A hearty congratulations to our third winner, Dreamer. He/she will now have to wait patiently for the play-offs to begin in six weeks. The voting for Bout #4 still remains open until noon on Wednesday, July 2nd.
I plotted a graph showing WRiTE CLUB's participation from last year compared to what we've seen so far this year, and yes, the level is higher, but the trend is the same -- downward. The only way we can reverse that slide is with your help. The writers from the first bout deserve just as much attention as those in the later rounds, and it's up to you to see that happens. Spread the word...every time you vote...and keep spreading it as often as you can. There are a few who have already been doing an amazing job, but they need help. Please take the #1 rule of this contest to heart...YOU MUST TALK ABOUT WRiTE CLUB!
For anyone who's dropping by for the first time, here's a summary of what's taking place. On May 3rd we began taking submissions from WRiTER’s far and wide, spanning the globe, representing all ages and multiple styles of WRiTING. We received 167 entries in all! Those 500 word samples went under careful consideration by 11 judges and that panel narrowed the list down to 32…which are the ones that are pairing off in the ring over the course of eight weeks.
Note: The submissions can be an excerpt from a larger work...or a standalone piece of flash fiction. The only rules are that they be 500 words or less, and never previously published or posted on a blog. Although I'll never instruct someone how they should choose a winner, I would recommend considering this when doing so. It shouldn't be about how much information is contained in those 500 words, but the way a contestant goes about communicating the information that is.
These 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 here, because inside this ring everybody stands as equals. You know why? Because no one uses their real name…the only identification you’ll ever see is their pen name. This is not a popularity contest. The focus here is on the writing, where it should be.
Today is the fifth of sixteen bouts, two bouts per week, with a new one posted every Monday and Thursday. The winners are decided by votes left in the comment section and anyone can vote. The voting for each fight will last for one full week, so you can vote for a Monday battle all the way until midnight on Sunday, and you can vote for a Thursday brawl up until midnight the following Wednesday. And when you do vote, please let the contestants know what you liked and disliked.
Here we go!
Here are this bout #5's two randomly selected WRiTER's.
Standing in this corner, representing the Adventure/Pick Your Plot genre and weighing in at 497 words, please welcome to the ring……..Bartholomew Boulstridge Bell.
Hastily exiting the engine room, you spot someone walking away from you, just down the hall. Swaying hips and a stray curl hanging down one shoulder stand in contrast to the masculine cut of the figure’s pants and coat, and you wonder just who that could be. But there’s no time to think about it further as you turn a corner and push in through a door marked “Telegraph Operator -- Seamus MacMillan.”
“Hello?” you say as you step through the door. It’s a small office; not much more than a closet, really. With just enough space for several hand-drawn maps posted to the walls and a small bookcase overflowing with books and scrolls, the room practically bursts with information. A small desk on the opposite wall is also crowded -- with a note pad, telegraph machine, and the bloodied head of a man that you can only assume to be Seamus MacMillan.
“My God… what happened to you?” MacMillan’s left index finger still rests on the strap key, giving the illusion of having just finished sending a message. You peer over his shoulder and see that the last note on his pad reads:
NEED HELP. ENGINES BROKEN. SUSPECT SABOTA
The engineer’s message! So it did make it through! Unfortunately it looks as though MacMillan was interrupted in his transcription. You wonder at the audacity of a person who could harm such a beautiful ship and then come up here and kill a crewman right under the Admiral’s nose.
It does not appear as though MacMillan went down without a fight, though. Marks on his neck and face indicate a struggle, and you see bruising on his left wrist where it sits next to the machine. She must have forced him to message someone!, you think. Your mind catches on the word “she,” How could someone so lovely..?? but as you imagine the fight, you realize that your intuition is likely correct. You shake your head in an effort to clear it, and head out to tell the Admiral of your discovery.
You don’t make it far before running into what you can only assume to be the pirates’ advance crew. Three wind-blown men strut down the hallway toward you, the bridge, and presumably the Admiral. The front man brandishes a giant sword, cutting slits in the wallpaper with each rhythmic swing. His cohorts each hold a pistol, with swords sheathed at their waists. They laugh menacingly as they approach, and you realize that you’ve only got a split second to decide upon an action.
The hallway extends only one direction -- from the door of the bridge back out to the rest of the ship. You cannot bear to stay in the room with poor Seamus, but you have to go somewhere.
How to proceed?
Make a break for it! Go to page X.You are an adaptable fellow. Do your best to convince the pirates that you are not a threat. Go to page Y.
And in the other corner, representing the Adult Romance/Time Travel genre with 500 words, let me introduce to you……….Fitzwilliam
When purchasing a regency-era wardrobe, one should always open its doors first—lest, quite by accident, one also purchases the regency-era gentleman hiding inside. Tess Dutton, unaware of this wisdom, preceded her movers up the narrow staircase to her third-story brownstone apartment and asked them to please place her newly acquired monstrosity in the kitchen.
One of the movers, the one who kept calling her Tess instead of Theresa as if he’d known her all his life, looked at her and winked. “A wardrobe in your kitchen?
“It’s a pantry,” Tess said, pulling out her wallet as she tried to calculate five percent of seventy-five dollars divided by two movers.
The mover-with-a-wink hefted the wardrobe one more time, clearly to better display his muscles. “Whatever you say, Tess.”
Maybe she wouldn’t divide the tip by two movers.
She’d found the wardrobe at an estate sale. Her sister told Tess if she was going to start fresh, she needed a new apartment, new job, new boyfriend, and eclectic furniture. Although she had taken the apartment, job, and furniture advice, she had laughed about the boyfriend part. “Sara, I have to have an old boyfriend to have a new boyfriend.”
Sara had, of course, looked confused. “Stuart was your boyfriend.”
“No, that’s the problem. He was never my boyfriend. That’s why I’m starting fresh—to get away from my never-boyfriend, Stuart.
And it was of Stuart and the last time they went sailing together she was thinking when she opened the doors of the wardrobe for the first time—nearly dropping the box of spices from her arms—because she found herself looking into the rather bewildered eyes of a gentleman in cravats.
She considered screaming, but then remembered Mrs. Jenny one floor down who took a nap after her two o’clock soap opera and slept with a rifle next to her bed. So instead, she grabbed the nearest weapon—a plaid umbrella.
“Who are you? Get out!" She looked over at the open door. "Oye! Mover people!" Maybe they hadn't left yet.
After she ascertained that her plaid umbrella was useless in case of an attack from a gentleman in cravats, she saw the man was acting unlike an attacker at all. In fact, he seemed surprised to see her.
“I must find Georgiana. She came this way. What have you done with my sister, Sir… or is it…Madam?” With this last bit he looked at her yoga pants with something like repulsion, as if she hadn’t showered in days when in fact, she had not.
Tess no longer felt threatened, but she raised her umbrella nevertheless. “Why were you hiding? Is this the movers’ joke? Because I tipped them…both of them!”
The gentleman stepped from the wardrobe, and Tess, realizing his full height, backed into her loveseat. Then, as he cast his eyes around the room with confusion clouding his brow, Tess also realized his full handsomeness—which is why she, in the end, did drop the box of spices.
Enjoying the words of two talented writers 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 Bout #5. Which one tickled your fancy? After you vote please tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well. 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 the audience that gets clobbered!