WRiTE CLUB - Skirmish #9

A couple more weeks and I'll have taken care of all those writers who submitted an anonymous sample of their work to WRiTE CLUB 2012, but weren’t lucky enough to be chosen to compete. There are no prizes to be won, or further advancement beyond this one bout, but as all of the other contestants have discovered before them -- there is still plenty to be gained…and learned. I will post one of these skirmishes each week until I run out of contestants.

This week it's Delores Blackfield turn in the ring.  Here is their 461 word submission.




Her skirts felt wet. Probably muddy, though she couldn’t see, not even a hand in front of her face. A perfect night, Tukb’a had said. This darkness—no moon, no stars—felt organic, almost solid.

The men after her would be just as blind. But they had dogs.

The barks and high-pitched whines had stopped when she hit the upslope. Tukb’a’s map showed a narrow pass in the rock. In the black void she’d missed the landmarks, found it only by accident. The slope was too steep, Tukb’a said. The dogs might follow, but the men would circle around and the dogs would retreat with them. That would be her chance. Her only one.

Wind whipped her, briny and moist, at the top of the cliff where she crouched. She clenched toes on the sharp stones to stay upright. The crash of surf at the foot of the cliff roared its voice of freedom. The cave where she’d hide until the boat came must be very close. She had to find the edge, follow it to the cairn, count seven steps, then climb down, hugging the cliff face, until she felt the cave’s opening.

Perhaps the darkness was a blessing. She was terrified of heights. Better that she couldn’t see the void of rock and ocean as she climbed down. But she still had to find the edge, and in the darkness the fear of falling immobilized her.

Her ragged breath let air out too fast to satisfy her starved lungs. She forced herself to hold one, counted to five. The thunder of blood in her ears slowed and the night around her came alive. The wind through vegetation she couldn’t see, faint rustlings as invisible creatures rummaged in the underbrush. Nothing dangerous; rabbits and iguanas, her food—if she made it through the night. The only dangerous animals on the island were the dogs.

And the men.

Her arms and face stung from scratches. In this harsh landscape of rock and shrubs, everything had thorns. Her feet throbbed, one more than the other. She’d twisted the ankle, maybe sprained it. Even the lightest touch made her cringe. On the sole she felt sticky wetness.

A bark, far away. How far? Hard to tell, with the constant rush of wind. She had to get out of here, find the cave, disappear. The dogs would find her scent, but the men would think she’d fallen, smashed to pieces by the violence of the water.

Voices, closer. Move.

Agony shot up from the ankle. No matter. The beating, if they caught her, would leave her useless for days. With a tremor of vertigo, the slave pushed herself off the ground. At the edge of the cliff, one way or another, freedom waited.
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And in the other corner, checking in with 493 words, is Justin Time.

You only get one parachute. There’s no point packing two for a BASE jump since you’ll be splattered pavement art before number two has time to say “Hello.”

Yeah, yeah, I lied and told my momsers there were two chutes; otherwise, she’d never have given me the thumbs up to be the youngest dude in Timmer’s BASE-jumping troupe. That lie flung me here to Hollywood and the Rampion Records Tower just in time to rock tonight’s jump, and then score a space in RR’s Summer Number One singing competition.

I tap Momsers’s number for like the millionth time and hold the cell in front of me, waiting for her voice to pour from the phone. She’s not big into remembering things, and I totally don’t want her to miss my “As Seen on TV” moment when I fly off the top of the Rampion Tower. This BASE jump will be so rad ass that she’ll forgive my lie and see that her baby Justin bird was meant to nest in Hollywood.

I get the usual nothing. Note to self, make sure Timmer zinged her my cut of our last jump fee so she can pay the cell bill.

A hunk of my bangs clogs the sweat stream flowing out of my hairline. What if Momsers watches and I eat it on the music bizzez most hallowed ground?

Sixteen is too freakin’ young to die when you have plans, like winning the Rampion Records Summer Number One.

T-shirt moment: Music Dreams Sucker Punch Death

This crazy-ass Rampion Tower is as sketch on the inside as it is on the outside. Some genius made this sculpture/building by piling up a massive stack of concrete discs that are supposed to look like vinyl records waiting their turn to drop onto an ancient turntable. The dude smacked them in the center of a plaza downwind of the Hollywood sign and called it architecture. I call it mad.

Walking in circles inside this cylinder totally messes with a guy’s internal GPS. Where are the dang elevators?

I trail one of my digits along a gold vein in the black marble wall, trying to tap the heart of greatness that pumps through this tower. Every ten steps a monitor that’s been sunk into the marble flashes Summer Number One winners from the past.

I flick the glass for luck on Gigabyte’s screen, my favorite band. I so dig those lads. Da-Da-Da Deacon points his chiseled chin at me from the next monitor. That dude was an amateur like me when he rocked first place, knocking every pro in the competition out of his way. There’s Mistress Mango with her spiked orange hair and twin, ruby red heart tats on her cheeks. Momsers used to blast Mango’s tunes 24/7 back at our crappy digs in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Yeah, yeah, this year my pipes will qualify for the Summer Number One. My amateur carcass is gonna snag first place.
*********************************************************

You know the drill. Got a second to help these writers out by telling them which one resonates with you the most? And Why? Leave your vote (and a brief critique if you have time) in the comments below.

See you back here at the ring again next week!

 

15 comments

  1. DL - I think, HOPE, someone else's piece got tangled up in Delores Blackfield's ending.

    Of the two, I like Delores' better. In Justin Time's piece, I have no idea what BASE jumping is, so I was lost from the get-go. Most of the lingo didn't sink in either. I'm probably not his audience, though!

    Delores - Your piece is off to something good, but I think it can be better if you stop and show what this unnamed character is touching, tasting, experiencing. She's basically blind, so how is she finding her way? It just seemed rather rushed, to me, but very promising. Good luck.

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  2. I'm going to have to go with Delores Blackfield's piece. It had a lot of good tension, and I was even more drawn in when I realized this was a slave trying to get to freedom. Good luck to both authors!

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  3. I liked Delores's piece because of the writing style, but I did feel that the second piece had a strong voice.

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  4. I liked the voice in the second piece but I for one would never let my kid do any BASE jumping. Absolutely not. I liked the first piece better for the tension but I think the addition of a name at the end might've made it a little stronger. Neither piece wowed me but if I had to choose I would've liked read on with the first piece so it gets my vote today.

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  5. Hey D.L.,

    Just popped by to let you know you've been nominated for the Paying Forward Awards in the category Unpublished Author with Awesome Writing Style.

    Congrats!

    Misha

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  6. The second one had a good start, but think the first one was better overall.

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  7. My vote goes to number 1. The writing flowed well, though I do wish we could have started at the beginning of the piece so I could have known the character better. I followed along, but never really identified--again, probably the fault only of the spot we began reading, not the writing.
    The voice in number 2 seemed so contrived that I couldn't connect at all. There's an interesting plot going on, I think, but it was completely lost in the strange lingo and the too-quirky (too quirky for me to identify with, at least) character.

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  8. I liked both. The only thing that threw me off was the skirts in the first line. Made me wonder if this is historical US (most slaves didn't have skirts (plural)) or somewhere/sometime else (island mention pulled me in this direction too). So I was intrigued to know more. I liked the voice in the 2nd - and the writing is fun. I do think it would be a little tiring to read a long piece with so much slang though. Anyway - well done to both authors :)

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  9. Both are good, but Delores' scene had me by the throat . . .I was with her character all the way to the possibility of freedom, one way or the other.

    DL - You rock for hosting Write Club!!! I really appreciate all the encouragement you give to authors and the way you highlight writing!

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  10. I'm going with #2. The first one dragged with all the setting descriptions. I like things a little more fast paced. It felt more like a stroll than anything else. Plus I love the voice in the second one. I felt more of a connection to it than with the first one.

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  11. I like #1 best. It made me very aware of the tension and the stakes, although there was a bit of "telling" in the middle (like she's afraid of heights) and the physical reactions may have been a bit overwritten toward the end.

    I felt #2 had a lot of voice and no substance - I didn't quite get what was happening. I prefer plot to voice, but there are tons of agents who feel differently.

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  12. These are two very well written pieces. Sorry, no choice from me. It's a tie.

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  13. I'd have to go with Delores, although both were well-written. Justin's piece has a strong voice, possibly too strong, as I found the slang a little hard to take. Plus, I had to stop and Google BASE jumping because I had no idea what it was. But Delores's writing grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I would like to know where this island was. Some place with iguanas, obviously. Intriguing.

    Good of you to stick with this, Don, and give everyone a chance.

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  14. The 2nd piece caught my attention. There was a lot going on behind the scenes, making it almost mysterious, cunning, deceptive. Thrill and anxiety definitely come into play in this piece. I like the 1st one too, but the 2nd piece is my favorite.

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