The Worst Sentence Contest: Write the worst opening sentence for a Doctor Who novel (NA or MA).

The people on alt.drwho.creative rounded out 1996 by an impromptu discussion of pitfalls to watch out for in writing fiction. The discussion started out well, but of course we turned it into a pun contest pretty quickly. Still, it inspired me to introduce this competition.


If you think that you may have missed your calling to be an awful writer, check out the rules. I'm sure that the contest will be held again in 1997, Lord willing. So peruse our few rules and then put pen to paper (or fingers to keys).

Each entry must be only one sentence long. Multi-sentence entries, while read and appreciated and even heartily laughed at, get disqualified.

Each entry must--at least superficially--conform to the rules of acceptability dictated by BBC books. Entries that depict the Doctor making love to a companion or suddenly adopting a Terminator type personality, or getting drunk are disqualified from the actual competition because they fall too far outside the Doctor Who parameters. Remember there's a fine line between wit and tedium. In getting the entries together for the judge, I was quickly bored by ribald comments.

You can submit as many entries as you like.

Judging the Entries

I collected all entries, removed names from them, and checked them for compliance. I threw out entries that were more than one sentence long or that focused on sexual content, scatological content, or drunkness.

Entries were numbered in the order in which they appeared in the newsgroup. I e-mailed them to Scott, my judge, who is an avid reader of MAs and NAs but never reads adwc. The idea of picking the "best of the worst" was the only thing that Scott went by. Probably in coming contests, I will use three judges (if I can find them), so that they can discuss with each other their reasons for what they are selecting and then come to agreement. I did not go over the entries with Scott because I did not want to influence the contest.

The Prize

A copy of my latest published book, an audio drama titled INFLUX OF THE ARRAY, which was rewritten from a DW story I did last year. For more info on INFLUX and a look at the very cool cover, you can go to my web site and take a look.

The Sample: Jo Grant tilted her elfin face and examined the sheen of the red polish on her many-ringed fingers, wondering why her time traveling companion, most often known as the Doctor to his human comrades, always picked the worst possible times to lose the TARDIS key, as evidenced by the howling of the Bedouin tribesman who were wrathfully bearing down on them over the sand dunes while the Doctor hastily rummaged his pockets.

The Finalists

The yellow light shoned down upno they're spaceship as it drifted aimlessly and wandring through alot of space.
--Jeff Beuck

The Doctor looked out of his TARDIS, which was currently in the process of being blown up by the Daleks whom he had earlier destroyed but by an amazing temporal flux that only happens at midnight, had returned to life in several different pieces.
--Robert Marks

The Castellan recoiled in horror, " No - Not the mind PROBE" he screamed...
--'Distant' Dave

"'Exterminate him!', the Supreme Dalek ordered, gesturing at the Doctor."
--Alden Bates

The Doctor knew, having kicked the dog, that he had made quite an error in judgement . . .
--Angry Bob

"Serena regarded the mysterious stranger as he toiled up the hill, trudging resolutely around the fallen corpses of the mighty battle warriors of the Xenefax who lay, grotesquely twisted from their death spasms, and despite the fact that he was a complete stranger, utterly unknown to the tribe of Xenefax, knew instinctively that he was someone who could be trusted."
--Becky "This much fun oughter be illegal... " Dowgiert

"The strange thing about lima beans," said the Time Lady, who was actually a Ruton in disguise who was actually the Doctor disguised in a fiendish attempt to fool Davros, "is that it is one of those foods that people either really enjoy, or won't touch with a twenty foot pole; others in this catagory are: olives, pickels, green jello, and...hey, where's everyone going?"

The Doctor was flying in his TARDIS; he did this frequently; in fact, he liked to do it so much that he did it very often; as he flew his TARDIS, he thought about flying his TARDIS, and examined the splattered remains of his companion, which were on the wall from flying his TARDIS too fast for too long; he had been told that flying his TARDIS could be dangerous if he went too fast, but he didn't care, because he liked to fly his TARDIS; and then he stopped flying his TARDIS, because in his enjoyment of flying his TARDIS he had accidently hit a flying his TARDIS(oh, wait, no)squirrel, which was now lying in the flying road; he thought that this was simply flipping flying his TARDIS.
--From Allesandra I and Bernadette

The TARDIS lights flickered like a TV tuned to a dead channel as the Doctor slipped on his cyber-enhancer, and the electrodes penetrated his inhuman skull.
--Russ Massey

When the Doctor and Susan stepped out of the TARDIS, they discovered a pair of ruby-slippered feet sticking out from underneath it, and a large group of small people singing in impromptu celebration.
-- Paul Gadzikowski

The silence of space was sundered by the roar of the mighty fleet of spaceships as they flew towards their target, led by the Valeyard in his black robes, an army of Sontarans, Cybermen, and Daleks intent on destroying the Lord President of Gallifrey, otherwise known as the Doctor.
--David Burke

The Winner

Our winner was #10, by Paul Gadzikowski. With a name like Gadzikowski, Paul has obviously spent much of his life writing. When informed that he had won the contest and would receive the prize, Mr. Gadzikowski replied, "What's INFLUX OF THE ARRAY?"

Entry number 10 almost didn't make it because it was very close to being explicitly a crossover. What kept it in the running was that it's NOT an explicit crossover. Conceivably, somebody could write a first sentence like this and the story NOT be set in Oz, thus setting itself up as a terrible parody, which is certainly one of the lowest forms of humor. This brings us back to recognizing it as a truly terrible first line--the worst, according to the contest judge.