WRiTE CLUB 2012 – Round 7



We've seen some dang good writing duke it out in the ring, and I'm pleased to present to you another winner. Walking away from Round 4 with their hands held high is RingGirl.  Her opponent, Cyan, will have his/her piece returned to the pool for a chance at re-selection for a future bout, and as always writers who have battled once are welcome to submit a different piece if they so wish.

This week I had to disqualify a potential contestant because they went over the 500 word limit. Please know that I hold everyone to the same standard and as each of you have seen in the previous bouts, every word counts, so squeezing in a few more is not acceptable.

Are you ready?  Got your popcorn and soda? Without further ado....


Here are this week's randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at xxx words, please welcome to the ring……..Jenna Fox.

As the tour boat’s klaxon sounded a warning, Emily’s heart pounded. This was a terrible mistake. All those bodies…

Alec flashed her a lopsided smile. His eyes looked cold and black in the gray morning light, but they still made her stomach swoop. They said the eyes were the window to the soul. Sometimes, though, Emily couldn’t help wondering if Alec even had a soul. 
 
Her own eyes undoubtedly revealed a confused mixture of longing and regret. She fell in love with him in high school before she discovered his true nature. Now they attended different colleges.
 
They were jammed in with at least a hundred other tourists, most of whom were speaking foreign languages. Someone’s spicy cologne made her nose itch. She heard smatterings of French and probably Japanese. But there were at least a half dozen other languages she didn’t recognize. The tourists jostled cameras and smart phones as they clicked picture after picture of Manhattan Island. Why would anyone need so many pictures of the same skyscrapers? 
 
The morning mist lingered, making the October air feel damp and chilly. Emily wrapped her sweater over her chest. If the mist thickened into fog, they wouldn’t be seeing all 101 sights the Circle Line advertised. Not that Emily cared; she lived here. This was Alec’s idea. “I’ve come all this way to visit you, Em. I’d like to see something touristy.” So she’d purchased two tickets for the full three-hour tour. Yet the minute they boarded the boat, she realized her blunder. Now she hunched next to Alec, chewing her lower lip. It tasted of salt. One by one, she observed the other passengers. Which one would it be?
 
The double-decker boat chugged north up the East River. The Brooklyn Bridge loomed ahead. And then Emily noticed a group of schoolboys in neat blue uniforms. They were 13 or 14 and speaking in singsong tones that could be Swedish or Norwegian. They poked each other excitedly as the boat sailed under the bridge, pointed up at the magnificent metal girders. “Ja! Ja!” Their teacher looked eager too. He was in his late 30s and had straight blond hair, just like the boys. She considered the teacher for a moment, but then dismissed him. Too old. She should be concentrating on the boys. Hmm. The tallest one. For sure.
 
Alec snapped a photo of the bridge as it receded into the distance. Now they were cruising past midtown and he leaned on the rail. The wind slashed his dark hair into dagger points across his forehead. Emily realized he hadn’t even noticed the boy yet. Perhaps she could still prevent it. She shifted her stance, tried to appear taller. But then he turned and looked past her shoulder and she could see the change in his eyes. The surge of desire.

He used to look at her that way.

****************************************************************************


And in the other corner, weighing in at a mere 413 words, let me introduce to you ……..I.B. Wrighton.

At a recent appointment, I told my dentist that I sit in my car and knock back a couple shots before coming into his office. Marie, his dental assistant, thought I had such a great idea, she wanted to join me. I figured if I needed a shot for one thirty-minute appointment, she definitely deserved one for staying at the office all day, even if it weren’t her teeth being drilled and tortured.

She asked if Mark could join us. He’s the dentist, so I assumed he drank regularly anyway and said yes, but not until after he was done with the work in my mouth.

Nine out of ten dentists recommend drinking before dental appointments. Oh, sorry. I got that wrong. I meant to say nine out of ten patients recommend drinking before dental appointments. I hope the nine dentists wait until after work to imbibe.

By the time the Novocain set in, Marie and I had decided to tailgate all my appointments. The next one’s at 9:30 in the morning, so we’ll shoot for Mimosas.

See? I knew if I worked hard enough, I could make trips to the dentist something to look forward to, instead of dread. Of course, if my teeth issues don’t come under control soon, I just might become an alcoholic.

My dentist is a friendly, informal kind of guy who invites patients to call him by his first name. I like to show respect for medical professionals, especially ones who put sharp instruments into my mouth, so I prefer to use his doctor title. Dr. Oxymoron, to be exact.

Why do I call him that? Only a dentist would respond to your complaint of chronic pain by saying, “Show me where it hurts. I’ll drill a hole in your tooth and cram some of this foul-tasting white stuff in there. You’ll feel better in no time.” (Insert whirl of the drill accompanied by maniacal laughter here.) His tools and techniques are instruments of both torture and relief.

When I see my primary care physician for a sore throat, she doesn’t pull out a butcher knife and stab me in the neck. The orthopedic didn’t play Whack-A-Mole on my hand with a sledgehammer the time I broke my thumb while skiing on my first date with my future husband. Yet, when Dr. Oxymoron comes at me with his drill, I automatically open my mouth as soon as he tells me to.

Drunk people do the craziest things.

**************************************************************************


Which one will it be?  In the comments below leave your vote for the winner of round 7, along with any sort of critique you would like to offer.  Please remind your friends to make a selection as well.  The voting will remain open until noon next Tuesday. Remember, you can throw your pen name into the hat anytime during these last nine weeks by submitting your own 500 word sample.  Check out the rules by clicking on the badge below…then come out swinging!

Remember, here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!



67 comments

  1. I have to go with Jenna Fox on this one. Great sense of foreboding even though I wasn't totally sure what was going on--I definitely wanted to find out.

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  2. Out of the two, I preferred Jenna Fox's writing style, so I'm voting for her.

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  3. I'm on the Jenna Fox team here.

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  4. Okay, this is going to be a divergence from my norm. I'm very much the dark, brooding type. Give me a sad story and I could probably come up with a few more ways to make it tragic. So after reading Jenna Fox, I figured it was right up my alley. But, as always, keeping an open mind is a good idea. I read I.B. Wrighton and couldn't stop grinning. As much as I REALLY enjoyed Jenna Fox, there was a vagueness that clouded my ability to connect with the characters. But I connected in the second story. So my vote goes to I.B. Wrighton for this bout.

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  5. Hmm. I.B.'s is pretty funny, but I have to go with Jenna, just for using the word klaxon.

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  6. Jenna Fox. Dying to read further.

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  7. I really liked the humor in I.B. Wrighton's piece - so my vote goes there.

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  8. These were both amazing! My vote goes for Jenna Fox for really "Sucking me in" ;) but I like the I.B. Wrighton piece too, and I love the pen name

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  9. I liked both as well, liked the humor a lot though so I'll go with I.B. Wrighton's.

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  10. This is a very tough choice. These entries are pretty even.

    And as an aside, I'm sure it's just a slip, Don, but I love the fact that the entry by 'Jenna Fox' is currently listed at 'xxx' words -- with a pen-name that sounds like a porn-star, that's about what I'd expect. ;^)

    Anyway...

    Jenna Fox does a very good job in her entry. The writing is generally smooth, the voice is clear, and there are some excellent planting of story questions. While I would probably not want to read read on with this story, that is only a personal taste decision -- it's beginning to feel like we're drifting into derivative 'Twilight' territory with this lip-biting introspective girl and her boyfriend with his eyes of 'hunger' and 'all the bodies,' and so this story is likely not to my taste. But that's not a reflection of the writing, which does its job quite well.

    I.B. Wrighton also has a smoothly-written piece (and I be Readin' it). The humor is light, the character easy to relate to, and the voice inviting. What is unfortunately missing is really any sign of an underlying story. I don't expect a full story arc in 500 words or less, but I would like to see at least some seeds planted that gets me involved enough to go "what happens next?" I don't find myself asking that question after reading this.

    On the other hand, after reading Jenna Fox's piece, I am involved enough to wonder what happens next, even if it's coupled with extra thoughts like, "Oh God, I really hope this isn't a story about a dreamy vampire and his mopey, misty-eyed girlfriend!"

    So yeah -- Jenna Fox gets my vote.

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  11. The first one is dark and I hope it goes in the direction I think it's going (because it could really veer into some uncomfortable territory) so I'll vote for Jenna Fox.

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  12. What I have to say is not a review or a critique. If you're the author who wrote these entries, don't read this.
    I'm obligated to vote.
    Therefore my vote goes to Jenna fox due to a semblance of suspense. But seriously... Vampires? Still?
    In the second entry I felt like I was watching an amateur comedian. I appreciate dry humor... when it's funny.

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  13. These were great!
    My vote...I.B. Wrighton.
    Good luck to everyone!
    Heather

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  14. Creepy vs Humor... kind of a catch 22 if I do say so myself.
    My votes for Jenna Fox

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  15. Two good pieces, this morning. Very present flow, no 'speed bumps' in either.

    The high point of the first in terms of interest was the line, 'Which one would it be?' That was a very natural way to pique curiosity and the payoff was there in under 500 words -- the mark of someone with an innate sense of story arc on both the micro- and macro- level. I also think, 'The wind slashed his dark hair into dagger points across his forehead' was beautifully done -- elegant and restrained. Very nice.

    The second has a lot of personality -- agreeable tone. The writer is quite obviously relaxed with her medium, at home with words and with a fluid ability to get them to do what she wants. The last full paragraph went off without a hitch. Also very nice.

    So, I'm going to cop out again, this morning. I can't choose between these two. They are on equal footing, however disparate their styles. These two contestants, it seems to me, have been writing for some time, and it shows. Way to duke it out, today. Thumbs up.
    Best of luck to all entries.

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  16. Two very different styles. While I enjoyed both, I would have liked more of a hint of the direction we're going with both of them. The 2nd one had a terrific voice so my vote goes there.

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  17. This was a hard one. Again. I seem to be saying that a lot here!

    My vote goes Jenna Fox for the smoothness of the style, the flow and the underlying tone that was built in a few short words. I was left wanting more.

    I.B.'s I felt needed to find a focus. The direction was a bit vague and didn't leave me with any questions...I just simply didn't feel interested or invested in the characters. Though I will say I did enjoy the IDEA of what the writer was aiming for.

    Well done guys!

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  18. Dark and mysterious versus light and humourous. Tough decision yet again but the first piece held me more so on this occasion I'm going for Jenna Fox. Well done both authors.

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  19. So different! The first one is creepy and compelling and the second is funny in a strange and unusual way. Hard choice.

    This time, I'm going with #2.

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  20. I enjoyed both pieces, and this was a very TOUGH decision, but I decided to go with the one that made me laugh out loud - I.B. Wrighton.

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  21. I'm with Stacy on this one. The visual of the Whack-A-Mole made me laugh out loud. My vote goes to I.B. Wrighton...

    Donna L Martin
    www.donnalmartin.com
    www.donasdays.blogspot.com

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  22. This time my vote is for Jenna Fox, even though I'm still not sure what is going to happen and I kinda wish we got a little more taste of it in the 500 words. I just thought her writing was cleaner.

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  23. I really hope the first one was a vampire story. I got a little confused in the second one, so I vote for Jenna.

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  24. I really like Jenna Fox, and I'm going to vote for her, but I strongly advise her to do something about that first line... because I thought it was gonna be the story of a mass murder. "All those bodies..." and then the story switched into the MC's attraction to Alec, and I was like, ????? And then ohhhhhh. Great writing! I like the chemistry between the two leads. As for I.B. Wrighton's (punny name!), I really liked that entry too and enjoyed the humor, but I couldn't see where it was really going.

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  25. Jenna gets my vote - altho I have to say I kinda like the idea of having a shot or two before my dentist appointment :)

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  26. I loved both of these selections. Overall, I preferred the humor in I.B. Wrighton's piece, but I found the changes in verb tense distracting. This would be a fantastic selection with a bit of smoothing, tweaking, and consistency.

    So I am casting my vote for Jenna Fox today. I loved her piece, too, and it reads smoothly. As someone said above -- "Which one would it be?" was the line that punched me in the gut and hooked me.

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  27. IB Wrighton. I hope Jenna's was a vampire story, I guess. Wrighton's needs a bit more story to be complete, or some indication that there is more to read somewhere, sometime... But all in all I liked the humor in IB Wrighton's, so that's where my vote goes.

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  28. Jenna Fox seemed generic and uninvolving (unless romance automatically sucks you in, as apparently many others were). I.B. Wrighton had lively, engaging writing. I be voting for Wrighton.

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  29. I thought Wrighton's writing was cleaner, so it gets my vote.

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  30. Both entries are good but I'm going to vote for I.B. Wrighton, I like the humor in that entry.

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  31. Awwwww, Mannnnn!!!!! Have you been saving the best pieces for later? Do you intend to torture us by gradually offering better and better pieces, causing us to agonize over our choices like dieters at a feast?
    Jenna, but only because I want to read the next paragraph.

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  32. Aww, the first one was so da! I hope they work things out.

    Voting for Wrighton. That was hilarious!

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  33. I vote for IB Wrighton. I liked the humor.

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  34. I liked the writing in the first piece, but found it a bit confusing, too. Loved the humor and voice in the second piece. (Maybe if booze were on hand, I could actually get my husband to the dentist once in a while.) Gotta vote for IB Wrighton. Love the alias, and love the humor.

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  35. Loved both pieces but I'll vote for Jenna. I want to know more. :)

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  36. Both pieces were great. Very clear writing styles. Normally I'd go for the darker, broodier one, but with Jenna Fox, I found myself wanting just a bit more to salivate over. If she'd have given us some idea--even a vague one of what Alec meant to do with those who fell under his gaze, I would have liked it better. IB Wrighton, on the other hand, had me actually chuckling, so my vote goes to her! :D

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  37. IB Wrighton gets my vote because upon finishing reading it, I had to call Beloved Husband and read it to him over the phone so I could hear him laugh. My one small wish is that it had a hint of a storyline.

    Jenna - I liked the voice, and I'd totally read on. But, this time around I had to go with the humor.

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  38. Jenna Fox actually had a story, so I'm voting for her.

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  39. Two very strong entries, but I have to go with Jenna. The other had nothing to draw me in.

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  40. I.B. Wrighton. Jenna's piece had a clunky information flow so I had to backtrack, which made it difficult to get a reaction.

    IBW's piece at least got a chuckle. I found it a smooth read from beginning to end.

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  41. My vote is for Wrighton. I've got some serious empathy here. My teeth still hurt. Feedback: all the talk on drinking went on too long. I giggled a couple times, then wanted to say, "I got it already." There are other repetitious elements - scan for those.

    Jenna - I checked out as soon as I thought a child abuse story was coming. My motherly soul is harrowed by graphic portrayals of such and I stop reading, watching, whatever, when I see it coming. If my perception is wrong, I think you would do well to clarify. Otherwise, there are a lot of cliches. You've got a way with words, make them your own. I also would have liked to know the setting is NY earlier. A boat can be so many places - I was thinking the River Styx for a bit.

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  42. I found the second piece too conversational and clumsy. I might've really enjoyed it as, say, a comedy performance. Written, there wasn't enough story, character or imagery to engage me. I thought Jenna's piece was tightly written and I could easily relate to it, and I wanted to read more. She gets my vote.

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  43. Jenna Fox, good flow, great tension

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  44. My vote is for Jenna Fox (Taken from the novel, I assume!). I am left intrigued and wanting more. IB's piece I enjoyed as I was reading but am not left with that 'give me more' feeling.

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  45. Even though IB's piece made me laugh, I have to vote for Jenna Fox's. The writing was tighter and it felt more like a complete story instead of a random snippet.

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  46. My vote is for I.B. Wrighton. Jenna's piece was well, done, but was a slow build-up for the twist.

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  47. They are both well written, but I'm going to vote for Jenna. I would read on further to see what kind of weird dynamic is going on...

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  48. Can I vote for both of them? They were so different - I particularly liked the build-up in Jenna's story and the unanswered question at the end. It definitely makes me want to read more (I presume it's part of a larger piece). I think I.B.'s had some bad experiences at the dentist lately. I liked the voice too. I'll vote for Jenna Fox because I want to know more.

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  49. They're both really good, and I.B.'s made me laugh, but Jenna has the edge for me. Deliciously creepy, and has me wondering a lot about these two characters. There just didn't seem as much substance to the second piece, but the writer has a comic gift.

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  50. Although I found I.B.'s piece funny, it was Jenna Fox that most prompted me to want more of the story.

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  51. IB Wrighton wins this bout.

    Ha. Love the name. Good energy, funny premise. I loved the humor.

    Jenna Fox was rather slow. No action. It started out well but slowed to a crawl and I lost interest. IMHO, get into the story and leave the feelings for a later page.

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  52. My vote goes to Jenna Fox. Her story pulled me forward and was clean and easy to read.
    I had a harder time finding the narrative line or any real tension in the second piece. (Although as I just had a dentist appointment a few days ago, I appreciated the irony!)

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  53. I wanted to read more, so my vote goes to Jenna Fox.

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  54. Aw, man, so far it's been fairly easy to choose, but this time, I had to think about it for a while. These are both well written.

    It was very close, but I vote for Jenna Fox.

    Jenna Fox's piece was appropriately creepy and made we wonder what would happen next. The description and characterization drew me in. I could see this leading to a chilling good story.

    I loved the humor and the voice in I.B. Wrighton's piece. But the tense seemed to switch back and forth a bit. I couldn't tell if it was leading to a bigger story or if this was the whole thing.

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  55. Jenna Fox wins this round for me, I found the story more interesting and it pulled me in.

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  56. Jenna Fox gets my vote. Lovely descriptions without overdoing it and had me intrigued from the moment she referred to the other passengers as "bodies."

    I.B.'s piece had a humorous premise and some very funny observations, but it was disorganized. Probably an accurate flow of a drunk person's thoughts but it's difficult for the reader to follow.

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    1. I think I should probably explain what I mean by disorganized. Specifically - the tense shifts. It's mostly past, but we've got a past perfect thrown into the 4th paragraph and then present tense in the 6th (maybe other places too, but those are what stick out). Also, the patient introduces Mark into the narrative in the 2nd paragraph, then goes off on more thoughts on drinking, and then we're jolted back to the dentist 4 paragraphs later.

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  57. Fun stuff from I.B. Wrighton, but Jenna Fox had the story and bodies that I want to go on the ride with. Point J.F.

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  58. Another tough round. I loved the humourous voice in the second one, and definitely empathise with the dental visits. But the mention of bodies and the last line (that made me go "ick") in the first one really makes me want to read on.

    So after long deliberation, it'll have to be Jenna Fox.

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  59. While I dread lending weight to yet another rendition of the seemingly tireless vampire genre, I felt that Jenna's style was tidier all round. She created a setting, introduced her primary characters and set the plot on a course of intrigue which left most readers above wanting to know more. To me Jenna used the classic tools that ignite her readers' synapses. In short she triggered my senses to waken my imagination. I could feel the air in my face and taste the salty breeze. I could hear the cacophony of voices and the throng of bodies somehow invading even my personal space. IB however relied mostly on wit, irony and humor to engage his readers. I preferred his theme but in the end it left me feeling somewhat disoriented. Jenna gets my vote.

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