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I love the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest, named after Victorian novelist Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton who wrote this opening line: “It was a dark and stormy night.” In his honor, in 1982 they started holding an annual bad writing competitionat San Jose State University.

There are a number of different categories. Here are the winners for crime:

Winner: Crime
She slinked through my door wearing a dress that looked like it had been painted on … not with good paint, like Behr or Sherwin-Williams, but with that watered-down stuff that bubbles up right away if you don’t prime the surface before you slap it on, and – just like that cheap paint – the dress needed two more coats to cover her.
— Sue Fondrie, Appleton, WI

Runner-Up
“Chester and Harry, you don't have the stomach for this, but Dick and I do,” the leggy blonde said in a throaty voice as she headed back in to finger – and hopefully nail – the brains and muscle of the strong-arm syndicate, the heel that gutted her niece.
— Bill Hartmann, Dallas, TX

Dishonorable Mentions:
Inspector Murphy stood up when he saw me, then looked down at the lifeless body, crumpled like a forlorn Snicker’s candy wrapper, and after a knowing glance at Detective Wilson pointed to the darkening crimson pool spreading from the stiff’s shattered noggin, and said, “You settle it, Gibson; does that puddle look more like a duck or a cow?” — Carl Stich, Mariemont, Ohio
The blood seeped out of the body like bad peach juice from a peach that had been left on one side so long the bottom became rotten while it still looked fine on the top but had started to attract fruit flies, and this had the same effect, but with regular flies, that is not say there weren’t some fruit flies around because, after all, this was Miami.
— Howard Eugene Whitright, Seal Beach, CA

The smooth hand I was caressing felt as if it belonged to a Persian monk that had been rubbing moisturizing body oils on his fellow monks all day (but not in a gay way, come on, he’s a monk for God’s sake), when in all actuality the hand belonged to a body that I had just pulled out of the Potomac for forensic investigation.
— Kevin Bruemmer, San Antonio, TX

Bishop threw back the shot of bourbon and reflected on his career as a private dick, a profession he always thought of as perfect for a man named Richard who kept to himself and was often unkind to others.
— Jon Maddalena, Mesick, Michigan

Read all the winners here.




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I know someone whose dad entered it faithfully. I don't have the good funny turn of phrase necessary.