Awful seafaring tale wins bad writing contest

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A shambling sentence about screaming seafarers on the sturdy whaler Ellie May stood shoulders above the rest in an annual bad writing contest. David McKenzie, 55, of Federal Way, Wash., won the grand prize in San Jose State University's annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with this:

"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the "Ellie May," a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."

The contest, a parody of prose, invites entrants to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. It is named after Victorian writer Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who opened his 1830 novel "Paul Clifford," with the much-quoted, "It was a dark and stormy night ..."

Click here for the contest Web site and here for the full report in the Washington Post.