Tale of Wailin' Whalers Nails Bad Writing Contest

Drunken sailors' screaming contest wins 'coveted' Bulwer-Lytton prize
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2009 7:41 AM CDT
English novelist and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton began his 1830 novel "Paul Clifford" with the often-mocked sentence: "It was a dark and stormy night."   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – A tale of screaming seafarers has won a Washington man this year's grand prize for terrible writing, AP reports. The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest—named in honor of the British writer who coined "It was a dark and stormy night"—rewards the author who can come up with the worst beginning to an imaginary novel with a small sum and huge bragging rights.

"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," McKenzie wrote, "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."