WRiTE CLUB 2012 – Round 35



Just two rounds left.

Patrice Croninville captured round 31 and has now been added to the list of winners on the WRiTE CLUB 2012 results page.  All of this week’s bouts (there are four of them) will be open for voting only until noon on Sunday, so don’t dally.  A list of all 36 winners, as well as a complete breakdown of how the play-offs will work and the format used, will be posted Sunday afternoon.  The first set of play-off bouts begin on Monday. 

Let’s keep the ball rolling!






Here are this rounds randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 497 words, please welcome to the ring……..Alondra Larkin.


Irovel walked through the busy streets of Yonden Hithis, looking for a place where she could stand to watch the execution. Word had come up to her in the hills – Barjuk, her sister's murderer, had stood trial and been found guilty. He would die today.

The crowd made Irovel uncomfortable. If these people knew what she was, knew that she was different … well, she might just end up as dead as the prisoner standing by the execution block was about to be. There had to be a place she could watch without being jostled so much.

She looked up at the buildings lining the street, and saw one with a roof sturdy enough to climb on top of. Hurriedly, Irovel went around back and climbed the rain barrel to get onto it. She had always preferred the high ground.

The roof was empty, and she slid across it until she could see the heads of the people below. From above, the crowd varied little as her eyes swept across it to the wooden riser upon which stood the prisoner and his guards. The people were all so dark of hair and skin that she could hardly tell one from another. She knew the prisoner, though. That one could never hide from her. Trees would grow old and die before she would forget what he had done.

The executioner was a killer himself – only a fool would sacrifice his freedom to wear the wooden soldier’s mask that hid his face – but one who had subjected himself to the law instead of fleeing from justice. The magistrate, a clear-eyed woman, stepped up to pronounce sentence. “This man has killed with his face bared to the world. Now he will so die. Let it be done!” she said.

Irovel heard a sound from beside her, and turned to see a man climb onto the next rooftop. He too was masked, and he held a bow in his hand. He nocked an arrow and drew back, aiming for the magistrate. The crowd, oblivious, cried out with one voice. "Kill him! Kill the murderer!" Barjuk cringed at the sound.

“Stop!” Irovel shouted at the archer. He stopped; he had no choice. People down below who heard her froze in place, then turned to see who had spoken. Irovel crouched to hide her face from them. Her voice always carried the ring of truth, but giving a direct command was much more dangerous than simply speaking. Somebody might figure out what she was.

Across the street, the sentence was carried out. Irovel’s cry alerted the guards to the presence of the archer, and the executioner hurriedly escorted the magistrate down from the block before the assassin could recover.

Seeing his plot foiled, the masked archer turned and loosed his bow at Irovel instead. Pain blossomed in her shoulder, and she felt more than heard a loud pop. The seething anger in his gaze filled her vision as she tumbled to the street.

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And in the near corner, weighing in at 497 words, let me introduce to you ……..Dark Alley.


“Don’t go walking down a dark street in the middle of the night,” they’d said. Good advice. I don’t take good advice. I seek what’s behind the warning.

Dark houses cast shadows in the waning light the moon. I can smell the sweet rancid decay of my prey getting stronger as I get closer.

I pull out my nines, the sting of blisters rubbing against my boots an annoyance, but I’ll take it out on them.

Them. I don’t know what to call them. The name doesn’t matter to me though. Killing them does.

I hear the snap of a twig down an alley between two houses. The cool metal of my guns centers me. I’ve done this many times before. The adrenaline coursing through my veins is a familiar friend. I am alert. I am sharp.

I am lying on the ground, my face in a puddle. My guns are gone. I have no idea what happened, but I know what stands over me.

I roll to my side, aware of where my attacker stands by the direction of its stink. I dodge its arms as it lunges after me, the knife from my boot in my hand as quick as thought.

Acid green eyes stare at me, its teeth snap together at the prospect of a meal. The skin of it is falling off in patches, the slimy muscles showing traces of green rot.

It comes at me.

I dance out of its way. My guns have to be around here somewhere, but I dare not look away from my enemy. It reaches a hand at me and I slash at it.

Its eyes are wild with fury as it lunges at me, ignoring the blade. I am tackled and the knife falls from my hand. I wrestle with the thing -attempt to keep its gaping maw away from me. I’m losing. The adrenaline in my veins doubles.

I drive my knee up to its groin, a panicked tactic,  but it works. The sharp keening of its pain invades my ears. I scramble away, turn my back on it, and look for my guns.

I hand wraps around my ankle and I scream as I’m dragged backward. I kick at its face and hand on my leg. It comes at me again, and again my leg is in its hand. I pull myself backward and try desperately to get away. My hands grope to find something -anything- to get me away from this thing.

Its grip gets tighter. I kick and kick and gasp when my hand finds something thin and metal. I swing it at the creature with all of my strength just as it bites down on my calf.

A piece of re-bar sticks out of its head where it lay dead next to me. I pull my pant leg up to inspect the damage. There is no blood. It’s teeth never broke the skin.

I think it’s time to recruit some help.

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New voters must sign up on the Linky List found by clicking on the badge below before making a choice.  Remember, the voting for all of this week’s bouts will only remain open until noon on Sunday, October 21st.

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

 

32 comments

  1. Neither of them quite knocked me out but my vote goes to Dark Alley

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  2. Alondra gets my vote this morning. Her piece evokes clear images and a world in my mind. I think the sequence of events could use a little tweaking. There's too much time between Irovel's warning and the reaction of the assassin (shooting her), and the prisoner's execution seemed lost in the shuffle. But overall, this scene is executed better than the other selection. (ha!)

    Dark Alley's piece has too many sentence structures that are exactly the same for my liking. Most of them are simple sentences, and I like to see a variety. There's also very little internal monologue, so I don't get a sense of the narrator's thoughts, feelings, or voice. It becomes a list of action rather than a story to me.

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  3. Alondra has my vote this morning.

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  4. Hmm, not a fan of either. I'm sorry! It's just that first is confusing and the second has a few tense issues. Voting for Dark Alley.

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  5. Hmmmm ... I'm not sure. Neither was really blowing me away, not sure why. Maybe it was the pacing. I felt like I should have felt more adrenaline in both pieces. My vote goes to Alondra this time.

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  6. Well, both entries today give us scenes with plenty of action and tension, so the backstory dumps and exposition is kept to a minimum, which is good. But I do have to confess that neither one really grabbed me. I've been so busy lately I haven't had much time to do anything (my woefully neglected blog is a silent testament to that), so maybe I'm getting burned out, or perhaps I'm just in a mid-week funk...

    Alondra Larkin presents a fantasy scene with action. The drama and stakes are clear. The setting is different but familiar enough, and presented smoothly so that I don't feel like I'm floundering in a deluge of world-building. Irovel is an interesting character, but it feels like the author is being a little too coy about her -- pointing out that she's "different" but not letting the reader know how or why. I also get a bit confused about the whole bare-face thing -- the soldiers and the assassin have their faces covered, and the prisoner "killed with his face bared to the world," and Irovel crouches to hide her face too. I'm just not sure why. The magistrate's dialogue seems a bit awkward to me, too: "Now he will so die." As opposed to just slightly die? Finally, the sequence of events at the end seems odd -- Irovel's command of "stop!" somehow forces the archer to stop ("he had no choice"), and then the executioner carries out the execution, and then Irovel's cry alerts the guards, and then somehow the archer can move again enough to shoot Irovel. Doesn't she see him turn to fire at her? Can't she just yell "Stop!" again if her "ring of truth" has enough power to force him to stop? Plus she's crouched down, hiding from the crowd -- doesn't that mean she's be harder to hit by the archer, too? And it's hard to connect with how the seething anger from the gaze of a person on the roof a house away could "fill her vision" as she tumbles to the street. This is an example of a sentence that sounds cool but is impossible -- anyone "tumbling" off a roof and down to the street is going to have their vision rapidly and erratically "filled" with a lot more than the gaze of a person on the roof a house or two away.

    The appropriately-named Dark Alley gives us a fight scene in a dark alley, between an unnamed MC and one of "Them". There's plenty of action, but even with the immediacy of first-person and present tense, it feels disconnected and distant. The "I have no idea what happened" that forces him (her?) to the ground seems really odd given all the detail of the ensuing fight and how this person was "alert" and "sharp" and how they've "done this many times before." Plus I have no clue what the "them" is -- some rancid-decay-smelling, acid-green-eyed, teeth-snapping, wild-fury-eyed thing with "hands" that is sensitive to knees in the crotch -- Zombies? Aliens? Mutants? Agitated politicians? Finally, and more importantly, I also have no real connection with the mc other than they don't follow good advice and take their "nines" to go hunting for green-eyed foes in dark alleys. Why? Who is this person and why should I even care? All-in-all, there's plenty of action but unfortunately very little humanity and no real reason to be interested in the fight.

    In this round, I have to vote for Alondra -- there are some issues with the first piece, but at least there's more of an MC I can connect with.

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  7. My vote goes to Alondra Larkin. The piece was okay (I had trouble with all the foreign-sounding names, but that's probably just me). With some editing, it could be a whole lot better, though.

    The second one was just too awkward to read, I had a hard time finishing it.

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  8. Both entries have a lot of potential. I would have liked to have had a better idea what the mc was fighting in the second entry. I'm going to vote Alondra today.

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  9. I love fantasy and I love zombies.
    But both pieces could use a revision draft.
    Alondra Larkin had a some poorly phrased sentences and excessive words.
    "...end up as dead as the prisoner standing by the execution block was about to be." Just awkward.
    "...so dark of hair and skin that she could hardly tell one from another." Please elaborate because this could be misunderstood in an unfortunate way.
    "Looking for a place where she could stand to watch..." could be "Looking for a place to watch..." and we'd be moving right along, not bogged down by wordiness.
    Put some thought into exactly how the action scene would play out. Short sentences give an immediate feel and by using one after the other quickly, the individual actions seem less sequential, more simultaneous. But seriously consider: if the guards were aware enough to move the magistrate, would a rushed execution still take place? Considering that it was the main tension of the entire scene, it goes down in a very anti-climatic (and passive) manner: "the sentence was carried out." At least give us blood!
    By the way, what popped? She isn't a balloon is she? Is that her secret?
    I jest. I'm still voting for you.

    Dark Alley had some blatant errors. I'm not being a snob here. It just seems like if you'd read it before submitting, you'd catch them. ("...in the waning light the moon." "I hand wraps around my ankle...")
    It must be a zombie. It's decaying and hungry and you're concerned to see if it broke the skin. But a kick to the groin works?
    Besides this, I would just advise that you establish a reason for us to care before throwing us into the middle of the action. When a person says, "I don't take good advice" in a story like this, I say, "Please get eaten."

    My vote goes to Alondra.

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  10. Both pieces suffer from way too much telling. I found my attention drifting as I read through each of them. They are pretty much equal, though, so I have to nitpick. I found a typo in the second piece: "I hand wraps around my ankle" so I'm voting for Alondra Larkin.

    Whoever wins this round really does need to revise though.

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  11. I agree with Esther, both pieces need more work but the first one interested me a little more, sparked more curiosity. My vote goes to Alondra.

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  12. Voting for Alondra, both pieces need more work but the first drew me in more, and left me wanting to know what happens next.

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  13. I liked both, but I'll go with Alondra.

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  14. My vote goes to Alondra today. I got a bit lost in the shuffle of the events with both but Alondra's pieve provided a few more details to help me ground myself in the story. I really tried to get into the second story but had a difficult time getting past "I" and "it" as the central things that stuck out most and overtook the action I hoped to connect with.

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  15. Dark Alley for me today. Good luck to both entries.

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  16. I think #1 needs a bit of tightening to make it flow better. #2 had too many sentences starting with I for me. First pov is tough, but I felt they all just jumped out at me. Sorry.

    My vote goes to #1

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  17. Both pieces could use some revision. Alondra, regarding this awkward fragment: ...well, she might just end up as dead as the prisoner standing by the execution block was about to be, I'd suggest you simplify: She might just end up dead too. Here's another place where you could tighten: ... a roof sturdy enough to climb on top of. How about simply: a sturdy roof. And I'm not fond of your sentence about hardly being able to tell one from another because they all had dark hair and dark skin. David List mentioned this above and I agree.

    Despite these and a few other awkward spots, I'm voting for you today. Dark Alley's piece, though full of action, has a choppy feel and way too many sentences starting with "I". Plus, I had trouble connecting with the MC.

    Bravo to both of you for being brave enough to enter something only to have us all pick it apart. Good luck!

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  18. My vote is for Alondra for an interesting premise. My suggestion for both writers: don't take the reader down the vague roadway. I am supposing this withholding is to increase tension, but at the beginning of a story, when I am not connected to anything, it allows me to drift away.

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  19. I'm going with #2. Number 1 had a good premise but the "they'll find out what I am" was laid on way too thick. Both need some serious editing.

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  20. I preferred the way Alondra set the stage. Tossing my vote that way.

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  21. The first one had a Zorro feel to it. Just didn't connect to the second one. I vote for Alondra.

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  22. I wasn't feeling either of these but I'll vote for Alondra

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  23. It's Alondra Larkin for me. She pulled me right into the story and I want to keep reading to find out who that masked assassin was! Great, clean writing too.

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  24. I'm going to vote for Alondra! A nice piece, and I was intrigued to find out what special powers she had.

    Dark Alley was intriguing as well, I just kept getting confused at the flash from one thing to the next - she's got her guns, then they're gone. The creature has her, then it's dead. I think there could be a lot of juicy tension in those missing moments. Nice job though!

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  25. Alondra for me this round. I wasn't a huge fan of either entry today. Alondra had too many strange names, I found it hard to get into (but that's so subjective) and Dark Alley had a lot of great action, but I felt disconnected from it.

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  26. My vote goes to Alondra today. The story pulled me right in. Dark Alley started out interesting, but ultimately didn't hold me as strongly.

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  27. Dark Alley gets my vote. I like the voice. I'm partial to first person, anyway, and having to deal with funny names that don't sound right doesn't draw me in.

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  28. I vote Dark Alley. Nice action scene,and I cracked up when "I am alert. I am sharp." was immediately followed by "I am lying on the ground, my face in a puddle." Well played.

    Alondra's scene was definitely intriguing and I like the style of writing. My tiny critiques are that, for me, the details about the executioner and magistrate were like speed-bumps in the forward action of the piece. Also, the word "hurriedly" - I'm not a fan of it, and it was used here twice.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe I should expand on the "hurriedly." It can easily be eliminated by using a more descriptive verb. So here: "Hurriedly, Irovel went around back" could be "Irovel rushed to the back"

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