In the spirit of the Bad Hemingway, Faux Faulkner, and Bulwer-Lytton fiction contests, we would like to inaugurate our own bad fantasy contest. We call it THE GAME OF GROANS. Your task is to write an atrocious paragraph (or just a couple of sentences) of fantasy fiction. Something that really makes us groan!

To get you started, I dug into my files and pulled up an early draft of a novel I worked on in college. (Please be kind. I was young.):mummy

If he had learned one thing toiling in the kitchens, J’ar’u’n HyddenPrynse thought, it was that toiling was work. He watched as Cook, whom everyone but the king called Cook (and even he called her Cook), thrust her meaty hand into the stew to test its heat only moments after using that same hand to burst the postules that ran up and down her meatier-even-than-her-hand nose like a range of volcanoes—more cinder cone type than shield cone he’s realized over the months spent staring at them. The same kind of volcano—cinder cone, not shield dome—, it turned out, that J’ar’u’n would soon be making his way toward in order to find his destiny, which would not be discovered in the kitchen pots he scrubbed or the ovens he cleaned, or the eyes of that troublesomely rebellious and spunky highborn girl who looked down on him and with whom he always argued, as they would all the way to that volcano that looked like it belonged on Cook’s nose, because she (the girl, not Cook) also had a destiny. As did Gazzudzz, the Gnome gardener; Greenwillowlithelinden, the Elven Captain of the Moonlight Guard; and Terseword, the recently-arrived mysterious man with a fighter’s gait and stance and eyes and sword and belt and dagger and undergarments. And even as J’ar’u’n wondered at Terseword’s mysterious past, Cook suddenly clasped her meaty hand to her chest and died, knocking over the pot so the stew ran in little rivulets like Cook’s destiny leaking out from under her body all the way to J’ar’u’n’s feet, where it lapped at his fleshy toes like stewy lava, but less destructive and, it turned out, more tasty, despite where that meaty hand (soon to be forever still once it stopped twitching) had been. It could not be Cook’s destiny leaking out, though, J’ar’u’n knew. Because her destiny, like all of theirs, had been stolen from them by the Crepuscular Ones, minions of the Opaque Lord, who would need to feed on their destinies once he rose, weak and hungry in the south-southeast at the time of the Red Moon’s reddening. And it was at that moment that J’ar’u’n decided he would travel to that volcano where their destinies were held prisoner and free them before they were consumed. He did not know then that the others would join him. Had he, he might have brought more stew.

Can you top that? The reader who writes the worst paragraph will choose a book from our stacks.


  • Bill Capossere

    BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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