Thoughtful Thursday: The Game of Groans

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.


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BILL CAPOSSERE lives in Rochester NY, where he is lately spending much of his time trying to finish a book-length collection of essays and a full-length play. His prior work has appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other journals and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of several Best American Essay anthologies. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, co-writing the Malazan Empire re-read at Tor.com, or working as an English adjunct, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course, the ultimate frisbee field, or trying to keep up with his wife's flute and his son's trumpet on the clarinet he just picked up this month.

View all posts by Bill Capossere

8 comments

  1. Sandyg265 /

    I’m not much of a writer but I’ll give it a try.

    A full moon hung over the woods casting it’s pale cold light over the clearing in the forest where an old man sat next to a fire scratching at the poison ivy sores on his leg and chewing the last bite of his sandwich. Behind him, an ape man, clad in nothing but dark, shaggy fur and carrying a club in it’s fist crept up on him. Just as the ape man had almost reached the old man a twig snapped under it’s foot. The old man spun around and screamed in the ape man’s face. The ape man recoiled in horror, it’s eyes and nose streaming and ran back into the trees. The old man had been eating a Limburger sandwich!

  2. Dorothy peddled her bicycle in a mad rush towards home as the tornado moved across the countryside. Her little dog huddled in the bike’s basket, his whining drowned out by the raging wind. With the twister moments away from the house, Dorthy managed to grab her dog and run inside. Finding the place deserted, she flung herself onto her bed and shut her eyes in a vain attempt to hide from the vortex as it overtook the house. Everything went black.

    In the morning, Auntie Em and her husband, with the help of their farm hands, searched through the rubble until they located Dorothy’s body. She was laying on her bed, clutching the still body of her beloved dog. They held a service in her honor the next day. Everyone commented to the greaving family that Dorothy had plenty of courage, and a huge heart. Secretly they gossiped how she needed some brains, seeing how she ran into the house instead of the storm cellar where her family had stayed safe and passed the time playing checkers and rummy.

  3. Come on, this isn’t fair! I mean, here we writers are trying to impress the heck out of fans and you want us to admit we write bad prose????

    HOWEVER, I was whining about having to write the book blurb for the next Moon Shadow novel to April (you’ve seen her post here). She seemed to think it couldn’t be that hard. So, I told her to go ahead and write it. I *know* what the novel is about, and it wasn’t helping me, so I figured how bad could it be? Well, I’m entering this on her behalf. You be the judge:

    Horace the gargoyle knew he was in trouble when the pigeons started gathering. Once, when his years numbered very few, he had been scoured by the vicar’s wife. It had not been pleasant but that would have been a cakewalk compared to dealing with The Birds.

    Can Horace keep himself together? Do pigeons doodoo with aim and purpose? Read on and find out!

    She should get points for creativity!!! And generosity. Not just anyone can write this stuff!!!

  4. E.J. Jones /

    The Sleeper: A Retelling of “Sleeping Beauty”

    Her beauty was paralyzing, he thought, his own immobility only exceeded by her deathlike slumber on her bed of angel-wing feathers. He admired every inch, shuddering with joy as he proceeded: her cascade of golden-sunlight locks, her cobalt-blue eyes (these, of course, were shut, but they were open and wakeful in his memory), her flawless peach skin that was marred only by the streaks of ebony lashes upon her nobly high cheekbones, her . . . lips.

    He had never actually kissed a girl before (save his good mother and sisters), but he would have thrust a dagger through his own breast rather than leave the princess when he had the faintest hope of saving her from a century’s nightmares and, possibly, horrific sleep apnea. With another shudder, this one of anticipation, he pressed his own, rather inferior lips against hers –

    A deep, rumbling voice emanated from her willowy throat. “Villain, unhand me! I am not the fair princess that you believe me to be, but her true love and favorite ninepins partner, in that order! Just as the curse took hold, I took her place upon her bed in order to protect her from foul knaves such as yourself from laying their meaty paws upon her!”

    “Fear not,” breathed the prince in a surprisingly high, melodic voice. “For I am the very same princess you protected so well! Your love has set me free from my curse!”

    The two embraced.

    “Shall we play once more at ninepins, my love?” he murmured into her hair.

    “Let us go at once! But,” she added, wagging her slender finger at him, “we must take care to avoid . . . THE DREADED SLEEPER!”

  5. There’s a part of me that really wants to do this, but I feel like it goes against every fantasy fan fibre in me to write bad fantasy on PURPOSE (Noooooooo)!
    Also I’m afraid of the repressed overused fantasy tropes that are going to crawl out of my memory. (NOOOOOO!!!!!)

    But these were SO entertaining to read, and very funny.

    (I’ve also never heard of Bad Hemingway or Faux Faulkner before. Research time!)

  6. This was very difficult, but the winner is E.J. Jones.

    E.J,if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading, and let’s hope you pick something better-written than our intentionally bad selections!

    Thank you all for a very entertaining contest.

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