WRiTE CLUB 2012 – Round 21

Last Monday's round was a little lopsided, with Digigal winning in dominating fashion. Her opponent, Chloe Hart, will have her piece returned to the pool for a chance at re-selection for a future bout, or she has the opportunity to submit a new writing sample. Make sure you check my WRiTE CLUB 2012 results page for a breakdown of all the winners so far, along with links to all of the writing samples.  

It was interesting to see how the fact  that a previous contestant earning a second bite at the WRiTE CLUB apple sparked so much discussion on Friday. No, I'm not changing any of the rules and losers will continue to be placed back in the pool for possible re-selection (once), but the comments will definitely be considered for next year.  But for now, here were my thoughts about why I allow losing entries a second chance. First and foremost, it addresses the sting and perceived inequity associated with the 'luck of the draw'. Some of you have already said in some bouts that both contestants were probably potential finalist and you hated having to choose. Allowing the voters the opportunity to choose the loser in a subsequent round, should they be selected, could help to resolve that issue. Secondly, we have already seen a significant drop-off in voting, so what do you think would happen if contestants were one and done?  We've had 20 rounds so far, would we have lost 20 voters if they didn't think they had a chance of coming back to fight again? And to those who lament the fact that new entries are being forsaken for others being used twice, I'm trying to balance being fair against 100% participation, which is only one of the goals, and will not happen no matter what I do. That's why we are still accepting submissions, because it's not fair to exclude those who just found out about WRiTE CLUB. But let's not open this up for discussion now, when WRiTE CLUB 2012 is over I will once again call for input and suggestions for improvements (which some of you have already provided), take that time to express your opinions again then.

How about we get to what you're really here for anyway?


Here are this rounds randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 500 words, please welcome to the ring……..Wren Tyler.


I don't remember leaving London. I don't remember anything, except for the letter left on Charlie's pillow. The moment I closed his bedroom door behind me, I must have drawn into myself, away from the sights, the sounds, the memories. I didn't want to feel; I just wanted to walk. My legs, fat and tender from a fortnight's furlough, screamed for me to stop. Slow down. Find an inn and stay there. But my brain told them to keep going, one foot in front of the other, even as the city fell away. I think I walked through the night, and the next night, too; but as I said, I don't remember.

I only stop when my legs crumble beneath me; I land on my knees in the middle of the road, and I don't care a bit that the mud has begun to seep through my muslin gown. Charlie never should have bought it for me; he knew all along that I'd manage to soil it. Dirt, ink, blood -- they'd all find their way onto the dress eventually. Stupid Charlie.

No, not stupid Charlie. Stupid me, for letting him slip into my thoughts again. Stupid me for letting him toy with my heart in the first place; I've known for years that he's going to marry Harriett, so why was I fool enough to believe that would change? Especially when I'm...when I'm...Well, when I'm me.

"Stop it, Pippa. You promised yourself you'd never think of him." I say the words out loud. Big mistake. Without anybody to answer, they hang heavy in the air. So stifling I can't breathe. Great. Now even my own words are trying to kill me.

My own words? Who am I kidding? It's Charlie's words that strangle me. Or rather, their absence.

"Stop it! Stop it!" I press my palms over my ears, slam my eyes shut. Then I take deep breaths: in, out. After a minute I'm almost calm, lost in a dreamy haze through which I can see my little cottage, and next to it, Father's forge -- until the ground starts to rumble and I jolt to my senses. My hand flies to the knife in my skirt; my fingers wrap around the handle, and --

And it's just a coach passing along the road. Nothing to worry abou --

A coach! I scramble to the side and duck behind the treeline, then fall flat on my stomach without putting away my knife. Three minutes later a black carriage rolls by. None of the passengers take notice of me, so once its clatter fades, I push myself from the ground. Try to, at least. My arms wobble under my weight, until finally I give in and let my face rest in the leaves. They scratch at my skin and cling to my hair, but there's something comforting about them. Their warm colors, the earthy aroma. Not at all like the pillows on which the Woodwards had me rest my head.

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

And in the other corner, weighing in at 350 words, let me introduce to you ……..Stormy.


The pain jolted through Anasta’s head so suddenly that she crumpled to the deck in shock. Someone was screaming. After a few seconds, she realized it was her. She shut her mouth, biting her lip so hard that she could feel blood trickling down her chin.

“What’s the matter with them?” She heard voices coming from the comm in her helmet through the fog of hurt.

“I’ve lost control of the ship!”

“We’re gonna crash!”

“We have to jump,” Laban’s voice crackled through the comm in her helmet. She focused on his words to try and escape the fire in her head.

“I can’t get the hatch open! Someone else is controlling the ship!” someone yelled.

“There’s a manual release!” Simpson yelled, and Anasta heard the scream of wind as someone opened the floor hatch.

“We have to jump, now!” the pilot’s deep voice commanded.

“I’m not leaving them,” Laban insisted.

“No time!” Simpson said, and Anasta heard the rush of air as two people jumped out of the ship. She forced her eyes open, and though she wanted to close them and fall into blissful unconsciousness, she concentrated on staying awake. Laban grabbed her and hooked his belt to hers with a cable, then did the same with Dirk, who was crumpled on the ground, unmoving.

Laban was going to try and jump with both of them. Anasta had no idea if one chute could hold all their weight. She doubted it.

Laban pushed them all out of the hatch and they were falling. Pain was searing her head, wind was howling around her—she could hear it even through her suit. They weren’t slowing down.

“Chute… isn’t…”Laban’s voice came through the comm. An explosion sounded from nearby, and fireworks lit up her visor for a moment. She saw the ground rushing towards them at an alarming rate. She wondered if the snow would cushion their fall at all, then caught a watery-eyed glimpse of patches of grey rock below the snow. Nope.

Slow down, she told it through the pain. A few moments later, they hit the ground.


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Not to sound like a broken record (ok...maybe a little bit), anyone can vote, newcomers first must sign up on the Linky List you’ll find at 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!


45 comments

  1. Stormy gets my vote. There are some bumpy patches and I think it needs an edit for clarity. "Slow down, she told it through the pain." What does "it" reference? But overall, I understood what was going on. I immediately despised the two who jumped from the plane with no regard for their downed companions -- and cheered for Laban, who buckled both to his belt even though he knew one parachute couldn't save all three of them.

    In the first piece, I was confused by the modern-sounding voice in what was apparently a historical setting, as well as by the front-loading of back story, while not making the back story very clear.

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  2. Wren's story is my pic, though a tough choice.

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  3. My vote goes to Stormy this morning. I felt the panick in her thoughts,

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  4. Wren really sucked me in. So I'm going with #1.

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  5. Oh, my ... this one is really difficult, but I'm going with Wren. I liked the combination of the modern-sounding inner voice combined with the historical setting, and all the details of the surroundings set a wonderful tone. I liked the back and forth inner dialogue the MC has with herself—it's him, no it's me, no it IS him —it helps, little by slowly, to reveal enough of the situation to hook the reader. Then I thought, well, why is a coach suddenly a problem, she must have seen MANY coaches in her trudge and then, like her, I realize she's almost home and that particular coach presents a danger. I want to read more, I want to know more about the Woodwards and I want to meet her father. I think I would have finished the word "about," though. The em dash is sufficient to convey to the reader the sudden realization.

    Stormy's piece is exciting, well-written and leaves me wanting to read more. But I want to read more because the last bit about hitting the rocky, snow-covered ground without the chute opening has me feeling skeptical with a "yeah, right" attitude rather than "who will I meet now?" and "how are they getting out of this?" If they hadn't hit the ground, I think my vote would have gone to Stormy. I started to get a little suspicious when I read, "Anasta had no idea if one chute could hold all their weight. She doubted it." One sentence negates the other (doubt is clearly an "idea.") And even though the POV is Anasta's, I find myself caring more about Laban and even the deep-voiced pilot.

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  6. First -- Don, thanks for addressing Friday's discussion regarding repeats. Like I said, I support however you want to run WRiTE Club, and I'll table any further comments or suggestions regarding the topic until after the competition is over.

    Today's bout is a tough decision for me. There are things I like about both pieces, but I also think there were some areas where they both fell a little short.

    Wren Tyler does well at building atmosphere and interest in the unnamed narrator, and there is some enchanting writing. But my biggest issue is that it is essentially all inner exposition. She's been walking for a day or two -- she isn't sure, mulling and brooding, and the only real event is the passing by of a carriage. Also, the piece is written in the present tense except for the introductory paragraph, so the transition from past tense seemed a little jarring right at the beginning. I'm also confused as to how a 'fortnight's furlough' can make legs fat and tender -- although I love the alliteration and flow of the words, I take 'furlough' to mean a break from work, so I'm picturing someone getting fat and tender legs from resting on vacation, and it doesn't make sense.

    Stormy offers a gripping and action-filled scene, and there are certainly high stakes established (hurling towards the ground with a malfunctioning parachute is definitely edge-of-your-seat stuff). But Anasta is removed from the action with her head wound (I'm assuming it's a wound -- but maybe it's like a psychic reaction or something), and it's a little confusing as to what is happening around her. Snippets of dialog are unattributed and when they are it's not clear -- Laban, Simpson, 'the pilot', and 'someone' are all used, and I'm not sure how many are around Anasta or who's who. The 'through the comm in her helmet' is used twice in a very short span -- that could probably be reworded the second time. I'm not sure how 'the rush of air' means two people jumped, especially when she still had her eyes closed. And finally, I'm lost as to the "it" that she's telling to slow down -- the fall, the parachute, the pain she's feeling, or what?

    I think Stormy gives a much more gripping scene, but I also think Wren's is written a little better. I do think Stormy's could be edited to improve the writing, while Wren's issues are more significant in terms of story-telling. So while I want to vote for an entry where something is happening -- and would if the writing were tweaked some -- as it stands, since this is a writing contest, I have to vote for Wren Tyler.

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  7. Wren gets my vote this round :) Also, I think that however you want to do the pool is your call (whether people get a second chance or not). I mean, it's your creation!

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  8. Wow, two different genres. One is full of emotion and one is full of action. Today I vote for #1.

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  9. Tough choice today. I'm going to have to go with Wren, even though both pieces have great writing and enough suspense to keep me reading. The reason? Stormy's confused me. It begins with a pain in the MC's head, then mention of a ship, then a crash, air and parachutes. For a good half of the story I couldn't figure out where these people were. A "ship"? Like a spaceship? On an alien planet? I guess what contributed to that thinking was the reference to someone else controlling the ship. Or is it something more mundane, a plane in the midst of a firefight? Also, who is "them"? Someone says "What's wrong with them?" and, because it comes so close to the pain in the MC's head, I thought it referred to that somehow. In any case, my point is that the setting wasn't clear enough for me, and that distracted me from the energy of the story. So--vote for Wren.

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  10. Hmm, tough one, but I'm in more of a Wren mood this morning.

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  11. This is another tough choice. Um, um, um...I'll go for Stormy because I like how even in such an action-packed piece, I was still emotionally engaged by Leban and how he faced his dilemma.

    Wren - like others, I was confused in the first paragraph. I wonder if the thing to do would be to show this sequence rather than have as backstory. Leaving a letter on a pillow and walking out is powerful. It is also action that you could weave the interiority into.

    Stormy - my opinion of your piece depends on whether this is the opening. If it is, I suggest you do a little scene-setting (still with action, just not the high-octane type that comes later) before tossing the reader into the thick of things. What kind of aircraft is this? Who is this mc and what is she doing there? In the piece, your mc doesn't do anything except try to stay awake and observe. It is Laban who drives the story. If this is a snippet somewhere after the characters and situation has been introduced and Anasta has been thoroughly established as the person who is going to move the story forward, then I think it works well.

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  12. I liked both of these very much... ugh! Voting is so hard sometimes. I loved the descriptive writing of Wren, but I have to confess, I was a little confused about what was actually happening. Stormy was exciting, and though it needs a little polish, it gets my vote!

    Great work, writers! <3

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  13. I'm going with Stormy on this one, but it was very hard to choose.

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  14. Definitely Wren Tyler. The second piece was difficult to read, with awkward phrasing. Wren's piece pulled me in with the excellent descriptions. I didn't know what was going on, but I vote on writing quality, and hers was clearly the better.

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  15. I'm going with Stormy although it was a tough choice. I had a little trouble with the tense in Wren's story, present for that morning yet past for the night before. I agree that Stormy is a little confusing, especially with pronoun references but it gave me a stronger desire to read more.

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  16. I am going to cast my vote with Wren Tyler, this morning.

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  17. I must be in a Monday muddle-headed frame of mind, because I was somewhat confused by both of these pieces. However, even though I didn't understand exactly what was going on, I did appreciate the quality of writing in both entries. Since the object is to pick one, I'll go with Wren.

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  19. I'll have to go with Wren here.

    I agree with the comments regarding the transition from flashback to present tense, but I felt the writing was confident and the voice real.

    As for Stormy's piece...first let me say Stormy clearly can write, so please take the following as an honest critique and not a deluge criticism that these comments can sometimes sound like. I'm just tryin' to help so if what I say gets annoying, tell me to stick my head in a bucket.

    Overall, I felt the piece a little difficult to comprehend at one go...as though the writer was torn between trying to get across what actually is happening and what the injured mc is able to perceive. It's a difficult thing to do because you'll have to balance getting the feeling of chaotic misperception while at the same time making sure what the mc hears is making sense.

    One of the biggest problems I had with the piece however was the first paragraph. I don't know how many times I've read variations of someone hearing the sound of screaming...and then being surprised to find it was coming from them. I feel this is an example of knowing you want a dramatic moment and jumping on the first idea that comes to mind. Very often it is the memorable, dramatic moments from other books that stick in our heads--ready to spring into action when we are looking for something powerful..it's how our brains work. As writers we have to be sure to recognize them as such and try to come up with something unique and extraordinary. It's dramatic moments like this which are just begging for you to use all your skill as a writer to invent or discover something new that will stick in other people's minds.

    Also be careful of the melodrama in the final sentence of the first paragraph. I doubt anyone would be aware blood trickling down their chin if they just bit their lip so hard to cause it to bleed that profusely not to mention if the cause of the lip biting was the traumatic head injury that you described.

    As I said though, you are a good writer and these really are small issues in the overall picture.

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  20. These pieces both appealed to me, and it was a very tough choice. My vote today goes to Wren. I liked the historical feel, and though both pieces dropped the reader right into the action, Wren's piece answered just enough questions to pique my interest, but left just enough out so I want to read more. Stormy's piece almost had me, but there were too many little places where I was pulled out of the story, from either wanting to do a few small edits (for things like repeated phrases), or from needing just a little more information to be able to figure out what was going on.

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  21. I'm going with Stormy on this one.

    Both pieces are very internal, which can be tricky, but it's external tension and action that drive Stormy's story. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past a feeling that the voice of Wren's MC was too modern for a period piece, and the internal drive wasn't compelling enough to carry me into the external world of her story.

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  22. Tough one again but Wren gets my vote today. Good luck.

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  23. Wren has earned my vote.

    Stormy's piece does a nice job of messing with time. Anasta's subjective time was nice and screwed up.

    Wren, however, shoves us through a tormented mind and a broken heart. I want to know how the words are trying to kill Pippa, metaphorically or not, it's something I haven't read before.

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  24. The changes in tense in Wren caused me to vote for Stormy.

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  25. I vote for Wren; I felt the tension much more strongly in that piece. Would you consider tweaking some of the more modern phrases to give it a historical consistency?
    Stormy's piece was interesting but I had a hard time connecting to the character through all that action.
    Don, just brush aside all the comments from the last round. :) I know I, for one, would never expect you to change anything at this stage in the game, so I hope the remarks didn't stress you. We're all grateful for the gargantuan task you have taken on and are handling so well!

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  26. Stormy. Wren had an interesting premise, and the emotion was high, but I felt like I was slogging each and every step with her. By the end of the piece I was simply exhausted. Which I guess means it did its job, but good grief.

    Stormy had good writing, good characters (even though I agree on the point of the screaming) and I stayed engaged. Huge point in Stormy's favor.

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  27. Had to get nitpicky to choose a winner this round - I enjoyed both pieces.

    My vote goes to #1. I liked the tension and the consistent voice. I'd like to see #2 tighten up the verbs a bit - make the action more immediate, for example...

    Laban pushed them all out of the hatch and they fell. Pain seared her head, wind howled around her—she heard it even through her suit.

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  28. Very different pieces this round. There are parts I enjoyed about each. Wren's snippet was well written, I felt the woman's confusion and despair. Stormy's work was action packed and filled with tension. Of the two, Stormy's left me wanting to know what happened next more than Wren's did.

    But, in the end I voted for Wren, because Stormy's piece was a little vague in parts, so didn't pull me all the way in. I think there may have been too many different people to connect with in so few words. (The multiple references to "someone" doing this or that, for example.) Wren's work provided a satisfying snippet, without any confusion over what was happening, or who was doing something.

    Both pieces were strong. Well done.

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  29. Wren gets my vote here. I'd love to know where she's headed and why. And why does she have a knife? This piece drew me in more.

    Stormy's piece was a little confusing. I wasn't sure what was happening. I'm sure if the piece could have been longer it would have made more sense. I thought there was too much dialogue and not enough setting of the scene.

    As far as people being put back in the mix after losing, I say it's your blogfest and you are giving all of us a great opportunity to put our stuff out in the open. We all knew the rules coming in. I'm just grateful to you for all your hard work for us. If you want to change it next year fine. But I'm loving it as is! :)

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  30. I love action and violence and chaos.
    But I'm voting for Wren.
    Wren managed to create so much inner turmoil that the actions Pippa did made total sense. Why would she NOT be walking?? Why would she NOT stay laying down in the dirt and leaves?? She simply cannot get her head past Charlie. If anyone voted against you, they didn't think about the last time someone broke their heart before casting their vote. If you're reading this, know that I am envious of your talent in this area. Hopefully you can make actual action as gripping as you have with a person walking down a road.
    To nitpick, finish the word before throwing in the dash. Partial words work great for the screen. Not so much the page. Plus she was thinking, not talking. Nitpick over.
    Stormy, against other contestants I would have voted for yours. I love the content. But a couple of things pushed me away. I'm a huge fan of setting; atmosphere PLUS environment and from this excerpt there is very little. We get "deck", "ship", and "patches of grey rock below the snow". Setting can be hugely powerful and there is an opportunity to improve here. You had 150 more words to spare! Also there were a few phrases that fell flat for me: fog of hurt, fire in her head, pain was searing her head...
    To sandwich with a compliment; despite the captured chaos, I felt mostly aware of what was going on. Well done.

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  31. Both tasty, but I'm going with Wren. I felt more pulled into her dilemma and the world. It also made me want to smack Charlie.

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  32. This was a tough round. Both pieces were a little hard for me to follow and I had to read each entry twice to get a better sense of what was going on. However, I'm casting my vote based solely on writing skill and flow... and the better writing and flow was a result of better descriptions, better imagery and providing the reader with a better picture of who the MC was and what they were doing. It was only slightly better than the second story which had loads of potential, just not enough description. My vote is for Wren Tyler.

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  33. Well, Wren's character interesting; Stormy's scene gut wrenching.

    I'm going for Wren's because I'm more drawn to the character.

    ......dhole

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  34. That Wren Tyler piece really grabbed me - Wren gets my vote.

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  35. I liked the action in Stormy's piece better today

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  36. Both had some excellent writing and both had a few flaws (and truthfully, I found each one a bit confusing and had to re-read). But I have to choose, so I'll choose Wren.

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  37. I'm voting for Wren. I felt closer to the character and her feelings.

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  38. So difficult! I'll go with Wren, though that reference to the Woodwards at the end was confusing.

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