By on January 22, 2013

The winners are Michael Trainor, George William Herbert, and Grant Tillery. TTAC congratulates thee. You shall drop the masks of your screen names, and step out into the harsh lights of the public, and the etching-strength vitriol of TTAC’s feared commentariat.

Previously known as Contestants 4, 7, and 1, the three garnered the lion’s share of the votes in the Monday round of TTAC’s Future Writers Week, where, in true interactive fashion, you decide who will write for you in the future, and whom you will criticize for the biased and one-sided reporting, especially on a slow news-day. It is in your hands, and it will be so for the rest of the week. Remember: Today is another day of the battle of the writers, and another day where you decide the outcome.

Contestants 5, 6, 2, and 3 – do not abandon all hope: The is always a chance to get called upon via the “Editor’s Choice” award, where we apply our usually highly subjective, traditionally biased, and deeply unprofessional criteria. And to those who still are battling writers’ block: The contest is still open, applications are still pouring in. The way it looks, this contest can reach well into next week, even at seven contestants a day. Submission rules are here. Please try to stick to the rules, especially to the part where it says to simply send a note to editors, with “Becoming a TTAC Writer” as the topic. This helps sorting the applications into my proper mailbox. Creative topic writers are subjected to the hazards of spam filters and inattentive Editors. They also may receive a mark on my list, labeling them a potential pain in the neck that doesn’t listen  to directions.

Like everything at TTAC, this contest is not without its critics. Of course, “1 or 2 full length pieces to run per day”, or “one article on TTAC over a period of, let’s say, one year”, or heck, a totally different test that attracts “more women” would be much, much better. I definitely don’t mind more women. The idea of two new writers per day over the next years is as interesting as it is hair-raising. However, this contest is what it is, and we will go with this format until it is over. It will be seven short snippets a day, protestations are futile, run your own contest if you don’t agree, and good luck..

With that said, let’s move on to (drum-roll, please) …

… thank you, maestro.

The TTAC Future Writers – Tuesday Contestants

The rules of engagement remain the same as yesterday, attempts by certain commenters to confuse notwithstanding. The rules are listed again at the bottom of today’s entries. Short form: Read first, vote second.


Contestant 8 writes:

“Consider a new concept to drive traffic… Look at the website ”Bring a Trailer” and imagine taking that to a higher level. I would name the series: BID-SELL-WIN. (BSW) Here is the concept: 1. Post details and pictures about an interesting vehicle that has just been listed on eBay. Have at least 4~6 days of auction duration remaining. 2. Ask two simple questions and talk about it: a) What is the amount that the vehicle will BID to? b) Will it SELL? c) talk about it!BID-SELL-WIN. (BSW)


Contestant 9 writes:

“Yes, I went to a MINI event where MINI was trying to show off MINIs against other cars to demonstrate how the MINI is better and also in order for there to be five “MINI”s in this sentence. No matter, the Countryman outperformed the other two, and that’s that. I can’t pick favourites and I certainly never will, but it was just better. MINI launched the Countryman last year in an efforts to essentially follow Porsche’s shadow with the Cayenne: build something lifted and slap more doors to make it practical.“


Contestant 10 writes:

“Respected technical magazine Popular Mechanics has recognized General Motors and Ford in their annual “Top 10 Tech Breakthroughs” article. The presence of two American automakers on the publication’s list, which reviews innovations in all industries, is impressive and speaks to the continuing turnaround of the American auto industry. GM’s recognition is due to the strides the company has made in the development of affordable crash avoidance technology for passenger vehicles. Using a single camera mounted behind a car’s rearview mirror, the company’s system scans real estate in front of the car resting within a 37 degree field of vision. — I also have my junior and senior year works from my time at Princeton. Marketing the Mustang: A Cultural Perspective (~100 pages) The Import Scene and its Role in the Formation and Expression of Asian-American Masculinity (~200 pages).”


Contestant 11 writes:

“The truth is, no one really cares about SUVs. No one cares about what the appliance can do for you. It’s about what the appliance says about you. To be honest though, I’m really not all to worried about what the woman in the Equinox scarfing down the Micky D’s breakfast burrito thinks about my old Land Cruiser. I finally take a long look at the middle lane. The sea of Nissan crossovers, the Ford crossovers, Highlanders, and Q5s, they all resemble SUVs. Yeah OK, maybe they can get you through the storm with their AWD systems.”


Contestant 12 writes:

“Anyway, after I had one or two articles posted on that site, Jxx Dxxxxx of xxxxx asked if I wanted to write for their site, without pay of course. Once there I created a weekly series called the ”xxxxxxxxxxParking Lot” in which I highlight a car that is not necessarily thought of as a Muscle Car (The Mercury Marauder X-100 for example) and persuade the readership that the car (or Truck for that matter) is a true Muscle Car. By this time, Rxxxxxxx asked if I would write for xxxxxxxxx, as well as do a monthly column for xxxxxxxx Magazine. Many of the articles I produced when I was writing for xxxxxxxxx was some of my best work. I actually was paid for my columns by xxxxxxxx, until they decided to close almost all of their titles.”


Contestant 13 writes:

“Everyone’s automotive transportation needs are a Rubik’s Cube puzzle of sorts. It’s easy to solve one side, whether it be the best mileage, best hauling capacity or best to take to the track for the day. But getting two sides solved gets more difficult, with three, four, five, and finally, the whole Cube of automotive desires exponentially harder. The whole cube for many of course, being a RWD, diesel, sport wagon with manual transmission.”


Contestant 14 writes:

“A fast car doesn’t make you a good driver: I don’t think anyone would disagree that a BMW 335i is a fast car. It has a (limited) top speed of 155 and will easily crack off 0-60 in the low 5-second range. Despite those numbers, I still had difficulty passing the 50-passenger tour bus near the Pflanzgarten.”




Above are today’s contestants. Pick them carefully. The top ones will be around for a long time. Here are the Rules of Engagement:

  • You are presented with a set of seven writing examples. Their authors haven been carefully anonymized. They have a number instead.
  • The top three out of each set of seven receive an entry permit into the rarefied world of TTAC writers. Those who don’t make the grade and who fail in front of our jury will be sold into white slavery, or worse, recommended for the morning shift at Jalopnik. (Inciting voter apathy could mean that all contestants are sold off, we want and keep the winners.)
  • The snippets come in the exact order they landed in my mailbox.
  • The snippets have been chosen by me, in a very subjective way: By looking quickly at the story, and by picking what stands out.
  • You have two votes for each day. Both votes have equal weight. You may not vote more than once per day and set of contestants. Don’t throw away your votes! On Monday,453 voted, but did cast only 770 votes. OK if some thought no one worthy of a second vote. Not OK of they forgot that they have TWO votes. 
  • The vote for each set runs until the second set appears. That’s typically for around 24 hours. Vote now, do not procrastinate. Voting for the last set stops when I say so, also typically 24 hours after the last set goes up.


And now, let’s go to the polls! 

(No hanging chads. Don’t mail or phone it in. Read snippets before voting. Vote now.)

You have TWO votes. Place your bets.

This poll has been removed.

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48 Comments on “TTAC Future Writers Week: And The Winners Are (For Starters) …...”

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    Oh my God this is getting painful.

    But thanks again to all who contributed.

  • avatar

    Anyone that rights about muscle cars has my vote!

  • avatar

    I’m sorry, but I did not find any of the posts for today interesting, – no vote.

  • avatar
    Don Mynack

    Princeton? Ugh. TTAC must remain Ivy League free.

  • avatar

    #8 – Actually a good concept, I think something went haywire with COPY-PASTE?
    #9 – Grammar. Also, you “can’t pick favourites” but you just did.
    #10 – So you’re summarizing a Popular Mechanics article for us and telling us how it signifies Detroit’s turnaround. Is the full piece a 100-200 page thesis, too?
    #11 – Truth is, you’re putting me to sleep.
    #12 – I have an idea for your next (paid) column with xxxxxxxx website. Call it BID-SELL-WIN (BSW).
    #13 – Decent.
    #14 – Yawn.

  • avatar

    I see where this is going. I won’t be crashing the site by checking back too frequenly today…

    • 0 avatar

      Why not, they fixed the system so it can handle the traffic. At least that what I’ve heard.

      • 0 avatar

        The problem is more with me than the site. I get a little obsessive about certain things sometimes and it is all to easy to keep hitting the refresh button between the myriad of small tasks that cross my desk every day.

        I’ve been having a lot of fun following this contest though I fear that I am enjoying the snarky comments from the peanut gallery at least as much as I enjoy the efforts of the contestants. It will be interesting to see the kind of material this new blood produces and how long they want to stick with it with everyone making it their personal mission to cut them down to size.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed. Criticism should be seen as a good thing anyway. One of my concerns is I’m rarely ever a reader here. There’d be links, I’d look, but that’s about it. Many of you are familiar with each other and the style of the site. I, on the other hand, am the new guy. The few bright sides to that is there’s the potential for growth and new views, some mystery even. I’ve seen a few comments through this page about pandering– there’s none here. I call things how I see them or attempt to see them in multiple lights, be them good or bad.

      I’m still erring on the side of disappointment for good measure, but enjoying new heads to chat with.

  • avatar

    I picked #14 because the piece, short as it is, rings true, and made me want to comment. I saw a Viper a long time ago trying to pass something else, I forgot what. I think it was pretty big, a truck or an RV or something. But he did (or attempted to do it) in a very stupid way. Following closely behind the slow vehicle, he would suddenly move to the left and accelerate hard, then having doubt and brake hard and swerve back into lane. He did this over and over again! If he can’t pass the thing with something as powerful as a Viper… I had the fortune of making frequent trips up a twisty mountain road as a beginner driver, with a 1.3l pushrod Toyota Corolla, with all of 60hp or so to propel it. So passing anything (usually very slow buses or trucks going uphill) requires some skill (and guts), to say the least.

    • 0 avatar

      Did you ever spill your tofu water?

      • 0 avatar

        Be nice.
        Haven’t you ever had to live with an underpowered vehicle?
        My first impressively underpowered one was a 1980 Mercedes-Benz 240D with the automatic transmission. “Cream Puff” was her name.
        Taught me patience, planning, and conservation of momentum, and most likely made me a better driver.

        At this time, I choose not to discuss the smart fortwo that preceded my current FR-S, other than to say it was faster than the Benz, just not by much.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      That’s exactly how I felt about #13 – it rings true, at least for my last car purchase – a car that 1) has a 6-speed manual, 2) gets good (highway, at least) gas mileage, 3) carries my whole family in a pinch (5 folks), 4) has a nice highway ride, 5) has bluetooth and usb/ipod capability, and 6) isn’t a penalty box.

      Rubik’s Cruze (Eco).

  • avatar

    There has been a small addendum to the rules …

    • 0 avatar

      I sent you two messages, and I have a few questions:

      1) Is choosing “Becoming a TTAC Writer” in “Regarding”
      field enough, or should I have copied it to subject as well? I did this way the first time around, but not the second.
      2) Do you confirm messages received? I have no idea whether this got to you or not. I have been previously in some talks with Derek about writing for TTAC and had trouble getting the messages through (evil spam filter, I guess).
      3) It seems that some snippets today are not even from actual articles. Did these people send nothing, or is it possible that you take the snippet from “cover letter” instead of article example? I would rather dislike this to happen to my one :)

    • 0 avatar
      Austin Greene

      Much clearer. Had I better understood I would have voted twice yesterday.

    • 0 avatar

      Gentlemen: The excerpts of emails are only used if no real samples of writing are submitted. TTAC authors should be able to read and understand simple instructions. If they don’t ….

  • avatar

    What’s the internet for if not being critical from my comfy chair of other people’s hard work?

    The entries today make me double down on my previous assertion that the editors choosing the top 5-10 total and running full length pieces would have been more succesful.

    Some of these don’t even seem to be true writing samples as much of snippets of proposals or writing resumes.

    Still lookig forward to the results.

  • avatar


    How about the rules change to include negative voting, as in you get two votes, but can either be a thumbs up or a blocking vote down on one that you really didn’t like?

    • 0 avatar

      That might complicate (or might have complicated) the scoring, but after these two days of candidates, it’s becoming clear that negative voting may have been necessary.
      I only voted for one of yesterday’s entries even knowing (checkboxes instead of radio buttons were another clue) that I could vote for more than one.

  • avatar

    It was easier to find my top 2 this time. There were some I didn’t like at all today.

  • avatar

    #11 can’t spell, ‘too’.>>>BUZZZ<<<

  • avatar

    I can’t vote for any of these. Sorry.

  • avatar

    I voted for 11 and 14, both of them seemed to have interesting opinions to speak.

    The rest weren’t as “cheap mans Clarkson” as the last bunch, but after reading 13 I have to say that its appalling how many writers are trying to appeal to TTAC readers like we’re really as simple as a bunch of Panther lovin’ diesel drivin’ hipsters.

    Now if you excuse me, I have to write up a piece on how driving a Mercury Marquis gave me warm fuzzy feelings…

    • 0 avatar

      ^ Exactly. Sadly enough, it worked yesterday, too – McPantherlovin made it in the final cut.

      I was thinking about submitting a piece about the blandness of the Camry.

      • 0 avatar

        In which I would retort with post a URL to my blog post at Manually Shifted Soul (shameless as this plug may be) about how we need bland in order to know good cars. Boring is a neccessary evil, and one that we take for granted today. In the 1980’s, the current four-pot base model mid-sizers would be sporty. Given that’s all relative, but still– could be worse.

      • 0 avatar

        Harvey, my Camry comment was meant sarcastically – in that I would submit a writing sample aimed for a played-out, universally accepted theme (panther ftw, diesel manual wagons, etc.).

      • 0 avatar

        Diesel loses me. It’s great, but friends of mine on other forums are loving the idea of a diesel Mazda6… why? To me the character of the Mazda6 doesn’t deserve an engine that doesn’t like to rev. No, it doesn’t need to be 9,000rpm, but at LEAST 6,700. There’s so much less auditory drama with diesel, and to me that’s part of the thrill of driving.

        For instance, American muscle today still has nice, lazy delivery. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun to rev it out some. Screamers like the BRZ, S2000, or LFA lack the torque grunt, but are still a subjective pleasure to hear.

        Diesel still isn’t sporty enough to garner my enthusiasm in delivery terms.

        As for the basis about appeasing the most enthusiasts, yeah, it’s too easy. That’s what my Echo is for ;) Sarcasm or not, I’d have replied with it for the sense of perspective of the matter.

  • avatar

    I for one welcome the etching-strength vitriol, but for one commentator from yesterday in particular, who suggested I play Playstation and drive a Cruze, I extend a warm, warm invitation to try following my RX-8 on my next run up Highway 1 once the spring rains quit. I’ll even slow down a bit and tap my brakes at the corner I muffed a bit and wrote that lede about, so you don’t have to learn about the nicely hard to spot slightly off-camber lean yourself the hard potentially fatal way.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      Shrugs, and you’ll leave me way behind as I trundle up the road at slightly over the speed limit on cruise control. Max latacc silliness on public roads isn’t really my thing, hasn’t been for 20 years.

      • 0 avatar

        I do not think you would survive driving Highway 1 at the speed limit on cruise control. Once it rises up off the flat coastal plains, up onto the cliffs, many the corners are not safe at “speed limit” speed.

        It’s a performance driving road.

  • avatar

    8 – Isn’t that the same concept as Nice Price or Crack Pipe?
    9- Wasn’t engaging, but would have liked to read more.
    10 – Gets my vote for being able to analyse others work
    11 – I don’t like generalisations
    12 – ??
    13 – gets my vote. “RWD, diesel, sport wagon with manual transmission”
    14 – 3rd best of today’s lot.

    • 0 avatar

      Re: #12, I chose to read it as a Mad Lib, inserting ridiculous names of people and publications in the blanks. I found myself snorting a little when i got to the part about “many of the articles I produced when I was writing for *Cat Fancy* was [sic] some of my best work.”

      Had that been the actual piece, #12 would have received my vote.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    So to continue my wildly successful contestant by contestant analysis, with added nastiness

    8 reads like the instruction manual for some pyramid selling scheme
    9 starts well, third sentence is tautological tripe. Last sentence is just a lazy jab.
    10 Apparently written by some Markov chain language bot.
    11 To be honest, I don’t care what the Land cruiser guy thinks the lady in the other car is not thinking about either.
    12 I’ve got a swimming certificate, so what?
    13 Hurray-nearly. Blows it with the last sentence, blatant pandering to audience
    14 Banal

    So the surprise winner is landcruiser guy, at least he made me think about how little his opinion mattered to me.

  • avatar

    I should have sent in my entry:

    It was a dark and stormy night; the fabulous fossil finally freed from its sedimentary straitjacket, brilliant scientist Elmer Ecru sat uneasily in the drenched, flapping tent he shared with voluptuous young paleontologist Gretchen Gingham, her million watt smile acting like a vorpal blade snicker-snacking his heart. “Jeez,” thought Elmer, “I sure hope the old bone doesn’t get too wet tonight.”

    There’s nothing about cars in there, you say? That’s in the SECOND paragraph. You gotta save something for the playoffs!

  • avatar

    Marauder X-100 means instant vote from me.

  • avatar

    Looks like the best samples are solidly in the lead.

    Sad for #8, though. Creative concept. No love.

  • avatar

    I must have missed the cat porn article, I would have voted for that and the Notre Dame dead /fake girlfriend story if I knew what car she drove, ( more than likely a brown diesel wagon with a stick and RWD of course)

  • avatar

    You should go find your own writers outside the limited choices readership presents. And you should look seriously for women writers. At the least, they heavily sway automobile purchasing decisions.

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