WRiTE CLUB 2012 – Round 26

Khanada becomes our 23rd entry into the play-off rounds, and with only thirteen more slated to join him/her, time indeed is growing short.  Now might be a good time to refresh yourself with the all of the winners by checking out my WRiTE CLUB 2012 results page. Why, you ask? Because the first play-off round will take place over a two week period (spread across three different blogs) where you’ll be asked to vote on eighteen different bouts. Starting to get a drift of what’s in store? How about some more details?

As I said, in round 1 a different bout will be posted on Mon-Wed-Fri on three different blogs (mine and last year’s WRiTE CLUB winner & runner-up) for two weeks. I am forced to use other sites in order to squeeze in 18 bouts into a two week time frame and not let the contest drag on forever.  And since round one bouts will be against existing submissions, you can get a head start by checking out the winning writing samples now. The second round will take place in a one week period, also on M-W-F, also on three blogs, and will involve edited submissions.  Beginning with the 3rd round everything will take place right here, and will involve new submissions, so there will be no prep work for that.  But we got a few more preliminary rounds to get through before we ratchet up the fun.

Also, I may have figured out an answer for the unused submissions, thanks to a suggestion.  Instead of a blog hop, after WRiTE CLUB is finished I’m considering dedicating one post per week to something I’ll call WRiTE CLUB – SKIRMISHES. I’ll host a bout between two randomly chosen previously unused submissions for the purpose of eliciting feedback.  Anonymity will still be intact and you’ll still be able to choose a winner, but there will be no advancement past that one bout.  I’ll host these skirmishes (probably on Wednesdays) until all of the writing samples have been depleted. For those of you who want to find out more about the writers behind the samples posted here, hopefully on the final post of the year when I invite anyone willing to do so to reveal their true self's you'll be able to seek them about through the Linky List. Sound fair?  


 
Here are this rounds randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at only 117 words, please welcome to the ring……..Marquistar.

He closes the fridge and stares at the picture stuck to the door with a magnetic banana, the milk carton in his hand forgotten. A ten-year-old girl with brown pigtails grins at him from the small photo. Her skinny freckled arms tightly encircle a golden retriever's throat, her spontaneous smile framed by shiny braces. Swallowing against the sudden lump in his throat, he reaches out and strokes the glossy print. His eyes burn. For a moment, he tries to hold back the tears -- something from his childhood whispers "big boys don't cry" --
but he is a man now, and besides there is no one around to see the tears that slide silently down his cheeks.

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And in the other corner, weighing in at 497 words, let me introduce to you ……..S. Linki.


Lady Motsu stumbled to her knees, stayed there breathing heavily, staring into the green shadows.  Her lips felt chapped, her tongue dry with thirst.

The trees were huge and wild, hung with forest lace, the canopy so thick that she couldn't tell even what direction she faced, except that it was away.
Away from home, away from the things following her.  Not human, she was certain, without the blue eyes of the blod or the skin and hair colorations of the Clans.  What else was there?

The heels of her hands were scraped raw, her dress torn loose from its waistband where she'd fallen.  What would her father and brothers think of her disappearance?  Surely someone would come after her soon, take her home where her servants could tend her bruises and put her to bed to pretend it had all been a dream.

Nightmare.

She tried to swallow, glanced back again, thought she saw eyes in the darkness.  She stared, eyes dry and incurious.  She didn't have enough strength to run again.

Instead she grasped the rough bark of a tree beside her hand and fought her way to her feet.  Her feet burned, like the time she'd held her hands too close to a fire.  The rough bark bit into her hands, reminding her of the times she'd fallen.

She faced into the forest on her feet, stared down the eyes, hoping she didn't look as frightened as she felt.  Calm and defiant, but she didn't feel calm at all.

She wanted to run.

The eyes didn't move, didn't blink, and after a time she took a few tentative steps in that direction.  Deeper in the shadows she looked up, studied the dark flowers seemingly growing directly from the trunk of a tree.  Pale leaves cupped them, making the illusion of eyes staring down at her.

As she took another step those flowers turned, the eyes looked at her and the plant--flower--pulled its roots free of the tree and started down toward her.

She wanted to run from this thing almost more than she wanted to run from the creatures chasing her, but her legs wouldn't move.

Somehow she made them move, although they seemed to have the consistency of jelly.  She stumbled back, one step and then another, watched the thing make its slow way down the tree.  She stumbled back, felt one leg give out, and sat down abruptly in the bushes.

The thin stems crackled under her weight.  She felt something move under her and rolled, covering her head and waiting for the thing to attack.

A small creature jumped from the brush, away from her.  She didn't recognize it in the pale shadows.  It darted past the tree and the eye-flower pounced.

Lady Motsu hunched, listening to the tiny thing scream, and shifted away again.

A moment later the screaming stopped and the flower climbed back up its tree, the body of Lady Motsu's savior dragged in its wake.



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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!


41 comments

  1. Okay, this is an example of when "less is more."

    Although I am intrigued by what sent the obviously pampered Lady Motsu fleeing into the forest, there were too many things going on this selection to keep track of. What are blod, who are the Clan, what was chasing her, what kind of creature was the flower, and how about the little creature that jumped out of the bush and got eaten by the flower?

    There's a lot of eyes in the passage, too. I couldn't keep track of whether they were Lady Motsu's or something else. Also, Motsu's actions contradicted themselves. She couldn't move. She made herself move. Etc. I wanted to like this passage, but I think it still needs polishing.

    So, my vote goes for the simple little paragraph by Marquistar. It is poignant and vivid. That said, it could also lose a few words. I would cut "For a moment he tries to hold back the tears" and start the sentence with "Something from his childhood ..." I would also cut the word "silently" because tears don't usually make noise anyway. But overall, I will remember this passage.

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  2. Ooh, both tugged at me. Hmmm... but I think I have to go with S. Linki. (I need to know where this lady is headed.)

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  3. S Linki. While I really liked the snapshot quality of the first one, just capturing that one moment in time, the writing didn't work for me.

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  4. S Linki. I'm intrigued by the story and what exactly the characters are.

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  5. This was a tough one to choose, but since I must, I'll vote for S. Linki.

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  6. Marquistar, which proves you can say more with less.

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  7. Marquistar gets my vote today. I couldn't quite follow what was happening with Lady Motsu.

    Love the idea of weekly skirmishes for the remaining entries.

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  8. I liked them both, but this time my vote goes to S Linki. Also, I think it's a good plan you have with the WRiTE CLUB "left overs" lol.

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  9. Marquistar.

    And I love the idea of skirmishes. :)

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  10. I'm going to vote for S. Linki, the world they created was intriguing. Marquistar's piece although short was very moving.

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  11. Marquistar has my vote today! And I like the idea of skirmishes - really cool way of making sure those entries get a chance to shine and acquire feedback. Looking forward to hosting the playoffs on my blog!

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  12. I'm going with S. Linki. I liked the panic feeling.

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  13. I liked both of these entries, but I'm voting for Marquistar because S. Linki's confused me a little towards the end. :)

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  14. I am usually a big fan of wordiness. Or it could be I'm just a wordy person so I tend to favor more over less. Not in this case. I'm voting for Marquistar. Short. To the point and I felt the raw pain. I really enjoyed it.

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  15. Marquistar gets my vote. Short, but sweet. My only crit is that I wanted more. Unfortunately, I had the exact opposite reaction to Linki's; in that snippet I think less would be more.

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  16. I've gotta go with Marquistar this time. Short, yes, but a lot of emotion is skillfully captured in this passage. No need to dilute that emotion with superfluous words. Great job!

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  17. Marquistar for me. I like the 'less'.

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  18. S.Linki had good imagery and a unique voice. Some parts seemed a little random. "She faced into the forest on her feet" is too much of an accidental alliteration.
    But I'm voting S.Linki.
    Yes, Marquistar's paragraph is good. But a paragraph isn't enough.

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  19. My vote goes to Marquistar. Yes it was short, but I didn't need more to see the writing was excellent, tight and created a vivid image in my head. Well done.

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    1. I think skirmishes are a good idea. It may take some effort to get people to continue reading and giving feedback though. But, better than throwing away the unused entries.

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  20. Marquistar. I might've liked S. Linki's more if it was clearer what was happening. And I like the idea of future skirmishes :)

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  21. My vote is for Marquistar. I found it a touching vignette. I wouldn't have minded a bit more - is the girl dead or simply grown and gone? You can probably lose the adverbs. The piece would only be improved by expanding on what they are trying to portray - ex. "silently" is he choking back sobs? "tightly" encircling the throat sounds like she's choking the dog.

    S. Linki - there is much to like in your piece. There is clearly an interesting story here, but you rush over the unfamiliar concepts leaving me confused and having to go back and reread parts. For instance, after the second reading of the flower bit, I finally got it and thought, "how cool!" My suggestion is to slow down - as you get to the scary flower, I'd like a few more hints about why the mc might be running and a clearer picture of this world. Do try reading the work out loud too - there are several repeated phrases (she stumbled back) that will become obvious. Also - work on her reasons for running or not. She can, she can't, she can... If she's been running all that time, even if she is exhausted, she'd find a bit of energy to back away from a nasty predator thing. Maybe she just wants to face what has been chasing her, or is afraid if she runs further it will pursue so standing still seems like a better idea, or whatever.

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  22. I loved Marquistar. So powerful in such few words

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  23. Sounds fair to me, DL. Thanks!

    Bold move on Marquistar's part to write such a short piece, when he/she could have written quite a bit more. It's brief but powerful (although I'd like to see a different word than "tightly" for the arms encircling the dog's throat).

    S. Linki's is intriguing, but I had to re-read to figure out what was going on with the flower and the other little creature. I found it too confusing, with some awkward sentences.

    My vote is for Marquistar. You had me at magnetic banana.

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  24. Very different pieces here. I would have liked a bit more of the first but the paragraph was powerful and well done although maybe the use of the word 'throat' twice in such a short piece broke the flow for me slightly. The second I did find a little confusing in places and had to re-read but it had drama and action and I definitely got that the lady was being chased by something and was scared. As I have to make a decision I will go with S Linki. Good luck to both entries.

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  25. #2

    I like the idea of skirmishes. I didn't pipe up before because I didn't enter a piece of writing, but I think the skirmishes keep the spirit of WriteClub well!

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  26. As I've said before, I have a difficult time with first person present. Marquistar did a good job on that front, but I needed more information to draw me in. Marquistar had plenty of space to give us additional details, to make us care about this character and not just his upset. The piece is well written, but I have more interest in the girl and the dog than in the character.

    Linki's piece drew me in immediately, but again I want more information. This is obviously a developed world in the author's mind--your readers need to see the world in order to understand what's happening.

    It goes to Linki this time.

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  27. Two very different pieces this time...

    Marquistar gives us a snippet of emotion with some very nice touches -- the magntic banana, shiny braces, tears that "slide silently." But while there are things to like, it feels very ungrounded. The unnamed "he" (Dad? Brother? Cop looking for the girl's killer? Docor who couldn't save her?) and the brevity leave this entry nothing but a snapshot in itself. Also, for me, the "big boys don't cry" lacks the desired impact and feels more like a cliche (and also makes me think of an old 10CC song, "I'm not in Love").

    S. Linki's entry is compelling but confusing. I like the basic premise and the scene, but there are some things that keep it at a distance. It's great to raise some story questions ("Who is this Lady Mostu?" "What are 'the creatures' she's running from?"), but they get lost in so many others: "What's the 'blue eyes of the blod'?" "what are the Clans?" "What are the peredatory flowers with the eyes???" "What's the 'small creature' that the flower captures, and how is it that such a 'tiny thing' becomes 'her savior'?" There are also some continuity issues, such as she stares 'incurious' at the eyes, and then 'stared down the eyes hoping she didn't look as frigthtened as she felt." Incurious doesn't agree with frightened. And a lot of time is spent describing tired legs that are like jelly, won't move but are made to move, stumble, give out, and have burning feet.

    All in all, this is a tough choice for me. I like Marquistar's snapshot, but there's just not enough to get a good handle on, and Linki's scene is good but awash with confusing elements.

    Still, in the end, I think I have to go with S. Linki for this one.

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  28. I dunno. The first one didn't tell a story at all although the writing was good. I feel like I recognize the writing too. The second one bothered me with the one word paragraph. I'll pass on voting on this one.

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  29. Marquistar gets my vote today. The piece was well-written and engaging. I assume he is the father and the little girl is dead or missing, but really there can be so many different explanations. Whatever their relationship, I feel his pain, it seemed like he had a moment of not thinking about her but the simple act of grabbing milk brought all his emotions crashing back down on him.

    S. Linki's piece (love the pen name!) shows a lot of imagination. It sounds like the writer has built an interesting world, but I think too much was introduced at once, which lead to confusion in some parts. For example, at the beginning I thought she was intentionally running from home ("...she couldn't tell even what direction she faced, except that it was away. Away from home, away from the things following her."), then a few sentences later she longs for someone to help her back home. Some of the description felt repetitive also. But I'm very intrigued by this flower thing!

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  30. S. Linki charmed me and gets my vote. The first entry was more polished, and I know the rules simply state under 500 words, but a single paragraph is a lot easier to polish than a longer sample, so I'd need to see more from Marquistar to be able to throw this writer a vote.

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  31. On the strength of eschewing obfuscation, Marquistar gets my vote

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  32. Marquistar for me. Someone else above said it best: "you had me at magnetic banana". Great example of less is more, especially compared to the second piece. Too much: description, innuendo, obfuscation. I couldn't connect to the MC. In Marquistar's, as short as it is, the scene came alive and the MC popped off the page. Excellent job.

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  33. Well, I'm afraid I won't be voting for Marquistar today.
    I understand that the rules don't state a minimum word count but I can't help feeling a submission of only 117 words was a bit too risky. The point of being able to submit up to 500 words was that it would give a writer the chance to show a range of necessary skills required to tell a complete story. Submitting a 117 word passage feels a bit like watching an olympic runner stop running after the first stretch, raise his arms to the crowd and say "Haven't you seen enough?" (Now I do understand that this submission may not have been sent in with this attitude but unfortunately it comes across as arrogance or fear that keeps someone from submitting more--regardless of what the true motivation may be.)

    I'm sorry for harping on this but we are all writers and we all know how much easier it is to form a small, perfectly worded passage than a larger bit. It's frustrating that someone who had the obvious ability to form a single paragraph well hasn't give us the chance to see their skill in pacing or whether they can keep it paragraph after paragraph. And, this being a competition, I'm not in the position of giving submissions the benefit of the doubt to this level.
    Marquistar has given us a beautiful flower...I just feel we should be judging bouquets.
    S.Linki for me.

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  34. Marquistar for me. Just those few lines made me feel like I was embedded in a story.

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