How NOT to Write a Romance Novel

Canadian Paul Chafe has been awarded the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for Romance writing offering some good lessons in how NOT to write, CBC reports.

The Bulwer-Lytton was created by San Jose University’s English Department to award the worst opening sentences of a novel. Chafe’s was a shocker: “"Trent, I love you,” Fiona murmered, and her nostrils flared at the faint trace of her lover’s masculine scent, sending her heart racing and her mind dreaming of the life they would live together, alternating sumptuous world cruises with long, romantic interludes in the mansion on his private island, alone together except for the maids, the cook, the butler, and Dirk and Rafael, the hard-bodied pool boys."

Apart from running way too long, the opening sentences is a checklist of fantasy cliches right down to the trunks of the pool boys. The runner-up seems to appeal more to i9nsect fetishists: “She purred sensually, oozing allure that was resisted only by his realization as an entomologist that the protein dust on the couch from the filing of her crimson nails was now being devoured by dust mites in a clicking, ferocious, ecstatic frenzy.”

The dishonorable mention was just plain dirty: “Cynthia had washed her hands of Philip McIntyre - not like you wash your hands in a public restroom when everyone is watching you to see if you washed your hands but like washing your hands after you have been working in the garden and there is dirt under your fingernails – dirt like Philip McIntyre.”

Think you can do better? Answer our Talking Point on what makes good romance writing.