Federal Way writer's ‘bad prose’ wins 2009 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Federal Way resident David McKenzie was named the winner of the 2009 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which celebrates bad writing and challenges writers to compose the “opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.”

The annual contest is named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, the author of “Paul Clifford.” That tale from 1830 began with the famous line “It was a dark and stormy night.” Scott Rice, a professor in the English Department of San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif., started the contest in 1982.

McKenzie's winning entry for 2009:

"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."

In 2008, McKenzie won the Western category with this entry:

“Nobody knew just who the steely-eyed stranger was, where he came from, where he was headed, or what his intentions were while he was in Dodge City; but he wasn’t an hombre you’d want to stick your tongue out at or flip off, and any man who tried to tickle him would be asking for a long stay in a pine box, if you know what I mean.”

In 2007, McKenzie won the Children's Literature category with this entry:

“"Danny, the little Grizzly cub, frolicked in the tall grass on this sunny Spring morning, his mother keeping a watchful eye as she chewed on a piece of a hiker they had encountered the day before."

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