WRiTE CLUB 2012 Semifinals / Bout 2



Here’s your last chance to contribute towards choosing a2012 WRiTE CLUB Champion byvoting.  You will have until noon Sunday(Dec. 2nd) to vote on both bouts.  Theseare edited versions of the writing samples you’ve seen in the previous tworounds, so read each submission carefully and then leave your vote for thesample that resonates with you the most. If you haven't already, offer some critique for the writers benefit.  The winner of these two bouts will have theopportunity to submit a new 500 word sample to our panel of agents, editors,published authors, and last year’s WRiTE CLUB champion, for determining a newvictor.

Anyone can vote (after signing up on the LinkyList here) so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know andget them to take part in the fun.  Again,you will have until noon on Sunday (Dec. 2nd) to choose between these awesomewriters. 

Good luck to all the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner welcome back to the ring.....Eleven.


I still couldn’t believe these assholes had actually brought us to Hell.

Sulfur stung my throat as I took a quick look around. I ignored the glittering points of terror spiking through my stomach. If I didn’t panic, maybe I could get out of this. Maybe. “So, are we just going to stand here, or are you going to show me around?” I smiled my best and most dangerous smile.

“Of course. I’ll give you the grand tour.” Alexander gave a little bow, then began to lead the way up a steep hill.

At the top of the hill rose a door, just sitting there in open air, no frame or anything, not even a door handle. It was made of shiny black stone, like obsidian. Demonic runes covered it, jagged scars in an otherwise smooth surface. Backlit by a lake of flames on the other side of the hill, it made for a rather impressive sight. A sense of absolute dread descended on me when I looked at it.

Anna had reached the door. She opened it by pressing her hand against one of the runes, which glowed white briefly. On the other side lay absolute darkness. Blacker than the space above us, blacker than the tunnels we’d passed, blacker than the door itself. Without even a half moment’s hesitation, Anna stepped through, Alexander right behind her. I paused. I couldn’t see a thing. How did I know this wasn’t another trick?

“Aren’t you coming?” came Alexander’s amused voice.

What a devil-worshipping dickbag. I gritted my teeth and stepped through the door.

The darkness vanished. I stood on a beach. Milky white sand scrunched under my shoes, ocean air soothed my skin, and a sunset painted the horizon. Endless turquoise ocean stretched out to my left; to my right, rolling hills of clover. Straight ahead sat an enormous house that bridged the two landscapes. It wasn’t quite rustic enough to be called a castle, but wasn’t quite modern enough to be called a mansion. Made of warm, beige stone, it descended from the green cliffs down to the wave-lapped sand. Towers, turrets, parapets and walkways extended out over the sea. A figure stood silhouetted against the sunset.

“Please join me,” a voice whispered in my ear.

Abruptly we stood on the balcony next to the person I’d just seen.

He didn’t have beet-red skin or goat’s eyes or horns. He had golden hair, radiant pale skin, amethyst eyes and full pink lips. Devastatingly beautiful, so much so it almost hurt to look at him. Lucifer. The Devil.

“Zyan Star,” Lucifer said. His words wrapped around me like honeysuckle vines, sweet and intimate. “I’ve been wanting to meet you for a long time.”

I was speechless, for once.

He smiled. It almost seemed kind. Almost. “You’re in shock.” He laughed, and it sparkled on the air like pixie dust. “What did you expect? I am an angel, after all, not a monster.”

“Where are we exactly?” I asked.
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And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring,let me re-introduce.... Snivvy Crank.





For the white-haired school janitor, Mr. Jaspers, there were only three things in life that could truly be described as “irksome”: men who wore toupees; people who spoke of themselves in the plural; and condescending new school principals with egg-shaped heads and fake smiles, who used words like “peruse” and “inquiry” and “my dear man” while implying in the most befriending tones that you were as daft as a peach pit. There was a close fourth--street mimes--but that particular irk was forgotten as Mr. Jaspers, shuffling uncomfortably from one arthritic foot to the other, watched the new principal chat idly on the office phone and imagined throttling him.


Now Mr. Jaspers wasn‘t the type of man who normally daydreamed about throttling people. He was old--very old, kept a pet cat named Elmo in his janitorial office, and up to now his daydreams had been rather docile and well-mannered. Winning a lifetime supply of top-shelf scotch or someone inventing work boots that didn’t squeak on tile floors had been two of his favorites. But then came Mr. Heinik. Yes…even on the phone the short principal seemed to stick under Mr. Jaspers’ fingernails like sidewalk chalk, irritating the old Scotsman in a way he hadn‘t been irritated in a long, long time.

“Saturday?…Of course--I’ll bring my new clubs--and make sure they don’t make us tee off after the VFW team or we’ll be stuck waiting for them to limp from one hole to the other…great…thanks, Frank…eh-heh…bye.”

Had Mr. Heinik read Mr. Jaspers’ file, he would have known the Scotsman had been an Army sentry in both Korea and Vietnam. What the file didn’t say was that Mr. Jaspers also served as sentry in both World Wars, the Spanish-American War, the American Revolution and numerous highland conflicts and continued to march with the local VFW each Memorial Day in a kilt despite a limp from a saber wound in his left leg. Like I said, Mr. Jaspers was a very, very old man.

He was staring blank-faced at the principal, feeling the war-blood begin to circulate again through his veins and wondering whether someone could be beaten senseless from a telephone receiver, when he realized the offensive Mr. Heinik was addressing him.

“Jaspers?”

“Er…sorry, sir, I was, eh, distracted.”

“Forget about it, my dear man,” said Mr. Heinik. “As we were saying, we did get a chance to peruse your file and, while it appears you have put in a few years of good service to Wickfield Prep--”

“Forty-one years, sir.”

“Yes,“ said Mr. Heinik, ignoring Mr. Jaspers completely, “the school board and I think you may find better employment opportunities elsewhere.“

Mr. Jaspers stopped shuffling. His face, a spiderweb of lines and wrinkles from which even the smallest of emotions couldn’t stir without causing a great disruption, didn’t move. Somewhere in his head he heard a voice growl, “Aye, methinks you can dent his head in with a telephone.”
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I’ll be back Monday to introduce our two finalist, alongwith their final writing samples.  Itwill also be your opportunity to unveil the mask (if you choose to do so) andlet others know the real person behind the pen name.  I hope you’ll be back for that! 

Remember the WRiTECLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing,it’s about who knocks the audience out!
 


29 comments

  1. Eleven for me also. This was a tough choice.

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  2. I'm not going to vote yet -- I believe there's been a slight error, DL. The story above is Snivvy Crank's FIRST entry. Their second entry, which won the last two rounds, was about the old school janitor, Mr. Jasper.

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    1. You are right, Chris. Guess this will be a "do over"? I'll check back later to see if it's changed. Though I don't think my vote will.

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    2. Snivvy gets my vote, regardless. I'd like to see them go all the way!

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    3. OK, DL's replaced the correct entry and I've still been waiting to vote because I've had a hard time deciding. This is a VERY tough choice for me, so I apologize, but I don't think a simple "I vote for X" is enough to sort it out. I'm going to have to take some space to try and share some thoughts. If you want, you can just go ahead and jump ahead to my vote at the end. ;^)

      These are two of the stronger writers in the competition. I salute them both for making it to the semis.

      I really like Eleven's work. I've enjoyed their entires throughout this long WRiTE CLub marathon. And I appreciate how the new edits have been made in attempt to bring back that great voice from their first entry. Before, in this entry, Zyan was pretty much just flatly describing the events and surroundings, and I had missed that fun snark from the opening.

      But let's look at a couple of quotes from Eleven's first piece:

      "I had just slammed down a cocktail and was happily contemplating my eternal damnation when the angel walked into my bar. Solid muscle, like all the warriors, and with that same self-satisfied, holier-than-thou attitude. It was the set of the jaw. Gave them away every time."

      "I smiled slightly, pushing a strand of burgundy hair behind my ear. 'So, what brings a pretty boy like you to Noir? Somehow I don’t think it’s just because you decided to take a walk on the naughty side and mingle with the commoners.'"


      Contrast those lines with the new edits of the second piece:

      "I still couldn't believe these assholes had actually brought us to Hell."

      "What a devil-worshipping dickbag. I gritted my teeth and stepped through the door."


      In the earlier entries, Zyan has that old, Humphry Bogart/Sam Spade, "I'm-smarter-than-you", twinkle-in-the-eye, classic snark. I picture a half-smirk on their face, speaking with a smooth jazz rythym, as they narrate those first lines that are insulting without being offensive or crass. But in the second set, Zyan's just rude. I'm no prude and have definitely been known to wax profane at times, so it's not the words themselves, but I do much prefer the style of the first quotes. And I understand -- it's a hard voice to hit just right. But where it was too flat in the pre-edited version, now it's too sharp and abrasive.

      But still, the writing is smooth, the story is interesting, and the characters are compelling. I do admire Eleven's work, and I think there's a lot of creativity in this story of Zyan.

      Snivvy Crank has given us two excellent pieces, filled with humorous and powerful characters. In this writer's work also, the reading is effortless and it's easy to get pulled in, whether we're following a revolting, obnoxious pig-woman or an ancient janitor and his self-absorbed, obnoxious principal. I also give them credit for the ability to create such compelling characters that are so fun to hate!

      And I do have to admire the range. The pig-woman and Mr. Jaspers are clearly in different worlds, evoke entirely different story questions, and strike very different chords within the reader. It's a talent to be able to wander so wide in the stories an author chooses to creates.

      Again this is not an easy choice for me -- both writers have ample reasons why they should be chosen. But, while it is very close for me, I think the ability to cover a wide range has swayed me a little more and...

      tl;dr:

      I vote for Snivvy.

      Delete
  3. Snivvy for me. Though I think "And she had a terrible temper" was unnecessary.
    With the other story I got caught up in visualizing how "Towers, turrets, parapets and walkways extended out over the sea". I also didn't like the addition of a couple of "crudities" that weren't in the original.

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  4. Um, yeah, looks like the wrong submission from Snivvy...But whichever of their entries we have to go with, Snivvy gets my vote.
    Eleven, I understand you must have been trying to improve your voice by adding the obscenities, but I don't feel it worked. It struck the wrong chord with me and seemed quite gratuitous. And I was also waiting for any signs of non-visual details, which the entry was still lacking.

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  5. Wether it's Snivvy's first or second entry, he/she gets my vote. Good luck to you both.

    Can't believe this is the last vote.

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  6. I liked Eleven best but this was a very hard choice.

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  7. Snivvy Crank for either of their entries.

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  8. I've been waiting to see if the Snivvy mixup was fixed but I'll vote Snivvy either way. I've enjoyed eleven's work but Snivvy edged them out.

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  9. I too waited to see if this was a mix-up of Snivvy Cranks's entries, but regardless, Snivvy Crank gets my vote. The vivid description and humorous voice in both S.C.'s entries would get my vote against almost any other entry in the whole WRiTE CLUB. A big Snivvy fan here!

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  10. Snivvy it is.
    They have the strongest entries in the contest, all things considered.

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  11. This one is REALLY tough! I do love the voice in Snivvy, so I think my vote will go there :)

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  12. Sorry everyone, I guess I screwed up again. Snivvy did not submit an edited version for this round, so I have now updated this post with his second piece. I will email everyone who has voted up to this point (5:00 AM central time on Friday) and inform them of the mistake so the can correct their vote if needed. Sorry again!!

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    Replies
    1. Don't beat yourself up, Don -- stuff happens. Since there were no changes from Snivvy's last version, there was nothing really different, and plus, from looking at the comments, I don't think it really affected any voting at all. So no harm done, buddy.

      WRiTE CLub has been a long marathon and you've done a terrific job with it for all these long months!

      Delete
  13. My vote stays the same: Snivvy Crank

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  14. Both are strong pieces and both writers deserve a pat on the back. I'll still vote for Snivvy (though I admit I liked the pig woman story better!). I stopped by yesterday and saw the confusion, so I didn't vote then.

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  15. Although I'll miss the contest, I won't miss having to vote. I'm not made out to be a judge...

    I liked both of these pieces. Eleven's I think would be stronger without the last sentence. Also, I'm not sure where the story is heading, although some of the description is great - I love the line about his laughter sparkling in the air like pixie dust.

    Snivvy's piece still grabs me on a level that makes me want to read more. I couldn't put my finger on it the first round, but now I recognize that I love that the reader is compelled to side with the character who is probably about to commit murder rather than the one who is about to be murdered. Snivvy gets my vote tonight, but well done to both of you.

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  16. This is a reeeeeally tough choice, but I'm going with Eleven.

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  17. This goes to Eleven. (And not just because I like saying that.) Fabulous job by all! I can't believe this is the last vote!!

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  18. I loved the second one. What a cool character!!!

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  19. Snivvy for me. Congrats to both writers for getting this far in the competition. It's been epic!

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