WRiTE CLUB 2013 - Bout 12



Another slot for WRiTE CLUB has been filled and its by The Scribbler.  Congratulations to you!  I'm on the road traveling, so no time for frivolity today.  Let's get right to it!




Making their way into the ring now is a WRiTER representing the Paranormal Fantasy genre and weighing in at 500 words...please help me welcome Mary Ann March.




The man next to me will die soon. In thirty minutes he’ll crash his car and then he’ll die. The lady behind me is going to have a heart attack in five years, the guy to my left will kill himself next week, and the woman to my right will have some rare disease that takes her in six months. She’ll find out about it in three. I hate traffic lights. I end up learning far more about the drivers around me than I care to know. Death is mysterious for most people. For me it’s inconvenient. I’ve never had friends and don’t get me started on dating. Awkward is getting halfway through a date with some beautiful girl and having the urge to mention her impending doom. I fidget instead and they usually write me off as a weirdo. It would be easier just to tell them, but they wouldn’t believe me. I was six when I discovered my power. I told a lady at the supermarket that she would die soon. She panicked and called me an evil child. I swore to never bring it up again and I’ve kept my word for fourteen years. I feel guiltiest about the suicides, but I’ve never believed that I could stop someone once they’d made up their mind. I look at the suicidal guy to my left. I don’t know why he’s going to do it. My powers don’t tell me much, but I can see defeat on his face. I won’t say anything, but I should. The guilt sets in as a girl crosses the street. I see some wires from her ear buds though her long hair covers most of it. Her face is hidden, but I bet she’s cute. I’m awestruck when she passes my car. She moves deliberately, like honey. I imagine she’s that way in every aspect of her life. Her death seizes me. In a few minutes she’ll turn the corner and begin to cross another street, but a speeding driver will keep her from making it there. Panic sweeps over me. I’ve seen enough deaths to understand that no one escapes it, but hers bothers me like no one else’s has. I think of her honey-like movement and I’m overtaken by my emotions. I leap from the car.

“Wait!” I yell. She turns slowly. I’ve barely moved, but I’m out of breath. “Don’t take Corley. It’s closed. I think they’re doing construction. Take Mitchell” I say.

I shouldn’t know where she’s going. She’s going to think I’m nuts. To my surprise she smiles, nods, and continues on. I watch her disappear around a different corner. A vision grips me when I get back into my car. She escapes death this time but the one that takes its place is far worse. The horror of it makes me want to vomit. I slam my fists into the wheel and search in vain through my windows, but she’s gone and the light has turned green.
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And in the other corner, offering us 495 words in the Rural Fantasy genre, I present to you Muleshoe.




In travel, as in life, the first of all virtues was self-control.

Presently, Holly could not control the blood spattered on his collar, nor the mud slopped over his trousers, nor the crack in the left lens of his spectacles.

But it was well within his power to fold his sack coat crisply over one arm, keeping a jaunty grip on his carpet-bag with the other, and to smile as he approached the rustic fellow leading a mule along the rain-swollen road.

“Pleasant morning, sir,” Holly said, and would have tipped his hat, had he retained its possession.

The rustic touched his battered straw brim in reply, but it was the view beyond Holly’s shoulder that received his open-mouthed amazement.

Holly turned to share it with him.  The mud-mired wreck was a good quarter-mile behind him now, the stagecoach’s skyward-facing wheel having long since ceased to spin.  “Oh, don’t be alarmed,” Holly said.  “The reinsman and the shotgunner were both thrown clear, and my fellow passengers have enjoyed the grace of God and steel-ribbed corsetry.  You see how they’ve set to drying their skirts on firmer ground, there – we’re all just cuts and bruises, nothing worse.”

A gunshot split the humid morning air.

“Well, perhaps not the horses.” Holly turned back to the rustic, whose expression had deepened its resemblance to a shriveled apple.  “It’s not far to town, is it?”

He could not recall the name – something picturesque, Hobnail or Boot-Hump or Stye – and perhaps the rustic had the same difficulty, as it was a considerable time before he replied.

“…no, not hardly; Hockit ain’t but two miles up the road.”  He crafted a helpful compass from his thumb.

“Splendid,” Holly said, as the sun was already making a white-linen swamp of his back and underarms.  “Do you know whether they might have a doctor in residence?”

“Oh, sure,” the rustic said to the drying blood in Holly’s hair.  “Doc Fitch's place is cat-a-cornered from the hotel, can’t miss it.  Just watch out for his boy Lan-Yap – he’s one of them hellbenders from the bayou, and you know what-like THEY are.”

Holly didn’t, but that was fine: this was surely rural racialism at its finest, a delicacy as authentic as any that had ever been plated and sold to a world-hungry expeditioner.  He smiled.  “Fantastic,” he said, “I certainly will.  –And while we’re exchanging confidence, you’ll do very well by Miss Hinchcliff back there if your mule can spare his blanket.  We pulled her out by the window before the coach began to sink, but her crinoline wasn’t so fortunate.”

His debt thus repaid, Holly took his leave and went on, boots squelching, carpet-bag’s contents clinking merrily.  Here was the true art of the traveler: one had only to retain mastery of one’s own person – and hand-luggage, where possible – in order to enjoy all the education and entertainment that Nature reserved for the portable man.

And that was before profit even figured into it.

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For anyone new to WRiTE CLUB, here are the basics.  Anyone can vote by simply making your choice known in the comments below, but in order for that vote to COUNT you must also register as a WRiTE CLUB member on the Linky List located HERE.  Easy peasy!  Oh yeah...and tell all your friends about it as well.  You may not be allowed to talk about WRiTE CLUB...but that doesn't mean you cant get the word out! :)



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


40 comments

  1. I liked the gruesomeness of Mary Ann March- that gets my vote for today.

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  2. I'm going to have to go with Mary Ann March.

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  3. Mary Ann March gets my vote.

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  4. The first one needs the starting paragraph broken up, as it was much too large. However, it really pulled me in. I just didn't connect with the second one. Mary Ann March gets my vote.

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  5. I liked both entries, but I think Muleshoe is the clear winner here.

    The piece by Mary Ann March is captivating and gripping, but just needs some polish. The concept is familiar although the entry still evokes interest and I'd certainly read on. But the huge block of text in the opening paragraph needs to be broken up, I'd avoid so much internal rumination at the onset, and also suggest to stay away from drifting into back-story right at the beginning.

    In many rounds, I might have voted for Mary Ann, but I found the piece from Muleshoe to be one of my favorites of the whole first round so far. The downplayed humor was excellent, the characterization of Holly was fascinating, and the construction was seamless. Original and distinct, this piece pulled me in with its understated subtlety and made me eager to read more. If I had to offer one suggestion for improvement it's that the dialect could be toned down a little, but that's a very minor quibble in an overall outstanding entry.

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  6. Muleshoe's piece is excellent. You had me at "white-linen swamp." Wonderful dialogue and descriptions.

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  7. MULESHOE!

    I absolutely loved the formal voice in this peice. Throw into it the humor, which plays off the formal voice so well and raises it to another level, and you earned my vote before i even finished the 500 words. There's such a great subtlety in this piece.


    For Mary Ann March, i don't know if it was just a messed up formatting issue or not, but that first, huge paragraph was almost unreadable to me. But i really liked the idea and i felt for the main character trying to do the right thing and just making things worse. I wish, though, there had been more description about their deaths. What death was going to be worse for the woman? Worse is such a subjective word, so i'd much rather you tell us what is going to happen to her, so it really hits us in the gut, than leave it up to us to figure out on our own

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  8. Both of you are good writers, but Muleshoe had such an incredible voice that it made the decision much easier. The descriptions are clear and unique, the pacing spot on, and the dialogue both believable and entertaining.
    Mary Ann March--again, it's good writing. The long first paragraph would have been hard to wade through if it hadn't been so well done, but I do recommend breaking it up a little.
    But Muleshoe's imagination and execution won me over. Well done.

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  9. Mary's I felt had so much rambling going on with no real passion or emotion behind it. If you don't break up the paragraphs it makes it even more monotone and overall the piece did not captivate me.

    Muleshoe I had to read twice. It was so cluttered with over descriptions making it slower to read and once I was slowed down I became confused. When I read the second time it made better sense. I would advise not overdoing details to make the piece smoother read. I was going to vote the first till I gave the 2nd a second chance and reread it.

    Vote muleshoe

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  10. This is hard. I like Mary's piece, but Muleshoe's was written better. So how do I choose?

    Yes, that first paragraph of Mary's is an eyesore! I wasn't sure I could wade through it, but there's good stuff there. Stuff that should be broken up into several paragraphs, though. And I would have liked more detail about the deaths, that way I could have empathized with the character more.

    It took me a minute to figure out that Holly is a guy (I thought it was a girl and that confused me at first), but once I realized my mistake, it all made sense.

    I've read them over both several times. As much as I want to vote for Mary, I feel I have to vote for the better written piece: Muleshoe.

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  11. I'm for Muleshoe this time around. I got a little stuck on the name Holly for a guy, but the voices were so well drawn in this one, I couldn't not vote for it.

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  12. As something of a country boy, Muleshoe's piece did not ring authentically with me, so I vote for Mary.

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  13. Hmm, but *why* does this girl make the narrator feel like helping for the first time?

    I'm confused by the motives in the second piece...

    Voting for Mary Ann March.

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  14. I vote Muleshoe. Very unique style. It took a second to adjust to it... But it's confident and consistent.
    Mary Ann had the smoother read, but compared to Muleshoe's it's a read I've read a million times. Seeing people's death is an interesting concept. I don't like that it took him until he was 20 to notice someone worth saving... and then it's a hot blond in the intersection.
    Muleshoe's was unique in prose and setting.
    I hate the name Holly for a man, however.

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  15. I'm going for the piece that made the most curious which is Mary Ann March. The idea may have been done before but lucky for me I haven't read it. Muleshoe's piece made me stumble too many times and the name Holly (for a man) threw me.

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  16. I was most intrigued by the first piece, so I'm voting for Mary Ann.

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  17. As mentioned above, the first paragraph in Mary Ann March's piece could have been broken up into several. But the story itself was intriguing.

    Muleshoe's piece was confident and had a touch of sass, which I liked. However, I did stumble on the dialect, which was unfamiliar.

    My vote goes to Muleshoe.

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  18. The first piece could do with some paragraphing to break it up a bit but I liked the concept. I was interested and would read on. The second confused me slightly and I read three times to fully understand. I struggled with the name Holly for a man, in a longer piece it might be fine, when you know the character, but in this extract it was a puzzle. I enjoyed the exchange of dialogue. Good luck to both of you, as always a tricky decision.

    My vote is for Mary Ann March.

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  19. Muleshoe without hesitation! The piece has voice, language, setting, and mood fully developed.

    The other piece has a premise, but needs to develop all those other elements.

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  20. Muleshoe.

    I loved the voice in this piece.

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  21. Both were great, but I found Muleshoe's a bit harder to follow. And I was really intrigued by Mary Ann March's. She gets my vote! :D

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  22. Mary Ann March had me by the throat from the first line and never let me go. That's my vote.

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  23. My vote goes to MULESHOE.

    This was a difficult one for me. I liked both pieces the first time through and here too.

    Mayr ann has an interesting premise and I do want to keep reading, but up against the style, prose and great development in only 500 words, Muleshoe is the clear winner in this race.

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  24. Muleshoe - I had a hard time getting past "Holly" being a man's name and using "rustic" as a noun. The prose called attention to itself a bit obviously.
    Mary Ann - YOU ROCK! I'm so impressed you managed to slide the backstory into the action seamlessly. The writing is lean and clear, just the way it should be. I wanted to keep reading. Heck, I wanted to read the whole book!

    Vote = Mary Ann March

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  25. I'm going to go with Mary Ann March

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  27. Muleshoe gets my vote. I love everything about it - the tangible description, the characterization, the subtle humor, the nice little hook at the end. Everything.

    Mary Ann March's piece is an interesting, smooth read, and the author did a nice job working in quite a bit of information into a tight piece. Though I'm left questioning why after 14 years of steadfastly not interfering, he suddenly chucks it all just because the girl moves like honey, and I don't understand why the light turning green puts his quest to an end - he saw where she turned, and she can't walk that fast, so...? Also, it slightly bothers me that every single person around him will be dead within 5 years, most in much less than that. Surely someone on that corner must have a normal life span.

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  28. Dag-blasted gum it! MULESHOE! This here sentence whar what sealed the deal fer this ol' bumpkin:
    "Here was the true art of the traveler: one had only to retain mastery of one’s own person – and hand-luggage, where possible – in order to enjoy all the education and entertainment that Nature reserved for the portable man."
    That there is now in my "sentences I wish I'd written" hall of fame. (And I was also irritated the 500 words came to an end.)

    The premise of Mary Ann March's was gripping, but I had a really hard time with the voice of the MC. Instead of coming across as a tortured soul with an unwelcome power, the voice came across as whiny. Doesn't the MC ever notice a cute girl and see her dying peacefully in her bed of natural causes 100 years hence? This premise is so good, though, that M.A. March should NOT give up. The ending of this 500 word sample had me curious. I'd love to see a rewrite.

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  29. My vote is for Mary Ann March. I felt much more compelled to read this one through.

    Unfortunately, in the second story I couldn't get past the male character being called Holly. For me it conjures up a female character, and I'm afraid it distracted me too much from the story.

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  30. I was able to read through Mary Ann March without a hitch and enjoyed the emotional depiction. Muleshoe was interesting but I had to reread parts. I lose interest if the flow gets bogged down in too much description. My vote is for Mary Ann March.

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  31. Both are excellent. But I'll have to go with Muleshoe for the cleverness and the mastery of voice. Just please change the MC's name.

    (And sorry I haven't been around, DL. I've been on vacation with no internet for two weeks!)

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  32. This is a difficult fight, because anyone going up against muleshoe's entry would have a heck of a time getting my vote. Probably the best entry, I've read in Write Club yet.

    I understand people's critique of the name Holly but if the awkwardness of this name was dealt with earlier in the books--if he's aware of the fact that he's got a girls name and can't stand it for instance--then I wouldn't care. Frankly, this entry shows so much skill that I have complete confidence that Muleshoe has dealt with the name Holly properly.

    Again, an absolutely excellent entry. If you set through to the next round and your next entries are of this quality, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see you in the finals.

    Mary Ann March, The writing here has real tension but I wish there was a little more time and subtlety to the MC's seeing the girl's death. It felt just a little rushed especially at a critical point in the MC's story. It makes me wonder if perhaps there could be more to their meeting besides just the MC seeing her cross the street. Some scene that would allow them to talk and connect before the MC sees her death.

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  33. Mary Ann March had me glued from beginning to end. She gets my vote.
    Writer In Transit

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  34. Muleshoe wins it for me. I wouldn't change anything about it.

    Mary Ann March - I had a really hard time connecting with the MC. I want to feel more of his connection to the girl, since it seems like it is a new experience for him. I'd replace the backstory with more forward story movement/action and I'm a bit stymied why he can't catch a girl who is walking down the street, especially when the light is green and he is driving a car.

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