Writer wins a contest for bad prose

Federal Way resident David McKenzie made the list of winners for the 2008 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 line “It was a dark and stormy night.”

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.”

Scott Rice, a professor in the English Department of San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif., started the contest in 1982.

The 2008 overall winner was Garrison Spik of Washington, D.C.:

“Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped ‘Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.’”

To learn more and see the list of this year’s winners, visit

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