern look upon her beautiful face. Cap’n Bill guessed from this look that the mermaid was angry.
The Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum
General Clap did not understand the way of the ancient warrior. However, the Shadow Wolves did.
The Way of the Shadow Wolves by Steven Seagal and
I dance with English, and our tale is only just beginning.
Gods of the Word by Margaret Magnus
Joe just looks at me with that stupid look, covered in flowing blood, going onto his shirt like ketchup randomness, so much messier and more random than I could ever plan.
Palo Alto by James Franco
But again, that’s not this year’s winner of the found division; this is:
The atmospheric molecules that filled the Rose Bowl were in full vibration as kickoff approached.
Ryan McGee, espn.com, 2017.0915
I am not a scientist (as Republican politicians are fond of saying about themselves). So when I encounter something like the above and think, “What the what?”, it is not the pedantry of an expert at work. It means that I have encountered yet another example of writers and marketing types who do not care whether their science metaphors actually work, even for total laypeople, so long as they “sound sciencey”. We can place this one next to the 2013 entry about harnessing the raw power of an eclipse and the 2010 entry about using the Hubble Space Telescope to look at something microscopic. That last one was also by a sportswriter, and these sorts of sentences are the equivalent of a scientist explaining a phenomenon in particle physics by comparing it to kicking a home run through the hoop for birdie. Except no editor would let that through, whereas in the case of all of these some editor said, “Yup, that’s a winner.” And I agree!