WRiTE CLUB 2012 – Round 23



It never gets old congratulating the winner of a round, and today we add Brookside to the list of the victorious.  Unfortunately Ratz was defeated for a second time and is no longer eligible for re-selection in future bouts. Make sure you check my WRiTE CLUB 2012results page for a breakdown of all the winners so far, along with links to all of the writing samples.  

I’ve made mention numerous times about how the number of submissions WRiTE CLUB has received exceeds the number of available slots in the ring, even with the expanded format, but what we haven’t discussed yet is what to do with the unused writing samples.  The easiest solution is…nothing. I simply delete the files and all of the writers will have to wait until next year to try again. But I think you all know me by now, and easy isn’t always my first choice. J My wife received an email from one of the contestants not chosen yet suggesting we turn the Linky List into a blog hop. The exact idea was…What I would like to suggest is that when Write Club is over it turns into a blog-hop, using the same list.  Minus the winners, everyone puts up their entry on their own blog.  Those who already saw their entry critiqued put up something new.  Then for two weeks (or a week, or whatever) we do a blog hop. That way people who never got a chance have the opportunity of having their work read can have their work critiqued.

While I like the concept, and the purpose, I do feel that plan has some flaws.  The existing Linky List has 180+ names on it, many of which did not submit a writing sample, plus a good many of the people who did submit wanted to do so anonymously, so I’m not sure they would want to post their writing on their blog. But I’m not opposed to creating a new Linky List specifically for a blog hop of some sort, one where each writer specifically agrees to take part.

This is where I would like your input. What would you like to see happen when WRiTE CLUB is over?

Speaking of which…..





Here are this rounds randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 463 words, please welcome to the ring……..Penny Script.



Standing in his dark cellar, he reviewed the supplies laid out in front of him: it was all there…the time had finally come. He’d been plotting his revenge for years now; ever since the death of his family at the hands of those monsters.

Magic was not an uncommon practise in the village, but people were rarely able to do what his wife found so easy – control the elements. Only people of prodigious skill were able to do so, unless they naturally possessed the gift, like she did. The people of the village were weary of him and his family because of this, but left them alone, for the most part.

Until one night, when he had been working late, repairing a roof in the village. He returned home to find his house alight with coloured sparks – it would have looked beautiful, had he not been so horrified. He had never been able to wipe the image from his memory: sparks engulfing his house, relentlessly tearing it down as his family slept inside. The feeling of helplessness as he watched, wishing he had the power to stop it.

He had never known who was responsible, but he was sure that the villagers were involved. They had never trusted his wife’s power, and were obviously uneasy that it had passed onto the children. There were many magically inclined villagers, and it could have been any one of them.

Ever since that day, he’d isolated himself, practising magic at every available opportunity. He had never naturally possessed the same power that his wife had, but it’s amazing what a thirst for vengeance can achieve. He could control the elements fairly well now, though not to the extent that his wife had been able to. The very power that the village was so afraid of was about to be brought down on them, through their own doing…

Gathering his supplies together, he climbed the hill on the outskirts of the village and set his tools down on the ground, arranging the supplies in a circle. He gazed down at the village, which looked serene in the light of the full moon hovering above in the cloudless sky. As he raised his arms, the peaceful atmosphere changed abruptly: wind blew so fiercely that the trees around him swayed, and purple clouds rapidly swirled around the sky. He stood above the village feeling powerful and exhilarated as the air whipped around him. A bolt of lightning lit up the sky, and a roar of thunder broke the silence of the night, as the wind grew fiercer still.

Smiling for the first time in years, he brought his arms down and unleashed his fury on the people who had made his life hell, as sparks scattered into the night.

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


And in the other corner, weighing in at 493 words, let me introduce to you ……..Khanada.


Through her feverish haze, Marie looked up from her bone-thin pallet and saw a man with intense green eyes mopping the floor.  She smiled at him when she saw he had a very kind face and that he appeared to wear a faded red triangle.  Political prisoners were supposed to be very nice.

The janitor returned the smile and continued mopping.  When he came to Marie’s pallet, he slowed down his mopping considerably and leaned down to look at her.

“How old are you, kid?  I don’t see many people your age in this part of the ward.”

She shook her head and struggled to get out one of the few things she knew how to say in German. “Please, can you speak French?  I am only thirteen and did not get enough time at school to learn good German.”

He switched to French. “You must be from a recent transport, if you’re this young and still here.  Do you need real medicine or extra food? I’m a master smuggler.”

“No, no, my Italian doctor friend Caterina is taking care of me.  She told me she won’t let me die.” She closed her eyes against her swimming vision.

“Well, it never hurts to have two people looking after you.  I assume your parents aren’t with you.  If I had children, I’d hope someone were looking after them.” He slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out an orange slice. “Open your mouth, Mademoiselle.”

Marie obliged and let the fruit sit on her tongue, savoring the flavorful citrus juices.  Even in Gurs and Drancy, she hadn’t had oranges.

“What’s your name?  I’m Wolfram Engel.”

 “Marie Zénobie Sternglass.” She kept the orange slice on top of her tongue. “Are you here long?”

“Long enough.  I don’t suppose you know anything about Paragraph 175.  I ended up here because I violated that statute.” He walked around Marie’s pallet and began mopping more earnestly when he saw one of the overseers walking around.

Marie felt a twang of disappointment when the orange finally dissolved and there were no more traces of the succulent juices anywhere on her tongue or in her mouth or throat.  When she opened her eyes again, she saw Wolfram dusting at a very slow pace.

“Do you always befriend young patients?”

“Not normally.  I made an exception for you because you’re so young.  And you’re young enough to be my daughter, if I could have children.”
“You can’t have any children? Were you very sick too?”

“No, I’m perfectly able, as far as I know, but I prefer men.  You can see my triangle is pink.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small piece of chocolate. “Save this for later.  When you’re feeling a little better, we can get better acquainted.  I’ll see you tomorrow, Mademoiselle.”

Marie stuck the chocolate under her pillow and drifted off to sleep, no longer so afraid of being alone in this strange place.

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


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!


47 comments

  1. Both pieces had potentially interesting story lines, but the first one was a lot of telling and could have been tightened up considerably.

    I'm going to go with Khanada.

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  2. Hey, DL! Long time no see! We won't even talk about how many rounds I've missed, I'll just get on with the voting.

    On the surface, I really like the premise of the first one, but it seems a little on the tell-y side to me and most of it is back story. My vote goes to #2 though because it sucked me and and there's so much more I want to know...

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  3. Khanada has my vote this morning.

    I enjoyed the premise of story 1, but it was purely backstory. Story 2 was very intriguing .

    I'm not really into displaying my story if it's not chosen to compete. I'm fine with waiting until next year.

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  4. Hmmm, let's see. For the first entry, I got a very strong sense of place and a very strong sense of the narrator. This is minor, but I was asking myself if the wife died, along with their kids, in the sparks that engulfed his house. I'm guessing she did. I think what could have made this piece stand out just a smidge more is if the elements under his control either included more than wind and thunder -- which inspire awe, but have lost a touch of their novelty in fiction -- or if the wife had possessed a signature in her control over the elements and he'd exercised his agency in the same manner.

    With the second piece, I got a 'Brave New World' vibe with the 'pink triangle' bit. Different colors and shapes identifying individuals is an interesting way of marking characters. I think what could have helped this piece get an edge would be smoothing out the dialogue a bit. Just one opinion, but the cadence felt a little stop and start for me.

    Minor quibbles. But I mention them because I'm unable to pick a clear winner. So, best of luck to both of you! And have a great weekend, everybody.

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    1. Ah, what the hell. I'll vote for Penny Script! Girl loves her some control of the elements. But if this is a sliver of a larger project, keep in mind the whole bit about the wife's signature. (Just a suggestion.)

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  5. I vote for Khanada. I want to know more with that one. Although, the MC telling that the language was different, but it was written in English confused me.Maybe indicate he's speaking German before the MC tries to answer and then have her indicate that she doesn't know German.
    The first one was a little too much telling.
    Great job to both writers.
    Thanks DL!!

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  6. Both are about equal, but the storyline in the first one interests me more. A re-write might make it more enticing though. But still vote for Penny.
    My only thought with a blog hop and everyone posting on the same day is that's a LOT of reading. People might not have time to read more than a couple entries.

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  7. Hey, DL -- I kind of like the idea of a blog-roll for the unused pieces, but I absolutely get your points about anonymity and how many might want to take part. So I'm not sure... I guess it kind of depends on how many are left unused -- if it's only a handful, maybe you could just create a post or a page of "unselected entries" outside of WRiTE Club and put them up under their pen-names? Dunno -- I'll think more about it...

    Anyway, on to today's bout:

    Penny Script's entry covers events which should be teeming with powerful emotion -- the loss of a family, helplessness, anger, hate, and a thirst for revenge. But unfortunately, the story is much too removed. It's all at a distance -- the character is unnamed and essentially everything is relayed as passive, telling backstory rather than allowing all that intense emotion to be shown and revealed through the character's actions and dialogue. Imagine if this were instead, say, a scene where the wizard is confronting the leader of the town. There's be an opportunity for clear drama and conflict to be presented through the wizard's words and actions, and the backstory could be trickled in -- that would provide so much more immediacy and allow the reader to become immersed in what's happening instead of just having it relayed to them through a dry info dump. Technically, the writing is pretty solid, and the underlying story has tremendous potential, but this entry just falls far short of that potential because of the way it is carried out. By the end, I have too little connection with the wizard or his plight.

    In contract, Khanada gives us a scene with interaction between characters, where the backstory is slowly revealed through dialogue and brief snippets. I could quibble about some things, but it's clear that this story is going to also have some intense emotion involved (an ill child suffering through a German concentration camp is definitely going to evoke strong emotions within the reader), and -- most importantly -- the drama is being tantalizingly set up and revealed through action, dialogue, and character interaction. By the end of this piece, I am involved and interested, and have already connected with both the girl and the janitor, and am eager to read more.

    So I have to sing, "Oh, Khanada," and vote for the second piece, eh?

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    1. Sorry -- that's supposed to be, "In contrast, Khanada..."

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  8. I love the content of story number two. I want to find out more. So my pick is #2.

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  9. In the first entry I felt quite disconnected with the mc. Mainly because the whole thing is told in back-story. Plus, the author goes out of his way to explain how proficient the wife was at manipulating the elements...yet she dies in the house, asleep? For some reason I didn't buy it. Which may be resolved as a plot twist later on...but for now, it fell false and weakened the story. There wasn't any emotion for me to connect with here. Although I do like the concept of the story a great deal.

    My Vote goes to Khanada. A lot was accomplished in some simple dialogue. I'm not sure what type of society this is. But I'm pulled in. I want to know more. I have sympathy for both of them. And I'm curious to know where the conflict will come in.

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  10. I vote for Khanada. They're both pieces of great writing, but the fact that this first is almost all backstory pulls most of the emotion out of it for me. On the first page, I want to be immediately grounded in a scene, right away.

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  11. My vote this round goes to Khanada.

    Penny Script's tale was a very heartfelt tale of pain and vengeance. However, it put me more in the mind of sitting down with someone and being told a story and not really experiencing it with the character.

    Khanada had a slight bit of repetition but was overall very moving and left me wanting to know more about how things transpire with young Marie and her smuggler saint Wolfram.

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  12. My vote is for Khanada. Your piece did the job of intriguing me to read on. My general suggestion for improvement regards the believability of the characters. While I haven't experienced life as a political prisoner, from what I've read, there is a lot of psychological manipulation that goes on. One of the main targets is trust among prisoners. I found your mc far too naive - she doesn't even consider the janitor could have an agenda. He might be able to convince her of his good will, but he'd have to earn her trust. At thirteen, I would have regarded this overly friendly adult stranger with suspicion. If the mc was 5, then I could buy it. So, I also have a problem with the janitor. If he is what he seems, he would approach the mc more carefully. If not and he does have some nefarious plan, he would still be aware of the need to put her fears to rest.

    Penny Script, others have mentioned the all backstory issue. I do like the idea though of a world where magic is fairly common.

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    1. And DL - for myself, I wouldn't do the blog hop thing being that I have no blog :) In any case, what works about Write Club is the drama of head to head competition. I suspect without that, everybody would fade away. I could see somebody hosting a site that continues this - although I would suggest that people earn the right to enter the ring based on participation. I find I learn a great deal by critiquing other people's work.

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  13. My vote is for Khanada, the other one had too much back story at the beginning for me.

    About what to do at the end of write club - well, I don't mind the blog hop idea, though you're right that many people won't want to attach their name... Maybe have everyone post someone else's piece for critique or maybe even a couple, so that people don't have to visit as many sites? I'm not sure.

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  14. The first piece made an error that makes my eyes bleed: "The people of the village were weary of him and his family" should be "The people of the village were wary of him and his family" ('weary' instead of 'wary'). This could be a typo, but it points to lack of care in editing. Therefore, I vote for Khanada; nothing happens in the piece, but the writing is solid.

    I'm not sure what to do regarding the blog hop idea. I for one would be quite willing to post my piece on my blog, but apparently some are not so willing.

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  15. Honestly, I'm unable to pick a clear winner this round. Good luck to them both.

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  16. I'm going Khanada today aswell. Good luck to both though.

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  17. First let me say, I LOVE the idea of a blog hop. I participated in a different one and met some great bloggers I've become close too. (I believe it's how I found you, DL!) I'm dying to check out the blogs of some of the writers in this competition. That being said, I think you'd have to do a completely separate linky list where only those writers who wanted to participate could do so. It would be neat if we could sign up using our real and pen names to find our favorites easier. Since not everyone may want to, there'd have to be a way for them to opt out. (And next year you could adjust the rules ahead of time according to your own preference so people decide from the beginning whether to participate.)

    On to the voting. Yes there was telling in the first piece, but what bothered me the most was that the mc destroyed the village, when he admits he doesn't know for sure who murdered his family. I don't know if that was a plot hole by the writer, or just part of the mc's thinking/personality but it bothered me on an emotional level thinking of such a wide annihilation of potentially innocent people.

    Khanada gets my vote this time. I'm interested in knowing more about how she ended up there and what will happen to her.

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  18. I liked the premise of both pieces, but I'm choosing Khanada because it had the interaction of characters. I just couldn't feel what the MC in the first piece had gone through. It was too distant.

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  19. Penny Script used "that" unnecessarily too many times. A common mistake. Khanada.

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  20. My vote goes to Khanada. It was a scene I could picture, complete with sensory details (love the orange). The dialogue was excellent.

    The first piece was all backstory. Too much telling. Penny Script, you can write well, but your story doesn't really start for me until the next to last paragraph when he gathers his supplies. And "supplies" is too vague a term -- I want specific details!

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  21. The first one was too much telling to interest me for long and while the second was in need of polishing I enjoyed it more and wondered about the setting, the characters. Khanada gets my vote.

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  22. Khanada this time. The first caught my attention right off, which the second one didn't, but the writing on the second drew me in better. By the end of the first paragraph from Penny Script I was already tired of the character telling is what he was going to do and why.

    Penny, show us what's happening. The premise is interesting and the writing itself isn't bad, but telling puts an extreme layer of distance between us and the character. I want to feel what he's feeling, not just be told about it.

    On the blog idea--Someone above mentioned those who don't have blogs. I like the idea of keeping it anonymous and having several blogs host. I'd be willing to help, but I don't know the first thing about hosting a blog-hop. About how many are we looking at?

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  23. I say this out of love.
    Penny
    Details were too vague
    "supplies" like a wrench or a wand?
    "magically inclined" I know you're limited on space but this almost says nothing at all.
    "the same power his wife had" which is?
    "unleashed his fury" what happened?????
    "control the elements" like gold? earth wind and fire? heart? :)
    What we have here is a tale of vengeful murder bordering mass-slaughter told by an indifferent narrator. I can only imagine if you had empowered the voice.
    The last sentence - the grand finale - ends with details on sparks. If protagonist had linked this with memories of the sparks that killed his family, the end would have been more powerful.
    I like the wholeness of the story. I like the atmosphere when he does his vengeance wreaking. I don't like that most was passive backstory, void of feeling.

    Khanada
    Maybe I think differently but "a man with intense green eyes mopping the floor." instantly gives me a funny visual.
    The view of this story seems consistently 3rd person limited but for some reason we can understand the janitor fully when he speaks a language foreign to Marie.
    And when she delivers her practiced German request that he speak French, not only has she assumed that he can, she included FAR more details than were necessary... including her age! How long has she been using this phrase? Last year did she have to learn German for twelve? Will she learn it for fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, etc?
    With an orange slice on top of her tongue she says, "Marie Zénobie Sternglass" ... and he understood her? Try this yourself if you don't know what I'm talking about.
    And finally... the orange slice dissolved. Is her saliva battery acid? (and yes, it IS fruit, not candy; as establiched several sentences earlier)
    I'm sure most of these seem extremely petty and maybe they are. But with only 500 words to spare, it was enought to derail me.
    Plus I love atmosphere and setting, as I have stated in a previous comment, and "bone-thin pallet" is not enough.

    I vote for Penny Script

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  24. I'm voting for the 2nd story by Khanada.

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  25. In #1, I found there to be too much telling. I really like the premise and wonder if the backstory could be turned into the first chapter - with all the emotions that would be in that kind of scene.

    I #2, I found it all a little too pat. Again, I didn't feel much in the way of emotions - I didn't really get drawn into the characters although I like the setting and the hints of plot.

    Tough choice again. Hmmm. #2

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  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  27. Sorry - I'll try that again....

    I vote for Penny, although it seemed to be more of a reflection than a story that was moving forward.

    In the second piece, the line, "Political prisoners were supposed to be very nice," didn't make sense to me and took me out of the story. I thought the diaglogue needed some polishing too.

    As for the club, Fight Club never ends until someone's dead or in jail, and everyone gets to fight. Everyone. (I'm just guessing - I didn't watch it all - too much fighting.) What about a once a month round for the remaining submissions? When do we find out who won?

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  28. Another vote for Khanada here. The backstory in #1 made me start skimming, then finally stop reading. #2 felt more immediate because of the dialogue, although it needs plenty of work, too--most of the dialogue sounds stilted and too formal for speech, too familiar for two strangers with such an age disparity, too comfortable for two prisoners. Still, the premise is a good one, and if those issues were fixed, so as to advertise an unpredictable story, I'd love to read more.

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    1. Aaaaand... I forgot to comment on the blog hop idea. Love it. Like Cindy Dwyer says above, I'd love to get to know more of the participants' work, and I think we'd all benefit from further networking. That said, I'm sure there's plenty of people who would disagree or who would prefer not to participate, so, like Cindy (I promise, I do have a mind of my own too), I think a new linky list would probably be best. Will wait to see what you decide, and either way, you're doing an awesome job and we'll all be here next year.

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  29. I'm voting Khanada, loved the entry and I'd want to read more. The first entry was also good, but I feel it needed more detail and less backstory. About the blog hop, I'm not a big fan of the idea, I was looking forward to getting feedback by staying anonymous. But I'd be happy to continue reading and commenting on entries if a blog hop is organized.

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  30. My vote goes to Khanada. The writing is good, and I'd love to read more. I really like the concept of #1, but it felt like an info dump.

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  31. This was tough one. My vote goes to Khanada.

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  32. I'm going Khanada. Even though I enjoyed it, I wanted Penny's to be more active - maybe open with the image of the sparking house and feather in the backstory over time instead of front loading.

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  33. I vote for Khanada. Both pieces were well written, but it was the method that set them apart. I'll take a slow reveal wrapped in emotion and character development over an all backstory narrative any day.

    As for the non-selected entries, I say discard and let the writers resubmit next year. I've done some flash fiction blog hops before and it's not the same as Write Club. Here, the voters are honest. In a blog hop, when you know who the author is, you're more apt to be nice and sugarcoat your critique. It's the anonymity that brings out the truly helpful feedback... at least that's what I think. Whether my story is put up or not, I'll keep voting because it's been a fun experience, as well as an educational one. I'm learning a lot from the commentary even though it's not my work being critiqued... and that is a reward in itself.

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  34. Despite some flaws, like that orange slice thing, I have to vote for Khanada.

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  35. My vote is for Khanada. Both were well written with good imagery and intriguing storylines. However, Penny's piece contained too much narrative. It would be stronger if the backstory were woven in. For khanada, I thought it seemed peculiar that a stranger would disclose his sexual preferences to a child he just met.

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