WRiTE CLUB - Semi-Finals Round 1


Here we go!  Today begins the first of six bouts spanning the next six days.  The winners will be announced at noon on Sunday and the next round will kick off next Tuesday (right after the ORIGINS blogfest). I won’t be saying much on any of these post because your task is clear…read the submission from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  Don’t forget to offer some opinions if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote, so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to participate as well.  Good luck to both WRiTER’s!

And now…..


In this corner we bring back to the ring with 500 new words.....ART GALLERY

I've been stealing glances at him for the last two weeks.  Always reclined back in his chair with his elbow resting on the table, a cigarette perched between his finger and his thumb. Most of us are just so stiff and formal in here, especially me with my hands crossed demurely over my velvet coat and my hair pinned up properly under my hat as I sit on the terrace with my baby sister. His aspect is much more appealing. I wish I could lounge like that in a rumpled white T-shirt and rowing pants, smoking a cigarette and relaxing with friends.

We're both part of the permanent collection here but have frequently been on loan to other museums, so we've rarely hung for long in the same gallery. I learned from the docent who leads tours through the Impressionist wing that he's a Renoir, like me, so I always figured he was just the same old, same old. But now that I look—really look—I see we are quite distinct.

It may have been his suave nonchalance that drew me in, but it's his entrancing, cerulean eyes that keep me looking back. I know he's comprised of the same sweeping blurs of brushstrokes as I am, but from the distance between our opposite walls, he's a defined, striking figure, and his sang-froid eyes are as beautiful as anything I've ever seen.


I thought I'd been discreet in my glances, but one day he caught me. And winked. I’d flicked my eyes away, pretending to examine the long boat in his background, but when my gaze drifted back a few minutes later he was unabashedly staring at me. He’d smirked and tapped out his ashes as he returned his attention to his friends, but things have been heating up ever since.

More often than not, when I direct my gaze to him, he's already looking at me, one corner of his mouth turned up in a half smile that I interpret in oh-so-many delicious ways. That’s when the canvas under me starts to warm, and the heat must be radiating to my baby sister because she's been shooting me odd looks. Something's got to give or soon I'll be nothing but a myriad of melted oils on the floor beneath my frame.

Fortunately, something is going to give. Yesterday his eyes lingered on mine for a particularly lusty moment before pointing with a slight nod of his head toward Monet’s haystacks at the far end of the gallery.  The lumps of dried wheat are bulky enough for two figures to hide behind. Unnoticed. Today he repeated the motion and wrapped his enticing lips around a silent "Tonight."

It's not unprecedented for images to leave their paintings for a rendezvous—from what I've heard through the paintvine all manner of things go on in the modern art gallery—but amongst us staid, Impressionist pieces, it's fairly uncommon. I've never done it, nor have I dreamed of doing it. Until him.

And in the other corner, our round eleven winner also with 500 new words....LADY GRIMM

The monitor buzzed at the confidential agency, Nexus Trouble Shooters, in the town of Ellicot. The delivery chute belonging to the mayor of Fortran needed repair. Swaltym was dispatched along with two veteran workers to fix it. He arrived at the transportation module before anyone else. Finally, he was going to get his first glimpse of the über-secretive city that only a select few knew existed. When the module emerged from the long tunnel into bright sunlight, eighteen-year-old Swaltym perched on the edge of his seat, squinting.

Fanned out in the valley below, lay rows of windowless, igloo-shaped houses. Any conceivable open space was awash in gravel. Alphabetical signs clearly identified each street they passed. Reflective numbers twinkled from the front of each grayish igloo. Swaltym didn't see any stores, restaurants, or businesses of any kind, nor any sign of life.

He couldn't help feeling disappointed. He'd imagined something...grander.

The men drove .5 kilometers down F Street, pulling up to the hatch of 573. Only the hum of electricity punctured the immense quiet surrounding the village like a bubble. The repairmen opened the hatch to the garage-like space where home deliveries were made, and examined the malfunctioning chute.

Meanwhile, returning to her workstation from the lavatory, sixteen-year-old Delphi Rotamashew noticed the Nexus crew on video surveillance. As she watched the tall men work, her attention was riveted by the one whose dark hair fell over his forehead and into his eyes; eyes that Delphi saw were pinging about like a ball in a video game. She zoomed the camera in for a close-up.

A crazy idea formed. She felt faint at the boldness of it.

For the first time in her life, she wanted to do something forbidden. Her hand trembled. Her heart raced. Her mouth was as dry as toast before coating it in syrup.  Delphi opened the door of her world and stepped into the delivery compartment.

Swaltym gasped. Never before had he seen anything like what stood swaying before him: a vaguely human lump with bony fingers, slack face, and immense irises. It looked like a living potato, with wispy hair gathered into a ponytail. It wore surgical scrubs and stood about four feet tall.

Swaltym realized he was gaping and struggled to regain his composure.
"Mind on the task, newbie," their leader barked. "We're here to work, not gawk." But Swaltym heard the wonder in his voice. Had his comrades never seen one of these village inhabitants either? Emboldened, he stepped closer.

"How do you do? I'm Swaltym." The potato's protruding brown eyes studied him. With a shock, he realized that he was staring at the potato as hard as the potato was staring at him. But he couldn't turn away.

"I'm called Delphi," the potato said in a small voice. "I've never see an Outsider with my own eyes before. I have seen pictures of you, of course, and I've studied you in school." She ignored the other men. She only had eyes for Swaltym.

Voting for round one will remain open only until the next bout starts tomorrow. 

Don’t forget the WRiTE CLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!



24 comments

  1. I vote for Art Gallery on this round.

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  2. Art Gallery all the way. I enjoyed this story in the preliminary rounds and still do!

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  3. I'm going with #2. Both are great, but it grabbed me more. :)

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  4. I vote for Art Gallery. It is well-written, has an intriguing voice, and we're dropped immediately into the story. The tension and questions are smoothly developed, and the story ends perfectly.

    I like the situation in the second one and think it is a captivating idea, but the POV is erratic and we spend the first section of the piece just traveling, with no real hint of any tension, drama, or story questions.

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  5. Have to go with the first one by Art Gallery.

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  6. Art Gallery for me, but just by the tiniest bit

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  7. Oh man, they were both so good! I have to go with #1 because I was totally intrigued by the concept of painting subjects having thoughts or relationships. #2 was really good too. Man this was hard!

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  8. Art Gallery for me! The second one was hard for me to get into, it felt kinda jumpy and I didn't really know what was going on. I love the idea of paintings having a rendezvous though!

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  9. Wow. I'm voting for ART GALLERY. I liked it the first go, and it did open up and get better. I want to know what's going to happen!!! :D

    For #2--it was also a solid, good entry. One suggestion. What if you started at 'graph "Meanwhile, returning to her workstation from the lavatory..." and just drop the "Meanwhile." Like that's your first sentence: "Returning to her workstation from the lavatory..."

    Then sort of filter in that opening info later--maybe interspersed with dialogue tags, perhaps in the next chapter, in a conversation btw characters. As it is, it feels like too much coming all at once. Think about it~

    Great work, guys! :o) <3

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  10. I'm a little confused by both of these, but I'll vote for number two.

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  11. I prefer to see dialogue, but will vote for Art Gallery this week.

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  12. Wow, tough choices. I'm going with #2.

    I had a hard time reading with the highlighting though.

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  13. I vote for Art Gallery. I found it saucy and romantic. I felt like running to the haystack myself.

    Lady Grimm gave me a good laugh at the man saying she looked like a potato and then saying he stared at it and the potato spoke. Very funny.

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  14. I have to go with #1 here! It was charming and suave and original!

    I'm afraid #2 almost lost me by hitting me with a bunch of strange names in the first three sentences. Instead of easing me into the setting, I felt dropped in and left to sink or swim.

    That said, I enjoyed it further down when the Potato girl (?!) came out to meet the maintenance worker.

    But #1 had already won my vote by then.

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  15. Ahh, what fun!

    My vote goes to Art Gallery. Love the idea! Unique, enticing, made me feel as if they were more than oils on canvas! Gotta wonder how the oils will mix behind a haystack!

    Laughed out loud on Lady Grimm, when he referred to her, as if speaking to a potato. Funny, funny stuff!

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  16. Both are creative and intriguing, but the second one is a bit jumpy and stilted. Art Gallery gets my vote.

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  17. My vote goes to Art Gallery.

    While Lady Grimm intrigued me with the mystery of what is happening and where these guys are going, a couple cliche phrases pulled me right out (he couldn't help; for the first time in her life; never before had he seen . .)

    The impersonal 3rd POV was a bit jarring for me too.

    But I loved how Delphi description, and the curiosity they both displayed. The world was well built too.

    But the Art Gallery appealed to me with out any hitches. I like the innuendo, the subtle integration of the gallery, and the possibilities of figures leaving their portraits. This was a perfect, complete flash fiction piece.

    While I'm voting for Art in this competition, I will say I feel Lady has a lot more story to tell, and I would be willing to read on to see how this world and the love relationship develops.

    Nicely done, both authors.

    .......dhole

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