WRiTE CLUB 2012 – Round 20



Round 17 was a tough one, but Camille Atwood was still standing when the bell rang. Her opponent, Sophia, will have her piece returned to the pool for a chance at re-selection for a future bout. Make sure you check my WRiTE CLUB 2012 results page for a breakdown of all the winners, along with links to all of the writing samples.  

How about some more details about how things will work in the play-off rounds, which is now only five weeks away.  As I said last week, after we get down to 18 there will be nine bouts which will yield 9 winners...and a 10th wildcard winner who will be the loser with the most amount of votes in their bout. Those 10 winners will then be asked to submit a NEW 500 word writing sample and those new submissions will be paired off for five new bouts, from which five winners will be chosen.  

More details later. :)


Ding.....Ding....Ding
 

Here are this rounds randomly selected WRiTER's.

This is the first week that the random number generator fell on a previous contestant, who returns to the ring ready for more.  Please welcome back to the ring, weighing in at 493 words, ……..Ratz.


As he poured tea into his wife’s cup, he fantasized about pulverizing her head with the iron skillet. A wistful smile flitted across his face, but quickly faded. Hell, he’d never be able to smash the smirk off her face. With his luck, her head would break the skillet.

“What’s taking so long?” she screeched. “Do I have to call Daddy?”

He muttered a curse before going to her. “No need,” he said, fighting the urge to dump the oolong into her lap.

She snapped her cellphone shut. “Good. Another satisfactory stalemate.”

He winced. According to her, they reached stalemate a dozen times a day. She’d never played a game of chess in her life, and wouldn’t know a stalemate if it bit her in the ass.

“Don’t give me that look. It’s your job to keep me happy,” she said. “Or you’ll lose everything. That’s the deal.”

“Some deal,” he muttered. “Here,” he said, handing her a plate of cookies. Maybe he should give that rat poison another shot. Put it in the cookies next time. It didn’t even upset her stomach when he put it in her tea. If anything, it made her meaner. Maybe she was part cockroach.

She opened her phone. “Guess I better let Daddy know you want out.”

The pulse pounded at his temples, and he narrowed his eyes. “Screw you and your half-assed bluffs! You’re damned right I want out.”

He ripped the phone out of her hand and threw it. “Want it? Fetch!”

She glared at him and pushed herself out of the chair.

He shoved her back down, and snarled, “Stalemate!”

She sat in stunned silence while he tied her hands and feet, and gagged when he waved a pair of panties under her nose. “Disgusting?” he said. “Two words for you: toilet paper.” He stuffed them into her mouth. “Now that you’re gonna be washing your own damned underwear, you might try using it once in a while.”

He turned on the TV. “Before I leave this hellhole, I’m going to spend five minutes watching what I want to watch, and eating what I want to eat.”

When he returned from the kitchen, he tossed a piece of popcorn into the air and caught it in his mouth. “Is that a tear I see? Don’t worry, darlin’. I’ve got some cash waiting for me offshore. Oh, but you aren’t really worried about me, are you? You’re worried about you.” He laughed. “Don’t worry. Your old man might find you before it’s too late. If he gives a damn.”

He caught three more pieces of popcorn in his mouth, and then abruptly stopped laughing. With eyes wide and watery, he banged a frantic Heimlich maneuver on his own chest.

When he fell to his knees, his face was already turning blue. He gaped at his wife’s triumphant smirk for the last time.

Stalemate?

He crumpled to the floor and closed his eyes.

Nope.

Endgame.

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And in the other corner, weighing in at 496 words, let me introduce to you ……..Brookside.


The mewling cry made Acacia’s heart pound and his eyes snapped open, breath coming in gasps to keep up with his pulse.

What was that?

He sat up on one elbow and crawled forward, pushing stray branches aside. The river opened up in front of him just in time to see the big man rise and stare down at the infant for long seconds.

It didn’t take long for Acacia to understand what he was seeing. The child was female, no doubt, and the father a poor man who could not afford another mouth to feed. The practice of leaving infants on riverbanks for the icy water to claim was not uncommon, but it was frowned upon, especially by the Church.

Acacia gulped. The baby’s cries had awakened his appetites, and his stomach clenched with fear when he realized the man was going to leave the infant there in the water. When the man hesitated, Acacia prayed he would reconsider and take the child back into the woods with him. When the man retreated without the baby, Acacia’s heart sank.

He lay back down on the frozen rocks, wringing his hands. He wished the water would carry the child away, out of his grasp, but the tiny, infantile cries persisted. He began to tremble. He told himself it was because of the cold, but he knew better.

One of the reasons he slept near the river, shivering most nights, was because it had the effect of cooling the passion in his blood. But this was too much. This was tempting fate too far.

He heard a loud gasp and sat up on his elbow again. A short, squat monk hurried into the river and gathered the baby into his arms. The noise of the river had masked the monk’s steps. While one part of Acacia cried out in anger at the sight, the more part of him sighed with relief. So the river had not carried the baby away, but the monk would, and Acacia would breathe easier.

The monk hurried away, probably hoping to save the infant, and Acacia sat listening until the child’s cries were swallowed up in the warbling of the river. Only then did he venture out onto the bank. He leaned over and splashed freezing water over his face and neck. It made his teeth chatter, but also cooled the passionate rhythm of his pulse that had been so unwittingly awakened. He righted his shirt, making sure the collar touched the nape of his neck in back so that his cursed tattoo was covered. If anyone saw that…

Shivering, he crawled back to his place on the cold rocks and wondered about what he’d just witnessed. If the child lived, it would be because she was meant to live; because God did not want her back yet. Acacia was not a church-going man, but he believed in God. Oh yes, that he did.

That was why he slept by the river.

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

If you wish to vote make sure you first sign up on the Linky List you’ll find at the end of the link provided on the badge below.  Please remind your friends to make a selection as well.  The voting will remain open until noon Thursday.

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

48 comments

  1. I remember Ratz's entry and it's great. Really like the concept in the second on though. Crap, this is tough.
    I'm going with Brookside for this one, although both are really good.

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  2. I remember Ratz's piece from before -- and how it sparked a debate over whether it was necessary to get an entire story arc into the sample. My opinion is no -- you don't have to. But if it's there, it's another point in the writer's favor, just like voice, style, content, and structure.

    Last time, I thought the story arc point carried Ratz's sample over the other selection, which I found confusing. This time, however, it doesn't. The piece still has dialogue which feels stilted to me.

    The Brookside piece flows smoothly (after the first line, which packs too many bodily reactions for me to follow). Clearly Acacia wanted to eat that baby, or drink her blood, but he resisted. I am interested to know what Acacia is, about the cursed tattoo, and why he believes in God. I wanted to read more. Brookside gets my vote.

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  3. Ratz still inspires revulsion, and is still the stronger piece. I'm glad it was given a second chance. I'd like to see another bit of writing from this author if given a place in the play-offs.

    Brookside had me feeling a bit of anxiety with all the talk about cooling passions. I read it all the way to the end wondering where s/he was headed with the narration. But my vote, this morning, goes to Ratz for craftsmanship.

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  4. I'm going to go with Ratz. So much tension....

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  5. I'm voting for Brookside today. Both pieces, to me, we're great, but I'm left wondering why the character is by the river and I'd love to read more.

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  6. This is a tough one, but I 'm going to go with Brookside on this one.

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  7. Voting for Ratz, loved it the first time, still love it now. The second didn't flow very well for me.

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  8. DL, I absolutely support you in all you're doing in WRiTE Club, but if I may, I'd like to share an opinion before voting:

    Personally, I think that if there are still new entries that haven't been seen yet, they should be chosen before opening up the competition to contestants who've already had their chance to compete. I would hate to think that we come to the end of the rounds with writers who have never even gotten an opportunity to share their work because the reappearance of losing entries has taken the limited number of spots.

    So, even though I voted for Ratz back in round one, and even though Brookside's entry has some issues (Acacia seems much too passive and only sits there observing the whole thing), I'm voting for Brookside in this round purely on principle...

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    1. Just to clarify: I still respectfully hold to my opinion, but when I said "on principle" it makes it sound like I'm being a hard-head, or something. I mean it more from the principle that earlier results have already shown that there is one entry in the contest that voters have determined is stronger than the one by Ratz, so even if it wins here, it's again doomed to fall short at some point further along. At least the piece by Brookside has the untested potential to stand up to all the other winning entries, so that's the principle I'm using to send it forward.

      DL, this is your contest and you can run it however you want, my friend, and I'll support you. But I just hope to give as many writers as possible the chance to compete.

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  9. Hey DL! I was wondering if it was possible to get a breakdown of how many new entries still left in the pot that haven't been seen yet. Also, I was wondering if you're still taking new entries...

    Oh, before I forget, I vote Brookside.

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  10. The character in Brookside's piece is more compelling to me. And gets my vote.

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  11. Ooooh, yes, right there with Chris and Elise. I was thinking about this yesterday, how this Write Club is organized so that every entry gets a shot, and I realized there's no way, is there? There will be entries left unposted, right? *Sigh* That's a shame, but I do understand this is a huge undertaking.

    As for these two entries today--tough choice. I really loved Ratz's concept of beleaguered husband snapping and making a break for it, and the nasty wife getting the last word. It's Roald-Dahl-ish, and I *love* Roald Dahl. Perhaps 500 words was too small a canvas, though, because some of the dialogue sounded stilted and explanatory. Although the characters seemed well-drawn, I would've liked a bit more here and there to make this piece complete.

    Brookside's piece is also compelling; a titillating beginning of a story, fantasy / paranormal maybe? I should say upfront that I'm not a huge fan of those genres, so my opinion is perhaps a bit biased. I found the descriptions a bit skewed; for example, I thought at a couple places that the man (and later the monk) were *in* the river itself rather than on the banks. Maybe that is the case, but in such a short piece this kind of phenomenon seemed distracting because it wasn't explained completely. Some of the adjectives didn't seem to fit; for example, "infantile" is used to describe the baby's cries, but it connotes silliness instead of adding to the sense of helplessness (to me at least).

    All in all, I vote for Ratz.

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  12. Ratz piece was good but I'm going with Brookside.

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  13. This is tough. If either one of these entries had been up against the entries of the last few rounds, they'd have both gotten my vote easily. Now I have to choose between these two. Dang!

    Since I'm a dialogue fan, my vote goes to Ratz.

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  14. These are both really good, but the second one needs a little proofreading. Eg: "While one part of Acacia cried out in anger at the sight, the more part of him sighed with relief."

    Therefore I'm voting for Ratz.

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  15. DL, I've been wondering about this as well. Next year, I think the rejected entries should be used only if you don't have enough entries to fill the available slots, but that raises it's own issues. It's nice that you're giving people a second chance, but it gets awkward when it gets toward the end and it's likely there will be pieces unused.

    My previous comments on Ratz still stand. Although both have some technical issues (in that sense they're close to equal), I vote for Brookside for two reasons--it raised enough questions that I want to read on, and domestic violence turns my stomach.

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  16. Eh, I'm still not a fan of Ratz, but I won't restate my critiques. I vote for Brookside. Great job with the intrigue.
    I do appreciate that losing entries get another shot, but it is a difficult call in terms of fairness. Yes, if the best two entries in the competition were pitted against each other, we'd be annoyed that the losing entry of those two didn't go any further. But it's also a shame that the very best entry could be sitting in the virtual pile of unread works.
    Maybe next year there could be a condition where if the votes are close enough to fall within a certain margin, the losing piece goes back in--but if it loses by a vast majority then its time is up.
    Yeah, tricky call. But don't worry about it too much, DL. It's easy for all of us to speculate when we don't actually have to make the decision!

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    1. Hear hear :) Both the idea about a min vote thing and the sympathy for DL. Must be a full-time job getting this WRiTE Club thing on, and he's doing a great job.

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  17. My vote goes to Brookside. It left me wanting more.

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  18. It goes to prove how popular this competition is DL that you have so many entries, I hope as many of them as possible get their chance to compete. It is great seeing all the different pieces and styles I am enjoying reading them.

    My vote today Brookside although I liked the other piece as well. Tough call today again. Good luck to both writers.

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  19. I vote ratz the piece stayed with me more

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  20. Both entries were really good, but Brookside's gave me chills while I read it.

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  21. I liked Ratz story the first time I read it but this time I'm voting for Brookside, even though I didn't really get the ending

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  22. Ratz, this time, but only by a mouse's whisker.

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  23. My vote is for Brookside. While others have pointed out places to improve (proofreading, clarity, passive mc), it piqued my interest.

    Ratz, I'm afraid I just can't read anything graphic about domestic violence, child abuse, etc. That's me of course, others feel differently and indeed, there is a place for such work. Just not between my ears.

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  24. I vote for Brookside's piece. It left me with just enough questions to want to read more.

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  25. Tough choice today. Both are excellent pieces, with a lot of tension. Ratz has a more memorable first line but Brookside's intrigues me. So I'm going to have to vote for Brookside.

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  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  27. I'm tipping the hat to Brookside. I am dying to read on.

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  28. My first comment rambled on far too long. I'm sorry.

    My vote is for Brookside. I don't like the writing as much as I'm interested in the idea. Good conflict in the protagonist.

    Ratz, I love the whole package you deliver (yes, I know: that's what she said) but this time I prefer the intrigue of Brookside's piece.

    But Brookside, you should have caught this, "the more part of him sighed with relief". That was laziness or hastiness on your part.

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    1. Can I just say that I'm so stoked that a new 500 word entry will have to be provided for the finalists???

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  29. Although I, too, have some concerns about losing entries getting a second opportunity to compete when so many others haven't made it into the ring yet, my vote got to Ratz again.

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  30. Brookside. :) This piece had me so intrigued all the way through that I didn't even bother looking for writing technicalities - holding a reader spellbound is an amazing skill in itself.

    Ratz's piece wonderfully executed, but the whole sentiment is just so sad and ugly that it's not something I can really enjoy reading. ...but then for some reason I'm okay with fathers dropping their babies into a river...okay, I'm going to go worry about myself now.

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  31. I think that everyone should not jump down don's throat because an entry happened to reappear thru the randomizer. There were always going to be more entries than spots and competing is selected by chance. He is running the contest as best he can and keep in mind that this is only the second annual contest. Trial and error, folks.

    My vote is for the second story this round. It flowed beautifully and made me want to read on.

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  32. I didn't vote for Ratz in Round 1 because I felt the piece, while well written, showcased only one skill: dialogue. Ratz's piece delivered little character development or description, so it made it difficult to relate to the characters... it was all talk. In this round, the second piece is the exact opposite. It's chalked full of description with zero dialogue. This is a tough round for me to vote on because each time, I try to vote strictly on the writer's skill, not necessarily content. Brookside did have some writing technicalities, but the flow of the story overpowered them. Both used different methods to tell good stories, but I'm going to have to go with Brookside. Reading Ratz's story a second time, while I appreciate the well written dialogue, I still can't get into the story with so little description.

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  33. I'm voting for Brookside. I'm not sure I'd make it through the whole story, it might be more disturbing than I'd want to read, depending on what he does with those poor children, but this snippet was engaging and made me want to know more. Sort of. Maybe. Or maybe not. :) If nothing else, it hints to a great story of internal struggle for Acacia.

    I liked the irony in Ratz's piece, but as I think I said the first time, there's nothing redeeming about either of them in this snippet, so I don't know which of them to root for. It's hard to appreciate his death, and her potential death if no one finds her in time, because I don't know which of them is truly the "bad guy". But I do enjoy the irony of his death.

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  34. Difficult, difficult... I'll go with Ratz

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  35. I thought that first one was familiar. I thought the second one was well-written but was a little awkward how he was just watching and describing what was happening. I didn't exactly get what was the problem with the monk or the church. I vote for Ratz.

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  36. Ratz gets my vote.

    I just couldn't get into Brookside's piece. At first I thought the MC was some kind of animal/werewolf and that was why he was crawling around by the riverbank. But then I read that he had tattoos and hands and I wasn't sure what the creature was.

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