WRiTE CLUB 2013 - Bout 1



After weeks of anticipation and build up, the time has finally arrived!  Gather around one and all, there are plenty of good seats left. Have you punched your ticket by signing up on the Linky List? No voting allowed unless you’ve done that first.

WRiTER’s from far and wide, spanning the globe, representing all ages and multiple styles of WRiTING, have gathered here today to witness the inaugural bout of the 2013 version of WRiTE CLUB!  Our illustrious WRiTER’s are not only from all walks of life, but they also occupy various levels of the publication world.  But none of that matters today, because the ring serves as the great equalizer.

Beginning today and spanning the next eight weeks, there will be two bouts per week between two randomly selected contestants.  One fight on Monday, and the second on Thursday.  Your task is simple...vote for the writing sample that resonates with you the most.  The voting for every fight will remain open for one full week. So a you can vote for a Monday battle anytime until midnight on Sunday, and you can vote for a Thursday brawl up until midnight the following Wednesday.  And when you vote you can do these anonymous writers a great service by leaving a brief critique of their work. Again...the only votes that count are by those people who have signed up on the Linky List. And when you do vote, your name goes into the hat for the drawing of a $75 Amazon gift card at the end of the season. One vote per person, per fight.

That's enough of my caterwauling...


Stepping into the far side of the ring, let me introduce to you our first contestant.  Weighing in at 498 words, representing the YA Fantasy genre, American Banshee.




Dollop held the swords with a practiced hand, turning slowly on the spot where she stood, her hands balancing the metal with no trace of hesitation. Back and forth she moved, her body twirling as her feet barely brushed the ground, arms circling with increasing speed as the blades caught the moonlight. Her dance carried her through paces of a varied pattern, unpredictable art. After several moments of this she began to sing:

Dance with me deadly
Sweet source of life
And come all the closer
To embrace my knife.

Sing with me sweetly
‘Neath moonlight or cloud,
My curse never-ending,
Our silence scream loud.

Dance with me deadly
All you of good cheer,
My steel shall meet yours
Each night of the year.

Her voice was smaller than you might expect from someone as bold as she, but it was as clear as the night, and carried a slight lilt that made it seem somehow normal. Perhaps that is because, to Dollop, singing and dancing with swords was the most natural thing in the world.

All the while the shadows drew nearer, lengthening in the face of the moonlight.

She continued to dance at the center of the clearing, still a safe distance from the newcomers to the scene, and they continued to slowly approach, just as she knew they would.

And then she came to a stop.

“Took your sweet time, dinna you?” she asked. “Come on, then.”

They rushed her.  

Each assailant was a full two heads taller than Dollop. They were dark, creatures of the night in full, with the whites of their eyes betraying the only traces of moonlight. This time they wore horns, large and curved away like a bull’s; but that was nothing new, the minotaur was a particular favorite look for them.

As they charged, Dollop counted slowly under her breath.

“One.”

Both swords twirled around her fingers. The shades were completely silent, just as they always were. There were fourteen of them, one for every year of her age.

“Two.”

And now they were upon her and she was moving, moving as nobody had ever seen her move: light-footed as usual, but seeming to be in a dozen places at once. She threw an elbow to the lead attacker, catching him straight between the eyes and following it with a backward thrust of a sword even as she lunged forward with her other blade, piercing another attacker right through the heart. There was no blood, only small eruptions of smoke followed by their bodies dissolving completely into shadow.

Dollop ducked a blow from a hairy and muscled arm, keen to avoid the claw attached to the end. She rolled away, through the legs of two attackers, springing to her feet behind them and running the follower through. Sensing movement behind her, she spun on her heel and ducked to a half-kneel, slicing upwards with both blades and bringing down two more. 
 
“Come on, then,” she said, panting only slightly.
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And in the other corner, also weighing in at 498 and representing the YA Fantasy genre, N.U. Endo.




“Hey, Luana, how much farther?”

“Few days, Boy. Oh, wipe that look off your face. It's just a bit of rain and wind. Get back to it. Secure the galley and hunker down, you hear me? Don't come up on deck until Hallox returns with the okay.” Luana smiles but it doesn't clear the worry in her eyes.

I do as I'm told, mostly. About the time I've finished strapping down the last of it, water floods in. At first, there’s not much, but soon it’s ankle deep. I'm not loving the idea of drowning down here. I stumble out of the galley toward the stairs. As I slosh through the cold water, I tell myself I’ll just take a quick look. When I get in the doorway at the top of the stairs, I freeze.

Crew are tied to the masts and railing. Lightning flashes, illuminating their faces. Massive waves pound the deck. The wind rips at the ropes holding the sails. One comes free as I cling to the door frame, fighting to stay upright. A figure darts across the deck. People yell, but the ocean is too loud, the wind too demanding and their words get lost in the void.

The sail snaps back and forth, the mast swaying and groaning against the chaotic movements of the fabric. Lightning flashes again revealing the figure. Luana runs for the loose rope.

The ship pitches sideways, a wave splashing across the deck. Luana’s feet are swept out from under her. Her hands barely catch hold of the rope. She dangles in mid-air for a second. When the ship crashes back down, her knees hit the deck. She scrambles to her feet and frantically reigns in the wild sail, securing it to its post.

I breathe out the air I'd been holding for her. It's such an amazing sight, I want to applaud. She clings to the mast, the ship rocking while rain pounds us. She doesn't know where to go. She eyes the direction she came from but doesn't move. I follow her eyes and see why. A gigantic wave barrels down on us like a wall of death.

I shout at her but my is voice lost in the roar. Lightning splits the sky again and again. I gesture wildly to her. Finally, she turns toward me. If she can get across the deck and down below, she'll be fine.

She spares one last glance at the wave and bolts my direction. Hope fills my chest. I reach for her with my free hand, the other in a death grip with the frame.

Her strong, calloused fingers close around mine just as the wave slams into us. The ship tips violently.­ I bash against the wall and stagger back as a flood pushes me down. Water fills my nose. The last I see of the deck is nothing but ocean. Luana's hand slips away from mine as I tumble backwards down the stairs.
 

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Enjoying two talented writers at work is only part of the price of admission, now it’s up to you to decide who moves forward to the playoffs.  In the comments below leave your vote for the winner of round 1.  Which one tickled your fancy?  Tell all of your friends to stop by, sign up, and make a selection as well.  Again, the voting for this round will remain open until noon Sunday.  Yes, it’s subjective, but so is the entire publishing world.  It’s as much about the readers as it is about the writers.  Here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!


84 comments

  1. Wow, I think this is going to be harder than last year.

    There were a couple telling sentences in the first one, but there was at least one tense switch in the second one. I think the writing is pretty evenly matched, but, since I can't vote for both I'll vote for N.U.Endo.

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  2. My vote is for N.U.Endo this round.

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  3. The second piece made me want to read on, so this round goes to N.U. Endo.

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  4. I think the action in the first was well-written, though I really got hung up on the name Dollop... Still, my vote for American Banshee!

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  5. N. U. Endo gets my vote this round. Both very well written, but I was drawn to the second piece.

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  6. American Banshee: I like the fact that though you are beginning with action, you took the time to develop the character a bit. I saw Dollop as a young, small woman, and enjoyed the idea of her being a fierce warrior. What didn't thrill me was the poetry/song. It was a little confusing. I struggled to understand it, and the few bumps in grammar or rhythm made it less enjoyable to read. Overall, I would also have liked to see some more details, particularly about the setting.
    N. U. Endo.: I thought you did a great job with the tension, and have a unique way of describing things. I was pulled right in to your story. My only critique is that the constant short, terse sentences ended up becoming a little monotonous, actually drawing away from the otherwise good pacing. (The one paragraph that worked the best was the final one, where we have two more complex sentences to break up the flow.) I hope we can see more of your work in a later round--but give us some longer sentences!
    My vote is for N. U. Endo.

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  7. Figures the first bout would be a tough one, but then they probably all will be! This was a harder choice for me since the fantasy genre is not my favorite. I didn't wish to read either piece further, but that's partly due to my taste and not necessarily the writing.

    Anyhoo, the verse in the first piece took me out of the story (I think it would probably work better later on in your story, not at the beginning), so N.U. Endo gets my vote (although that piece seemed more historical than fantasy and a description of their state of dress--uniform? rags?--might have helped determine the time period or show who these people are).

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  8. Both pieces give intense, action-filled scenes that are geared towards hooking the reader with life-or-death, high-stakes situations. This is good, although in a 500-word snippet, there's not much of a chance to get to know the characters or to establish a reason to care about all the action. Still, both are pretty effective at hooking the reader and pulling them in.

    But I give the edge to American Banshee. I think it has stronger characterization in arousing interest in Dollop, showed some creativity in the insertion of the song, and made me curious enough about the situation that I would read more. The voice is a little too removed from the events, especially during the description of the fight, and there are some PoV lapses, but I feel it is the slightly stronger piece, primarily due to the character.

    N.U. Endo also gives a very intense situation in swamping of the boat, but for me, it was a little harder to connect with either Luana or the unnamed narrator. With a First-person PoV, the reader is thrust inside the narrator, but I'm left with too unclear of a picture as to who this "I" is, and all the description is about someone else (Luana). While the action may be high-stakes, without more of a solid base of character, it's more difficult to establish a rapport with the reader.

    So again, I give the edge to American Banshee for this one.

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  9. My vote is for American Banshee. The piece is very well-written and pulled me right in, although I wasn't hooked on the idea of a swordfighter singing while waiting for her assailants. Still, I'd definitely want to keep reading. N.U. Endo's piece is also well-written, but I had a harder time getting into it. I'm not sure if it was the present tense or the distance from the faceless, unnamed narrator that we have that threw me for a loop. Excellent job to both - congrats on making it into the top 32!

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  10. My vote goes to American Banshee.

    I probably would've liked N.U. Endo's piece better if I hadn't read American Banshee's first. The voice and tone of the first piece matches the historical fantasy setting, while the second piece has a very modern-sounding voice to it, which is at odds with the setting. This stood out to me particularly because the voice was so strong in the first selection.

    Also, I was surprised to discover the first person POV turning up in the third paragraph when there was no sign of a narrator earlier. (And I'm not all that crazy about the present tense, but I know that's my personal preference, so it didn't factor into my decision.)

    American Banshee, loved this line: "to Dollop, singing and dancing with swords was the most natural thing in the world."

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  11. I'm voting N. U. Endo, I really connected with it more and it made me want to read on. The character name 'Dollop' was a problem in the first piece - it pulled me out of the story every time I read it.

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  12. My vote is N. U. Endo. :) I was on the edge of my seat.

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  13. My vote is for N.U. Endo

    The first piece was really good, but the character's name took me right out. I didn't like it. The prose was kind of choppy, and it reminded me a lot of Graceling, which isn't necessarily bad, but it also didn't seem as unique. I still wanted to read on though, because the sword play and the poem seemed neat, and seemed a good lead into some worldbuilding that I'm sure picks up later on.

    The second piece drew me right in with the action. Seemed kinda cool the narrator is a boy, we don't get that very often. I wanted to read on!

    Good job both of you!

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  14. I vote for American Banshee. Dollop did strike me as an odd name, but it's pronounceable - which is a bigger problem with some fantasy names. With N. U. Endo - Starting a story with dialogue is tricky since the reader can't see the characters or know no where they are, so all they can picture is voices.

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  15. My vote is for N.U. Endo. I really enjoyed the pacing and the story, dialogue, and action. It pulled me right in. Wanted to read more.

    I didn't vote for Banshee because of the lack of tension in the fight scene. I didn't understand the poem/song. Why would a character stop to sing and dance in the middle of a fight? Also the name was distracting. Reminds me of the daisy sour cream commercial.

    Way to go both contestants! It takes guts to do this.

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  16. I have to vote for N.U. Endo- that scene was heart pounding and the dialogue felt very real.

    I loved the lyricial prose in the beginning of Banshee's story but it felt like it changed too drastically in the fight, the language lost its beauty.

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  17. I enjoyed American Banshee's piece. I especially like this haunting line, "There were fourteen of them, one for every year of her age." Well done!

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  18. Yikes! Tough decision right out of the gate!!

    I liked both pieces, but Banshee gets my vote - I like the spooky/ghostly tone

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  19. N.U. Endo gets my vote. I found the Banshee story to be very well-written, but there is no suspense in the piece. We know ahead of time without knowing why, that she will vanquish all evil comers and so, for me, there was no emotional investment in what was taking place. N.U. Endo's piece felt fresh and unpredictable. By the end of it, I cared about and wanted to know what was going to happen to both characters.

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  20. I cast a vote for American Banshee. Overall there was good description and I was able to follow the action. I enjoyed the flow of the piece.

    I enjoyed N.U. Endo's sample as well. There was also some good description and the action was intense. But some phrases were repeated and the opening dialogue didn't feel natural. It was too much all at once. Maybe shorten it or break it up with some action?

    Great job by both, though.

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  21. Very evenly matched. Wasn't sure about the poetry in the first one and the second one had so little dialogue...
    I'm voting for NU Endo. (Great pen name as well!)

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  22. I vote for N.U. Endo - though i will say jumping in with lines of dialogue forced me to flounder, ungrounded, for a bit too long. My vote allllmost went to American Banshee, but there was a lack of tension, and starting a story (or at least this seems like the start of something) with someone training with weapons seemed a bit of a cliche to me.
    I'm excited to see who comes out the victor!

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  23. One of the side effects of pre-selecting the pieces is that all the samples will likely be good and it will make it that much harder for those of us voting.

    I thought the writing was very good in both samples. Lots of action in both. But I felt I got to know the character of Dollop (yeah, I tripped over the name too) a bit, at least enough to make me want to know more. I didn't know enough about the characters in Endo's piece to care if they went down with the ship or not.

    My vote goes to American Banshee

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  24. Wow, tough choice. Both stories promise action and adventure. I'd read either one, depending on my mood.

    American Banshee's is nicely visual and active. I like the lyrical feel. There's promise of good world building. Starting the story with the poem might put some readers off; why would she be spouting poetry while fighting? (Is it a spell? A taunt? Part of her training, to set a rhythm for her fighting?) This might work better if we knew the character better. I do think the scene would be much stronger if the shadowy figures were mentioned in the opening paragraph, with some idea of what's at stake. This would increase the tension in the rest of the scene. As written, I don't know if she's merely training or performing a sword dance or actually fighting until well into the scene.

    N.U. Endo's situation is dramatic and action packed. I was left questions that made me want to read on -- does Luana die? Or will they only be separated? Not to mention, what will happen to the protagonist? Assuming this is the story's opening, I do think the beginning could be backed up a page or so. In particular, expand on the opening dialogue, letting us get to know the two characters just a little and give a better feel for the setting. It's hard to care about Luana's danger when we don't know her relationship (sister? mother? friend? protector?) with the boy. You have the opportunity for some good physical detail, as well: Cold wind, wet and cold rain, salty ocean spray, sea sickness.

    I give the win to N.U. Endo in this contest. Good cliff hanger.

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  25. My vote goes to AMERICAN BANSHEE

    Although this piece is not my genre of choice and there were a few things that I had to get around, I felt a real sense of character and conflict. I find that impressive in such a short piece.

    I admit that the descriptions in N.U. Endo's piece were great I could almost feel the roll of the ship. And there with a sense of conflict, but as so many have said the detached nature of the narrator, threw me off and pulled me away from the action and story. An interesting piece that might make a better connection in the next five hundred words, but for this contest, I like the other piece better.

    I didn't make it to yesterday's post in time but wanted to add my comments: I believe this years 'Fight Club' will be the harder than before. There wasn't a submission that was not worthy. I'm excited to see how the 32 contestants fair as the come up against each other. This promises to be a real 'E ticket ride'.

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  26. N u endo I enjoyed the action more. Both had great writing and style! Cheers to u both!!!

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  27. Criminy! I'm supposed to chose between these two? Poetry is dangerous, because if it doesn't work it spoils the rest of the piece. American Banshee.

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  28. I guess this was always going to be tricky. There were things about both that I thought worked well.

    In American Banshee's piece I could picture the young girl twirling swords, preparing to fight. I struggled a bit more with her assailants. They appeared to be a distance away as she began to dance and she was waiting for them to arrive. Then she addresses them? I didn't quite understand this. Were they not rushing to attack her? However, I did actually like the song, it wasn't too long and, for me, it added another dimension and gave an eerie feel.

    In N U Endo's piece I liked the intensity of the drama. I could see the tilting ship, feel the spray and hear the roar of the ocean. I would have liked to be able to connect with the narrator, maybe his relationship to Luanna or their ages would have helped. I liked the cliff hanger ending. I wanted to know what happened to her.

    I can only pick one though so in this bout I'm going with N U Endo, for the drama and setting descriptions.

    Great round, congratulations and best of luck to you both.

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  29. A great first round, and my vote goes to N U Endo. I felt much more involved in this story, and it kept me much more interested.

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  30. Hmmmm... My vote goes to N U Endo this round.

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  31. My vote goes to N U Endo. Well done! Great action, setting and ending:)

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  32. This isn't going to be easy, is it? Guess that's why I've sat on the sidelines until now.

    N U Endo gets my vote on Round #1

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  33. I really enjoyed both of these pieces. American Banshee has me intrigued about Dollop from the start. It's very hard to get a good sense of character in the first 500, but I'm already liking Dollop! But my vote goes for N U Endo. I'm not big on pirate stories yet this one sucked me in and I was right there on the ship, feeling the wind and the waves and the peril. I was holding my breath for Luana! I want to know what happens to her!

    My hat is off to both writers, but N U Endo has my vote.

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  34. Wow! These are both so good I can see why this is going to be a tough Write Club year. There were a few places in American Banshee's that confused me (creatures of the night in full? Why not just creatures of the night?) and the poetry took me right out of the story, instead of the opposite. Besides that, the fighting seemed to be almost too easy for Dollop ("panting only slightly"). I know it's difficult in only 500 words but where's the heart-stopping moment when you think the creatures will win?

    N.U. Endo's piece was a little jarring at first because I thought it was going to be third person and then it became first person. That's an easy fix, though. I'd like to know more about the unnamed narrator. The action drew me in more and I could almost feel the boat and the wind. I'll have to go with N.U. Endo this round.

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  35. I honestly think this one is a no brainer. N U Endo was great and had a lot of potential, out of the two it was the only one I'd read.

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  36. The first is intriguing, and I especially like the song lyrics. I'm already asking questions about this world and its creatures.
    The second was a great section to highlight. It's descriptive, exciting, and the ending left me wanting to know what happens next.

    My vote is for N.U. Endo.

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  37. As a whole, the fantasy genre is just not my thing. But given the two, I would most definitely choose American Banshee's for the almost-poetic descriptions and the anticipation of what will happen next. Nice action and scene setting in #2, though.

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  38. Crikey! This is difficult. Two good pieces.
    My vote goes to American Banshee - I loved the idea of a sword-wielding songstress...

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  39. What a tough decision. I'm going to go with Nu Endo.

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  40. I have to confess, I love the name Dollop. Maybe it's just watching my sister do kung fu for all these years, but the idea of singing while you kick butt (even virtual/imaginary/metaphorical butt) is just hard for me to get my head around. It seems like one would necessarily make you less efficient at the other.

    Anyway, big thumbs up for both, but I really like the earthy voice and action (and yes, even the present tense!) of the second one, so I'll tip it for N. U. Endo.

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  41. Wow, this is hard!!! American Banshee-the poem intrigues me. It hints at ritual and history. That Dollop is 14 and has met these creatures before is also interesting. I like her bravery, her moxie. It makes you root for her. I think the fighting could be more tense. NU Endo-the scene feels natural and has tension. Logic. The narrator is tense and he cares about Luana, which translates to the reader really well. It's just hard to care, in this particular scene, for the characters because we don't know them very well. I don't want anyone to get washed overboard, so I care in a general way. But I'm not invested. I need to know why I should care.

    Very evenly matched, but I think NU Endo's piece is a bit stronger. That's my vote.

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  42. N.U. Endo for me.

    The MC in the other piece was too good at what she did for my taste; I like my characters more human, and less 'super.'

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  43. I vote for American Banshee.

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  44. Both were excellently written, but American Banshee drew me in more quickly. I vote for that piece.

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  45. American Banshee for me. It grabbed me and wouldn't let go!

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  46. Banshee; that was awesome! A true faery tale delight. It drew me in with a willow 'o whisp promise, then captured me with the song, and the passionate dance. The battle was expertly choreographed, every movement showing her expertise and grace. I visualized Japanese anime - and I hope you take that as a compliment.

    NuEnDo has a lively scene with great description of the violence of the storm. Had there been some sensory input from the POV character - nausea, feeling wetness, struggling to walk in the pitching below-decks, feel of the wind tearing off his face - I would have truly been seasick in the storm. With a longer word count, I think this excerpt could have rocked this challenge. Awesome writing skills, with well build tension and setting.

    My vote goes to American Banshee. Both were very good.

    ......dhole

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  47. Both pieces were very well-written, and it's not easy for me to choose just one. But for this round, I'd go with America Banshee.

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  48. American Banshee blew me away. Definitely has my vote.

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  49. My vote is for American Banshee. I felt it had more closure, therefore felt like more of a complete piece, although I was rather drawn in with N U Endo.

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  50. I signed up.

    I'm voting for Endo.

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  51. Both were interesting and well written. Kudos to both writers!

    American Banshee's piece was certainly original; I was curious to know how a small 14-year old girl became a master of the sword and why she was facing a hoard of wild things. I did however struggle with the song/poem for a couple of reasons:

    1) The whole idea of singing and dancing was at odds with the scene as a whole -- enemies rushing in to kill.
    2) I wasn't sure what the song/poem actually brought to the story. In fact, I felt it was more of a distraction for the reader. In my opinion, it would fit better in a longer story or novel where the author has more space and freedom to develop the character.

    As for N.U. Endo's piece, I really enjoyed it. There could have been a better mix of short and long sentences, but the pace was fast and the tension really built up. I definitely wanted to know more.

    My vote goes to N.U. Endo.

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  52. Both of these are great! I think the writing is evenly matched. Very well done! Since I can only vote for one though :( my vote goes to American Banshee.

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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  53. Both of these pieces are excellent. I had to take some time away and let it ruminate. By a close margin, I choose American Banshee. Good work, both of you!!!

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  54. My vote is for N.U.Endo. My only crit for that is the sentence "Crew are tied to the masts and railing." Do you mean some of the crew members, all of them except Luana? It took me out of the story; you might consider rephrasing to clarify.

    I liked Banshee's entry as well. I have to say the name Dollop really isn't jiving with me - just my personal opinion, though. Also, the use of 'dinna' in her dialogue kind of pulled me out of the story. Finally, since she's so good at the swordplay, I don't feel a lot of tension in the scene, and I want to feel like she might not fend them off. It's no fun if she's totally safe :)

    Good luck guys! Both are great!

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  55. N.U. Endo has my vote, but what a match-up.

    Great job!

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  56. Both are good, but my vote goes for Endo.

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  58. My vote goes to N.U.Endo

    American Banshee, there were a couple of unnecessary words, a couple of awkward word choices. I'm not the biggest fan of 3rd omniscient or addressing the reader - "smaller than you might expect..." but as long as it's consistent it works. I'd like to know more about her state of mind in this conflict. Is she scared? She seems to be quite confident. In that case, is there actually danger?
    [I have to mimic some of the other comments just to say this; I just couldn't picture her singing and swinging swords at once. Both require a good bit of your lungs unless you're half-assing one or the other]

    N.U. Endo, I was expecting something far less serious, considering your chosen name. I'm not a fan of starting with dialogue. Really not a fan of present tense. But the action and setting more than make up for it. Amazingly, you convey the entire scene without using one emotion tag, instead showing us the emotions, making us feel them. If you did this on purpose, you're miles beyond most of us amateurs.
    It could have been more clear that lightning revealed that Luana was the darting figure. I had to read through a second time to gather that.
    [I have to disagree with Faith on your sentence length. I think those short sentences tug us through the action well.]

    PS. They're both good pieces. I'm stoked that there's a filter on entries this year (whether my piece made it through or not!)

    David List - Regarding Silexare

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  59. My vote this time is based purely on personal preference. I have no useful critiques for either as they're both beautifully written and well polished. My vote goes to the super-awesome dancing swordsgirl, American Banshee. But my favorite line from this set belongs to N.U. Endo: "It's such an amazing sight, I want to applaud." I love that.

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  60. My vote goes to N.U.Endo. Banshee's piece was nicely written but I never felt a connection to the character. N.U.Endo had me totally engaged.

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  61. Although I liked American Banshee's writing better, I was a bit put off by Dollop's casual feelings toward killing. Parts of it felt overwritten, like the dancing motions with the sword.

    NU Endo's piece felt a bit disjointed in parts, but overall I felt more able to connect with the main character. Also (and this has nothing to do with the writing) I love ship stories. (But please: "reins" not "reigns.")

    My vote: N.U.Endo.

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  62. This was a really tough choice. My vote goes to American Banshee this round.

    AB-I also wasn't a fan of the name. I thought it a bit too lite for the confident, sword swinging heroine she portrays. I loved the creativity of the added song and even though I thought there were some word choices that didn't feel quite right, your piece drew me in quickly.

    NUEndo. I thought you portrayed the action of the storm and the boat beautifully, but like some other voters, I did feel detached from the moment.

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  63. I felt both stories were good. I'm always amazed at what one or two words--added, deleted or changed--can make in a story.
    If NU Endo had added a tag line such as "I asked" at the end of the first sentence I think we would have been better grounded to the character from the start.
    I agree Am Banchee's MC name was odd. But I didn't hold it against the story. I would have liked to feel more from the which is hard to do in 500 wds.
    Good job to both but I have to go with American Banchee

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  64. Tough choice, but I'm going with American Banshee. The entire piece felt well-knitted together and I had that delicious sense of annoyance I get when I want to know more, and it's not forthcoming. My main beef with N.U. Endo's offering is how I was lulled into the world of a nineteenth century (or earlier!) ship , and then the line: "I'm not loving the idea of drowning down here." I know this kind of thing shows up now and again in YA fiction, but I'm not a fan. "I breathe out the air I'd been holding for her" was my favorite line in this piece and brought me back to the story.

    It just goes to show how terrific both samples are to nitpick at this level

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  65. Am I too late to vote?! I hope not. I really like the heart wrenching ness of the last line of N U Endo's but I'm voting for American Banshee, because of the song and the name Dollop!

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  66. NU Endo...though both are excellent and it was tough to choose! But since I'm not a huge poetry reader, the presence of stanzas lowered my interest.

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  67. I loved that American Banshee's character had to battle one creature for each year of her life - that really hints to the depth of the plot that likely exists for this story. I think with such a short word count, the piece would be stronger with less emphasis on the lyrics and better scene development.

    NU Endo - love the pen name! Also your scene pulled me right in and left me wanting to know who survived the wave and who didn't.

    NU End gets my vote this time around but well done both of you!

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  68. Wow, both of these entries are dynamite. Lots of action going one in 498 words, so congrats to both writers. Since you're only gonna allow me to vote for one, my vote goes to NU Endo. (Love that pen name!)

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  69. My vote goes to N.U. Endo. I really wanted more.

    They were both fantastic. Nice job!

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  70. Some great entries for the first round. Fantasy is my favorite genre, so I was pretty excited to see the pieces.

    AB: I might be one of the few who wasn't put off by the character's name. Being a semi-avid reader of Fantasy/Adventure I'd have to say it's almost too normal. The song at the beginning did throw me off some, but that was because I wanted to read it a few times in attempts to decipher it; not necessarily a bad thing, but it did pull me out a moment. Unlike some, I only took the dancing/singing to be taking place as Dollop trained, waiting for her assailants to approach. Once they did, and were addressed, that was the end of it. The hint of one shadow per year of age lead me to believe this was a coming of age training session or test, perhaps explaining why she wasn't overly concerned (and them puffing into smoke?). That and she seems to be quite the swordmaster.

    N.U. Endo: This was a great piece with just as much intensity with great description of the storm. I could actually visualize it. Like some others have mentioned, though, there wasn't a lot connecting me with the MC. Nothing is really developed with him. I did feel for Luana, however! A few things like "Crew are tied to masts and railings" confused me some, but the biggest was the "reveal" that it was in first person POV. I had to read the first three paragraphs a few times to make sure there wasn't actually a third individual in the mix that the MC was focusing on. The addition of "I asked" (mentioned somewhere above) at the end of the first sentence would have made a big difference I feel. It detached me from the story right from the get go. Otherwise, your writing really pulled me into the scene and left me wondering about Luana's fate.

    Both had great writing, but my Vote goes to American Banshee.

    While the second piece made a great suspenseful story, you essentially knew what was going on, and that is where it stopped for me. American Banshee's piece hinted at a greater depth of characters and world to be discovered in such a short entry.

    Sorry, I'm not exactly known for being "short" in my comments ;-)

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

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  71. Definitely American Banshee. The story pulled me in immediately and the name Dollop helped me visualize her as a little thing.

    N.U. Endo, sorry but the tense switching drew me out of the story. It seems like you might be going some fun places, but that little thing kept me from getting absorbed.

    AJ @ <a href ="http://frodofrog.blogspot.com>Naturally Sweet</a>

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    Replies
    1. Ack. Forgot the other quote in the link.. Try this :)
      AJ @ Naturally Sweet

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