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Bad prose makes us grin, groan

This column originally ran November 15, 2001.

Susan Cheever of Orem, who entered several strong contenders in this year's Deseret News Bad Writing Contest, summed it up best when she wrote: "Bad prose flows from me like water over the dam." Many of you submitted LOL (laugh out loud) funny lines that left our judges (DesNews staffers) in awe of both your special talent and general shamelessness.

Following are five memorable stinkers that scored big at the office.

Stephen Adams grabbed our attention with this one: "Sometimes people run into walls, whether they be imaginary walls, or metaphorical walls, or any sort of wall that prevents them from getting what they want, and Bob had just run into one of those walls, except that this particular wall was made of concrete, and as he rolled around in agony that was caused by a broken collarbone, Andy said, 'Nice hustle.'"

Julie Howell's sentence also made us sit up and take note: "Jim was walking down an old, dusty, narrow, deserted, weeds-growing-down-the-center road that looked as if it had come out of a movie, not a happy movie, but a sad one, kind of an old-fashioned sad movie, definitely not a fairy tale, and one thing was certain, he didn't know where he was, or where he was coming from, or what time it was, or what time he had left; he didn't even know what time he'd get there, or even where he was going, but he knew that he was walking, not too fast, or too slow, but a nice casual walk, and walking was important to Jim."

Anne Golden reminded us of romances gone bad with her sentence: "She saw him, on one still moment, standing against a sunset and she wanted to go up and speak to him, this man of her dreams who had broken her heart, but her thoughts froze like a tongue against an icy metal pole and her emotions became a convoluted mush like a frog in a blender or perhaps one of those little monsters from that movie that happened several years ago, and she couldn't remember the name of it, but there were these cute little critters (were they called Gremlins?) who started out so cute, but then they turned evil, and she thought it was because they were fed water or something ridiculous like that, and at one point in the movie some guy stuck them into a microwave and turned it on and it DEFINITELY wasn't pretty, all mooshed and yucky like that, and that's how she felt when she saw him standing against the sunset."

So did Wendy Ellison with her contribution: "As Trixie raced recklessly along the highway of life, tears flooded her baby-blue eyes like rain flooded the Salt Lake Valley during the wettest water year on record all because of him that money-grubbing, pencil-pushing accountant who took her money and her heart, then left her alone on the roadway of regret while he went to Hawaii and she vowed that he would pay; yes, he would pay dearly for the speeding ticket she had just received from the Highway Patrolman of the Heart."

But it was the sentence by last year's winner, Eric Samuelsen, that truly left us reeling: " 'Oops,' she pouted prettily, holding three perfectly lacquered fingernails up to the pink-lipsticked moue of her mouth, while her hand daintily dropped the still flaming match, and although Lance found himself momentarily distracted by the cascading explosions from the burning refinery . . . seeing her face illuminated by the fireball, he couldn't help but think how she had never seemed more desirable than at that moment."

Thanks to everyone who entered. To lift a line from Mae West when you're good you're good. But when you're bad, you're better!


E-mail: acannon@desnews.com