A Terrible Opening Sentence!

Last week I sat down for my first creative writing lecture, my notepad open on my lap, and pen at the ready to take down notes. Alongside the basic information for assignment deadlines and the course layout, the lecturer brought up a selection of ‘terrible’ opening sentences for novels.

The varied from hilariously pointless, to cringe worthy moments of disgust. They were wonderful in their terribleness and she wanted us all to try and write out own.

So that shall be the inspiration for this post. Terrible opening sentences, and my first creative writing assignment. To write my own terrible opening sentence.


Saltworth was cold, soggy, dull and full of lifeless residents whose vicar preached the same dusty sermon, from the same dusty pulpit, at the same dust hour, every Sunday until the Sunday where communion was interrupted as he choked on the wafer, turned purple, died, and provided the greatest amount of excitement that Saltworth had ever seen.


It’s surprising how difficult it is to write a bad sentence on purpose, I find myself trying to adjust it in order to make it better.

Could you write a terrible, atrocious, heart wrenchingly bad opening sentence?

Link or comment me your sentences and I’ll pick out my top 5 terrible sentences at the end of the month. The winners will be featured in a shiny new page, ‘Contest Winners’, and also in a journal on my DA account.

So let me see your worst!

Deadline: 31st October 2012


(Here is a little poem for you all.)

Ruined by the Words

One sentence and you were done,

Thrown back to the shelf

With a disappointed scowl;

Because you’d looked pretty/


But you had spoilt in all,

In just one sentence!

And now I have that guilt,

-That comes with the knowledge-

Of seeing a fantastic cover,

And knowing someone else will read,

An awful opening sentence.



(Thanks to my lecturer Dr Carrie Etter for the inspiration for this post.)


  1. I actually managed to use “It was a dark and stormy night…” as an opening that made sense.

    Love your tag line. Don’t worry about your mind wandering. When I’m writing, mine does as well, but it normally comes home when the streetlamps come on 🙂


    1. … were you in the lecture or was that just an awesome coincidence that you picked up on that opening sentence? Snoopy was always starting his novel with the same line, though the original makes me laugh when I read it.
      I never worry about my mind wandering, life would be so duller if it stayed on track.


      1. No, I wasn’t in the lecture. This is from something I wrote years ago. In fact, I used it twice in the same story. I’ll post the story tomorrow under the title “Midweek fiction from Cat”


  2. You know what, I ashamed to admit I quite liked your ‘bad’ sentence. Don’t get me wrong, I think it needs a bit of tweaking to make it perfect. Like, for instance, I think it should probably be two sentences, the first one ending somewhere around ‘the same dusty hour, every Sunday’, but the actual content has a bit of the absurd to it, kind of like Ian Rankin or Douglas Adams.

    I really liked your poem as well, espcially the sentiment. My old creative writing lecturer once said ‘there is nothing more terrifing than a blank page,’ and I agree whole heartedly. Opening sentences are always the hardest thing to get down on the page and there have been several times that I have sat there for ages just staring at the page, looking for those words that will not only grab the reader to want to read the second sentence but also set up the story. I always find the worst thing is when you know a sentence is wrong but you can’t for the life of you work out what it is but then I guess that is what editors are for.


    1. Normally I would be tearing my hair out at seeing a sentence as long as mine, I knew from the moment I wrote it that I should break it up. But, it’s supposed to be a ‘terrible’ sentence, so ignoring what would improve it was key in writing it.
      Are you going to have a go at writing your own?


  3. “I told my brother, over and over, that I hated mushrooms perhaps even more than I despised the straw-like ginger hairs found on his head.”
    Oh yes, awful writing! That I can definately do.


  4. I like the colour red, it is warm like a fire, but sometimes it is bad, like a fire, or like Darth Vader’s lightsaber, or inflamed genitalia, but it is still better than black, even though black can be cooler, because black isn’t actually a colour; it’s the absence of all light being reflected from a surface.

    That’s a pretty bad opening sentence, right?


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