The 2006 Purple Prose Parody Contest
July 21st, 2006:
On June 7th we kicked off our tenth and final Purple Prose Parody Contest - link here for all fifteen entries. Entried were limited to 1,500 words. Immedaitely after the submission deadline at midnight, July 5th, the voting period began, and ran through July 19th. And the winner is...
This feature is one of AAR's hallmarks, and so much talent can be seen in each year's entries. Many an entrant has admitted privately that they didn't feel up to the challenge...until they met it, and in doing so had a whole lot of fun. As for those of us who read the entries, well, I caution against drinking while reading so as to avoid spit takes - that's how funny these parodies can be.
Although love scene parodies remain the most frequent of entries, we encourage entrants each year to let their imaginations run wild. Homages to favorite authors, use of the "merge-matic" concept (Whitney, My Savage Love, anyone?), parodies of the Big Mis or Big Secret, homages to your favorite Chick Lit novel, big-city heroines giving it all up for her small-town sheriff, epilogues replete with characters from previous books in a series and multiple rugrats, or Regency ball scenes...there's no end to what you might do in a winning entry. The only limit is the word count. Entries over the past several years have been limited to 1,500 words.
This year's new twist is that we asked to see [purple prose] parodies based on the classics of literature. We asked entrants to think back to their high school days to some of those incredibly dry novels they didn't like the first time around, and then visualize them "all sexed up" in a very purple way. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Entrants were not limited to parodying the Classics - but in case of a tie, where input from AAR's editorial staff may come into play, it might have been the deciding factor.
Because we have our own merchandise to offer this year, the 2006 winner will receive a Snarky Heart totebag, a Vauxhall journal, and a Secret Language of Romance mug, three of our best designs as seen above, on your right.
Entries were limited to no more than 1,500 words and must have been received no later than midnight, July 5th. Only one vote per person was accepted - and entrants were advised that it's really best to not have your entire family vote for you en masse.
A Worthy Hero by author Emma Gads
Rachel jumped as the knock came on the door. It was him. It had to be. Muting the TV with the remote, she leapt up from the couch and hurried out of her living room. In the entryway, she took a deep breath and put her best smile on. It didn't matter that much, but she still wanted to make a good impression on the man who would be the love of her life. Her hero.
She flung open the door, more than ready to be swept off her feet.
This guy was definitely not the man of her dreams. He had spiky hair and a round face with a hint of a double chin. His faded jeans were a size too small, his shoes five years too old, and outlined underneath his bright orange football jersey was a definite paunch.
"Hey there," he said cheerfully. "I just moved into the apartment next to you. Figured I'd come over and introduce myself. You know, since we'll be sharing a wall and all that."
"Oh." She bit back a sigh, swallowing her disappointment. Where was her hero? "Well, that's nice. I'm Rachel Walker."
He stuck out his hand, his face lit up in a boyish smile. "Chase Devlin."
"You're kidding," she blurted out. What was going on? Why would a name like that be wasted on a secondary character? "You're not the hero of this story, are you?"
His smile fell, and he pulled back his hand. "Uh, yeah. I'm pretty sure I am."
Rachel took a step back, studying him again from head to toe. "You can't be! You're pudgy! And you don't dress well!"
He flushed and crossed his arms over his chest. Seeing his embarrassment, Rachel's cheeks burned. She hadn't meant to be so rude.
"So?" he said before she could apologize. "What's unusual about that? I'm a pretty average guy."
She shook her head. "Romance heroes aren't average guys. They have to be physically perfect."
"That's not fair. There are plenty of chubby heroines. Readers even applaud them for being so realistic."
"Yeah, well." Rachel shrugged. "With the hero, it's different. Women don't want to read about average guys. It's all about the fantasy."
Chase gave a snort. "Right. So in this world, a woman doesn't have to be model thin to catch a hot guy, but it's okay for the hero to end up with an average kind of woman? That's not cool."
No, it wasn't, but what could be done about it? No one would want to read a romance with a man like him. Heroines had to be intelligent, and heroes must be muscular--not forty pounds overweight!
"Who cares?" she said with a sigh. "Romances are written for women. Like I said, it's all about the fantasy."
His nostrils flared. He was getting annoyed now. "Okay. Sure. Why is it again that women dislike porn? Because it's unrealistic and objectifies them, right?"
Rachel gasped. "Ohmygod, I can not believe you said the P word!"
"Romance is not porn," she argued.
"I didn't say it was. I'm just drawing a comparison here. You know, trying to get you to think a little. Can I come inside or what?"
"Sure." She gestured for him to go in, and then she led the way back to the living room. While she sat down on her plush couch, he chose the loveseat.
"Look," she said, "I'm not the one who makes up these rules. I'm just a fictional character."
"Fine." He stretched out, crossing his legs, indicating that he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Which was just as well, because they had to figure this problem out. He was supposed to be her hero.
"So the rule is the hero has to be physically perfect in every way?" he asked.
She gave a nod. "Pretty much, yeah."
Rachel thought about it for a while. "Well, scars are usually okay. But only if they're from doing something heroic. So, no falling off your bike when you were ten."
"Can I be gimpy?"
"Um." She winced. "Sure, but again, only if you were hurt doing something heroic."
Chase's eyes narrowed. "How about a wheelchair?"
"Oh, no way! If the author writes manipulative tearjerkers, the heroine can be in a wheelchair, but never the hero."
He threw out his arms and looked down at himself. "So this isn't going to work?"
"Nope." Rachel gazed up at the ceiling and raised her voice. "Make him look like he could be on the cover of GQ, please!"
There was a zap and a whoosh, and suddenly she sat across from a guy who could be Hugh Jackman's twin. Tall, athletic, chiseled features, and not an ounce of excess fat on him. He wore black, dressy pants and a blue sport shirt that was open at the collar. In short, he was sexy as hell.
And then it happened, what she'd been waiting for: Lust shot through her like liquid heat in her veins. This man she wanted. Badly.
"Hey! Neat!" he exclaimed as he looked down at himself, patting his face, his chest, his abs, and clearly liking what he found.
Then he frowned at her. "But what about you? You're gorgeous. Aren't you supposed to be chubbier? You know, 'real women have curves' and all that."
Rachel wished she had a mirror so that she could describe herself for the readers. Not that she didn't already know what she looked like. Long, smooth, chestnut hair; a heart-shaped face with blue eyes, full lips, and high cheekbones; a thin and fit body that was still curvaceous in the right places.
In short, she was nothing special.
"Nah," she said. "I don't really have any idea how beautiful I am. I actually think I'm pretty plain. So that makes it okay."
"Right. That makes sense." His eyebrows creased as he added, "I think."
For a long while, they just stared at each other. He was so hot, the definition of sexy, and the air between them crackled with forced sexual tension.
Suddenly, he jumped to his feet. "So, what do we do now?"
"Wait for the author to come up with a plot, I guess." She stood up as well. Should she..? Well, why not? They had nothing better to do.
"Hey," she said, trying to sound casual, "in the meantime, we could practice having sex."
"Now you're talking." He flashed a wicked grin and started toward her.
"Okay, there's just one thing," she said as he reached for her. "I'm a virgin."
His arm fell again. He gave her a confused look. "Why?"
Rachel thought about it for a while. "You know, I'm not really sure."
He sighed, exasperated. "Well, do you at least get to come?"
She perked up. "Of course! In fact, I'll have multiple orgasms."
That just seemed to confuse him even more. "I don't really understand any of these rules," he grumbled.
"That's okay," she said with a laugh. "I don't think anyone does. But as long as you're hot, it'll work just fine."
Chase smirked. "You know, I like the fact that you're hot, too."
Blushing, she couldn't help but point out, "Yeah, but the author would make you think I was hot no matter what."
"Oh." His face fell. "Right."
She stepped up and patted him on the arm. "Try not to ponder it too much."
"Good idea." And with that, he swept her up into his arms and carried her to the bedroom where they had the most amazing sex of their lives.
The author threw a couple of contrived internal conflicts at them as well as one monstrously big misunderstanding plus an evil and lecherous--but ultimately incompetent--villain. But love conquers all, and in the end, they got married and had half a dozen babies that grew up to be just as beautiful and worthy of a happily ever after as their parents.
A Previously Undiscovered Adventure of Winnie the Pooh by Marianne McA
Pooh was walking through the Hundred Acre wood one day singing a song that went like this:
Would they curtsey...
And he was just trying to think of a good word to rhyme with curtsey and thinking that Guernsey wasn't a very useful sort of word, when he stopped, because Tigger was sitting on the path in front of him looking somewhat disconsolate.
'Hallo Tigger' said Pooh.
'Hallo Pooh' replied Tigger, in a rather doleful voice.
Pooh thought for a moment. Then, as he was a bear with very little brain, he thought some more, so as to be sure.
'Tigger, are you sad?'
Tigger looked at Pooh, with a very sad face, and said 'Yes.'
'Tigger, why are you sad?' asked Pooh in a perhaps-I-can-help sort of voice.
Tigger looked sad for a moment more, then stopped looking sad and looked hopeful. 'Do you know what 'Erogenous' means?', he asked.
Pooh thought for a moment.
'I think', he said cautiously, 'it's a kind of duck that lives very far away.'
'How far away?'
'Very, very far, I think' said Pooh.
Tigger looked very, very sad.
'Kanga says that all I do is bounce, and bounce, and bounce.'
'But that's what Tiggers do best!'
'I know.' said Tigger, still sad. 'But she says that bouncing is only good for Tiggers, and I must find her Erogenous, if I am going to live at her house and take my Strengthening Medicine.'
Pooh thought that they could have built an Erogenous trap, if the Erogenous hadn't lived so very far away, but as it did, he thought the best thing would be to Consult a Wiser Brain, and he took Tigger to talk to Christopher Robin.
When they asked Christopher Robin about the Erogenous, he looked Very Wise, because he had been to Boarding School for six years, and Now he Knew Things.
'Did Kanga say she had an Erogenous before?' he asked.
Tigger looked worried.
Kanga had said a lot of things, and he wasn't sure he remembered them all.
And then she had thrown some things, but none of them had looked like a duck, not even a duck from a long way away.
'I think' he said cautiously, 'I think she had an Erogenous when she lived with Roo's daddy, but now it's gone.'
And he felt, just very quietly to himself, that it was unfair that Kanga wouldn't let him bounce only because he couldn't find her Erogenous.
Christopher Robin pondered, and then he looked thoughtful.
Pooh started to think that it had been a very long walk, and that it must be nearly time for elevenses, and he wondered if he should suggest they might stop looking for Kanga's duck and share a smidgen of honey.
At last Christopher Robin said 'I think Kanga has not lost her Erogenous, but perhaps because she is so very busy, she has misplaced it. Maybe tonight, when Roo is asleep, you could look for it.'
Tigger was silent for a while, and then he asked, in a very un-Tigger sort of quiet voice: 'Where should I look for it?'
And Christopher Robin, who had been at Boarding School for six years, and had studied Biology, and who Knew Things, said 'I expect Kangaroos keep their Erogenous in their pouches.'
Which, as it turned out, was exactly true. Kanga had four Erogenous in her pouch, and every night after Tigger had had his Strengthening Medicine, he checked they were all still there, which made Kanga Very Happy, and then she let him bounce, which made Tigger Very Happy. And Pooh was Very Happy too, because he could walk in the Woods, thinking of a new Song.
An Erogenous is a duck,
That you need to find before you...
And he thought it was a Great Pity that 'duck' did not ryhme with 'bounce'.
And then he thought that really, he'd rather have some honey.
The Wild, the Innocent, & the Bow Street Shuffle by Larry Rogers
Samuel Scoffin leered with Lucifer-like pride as he looked over the debauched, drunken multitude that trampled the carpets of his exclusive club. Scoffin's Place was more than just another London gambling den. It was a high-class brothel - and a way of life. Without Scoffin's, the British aristocracy would be forced to party in public. Such a sight could only confuse the obedient lower orders. Though he had been born beneath the rotting floor-boards of a grave-robbing prostitute's humble outhouse, Samuel Scoffin didn't believe in revolution. He believed in money. His fortune came from sensing the hunger for corruption that lurked within all human flesh.
Suddenly Samuel's crooked nose twitched with alarm. An innocent woman had entered Scoffin's. There! A golden-haired beauty in white, smiling and offering a gold sovereign to the hulking doorman. Outsiders were dangerous, and a man like Samuel Scoffin had lots of enemies. Only last week he had received an anonymous note saying, "I know all about you. And you're going to get it."
"What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" Samuel Scoffin knew how to use the weapons of wit and charm against upper class intruders, just as he used bricks and bottles against his own kind.
The blue-eyed beauty beamed at him. "Oh, Mr. Scoffin. How pleased I am to make your acquaintance! My name is Priscilla Sandalwood, and I've come to you for help. You see, I'm only an innocent country miss, but my twin sister Petunia just happens to be the most notorious courtesan in England. She's gone missing, and I thought someone at Scoffin's might have seen her. Being that this place is a magnet for corruption and evil, that is."
"Thank you. But a high-priced bit of muslin like Petunia would work on her own, not at Scoffin's," Samuel pointed out. "I'm afraid you've come to the wrong shop, miss. How did you hear of us?"
"Oh, Lady Shadwell told me all about you," Priscilla confided eagerly. The wiry little man with the curly black hair and the shrewd green eyes was really quite attractive. Perhaps it was his broken nose, or his crooked teeth, or the way his skin was pitted all over with smallpox scars. Samuel Scoffin was so plainly a product of the rough London streets that Priscilla could almost smell the sin-ridden slums.
"You mean Annie?" Samuel felt a raw hurt at the very mention of the notorious society woman who had livened up his place in the old days. Annie Peppermill was respectable Lady Shadwell now, but Sam Scoffin knew the black-eyed beauty was still utterly shameless, uninhibited and completely without scruples. He missed her.
"Yes, Lady Shadwell told me you would help me. She told me all about the time you helped drug Lord Shadwell and tie him to the bed, and then you got everyone to watch while she - "
"Enough!" Samuel grabbed Priscilla by the elbow and hurried her into his private office. He didn't care who knew that he had helped wicked Annie trick naive Lord Shadwell into marrying her. But hearing Priscilla talk about what happened in bed made him hard. The girl's innocence was very provocative. But wanting a virgin was like wanting a trip to the gallows.
"What do you want?" he asked, when they were alone together. Sam's private office smelled of whiskey, money, and sex. Ordinarily the decadent aroma soothed his desires. But not tonight.
"Petunia's last protector was Lord Bottomly." Priscilla sat down at Samuel's desk, crossing her legs at the ankles. "I know he's a regular here. I want to pretend to be one of your girls, and lead him upstairs. Then you and I will question him."
"I don't take advantage of my customers," Sam said bluntly. "I don't put young ladies at risk. And I don't much care what happened to your sister."
"Oh, I see." Priscilla got to her feet and rearranged her garments. "Perhaps in your world survival is all that matters. But in my world helping people comes first. Some call it the code. Others call it too stupid to live. But I'll find Lord Bottomly on my own."
Scoffin stood aside to let her pass. He was only being smart. But at the last minute something snapped. He kissed her instead.
"Oh, no you don't!" Clear as a bell, the lusty voice of Annie Peppermill rang through the heated room.
"Garn!" Caught like a young lord with his hand up the chambermaid's skirts, Sam spun around to see his fate. Dark-eyed Lady Shadwell stood in the doorway, along with her rich, golden-haired and adoring husband, three Bow Street Runners, and a clergyman.
All that's missing is the hangman, he thought. "You set me up?"
Annie nodded. "I always repay my debts. You helped me catch the big prize." She patted Lord Shadwell on the chest, and he beamed. "Besides, with you married, tales of my roguish past will soon fade. So I persuaded Priscilla you were a lost soul . . . and that you might know something about her sister's disappearance. It was only after she set out alone to question you that I realized a rescue party might be in order."
"But . . . didn't you think I could handle Samuel Scoffin alone?" Priscilla asked. Her cheeks were flushed, her lips swollen.
She'll want it every night when we're married, Samuel told himself grimly. He edged towards the secret door in the corner of his study.
"You were splendid," Annie said, smiling at the younger girl. "Once he's married to you, Sam won't want to do silly things anymore. Marriage can turn even a desperate character into quite a different person. Believe me, I know."
"She knows," Lord Shadwell said, with a satisfied smile.
"I've got to get out of here!" Samuel hollered. No street killer had ever scared him as much as the happy, dopey look on the face of Lord Shadwell. That was what marriage did to a man. Sam clawed at the escape hatch, only to have it swing in on him unexpectedly.
"I told you I knew all about you!" Lord Bottomly burst into the room, his red face contorted with rage. He had a beautiful blonde woman by the arm, and he was waving a big knife.
"Petunia!" Priscilla shrieked.
"What the devil is this, Bottomly?" Samuel was glad to be dealing with a knife-wielding maniac instead of his own emotions.
"You're not really Samuel Scoffin! You're my older brother's long-lost son. You're the real Lord Bottomly! But I won't give up my title. I'll kill you, and all your kind. Dirty, filthy, tempting us with sin --"
"Bugger off, you!" Feisty and fearless Petunia Sandalwood broke free while Lord Bottomly was bellowing threats. She stomped on his foot, elbowed him in the stomach, then jumped clear of his knife.
"Darling!" Priscilla hugged her twin sister.
"All right, my lord. I've answered to your kind all my life. Now you answer to me." Samuel was unarmed, but his old friend Annie tossed him a heavy snow globe paperweight from his desk. He shook it up for effect, then moved into a low cat-crouch.
"Ugh!" Suddenly Lord Bottomly clutched his chest and collapsed in a heap. His knife went clattering harmlessly across the floor.
"Dead of a stroke," Lord Shadwell said, looking over Samuel's shoulder. "The strain of appearing out of nowhere and tying up all those plot threads, with no real motivation for his villainy, must have been too much for him."
"No, it wasn't that," Samuel murmured, looking down at the dead man's face. "He just couldn't stop hating himself for being a sinner."
"You're a fine lot," Lady Shadwell said cheerfully, turning to face the three Bow Street Runners. "I bring you along in case there's trouble, and then you just stand there and watch. Why didn't you help?"
The Runners all looked at the floor, shuffling their feet.
"Can't take chances --"
"My wife would kill me - "
"Have to get home soon - "
"Samuel didn't need any help," Priscilla said, gently releasing her sister. "He's wild, but he can be tamed." She gave him a look. "Are you ready to be tame, dear?"
"No, but I'm ready to be married." Samuel drank in the brave blonde virgin with the slightly swollen lips, realizing that he had only known her for an hour. But when he kissed her it felt like a lifetime.
"Yippee!" Lady Shadwell cried. "Drinks on the house!"
Everyone laughed except for Samuel and Priscilla, because they were still too busy kissing.
"Hey, little sister!" Petunia called out. "Are you sure you want to get married? You know a pair of twins like us would be quite a sex act."
Priscilla stopped kissing long enough to look over her shoulder. Everyone wondered what such an innocent young lady would say.
"Ick," she said.
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