By on August 10, 2016

snoopy-dark-and-stormy-night Courtesy dogster.com

We’ve been often accused of hiring bad writers here at TTAC — and now we have confirmation.

Our own Steve Lynch, former Big Time Auto Industry Executive and author of the book about the Honda scandal, just received a Dishonorable Mention nod in the 34th annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, where entrants are challenged to write the worst possible opening sentence to an imaginary novel.

The contest, sponsored by the English Department of San José State University, is named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose opening line in his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford” has been mocked relentlessly over the years: “It was a dark and stormy night … ”

It goes without saying that Lynch’s entry was automotive related. 

Lynch was recognized for this entry in the Detective/Crime Category:

Just after dawn on the morning of the last day of his life, Anthony Scanzio looked out his window and again saw the two men parked down the street in a Gloss Black 2016 Chrysler 300C, and coincidentally you can buy one just like it from the author’s uncle at Lyndhurst Chrysler and get a great deal, ask for Eddie!

How does one achieve such suck-cess?

“You have to be good writer imitating a bad writer who thinks he or she is a good writer,” said Lynch, adding, “I thought about using a Hellcat to just to make BTSR happy but that would have been too over-the-top for this story.”

This is the third time Lynch’s work has been recognized by the contest. He won the Detective Category in 2010 and remembered the reaction from his friends.

“They all said the same thing, ‘How do I tell that writing from your regular writing?’”

The Bulwer-Lytton contest has had one grand prize-winning sentence with an automotive slant. In 2005, Dan McKay of Fargo won with this entry:

As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual.

Lynch previously penned an automotive-themed entry that was rejected, so consider this its world premiere.

Her delicate features reminded Robert of a bower of roadside flowers, not like the bluebonnets or Indian blankets along Texas highways, but like the daisies on a wooden cross by the side of the road marking the spot where two teenagers died after crashing a 1996 Honda Civic.

So, do you think you could do better, er, worse? Feel free to submit your car-related bad opening sentences below. Rather than Bulwer-Lytton, we will call it the Baruth-Lynch bad writing contest.

[Image: dogster.com]

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53 Comments on “TTAC Contributor Recognized For Bad Writing...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    at first I thought this was going to be a “hit piece” on a former TTAC author.

    well played on the lede image too; Snoopy is what I nearly always think of when I hear/read “It was a dark and stormy night.”

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I always forget that Steve Lehto isn’t a contributor here, which is why I thought this story would be about the WSJ review of his Tucker book. http://www.wsj.com/articles/mr-tucker-builds-his-dream-car-1468010528

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The end of her rope, patience frazzled – about to short out – she poured the story over therapist Dr. Schlock like so many gallons of 93 octane; all the while he’d had visions of her falling apart like the wiring harness in his S500 Coupe.

  • avatar
    sbspence

    Out of the dark night came a Geo Storm, its engine wheezing like my asthmatic cousin as the driver “Barked” at his co-driver Jack about holding the map upside down again…while in the distance a lone wolf could be heard calling good night to the moon “baaaruuuuuth…”

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Her size was deceptive, like an Opel GT that you think is C3 Corvette until you get close enough to put your hands on her curves.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    “It goes without saying that Lynch’s entry was automotive related.”

    Take a bow for bad writing yourself.

    My own contribution:

    Like the automotive equivalent of The West Wing’s Josh and Toby, the Baruth brothers wouldn’t stop patting themselves on the back for defeating DangerGirl at an autocross.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Where IS btsr these days? Is he exiled? If so, was as it voluntary?

  • avatar
    doublechili

    As he munched on his free range chicken salad wrap and stared into her icy black eyes (she fell on her way into the restaurant), he suddenly knew that somehow this time it would be different, and he is typically not telepathic like the handling on his BMW 335i which has been in the shop for the past week.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Alas Cadillac.
    A marque without sincere spark.
    Johan weeps so softly.

  • avatar

    Lynch’s and the other Bulwer Lytton winner’s entries are the funniest things I’ve seen all month. I’m sure they could hear me laughing in the next town!

    Congrats Steve Lynch!!! (Not to be confused with the Congressman from South Boston

    • 0 avatar
      Frank Galvin

      To be fair, Congressman Lynch could easily win a dishonorable mention in the Spoken Word category. And I say that somewhat in jest, as I like the guy. When his pique is up, he sounds like a p’od stevedore which has made for some great soundbites over the years.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    The night was sultry.

  • avatar
    Joe Btfsplk

    Out of the parking garage he squealed, like the laws of gravity had been temporarily repealed, his Raptor grunted and squirming, digging for traction in the crosswalk… the turbo forces pushing him would not, could not be restrained. “Small penis indeed…I’ll show them!” he snarled as he searched for his rescue inhaler…

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    And here I was expecting a piece on DeMuro!

  • avatar
    FalcoDog

    In the dusk of the evening, FalcoDog read this article by the soft glow of his aged laptop and remembered a better day when Hellcats were new, Mustangs could kill you on a bumpy curve and Camaros looked like Bumblebee.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Oh, someone is a worse scribe than me!

    I don’t even try.

  • avatar
    5280thinair

    He looked up from the 8.4″ touch screen of his Charger Hellcat, wondering why 707 horsepower couldn’t translate into fast load times for the Big Truck Series Review web site, just in time to see the dead weight of a Cadillac ATS fall from the overpass and crush a brown manual-transmission station wagon just as Charlize Theron’s character had crushed the masculinity of Mad Max in Fury Road.

  • avatar

    The front end of the faux-rugged Compass had crumpled up on impact with the ditch like an aging reality star’s botox, its pretension at being something it wasn’t laid as bare and made as brief as Paris Hilton and her pan-flashed fame, and as John Dagger looked down at its remains, he realized he’d forgotten to pee at the gas station.

  • avatar
    trecoolx

    Her eyes blazed with the wanton energy of a harriden in heat, her onyx plastic-grilled bodice rumbled with the strum of 526 galloping horses ready to ride, her carbon fiber backside was as strong as steel. As I, along with dozens of others gazed upon this Mustang GT350 beauty on that tragic Saturday morn, we had no clue that this vixen of steel’s lascivious purr hid destructive power as it would peel out of the parking lot and tumble over the highway median like a maiden’s parasol in a rainstorm.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    It was a dark and stormy small truck story. Tension hung in the air like the exhaust from a Teutonic small diesel. Logic crumpled like the aluminum bed of an F150 in a GM commercial. It was as if a HELLCAT was set loose amongst aged porcelain poultry. Where oh where is Trump’s great wall.

    • 0 avatar
      Paragon

      Yes, it does seem to have potential. I anticipate that the plot thickens, as a result of the foreboding diesel exhaust fumes. One is left to suspect the possibility of a tragic ending.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Some of you have fallen off the prompt. “…the worst possible opening sentence to an imaginary novel.”

    Sentence, singular.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      CoreyDL – sorry. Forgot that it had to be imaginary.

      It was a bright and cheerful exchange of opinions after the posting of small truck news. There was no mention of pen!s size or compensation for such. Everyone agreed that people are free to buy as they see fit and all sizes mattered. Each to their own with an air of mutual respect. Poultry was never mentioned and American owners were praised.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    He stared into her eyes like a young man staring at the engine of his rusty Thunderbird, wondering why the 4.6 liter V8 powered beast refused to spring to life…

  • avatar
    FOG

    I used to buy the actual paperback sold for this award long ago. Completely forgot it existed. Thank you for finding another thing for me to use to avoid cleaning the garage.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    ‘-Clark noticed that the Audi had caught up very quickly on the winter roads, thanks to it’s crude 4wd system. But the knew that his brand new ’85 Ford Scorpio was fitted with ABS brakes as standard, and took the first right turn with ease, as the Audi continued straight forward, like on rails, with its anvil-like straight 5 plowing through threes and general undescribed scenery.
    His pursuers were probably smashing they faces on very nicely assembled soft-touch dash panels as he let the injected pinto engine (EU base-model) take him swiftly away from the crime-scene, while giving him remarkable mileage for a mid-80’s car with such incredible comfort and rear seat legroom.
    He giggled a bit when thinking how lucky he was that his boss was such a cheapskate after all.’

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The hot, sticky, muggy southern Ohio atmosphere felt just like the overheated ivory leather on a sun-baked, three-decade-old Cadillac whose air conditioning had ascended to the great junkyard in the sky.

  • avatar
    Lucas718

    “Come with me” he said to her with the confident charm of Ricardo Montalban suavely hawking an early 80’s Chrysler Cordoba, interior luxuriously appointed in rich Corinthian leather, which, coincidentally, happened to be the very same vehicle where years before, she willfully gave herself to a handsome Italian speaking young man whose name she never knew.

  • avatar
    peeryog

    “From where do you come barbarian, and by what are you called?” Gasped the complying wench, as Grignr smothered her lips with the blazing touch of his flaming mouth.

    Not mine but so much goodness in this entire book

  • avatar
    phlipski

    I was half way through my third beer during a Tuesday afternoon lunch of pulled pork and oysters at a popular and exclusive downtown Atlanta lunch spot when I thought, “I need to quit this amazing job I have at Porsche and actually do something to give back to the people of this great country!”

  • avatar
    ...m...

    to wound the autumnal city. So howled out the rennaisance center to give him a name. The in-dark answered with wind.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It was a dark and stormy Camry or maybe it was a Camaro I don’t remember but it was cold and wet I mean my Slurpee that I got at 7-11 the official sponsor of this sentence oh thank heaven right now you can buy one get one free I mean the Slurpee not the Camaro anyway I was going to get the sandwich with the chicken but then I saw that it had a big tax so I got something else to drink since the cupholders are really big and I have more than one of those I mean the cupholders not the Camaro because America is the greatest country in the world earth and everyone riding in the car gets to have their own cupholder although mine is a little bit better because it’s mine.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    This whole thread is pure gold already, and I feel a bit like printing it out and hanging it on a wall. Too bad the audience would be too narrow to make it go viral….

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thank you everyone ! .
    This really made my day =8-) .
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    nickoo

    This is a story about a boy and his car stories. The boy, crabspirits, would write the local paper’s car advice columnist twice weekly. One for each day published. Monday; Thursday; And again the next week. After a while, the columnist took note.

  • avatar
    ex007

    It was the Porsche of times, it was the Yugo of times, it was the age of Lutz, it was the age of Marchionne, it was the epoch of Bark, it was the epoch of Baruth, it was the season of station wagons, it was the season of SUVs, it was the spring of manuals, it was the winter of automatics, we had Rte 66 before us, we had pot holes before us, we were all going direct to Lime Rock, we were all going direct to Heartland Park – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its TTAC authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

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