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From Bernie Sanders to Pope Francis, These Are the Worst Sentences of 2019

The Lyttle Lytton Contest has highlighted the worst sentences of 2019.

While many people appreciate great writing, sometimes terrible writing is so hilariously bad that it deserves attention, too.

That's the premise behind the Lyttle Lytton Contest, an annual competition held by beloved interactive fiction writer Adam Cadre with the sole intent of highlighting the comedy of bad writing.

Entrants into the Lyttle Lytton Contest imagine themselves as fictional authors writing fictional novels. They then compose the worst possible opening line(s) under 200 characters long.

The full list of 2019 winners, as chosen by Adam Cadre, can be found here. Highlights are as follows:

bernie sanders Senator Bernie Sanders And Group Of Bipartisan Legislators Reintroduce Resolution To End U.S. Support For Saudi-Led War In Yemen Getty Images

1. "The POTUS (President of the United States), who was Bernie Sanders instead of Donald Trump, started his job for the day." -Jake Scott

This is a beautiful entry, as it immediately breaks the fiction of its own narrative while still seeming like a believable opening to a Bernie Sanders fan fiction.

2. "Manfred, Freya the Viking goddess's last raid's 9-months-later surprise, cried for nursing. Meanwhile Blutdurst, the passionate and devoted battle-axe, urged for sharpening." -Dominikus Plaschg

What adventures does fate hold in store for Manfred the Viking God baby and Blutdurst, the dull battle-axe? These sentences are both so, so stupid, and yet somehow compelling.

3. "If I'd have known then that it would be my own brother under the clown mask, under the phantom pirate mask, I never would've agreed to split up and check it out, not for a million Scooby Snacks." -Gabriel Stevenson

Continually referencing Scooby Doo seems to be a key element of this hypothetical novel, which is actually frankly amazing.

4. "Natalie, an atypical girl, sat reading Beowulf as her uneducated girl peers sniggered around her." -Anonymous

YA fiction usually tends to revolve around children who are outsiders in some way, but usually that's explained with a bit more subtlety.

5. "Truant children mocked Jack Tranton as he walked. He could have easily dispatched them with his military training. But he ignored them." -Max Peake

The best way to connect audiences with a character is to describe their capability of killing children.

juggalos Joseph Bruce, Violent J, Joseph Utsler, Shaggy 2 Dope ASSOCIATED PRESS

6. "Tiffany had always dreamed of attending the Gathering, but even as Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J stomped triumphantly onstage, she couldn't take her eyes off Brian." -David Otto

The fact that there isn't a well-known Juggalo romance novel is a downright tragedy.

7. "Her perfectly formed breasts swayed soothingly as I (also a woman, this isn't a 'male gaze' thing) fell in love with them." -Greg Filpus

Don't worry, this male-authored lesbian romance is not about ogling women's perfectly formed, smoothly swaying breasts. It is NOT THAT.

8. "Light flowed like butter into the morning windowpane." -Anonymous

Can light flow like butter? If so, how?

9. "Sally was fully prepared to slide down the water slide to impress Frank akin to how her eggs slid from her ovaries down her pubescent Fallopian tubes." -Ryan Tang

This sentence reads so uncomfortably, it's frightening. Presumably, the author would later be outed as a pedophile.

2019's Winning Entry:

green parrot Creative Commons / Arthur Chapman

10. "'Are you okay?' asks my sister Tlaloc. 'You're as green as the parrots that inhabit this part of the continent.'" -Lachlan Redfern

This one's especially clever because good world-building revolves around detailing the world through showing, not telling. Lachlan knows this, so he tries to convey the setting as South America through a simile involving green parrots. Unfortunately—or fortunately—it is a very, very, very bad simile.


The "Found" entries highlighted by the awards are real sentences found in the wild, not crafted for the specific intent of being laughed at. Too bad.

pope francis

11. "With her 'yes,' Mary became the most influential woman in history. Without social networks, she became the first 'influencer': the 'influencer' of God." -@Pontifex tweet quoted by Aidan Lockett

Pope Francis' tweet from earlier this year made the list, of course. It is possibly one of the most horrendous things ever written, and as a book's opening it would be wonderful.

12. "Papua New Guinea is so violent that more than 820 languages are spoken there." "Ask E. Jean: My Husband Is Sleeping with My Mother" quoted by Katherine Morayati

This seems objectively racist.

2019's "Found" Winning Entry:

Alex Rider Stormbreaker Puffin Books

13. "It was a soft gray night with a half-moon forming a perfect D in the sky. D for what, Alex wondered. Danger? Discovery? Or Disaster? Only time would tell." -Alex Rider: Stormbreaker quoted by Ben Roberts

There is a real book out there that opens with a character apparently discerning a secret, English-language-based message to himself from the moon.

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