WRiTE CLUB 2012 – Round 22



Today’s victory announcement comes bundled with some advice.

First things first, congratulations to Seaweed, the winner of round 19. He/she will be added to the other submissions moving onto the play-off rounds and his/her opponent, Little Miss Proper, 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.  

Now for the advice, listen up all you winners of both the past and future bouts. When WRiTE CLUB moves into the play-off rounds things are going to be moving extremely fast and if your submission is lucky enough to continue winning you will be asked -- on very short notice -- to either edit your existing piece, or submit up to two entirely new pieces. Do not wait until the last minute to start thinking about this.  You will NOT receive any reminders via email, all of your notifications and instructions will come via this blog (but you are always welcome to email my wife if you have questions). Be prepared, and you’ll do fine.

Anybody ready to put some prose in peril?



Here are this rounds randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 468 words, please welcome to the ring……..Fake Name.
 
He would never get to say goodbye.

That was the first thought that came to Adam’s mind as he fell, the impact of the bullet piercing his shoulder and throwing him down onto the cold marble floor with a deafening thud. He reached for his gun out of instinct, but grasped empty air where his holster would have been only two hours ago, strapped next to the Kevlar vest that could have saved his life. But he wasn’t an officer anymore. He was a dead man.

A single footstep echoed in the dark entrance. He hadn’t wanted to wake his ex-wife, leaving the house lights off as he entered, though he fully expected his son to be up studying at this hour. But there was no sound of feet running down the stairs, no shouts of concern, no sound at all save his own labored breathing and the aura of silence behind him, where his attacker stood motionless. Perhaps he thought he was already dead.

He would never see David again. It hit him with a pain that could not be matched even by the bullet lodged inside him. He would never see David graduate from high school, never spar with him in the dojo, never see him look up with that wise, thoughtful expression far beyond his years and ask him if he got the bad guy. In that moment, he knew that he had to see David one more time.

In the dark, he couldn’t see much, but neither could the man with the gun. Reaching into his jacket, he clutched the pocket watch he’d bought for his son, sterling silver and embossed with wings, a present for the new school year.

With one great push, the former officer heaved himself up and spun toward the man, the watch suspended from its chain flying toward his attacker’s face. The man dodged, lightning-quick, and before the watch had even competed its swing, Adam was staring into the barrel of a silenced gun.

He held tight onto the watch, wings imprinting themselves into the palm of his blood-stained hand, as he looked into eyes of the man who had come to kill him. In all of Adam Rotenberg’s years on the force, there had been many times when he couldn’t explain the things he saw, but never had he questioned his own sanity. Until now.

With his last, wheezing breath, he remembered the fall, the bridge, the river. The harness around his police gear straining as it struggled to hold the weight of two men, and his own strength failed him. The body on the shore, damp hair clinging to the peaceful face of the man who had come to the bridge looking for death, and found it. The man he saw before him now.

 “I killed you.”

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And in the other corner, weighing in at 465 words, let me introduce to you ……..Nia Wolfe.



Taela waited until Kalen had disappeared into the brush before making her move.  She watched Hawke take two long swigs from his canteen and smiled bitterly to herself. Drunk out of his senses.

She’d watched him in the village for the past few days, drinking and flirting with every woman who glanced in his direction. Warrior or not, he was a drunken rogue. No doubt the tales of his valor were exaggerated.

He unrolled a blanket from his pack and spread it out on the ground.  He took another swig from the canteen and stretched out.

Taela pulled the slim, ebony-handled dagger from the sheath strapped to her thigh and ran her thumb along the point and keenly-honed edge.  The blade glistened as it caught a glint of the full moon gleaming through the trees.

What would Selita say if she could see me now?

For a heart-stopping moment Hawke raised his head and looked in her direction.  She pressed the dagger against her thigh, not daring to breathe.  “Do you need a blanket?” he asked.

“No, I’m fine.”

He shrugged, and to her relief, took another pull from the canteen.  Humming a tuneless song, he laid his head back and closed his eyes.

Taela waited a moment longer, hoping he’d fall asleep. She had to move quickly.  She’d never have a better opportunity. 

With the agility of a razorcat, she leapt to her feet and in two strides was crouched beside him, the dagger’s ebony handle gripped in her fist.  Her heart beat so hard she feared she would drop the weapon.  He had one arm draped across his forehead, while the other clasped the animal skin canteen at his side.  The broad chest under the jerkin rose and fell with his regular, shallow breathing.  She braced herself, and with all her strength, plunged the dagger toward his chest, aiming for his heart.

His hand came up just before the blade could strike and seized her wrist in a grip of steel.  With a grunt, he twisted her arm, ripped the weapon from her hand and flung it into the bushes.  She cried out in pain and surprise.  Disarmed and outmatched by his size, she tried to scramble away, but he grabbed her jacket and pulled her back.

She couldn’t let him take her. She flailed her arms and struck his chin with the heel of her hand.  She heard his teeth clack together.  He spit out a curse, grabbed her wrists and twisted her arms behind her. She kicked and writhed against his chest, his alcohol-laced breath hot in her face. 

In the end, the greater strength and bulk of the man won out. Panic gripped her as he rolled on top of her and she found herself pinned to the ground beneath him.

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


Anyone can vote, you just have to make sure you’ve first signed up on the Linky List found at the link provided by clicking on the badge below.  Please tell your friends about WRiTE CLUB also.  The voting will remain open until noon next Tuesday.

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

43 comments

  1. I'm voting for Fake name. I liked the pain and suspense

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  2. The anonym Fake Name made me smile first thing then both pieces just exhausted me before my first sip of morning coffee. I always get so sad when I read such violent stuff -- and never have I read more of it than for fiction by bloggers online. (I just sighed. And fondly remembered Digigal.)

    Okay, onto the votes. The first piece, and I can't believe I'm getting ready to write this for a number of reasons, left me a bit confused. Not that I couldn't figure things out (I think) if I read it over and over again but is this the point of fiction for entertainment? I think sometimes as writers, myself *certainly* included, we aim for subtle and hit obfuscated smack in the eye. That's an obfuscated way of saying, is this guy Adam dead or what? Is the attacker trying to kill him again, get at his son? Why we gotta resolve everything at the end of the barrel of a gun?

    I think a fair grasp of the technical is present but the story itself was buried for me. I'm almost hesitant to be this honest for fear of discouraging the owner of perhaps the best pen name in the competition so far but there you have it. :(

    Second one, I read all the way through with perfect clarity -- and grief. I sometimes don't want to vote for passages about horrible things but really 'felt' the moment he reacted to her homicide attempt so, for the sake of a well-executed sequence of events alone, I vote for Nia Wolfe.

    And this is totally, totally subjective but I hope there will be some more humorous or heartwarming entries in future. Don't even know if it's fair to express that but I think it's okay for a girl to hope ...

    In any event, have a great Wednesday, everyone. And, as always, best of luck to all entrants!

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  3. Fake Name has my vote this morning. I was intrigued by the story line and interested in the ending.

    The other piece was good as well, but, to me, very predictable.

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  4. Wow, this is a very good bout! I like both of these entries.

    Both pieces do very well at setting an immediate scene and establishing drama, tension, and compelling events that pull the reader in and evoke strong story questions. There's a refreshing minimum of pensive exposition and thankfully no long inner monologues as characters contemplate their lot in life, no wading through intrusive weather reports, no meandering strolls through a jungle of backstory, and no ponderous purple prose describing the minutia of scenery.

    For that, I compliment both authors -- well done!

    However, it does make my choice difficult, and I'm going to have to resort to nit-picking.

    Fake Name's entry does well overall, but there are some confusing phrasing and awkward set-up. Does falling really make a "deafening" thud? Why is Adam is thinking of his EX-wife -- is this her house or Adam's? "A single footstep echoed" -- whose footstep? Adam's on the floor and the attacker "stood motionless." It's dark but Adam can then see well enough to make out the silenced barrel and the attacker's face. "The former officer" is an awkward way to describe him, I think. Adam swings the watch "suspended from its chain," but then is immediately holding it so that the wings on the body "imprint themselves into the palm of his blood-stained hand." Adam remembers the fall from the bridge with his "last, wheezing breath," but then speaks afterwards -- unless that is the attacker's voice, which is even more confusing.

    Nia Wolfe also does a great job of setting up the story, but there are still a few things I could point out. Who's Kalen? Only a brief throwaway mention and in that vital important first sentence when we still don't know who's who. "Smiled bitterly to herself"-- I'd avoid the telling adverbs, plus it sets up a PoV problem (how does she see her own smile to know it's 'bitter'?). Taela has the knife strapped to her thigh and pulls it out and holds it there when Hawke raises his head. When does she see the blade "glistening" in the moonlight?

    Again, I really like both of these entries and wish I could pick both. But I find fewer issues in Nia's piece, so I have to vote for her.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, and I forgot to mention -- character-wise, Fake Name's officer-turned-victim Adam evokes much more empathy in me than Nia Wolfe's homicidal Taela, but again, Nia's writing is a little cleaner.

      Delete
    2. ...and another follow-up:

      After reading the other comments, I noticed something interesting in how Nia Wolfe's story was interpreted, and I had to recheck. Maybe it's just me, but when I read the piece, I took Taela to be a fellow warrior, disgusted with Hawke and with her own, much-different, reasons for wanting to kill him. That's why I called her "homicidal" in my last comment. Nia's story never explicitly says that Taela is a victim or a prisoner, but in retrospect, I can certainly see that as a likely possibility.

      Delete
  5. Tough choice today.

    Both pieces were interesting, but the ending of Fake Name's kind of confused me, so I went with the one that was clear all the way through - Nia Wolfe.

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  6. You know, this process would be so much easier if all the writing sucked. That hasn't been the case for any of the rounds I've been able to vote for. The writing has intrigued, pulled at my heart strings, tugged at my soul, made me laugh out loud and really wrapped me up. Today is no different.

    Nia Wolfe gets my vote today, though the margin for my choice is slim. Fake Name had a great twist to the end that almost made me want to continue reading. Nia Wolfe had a bit more action and the end made me want to read more. Like I said, the vote is by a very slim margin.

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  7. Once again, it was very very hard to choose between the two. Both pieces were well-written (although I found a typo in the first one). However, I was confused by some of the events in the first piece: why does Adam consider himself already dead when he was shot in the shoulder? why doesn't he run instead of fighting back against a gun with a pocket watch of all things?

    The second piece made me angry and sad and, while the ending was depressing, the writing was excellent, and the sequence of events followed logically.

    Therefore, I vote for Nia Wolfe.

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  8. Must go with Fake Name this time. It always intrigues me that the "fainting maiden" is killing her abductor and hesitates with the knife poised over him. A heart shot is tricky, the heart is well protected--come in from the side and go for the throat. This piece was very predictable.

    Fake Name drew me in well, raised enough questions that I was interested but didn't leave the trailing ends. If there'd been more I would have read on. I thought it was pretty clear that this was his ex-wife's house, and I liked the idea of the earlier suicide killing him. I just wasn't sure who spoke the last words.

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  9. I'm going with Fake Name. There were a couple inconsistancies in that piece but it still captured my interest. Nia's was well written but too predictable. The female captive with a hidden knife trying to kill her captor only to be overpowered by him...it's kind of a stock scene.

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  10. Another tough choice. I like what I perceive to be the intentions in the first entry, but was very confused by parts of it, including the ending. I have a feeling the ending would be quite dramatic and startling IF I understood exactly what was happening. The second entry didn't offer any surprises, but there was little confusion, either. That's where my vote goes this time. Score one for Nia. (Can I give a half for Fake Name???)

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  11. Great pieces today, both very well written. I vote for Fake Name, though. What a wonderfully crafted bit of suspense! This could be the beginning of a Dean Koontz or Len Deighton novel. Loved how we're grabbed from the start and, even though there's some confusion about where we are and what exactly is happening, we keep reading because we just *have to know* more. Great example of an in medias res beginning, and great writing.

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  12. It's hard for me to vote because I don't have the heart to read so much violence. So I tried to push that aside and break things down...
    I think both pieces would benefit from some variety in sentence structure. Read aloud, #1 feels somewhat staggering and even a little sing-song. There are so many, "X did Y, Z-ing and Z-ing..." All those "INGS" (progressive tense, for the grammatically inclined) remove us from the action and create an awkwardness in flow.
    #2 reads more smoothly, but it was a little simplistic for my taste. In this case, a few more "ings" and a few more complex sentences could really give it some stylistic weight.
    #1 created a character with whom we could sympathize--I loved the detail about the watch for the son. #2 created a character who was strong and focused, interesting because of her very difference with the reader.
    Both maintained tension very well.
    But I'll vote for Fake Name today.

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  13. My vote is for Fake Name. The action moves right along and you did manage to get in a lot of backstory without info dumping. I was aggravated though that the mc hadn't a single thought about the safety of his son and ex. I too found the reveal confusing. I'd kinda expected the attacker to be the son who shot what he supposed was a prowler. Also - a bullet to the shoulder wouldn't usually be a fatal wound. Why does the mc think he is dying? He assumes he is being assassinated before he even knows the identity of his attacker.

    Nia Wolfe. I'm afraid your story is at a station this train don't stop. For me, sexual violence has to be treated with extreme, sparing, care. Generally, the story seemed well written, but I get so tired of sexy victim dolls who can't figure out something fundamental like the heart is protected by a lot of bone.

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  14. Fake Name. While there are some discrepancies that could and should be cleaned up, this piece held me fast me from beginning to end.

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  15. Angela's comment made me laugh!
    Fake Name's piece was just so gripping. Gets my vote.

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  16. Fake Name this round. Good luck guys.

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  17. Fake Name gets my vote it was well written and I was intrigued to the end.

    Nia Wolfe's piece was good but the action didn't flow for me. It seemed stiff and stock and the ending kind of seemed to just drop off.

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  18. Two gripping pieces here. You don't make this easy, DL! Both are violent and tense, with some flaws that I can nevertheless live with.

    I'm going to have to go with Fake Name.

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  19. Both are very good choices. I think I'm going with #1 though.

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  20. I'm voting Fake Name. Both were good entries, but I have a hard time with the subject matter of the second.

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  21. Both were good entries
    My vote goes to Fake Name.
    In Fake Name's, I was put off by his choice of weapon (a blunt object that weighs several grams and gives maybe 12 more inches of range). It seems a cop would have more resources, even empty handed. The story was and interesting concept though, if not somewhat familiar. I was hoping the one who said "I killed you" was the gunman and Adam would turn to see his own dead body laying there!
    In Nia WOlfe's, all we know is that some woman with a knife is about to kill a drunk guy. Every word in this entry that doesn't concern those details is lost. ("What would Selita say ..." kind of means nothing for this entry) For this reason I couldn't connect.
    Also I didn't like the cop out, "In the end, the greater strength and bulk of the man won out." It reads like a summary and I think specifics were vital in this exchange.

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  22. Two great entries again. Sigh. Can't at least one round have a clear victor? :)

    I'm going with Fake Name because the piece grabbed me 100%. I read the other comments but for me the only confusing part was, "what's there to be confused about?" Sure the piece raise a LOT of questions - why is he trying to be considerate in not waking his ex? Why is he no longer a cop? Who is this man he thought he'd killed? - but I understood WHAT was happening and wanted to read on to find out WHY it was happening. My only worry at the end of the piece was that mine might be up against it!

    Nia Wolfe's piece was also engaging and well-written. I did agree that it felt predictable though. But this snippet promises a well-written, entertaining read. Well done.

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  23. Both pieces were interesting today! I liked the tone/feel of the first one - I found the ending part a bit off. A first I thought he'd thrown the watch & wondered how he still had it. I assume the last bit is a flashback to another time? In the 2nd piece, I felt like I knew what was coming and I wasn't surprised by the action - but the writing was well done. Tough choice. I think me vote will go to #1

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  24. All along, I've been trying to base my votes strictly on writing skill and not content. Today's round makes my choice that much more difficult. Both pieces were very well written with good forward motion. I enjoyed the content of Fake Name's piece much better and was interested despite a few inconsistencies that have already been pointed out, as I felt Nia Wolfe's piece was tired, over-done subject matter. However, Nia Wolfe's piece had a well crafted flow that left no confusion about the action taking place. Therefore, if I have to base my vote on skill and not whether I'd want to continue reading, my vote goes to Nia Wolfe. This was a tough one!

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  25. Two well-written pieces here.

    I found some bumpy places in Fake Name's piece: "He was never going to see David again" juxtaposed with "he decided to he wanted to see David again." And using "the former officer" instead Adam's name. But overall I found this piece more compelling because I understood the stakes. I knew what Adam was facing and what he would lose. (And I didn't find the ending confusing at all, btw.)

    Nia Wolfe's piece was well-written with smooth action, but I had no reason to care about the characters. I didn't know anything about them. Plus, there were a lot of extra (and unexplained names) in the passage. Unlike Adam's son, they didn't raise the stakes for me because I didn't know how they connected to the MC.

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    Replies
    1. I realize I didn't state my answer outright. Eeek. I jump all over my students for that! My vote goes to Fake Name.

      Delete
  26. Okay DL, you make this so hard. Both pieces are well written. I felt more connected to the first one though. Great job to both authors. My vote goes to Fake Name.

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  27. Both are really good, but my vote goes to Fake Name. :D

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  28. Nia Wolfe. I want to know why she was going to kill him?

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  29. Good writing for both. I'm voting for Nia Wolfe - the writing was a tad more original, the flow more progressive. Both had excellent characters and setting, and the writing was tight.

    ......dhole

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  30. Fake Name, though there were lots of inconsistencies covered in depth by others, and I had no idea what happened at the end. It was interesting at any rate. Didn't make as much of a connection to the other. Seemed a "John Wayne" movie.

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  31. I liked Nia's writing, but it didn't feel all that important as to whyTaela had to kill Hawke.

    Fake Name's entry was much clearer on the stakes and as a result, my heart raced as I read it.

    Based solely on that, my vote goes to Fake Name.

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  32. I'm going to go with Fake Name. The story trapped me and wouldn't let go!

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  33. Tough choice. If it's not too late, I'll go with Nia Wolfe.

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  34. Fake Name wins it for me. Both with their words and their choice of pseudonym. :)

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