WRiTE CLUB 2014 – Bout #1




Come on in everybody, there are still plenty of ring-side seats remaining.  After weeks of anticipation and build up, the time has finally arrived!

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!  A new WRiTE CLUB record! Those 500 word samples have been under careful consideration by 11 judges since May 31st and the panel has narrowed the list down to 32…which are the ones that will pair off in the ring over the course of the next eight weeks. Needless to say, just becoming qualified to compete is an accomplishment in itself.  I want to sincerely thank my 11 judges for volunteering their time and eyes to undertake this massive task.

Sarah Ahiers
VR Barkowski
Deniz Bevan
Barbara Jean Byrem (Faraway Eyes)
Skye Callahan
Guilie Castillo
Kathleen Doyle
Carrie-Anne Foster
Donna Hole
Gregory Murray
Jessica Peterson

The illustrious WRiTER’s chosen 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 inside this ring everybody stands as equals. You know why?  Because no one is allowed to use their real name…the only name 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 marks the first 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.

So who are these 32 contestants? Well, you’ll have to come back each week to find out. Last year I posted a list of the 32 qualifiers before the contest began and it resulted in a significant drop-off of traffic during the battle rounds. I guess when some readers discovered they didn’t make the cut, they couldn’t be bothered to stop by anymore and vote. Though I understand the disappointment, I’m going to do whatever it takes to put these WRiTER’s words in front of as many people as possible.

That’s enough blabbering…what do you say we get to it!



Here are the first two randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the Fantasy genre and weighing in at 490 words, please welcome to the ring……..Lord Codpiece


I was ten steps from the ballroom door, my pockets stuffed with stolen jewelry, when I stepped on someone’s foot.



"Watch yourself, you oaf!" a man spat.



I tried to ignore it, but he grabbed my shoulder and spun me around. That shook something loose from the stash hidden in my jacket; it fell into my right boot. Felt like one of the sapphire earrings.



"I called you an oaf," he said.



He was a highborn noble of the worst sort, young and fat-cheeked and angry. I wore the plain dyed woolens of a servant. It made me an easy target.



"Apologies, m'lord," I said. I kept my body still, to minimize the clinking of coins in half-a dozen purses tied to my belt. “I was just-“



"Wipe it off,” he said.



Oh, wonderful. This flabby brat was actually looking to start a fight. I took his measure while pretending to think it over. Soft was the word for him. His hands were uncalloused, no surprise there. He hadn’t done a hard day of work in his life. But I noticed the tan lines at the wrists. A gloved swordsman, then. A showoff. Probably got his practice on the household servants, ones who were afraid to draw their master’s blood. The least-capable man in my crew would have gutted him like a deer. There was no time for that, though. And we certainly didn’t want the attention.



"Pardon, m'lord?" I asked.



"You scuffed my boot. Wipe it off." His breath carried the mingled smells of wine and spiced meat.



I couldn’t refuse outright, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to oblige him. Obfuscation seemed like the best option. I made my voice cheerful.



“Can’t say I see it, m’lord,” I said.



A girl in a silk-and-taffeta gown (recently relieved of the gems on her bodice) tittered with laughter. Ah, so that was why he was putting on this display. Sure enough, his cheeks reddened even further.



“It’s right there!” he said.



The pearl-and-silver necklace I’d nicked just five minutes ago was threatening to spill out of my left sleeve, so I thought it best to head him off.



“I’ll be sure to have my eyes checked, m’lord,” I said. “But right now I’m to fetch another bottle for my master.”



“Who’s that?” he demanded.



I needed him to back off. That was the only way this would end quietly. So I spoke the name of the meanest and most dangerous noble that came to mind. “Lord Peyton,” I said.



Recognition bloomed in his eyes. He wasn’t as drunk as he seemed, and even the most wine-addled fool would know to be cautious, here. Peyton had challenged and killed men for smaller offenses than quarreling with his servants.



“You’ve heard of him, I take it,” I said.



“I’ve more than heard of him,” he said. “He’s my father.”


Of course he was.
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And in the other corner, also representing the Fantasy genre with 499 words, let me introduce to you……….Little Darlin



Alison cursed as she smothered the flames from her blonde hair. No one sensible climbed into this dank hole for any purpose other than to hunt the fire-breathing monster, so it perceived her as a threat. Obsessed victims came to steal the singing gems behind the web. Alison doubted the eight-legged, sixteen-eyed, web-spinning, black fur-covered monster had ever witnessed a rescue mission.

Flames ignited another pocket of gas beside the valiant knight. Her sword shook of its own accord in her steady hand. The magical entity residing inside the blade feared the web, knowing those blackened stands were capable of destroying it. A feeling of being disrobed in public washed over her as she tossed the precious sword outside.

"Prince Gabe, there is a maiden at the nearby tavern longing to meet you. Forget the gems. Come with me." Said Alison.

"No! She will want to take them. Mine, all mine!"

The advice she'd been given, to distract him from the hypnotic effects by offering him something he'd want more, wasn't working. Though, since they normally went to great lengths to avoid each other, Alison wasn't sure what he'd want.

"Sire, the King of Lebnoek is dead. His land is ours for the taking." She hoped he hadn't become bloodthirsty enough to desire this. Relief came when he dismissed her call with a wave of his hand.

Flames shot from the monster. Another unseen pocket of odorless gas exploded, singeing her eyebrows and blocking her view of the prince. She didn't want to hurt the monster. It ate many incompetent creatures that she would have to deal with otherwise. Alison dared not dwell on what it meant that the trap lured her prince.

Visions of the queen danced in her head. The sweet woman she admired, who loved her ten times more than Alison's own mother ever did, would be heartbroken if her only child were to die. It should be the future of her kingdom, duty to her sword, and loyalty to her prince motivating her to face this ordeal. But it was imagining tears streaming from the blue eyes of the queen, eyes that matched Alison's own, which propelled her through the flames.

"Prince Gabe, your mother needs you outside. You don't wish to disappoint her, do you?" Alison grabbed for his arm, snagging it a second before it touched the web.

Not looking away from the objects of his desire just behind the sticky strands, the dazed prince responded, "I order you to obtain those gems for me at once!"

"Yeah, well, I order you to forget the gems and come with me," she said through gritted teeth.

"What did you say?" Prince Gabe turned to her aghast. He yanked his arm from her hold. "How dare you touch me? What horrid place have you brought me to? I will see you locked in the dungeon for this, Alison!"

She rolled her eyes. "I should have known that what you want most is to chastise me." 
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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 Bout #1.  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!
 

 

100 comments

  1. Lord codpiece.

    The second submission had a little too much going on, especially in the first paragraph. I had to read it twice just to make sure I understood everything and that's not the way you want to start out a piece. So my vote is for the first one, which was vivid and fun.

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  2. I think I preferred Lord Codpiece

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  3. I will have to say Lord Codpiece as well. A good dash of humor and an interesting situation to get out of. The first paragraph of the second submission threw me off much as it did another voter.

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  4. Lord Codpiece
    In a bout of similar flavored pieces, his was the tastier bite. Light and interesting. Sadly Little Darlin had me chewing, and wondering why.

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  5. Lord Codpiece...

    ...and for me it came down to rhythm and beats. The flow was much better and was effortless to read. The ending also added more conflict just when you thought it was resolved. This sounds like something similar to THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA. I'm sure it was an inspiration.

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  6. Lord Codpiece. There was good tension throughout and it made me want to continue reading.

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  7. I love fantasy, so this is a great round for me. My vote goes to Lord Codpiece because the dialogue had me intrigued, and the little breadcrumbs showing his thievery were well woven in. There's just a tad bit of overtelling, but I think a little tweaking would make it perfect. Nicely done!

    I also enjoyed Little Darlin's entry, very interesting scene. The author used too many distancing phrases and telling to get me to feel the character as strongly as Lord Codpiece though.

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  8. I vote for Lord Codpiece. It's an interesting start, and with the shorter sentences I'm immediately drawn in and want to find out what happens next. I really like the MC already.

    I think I like what's going on in Little Darlin's piece, but some of the sentences were a little hard to get through, I thought.

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  9. Both of these are strong entries for different reasons.

    The first entry--as someone pointed out--had more of a rhythm (staccato sentences mixed in with longer sentences) that made for a better flow. The second entry had a wealth of description that immersed me in then scene.

    Ultimately, though, I am voting for Lord Codpiece.

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  10. As a great fan of fantasy novels, I enjoyed both pieces but I vote for Lord Codpiece.
    The first enrty was more flowing and made me enter the world immediately. Morover I really appreciate both the wit and the twist at the end.

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  11. Lord Codpiece - I was too confused by Little Darlin's.

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  12. My vote is for Lord Codpiece!

    It was fun and clever and i had good time.

    I think there were hints of some pretty cool fantasy elements in Little Darlin's, but i was confused in places and had to reread. I wasn't sure if it was just due to excerpt choice or the writing itself

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  13. Lord Codpiece has my vote. Humor, unselfconscious writing and a nice twist at the end to make me want more.

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  14. Lord Codpiece is my vote.

    The flow was much better with this than with Little Darlin's. Though I can see a good story in there for Little Darlin, I was confused and had to reread it a few times to get a handle on who was where and what exactly was happening. I think a rewrite and cutting down on description and unnecessary filler words would make it much better.

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  15. My vote goes to Lord Codpiece. I think you could tighten up the writing a bit. Obfuscation seemed at odds with the simple language of the rest of the piece. I got the sense that your narrator is smart, but to throw that big of a word in seemed a bit too much. All the same, a good piece, clear writing, good conflict, and a great cliffhanger in the reveal that this is Lord Peyton's son!

    Little Darlin - I like so much of your set-up. The girl warrior defending the prince, her love for the queen, the prince's enjoyment of chastising Allison... But I was really confused reading it. Sometimes you were in Allison's point of view, other times the monster's, and even for a little bit, the sword's point of view. Also, there were a lot of adjectives. If this is the start of a longer work, as it seems to be, don't worry so much about getting everything into the first 500 words. If you're writing a novel, you have space and time to unfold relationships and even descriptions. Take your time. Trust your readers to catch your vision and allow them to bring a little of their own imagination to the story. Having said all that, I want to repeat that I love the premise. Your closing interaction between Allison and Gabe was absolutely charming.

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  16. I really enjoyed both of these, but Lord Codpiece held my attention the whole time. Despite the peril of Little Darlin, there wasn't a pay off until the end, but Lord Codpiece was fun for the whole 490 words. They were both really good.

    I vote Lord Codpiece.

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  17. I vote for Lord Codpiece. I love the twist at the end. I really want to know what happens next.

    I like the overall idea of Little Darlin's piece but it was a little confusing and I felt the dialogue needed some work.

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  18. Both are quite fun and the ideas in the end are probably equal but Lord Codpiece's writing was a tad more crisp and had an easier flow, to my reading. Little Darlin was definitely competition! Thanks for the fun reads!

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  19. Lord Codpiece
    As mentioned, it came down to flow and it was less confusing.

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  20. Lord Codpiece - I liked the banter and it was easier to follow.

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  21. I'm voting for Lord Codpiece, mostly because, as others have touched upon, the piece flowed nicely and told a simple, but effective story. Although, I would add some constructive criticism; the twist at the end seemed unnecessary to me. Felt tacked on just to give the piece something extra, but fell flat for me. Thought the piece would've been fine without it. Still, Little Darlin' was pretty well-written, but for a flash fiction piece, it was trying to do too much with too little.

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  22. I thought both pieces had a lot of great stuff going on, and I enjoyed them both. In the end, however, I must vote for Lord Codpiece. I loved the dialogue and the tone, and it genuinely made me laugh.

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  23. While I am in love with the concept of the woman saving the prince, I have to vote for Lord Codpiece. That excerpt flowed a bit better. I was confused by the opening paragraph of Little Darlin's entry. I would suggest maybe changing the order of the paragraph so it becomes clear it's a rescue mission in the second sentence, as opposed to the last. Maybe something like "Alison cursed as she smothered the flames from her blonde hair. She didn't blame the fire-breathing monster for attacking her - it was used to knights trying to kill it, not people trying to rescue knights. Because sensible people only climbed into dank holes for the chance to find treasure, not obnoxious princes who got themselves trapped." That's kind of rough, but you get the idea. Also, watch your dialogue tags - "Come with me." Said Alison. should be "Come with me," said Alison. I like the rest of it - and great ending about him just wanting to chastise her :) It sets up for some nice romantic chemistry.

    I really enjoyed them both - this year is going to be tough, I can tell!

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  24. Lord Codpiece. I found the second a little confusing to follow.

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  25. One vote for Lord Codpiece. I laughed, I winced and I shuddered all within a few hundred words! Good job. I liked Alexia's advice though for Little Darlin. It was great writing too, just needed a little work on structure to make it easier to read.

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  26. Lord Codpiece for me too. The excerpt was easier to follow despite the formatting being a little weird.

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  27. Lord Codpiece. For me the second entry was too heavy on infodump and while I thought our Lord's voice could have been more consistent, it still stood out for me as stronger/more unique. Nice end of sample hook, too! I think Darlin's concept is stronger, but the writing is stronger in the first excerpt.

    Good luck to both writers!

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  28. Lord Codpiece left me wanting to read more! He delivered the knock out punch in this round. The cheeky personality of the character quickly caused me to want to follow him, even though he was a thief. From the short excerpt I enjoyed the clever rakish man. I would love to read more.

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  29. Lord Codpiece. Left me wanting to know more!

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  30. Lord Codpiece :) It hooked me immediately while the other entry had a bit of backstory to get through.

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  31. My vote goes to Lord Codpiece. A lot more showing than telling in his piece.

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  32. Replies
    1. I don't even try to go against the grain, and I have done so in spades once again. The only thing I'll say, to clarify my vote, is that as far as the writing itself is concerned, I went with the one that read better.

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  33. Little Darlin for me was a lot of info/details to hurry through in big chunks, and those words could've been used to elaborate more on the story. Lord Codpiece could have showed some of the inner thoughts through actions, which would have heightened the rush the character had.
    vote: Lord Codpiece

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  34. Lord Codpiece, While the writing is strong in both, Little Darlin seems to need more context as she is a little all over the place.

    Thanks to both authors, good reads.

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  35. Oh my goodness, this is tough. I enjoyed both samples a lot.

    I think Lord Codpiece could have nixed some of the dialog tags in favor of more beats to indicate the speaker and reveal a little more about the characters at the same time, but the situation did draw me in and I loved the ending. Little Darlin's excerpt has a lot of nice description that grounded me and brought the setting to life, but it also felt like there was just a bit too much info so the piece lost its focus in spots.

    In the end, I have to cast my vote for Lord Codpiece, but congrats to you both for making it to the battle round!

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  36. Congratulations to both Lord Codpiece and Little Darlin for making it to the battle rounds.

    Both writers created engaging pieces. But my vote goes to Lord Codpiece. I am a sucker for dialogue and the exchange was snappy and smart. Loved it.

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  37. Lord Codpiece's had so much personality. It gets my vote.

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  38. Agh, I voted this morning on my iPhone but it didn't go through! My vote is for Lord Codpiece. I think the writing is ultimately stronger and it's much easier to get into.

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  39. I vote for Lord Codpiece. Little Darlin's piece felt disjointed, like there was two different story lines competing for the reader's attention.

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  40. I've got to vote for Lord Codpiece, too. I think Little Darlin's world might actually be the more interesting one, but 500 words were two few with which to paint it.

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  41. At last, Write Club is back! These are so much fun to read! And always such a challenge to pick one over the other

    I vote for Lord Codpiece. The voice was much stronger and I connected with the character. I enjoyed the humor and loved the twist ending.

    I had a difficult time figuring out what was going on in Little Darlin's piece, partly because we came in in the middle of the scene and partly because the few descriptions provided confused me. The voice felt a bit clunky in places and didn't flow as well as it might. I did like the ending and by the end, I was beginning to connect with the character.

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  42. I voted for Little Darlin'. It felt more like real people in a particular place and world, and there is clear development from beginning to end. Lord Codpiece had snappy dialogue, but other than being outside some ballroom door, there was no sense of place or how these beings moved about within a physical world. All disembodied dialogue, which would be ok for a script because you'd get to see the characters on a stage or moving about in some physical place in a film.

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  43. Excited to see WRiTE Club 2014 kick off! Fun first bout, too.

    Little Darlin' has several things to like -- in-the-moment tension, life-threatening action, an interesting and snarky character, and plenty of story questions aroused. However, while I think an in-media-res opening is always great, there is a little too many points at which the narrative is disrupted as I try to get my bearings on exactly what's being referred to when something new is first mentioned -- What are the "pockets of gas" that are ignited? Who's "the valiant knight" -- Allson? "Her sword" is used immediately afterwards, so it sounds like they're both referring to Alison. And even with the overly-generous doses of backstory thrust at me right in the onset of this story, I'm still ungrounded. Awash with a lot of elements to try and put together, but not really pulled into the scene. I do think there could be a very interesting story underneath all of this, but it was just a little hard to get into.

    Lord Codpiece's entry is also an in-media-res opening, but I find the pacing much smoother. The new story elements are unveiled at a rate that doesn't leave me wondering, and the use of dialog helps pull me immediately into the scene. The 'drama' is much lower than with Little Darlin's (a party thief about to get caught versus a rescue and a life-risking battle against a fire-breathing dragon-spider), but it feels much more immediate and involving. I'm IN the scene instead of just reading about it. The voice of the protagonist is engaging and entertaining, and I'm curious to see what happens next.

    So in this, the kickoff of WRiTE Club 2014 -- I vote for Lord Codpiece.

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    1. Very nice crits, but I'm curious. Why do you assume these excerpts are opening paragraphs? The 500 words can come from anywhere in the piece.

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    2. Thanks, Laura. And you're right -- they easily could from anywhere in a longer piece, but to a reader here, they are a de facto opening. I have nothing else to go on than these 500 words. They're my first exposure to the characters, settings, and story. I don't have the benefit of any prior knowledge or experience in the story, so I hve to treat them as "openings" and have to evaluate them from that point of view.

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    3. I believe we are supposed to vote based on the writing, not on the premise that these are the first 500. If you backstory and character development in the middle of a story I am afraid you may not like any of the entries since they can come at any point in the novel. Character interaction/relationship as well as writing style may be the only thing you can determine from a random 500 words in a novel.

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    4. I don't operate under the assumption that these are the first 500 words of a larger piece, only that they are an "opening" in the sense that they are the first exposure I have to the scene, characters, setting, interaction, and drama of the writing. In that sense they are the "first" 500 words I get to read. I couldn't care less where they come from in the context of a story, and I apologize if I gave that impression. But I still expect a piece of writing to anchor me in the scene -- to pull me in by smooth revelation as to the characters, where they are, and what they're doing, and also offer me at least a morsel of why I should care. EVERY snippet of fiction should do that, regardless of where it falls in the story. At least that's my thought, and goal as a writer.

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    5. Great points, Chris. It's important to remember that every writer selected the 500 words to send; if they don't represent the beginning of a book, they should still represent the opening of a coherent piece. If the 500 words are dramatic, but confusing out of context, then they're simply not the best choice to enter in a contest. I guess what I'm saying is that they shouldn't be "random"; they should have been carefully chosen. It wouldn't be fair to judge an entry here the same way you would judge a flipping open to a random page of a book.

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  44. I vote Little Darlin. The web-spinning monster creeped me out. I wanted to read more about these characters and this world.

    Lord Codpiece has a funny ending. But, as a fantasy entry, I don't feel the piece introduced a new world, a supernatural element, or anything which couldn't be in a very entertaining non-fiction story. Under a different genre, this would be a close call, but as fantasy, I'm not sold.

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  45. Though Little Darlin's piece had a lot of information crowded into the action, I liked the premise better and vote for that one. Lord Codpiece's characters all seemed to rely on often-used fantasy tropes without any promise that the characters would deepen beyond 500 words.

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  46. Little Darlin, while seeming to have a more interesting premise, didn't flow smoothly for me. I was thrown into a world where I didn't know the characters and the excerpt didn't present them clearly. The opening line didn't draw me me - smothering flames from her blonde hair just didn't conjure an effective image. There were also parts I had to reread to try and work out what was happening - the introduction of the prince was an example of this. One minute I'm with a girl whose facing down a giant spider - the next I'm trying to cohere a prince to leave.

    Lord Codpiece presented a cleaner excerpt where I had no difficulty following what was happening. I would have liked a little more insight into how the thief is feeling (i.e. was his chest hammering in his chest or was he really as calm as his thoughts portrayed??).

    I vote for Lord Codpiece.

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  47. These two are well pitted together. The voice and humor similar, the MC's interestingly devious. Loved the potential growth for both MC's. The stories are well written, good character and overall plot development, well polished, just the right amount of pacing and backstory.

    I'm more drawn to Lord Codpiece though - he is such a disreputable character!

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  48. I'm going for Lord Codpiece, I enjoyed the second one but it was a little hard to follow; I had to read some parts twice to make sure I understood.

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  49. Lord Codpiece captured my attention at the beginning, pulled me through to the end, and left me wanting more. Nice.

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  50. Lord Codpiece for me! His snappy words drew me in and the payoff was marvelous.

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  51. I liked both entries, but am sending my vote to Lord Codpiece. He just grabbed my attention from beginning to end.

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  52. I vote for Lord Codpiece. He engaged my imagination from the beginning, starting off with “He was a highborn noble of the worst sort, young and fat-cheeked and angry.” I immediately was transported into the scene, watching from the sidelines.
    When I was reading Little Darlin’s piece, I had to work a little harder to try to picture the scenario that she was describing.
    I congratulate both authors for a job well done.

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  53. Both worthy entries...I vote for Lord Codpiece! I was much more engaged and curious as to what was going to happen, why the character had stolen jewels, etc. Little Darlin's entry was harder for me to get into or picture in my mind. Well done to both authors!

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  54. I really enjoyed both of these, but I prefer Lord Codpiece. We have a strong, establishing scene within mere sentences, and a feel for both characters right away. There's humor in it, easily relatable situations, and the word choice is fantastic throughout ('flabby brat', 'recognition bloomed in his eyes'.) It flowed brilliantly and I'd like to read more of this.

    In Little Darlin there's plenty of action, but a lot of the sentences are both long and quite expositional. The setting and tension are both fine but the writer may want to revisit the opening paragraphs in particular to both make them flow better and leave a little more to the reader's imagination. Now, that said, its ending was superb and I wouldn't change that part.

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  55. Loved the touch of humor at the end of both pieces, and I already like both of the characters we've been introduced to here. Close call for me, but I vote for Little Darlin this round. I'm intrigued by Alison's relationship with the queen.

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  56. I'm throwing in a vote for Lord Codpiece. I found that excerpt gave me a stronger picture of what was going on, and I liked the voice a bit better. There was some wit there, and it's the type of writing I'd like to read more of.

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  57. Can't say that I liked either of these, but the one from Lord Codpiece was better. But I hate coincidences.

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  58. Lord Codpiece! The voice was really strong in this one.

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  59. I enjoyed both pieces. In the end, I'm a sucker for classic fantasy, and the second entry has those things: mythical creatures and incredibly high stakes. So I vote for Little Darlin'.

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  60. A jewel thief isn't fantasy.
    A fire-breathing monster endangering a royal who has to be saved by a knight IS
    fantasy. I vote Little Darlin.

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  61. I don't read fantasy, but Lord Codpiece has my attention! Great character, good voice.

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  62. I liked both but preferred Little Darlin's writing style.

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  63. Two great entries. Lord Codpiece's dialogue really drew me in and was easy to follow, flowed well, but Little Darlin's description really pulled me and built a world for me.

    My vote goes to Little Darlin's

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  64. I'm going to vote for Lord Codpiece only because I was lost in Little Darlin's.
    I think Little Darlin's had more tension and interesting characters, better scene setting, which is hard to do in 500 words. That said, I was lost as to who was in the hole. Who Alison was in relation to the prince. Little darlin is trying to do too much in the first 500 words

    As for Lord Codpiece, I like the MC but other than the snobbiness of the guy who bumped into the MC, it didn't have much going for it. Mostly, I understand trying to weave back story in so we have a sense of where, but I felt the way it was done here was a little whiplashy. It interrupted the scene too much.

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  65. Lord Codpiece.

    I felt Codpiece's was a bit too familiar content-wise but its execution was clean. I was more interested in Little Darlin's but I got bogged down in it. I feel like I would be more likely to keep reading that one, but as far as this 500 word competition goes Codpiece gets my vote.

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  66. Another vote for Lord Codpiece. Though perhaps a bit predictable, it's funny and the writing is competent.

    Little Darlin's entry is hindered by too much explaining and 'telling'. Working in backstory and setup can be tricky, and it just doesn't work to make statements about things the POV character would know perfectly well and wouldn't be thinking about at that moment, or things that the reader should be discovering in a natural way as the story unfolds. And in spite of all the explanations, this excerpt doesn't paint a clear picture of the scene, and I can understand why some people had to reread it. (Although of course it's very possible that there's a passage immediately before this that makes the setting and the position of the characters perfectly clear--for instance, the fact that the prince is evidently behind the spider monster--and that's always one of the risks of pulling an excerpt for a contest or critique like this.) There are also a couple of typos and punctuation errors, and even when I'm reading purely for pleasure and not wearing my 'editor hat' I inevitably notice those things, which distracts me and pushes me out of the story. :(

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  67. I vote for Lord Codpiece.

    Little Darlin confused me. I had to keep going back and rereading sentences to follow what was going on.

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  68. I vote for Lord Codpiece, for deft handling of necessary information, humor, and conflict. I really liked both, and found Little Darlin's more creative, unique, and intriguing, but the writing gets bogged down too often by exposition. I would love to see Little Darlin's revised and rewritten, because a fantasy book featuring a female knight is something I REALLY want to read!

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  69. Both are good but I prefer Little Darlin.

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  70. Given what the contest is, both are good. I feel Lord Codpiece could be better if not constrained to 500 words. For 500 words, there was too much there that didn't seem to flow just right. If it had been 1000 words, I think it could have been a better read.

    Little Darlin lacked in intensity of the situation. She would have be better with more short sentences when describing some of the elements. It had good flow in my opinion though and I cared a bit more of the main character.

    I vote Little Darlin.

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  71. I thought codpiece had a better flow though I did enjoy the last part of little darlin. I'd vote lord codpiece

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  72. Lord Codpiece wins my vote, drawing me into league with the jewel thief by revealing tantalizing hints of what's hidden beneath his robes. Little Darlin managed to be at once confusing (I initially thought Alison was the knight.) and too expository (e.g., with regard to how distraction must be employed against the spell.) Both stories present an enjoyable premise and characters. Little Darlin just needs a bit of tightening up. Lord Codpiece does an excellent job of showing, instead of telling, and the last line is pregnant (ahem) with possibility. Each entry made me want to keep reading, so, well done to the two writers!

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  73. First one.. Lord Codpiece.. simple situation... and the twist in the end makes me eager to read further...

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  74. I enjoyed them both but Little Darlin's piece took a bit to get into while Lord Codpiece had me from the start. So my vote goes to Lord Codpiece,

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  75. Both good entries.
    But Lord Codpiece gets my vote.
    It was snappy... sucked me in from the beginning.

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  76. My vote goes to lord codpiece. :)

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  77. It was close, but I'm going to have to go with Lord Codpiece.

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  78. My vote goes to Lord Codpiece. Although it seemed more like a historical than a fantasy, I was able to follow the story. I was completely lost (confused) in Little Darlin's.

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  79. My vote goes to Lord Codpiece. Little Darlin's made me work too hard to understand it.

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  80. Lord Codpiece: I absolutely love the details of your story. It makes it quite easy to picture and it seems clear that you are well educated on the subject. However, the ending is pretty cut off. It leaves quite a few questions open, though that may very well be because of the word count, so I won't judge harshly with that.

    Little Darlin: I don't see why above comments say that it was a confusing story. It made perfect sense to me. The details were nice and the plotline flowed smoothly.

    My vote goes to Little Darlin, though I truly enjoyed both stories. Bravo and congratulations to the authors.

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  81. My vote goes to Lord Codpiece's ... piece. :)

    I liked both excerpts, but I think the first was just a bit more polished.

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  82. Congratulations to both writers for making it to the first round.

    Both excerpts were fine in my opinion. Yes, Little Darlin took a couple of reads to sink in and to decipher, but overall it embodied the fantasy genre. Lord Codpiece, although clean, concise and beautifully executed, didn't give me any sense of being fantasy. I know these are brief passages, but I have to go with my gut feeling, and with a little tidying and rewriting, I'm sure it will make for a good story.

    So my vote goes to Little Darlin.

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  83. I like both pieces. I feel Little Darlin's piece reads more fantasy than Lord Codpiece's based on the small sample. Ultimately, my vote goes to Lord Codpiece.

    I like the dialog between the characters and that little twist at the end was great! I could relate to the frustration of the main character.

    It took me a couple of times to read Little Darlin's submission in order to make sense of it. The flow felt a little disjointed at first. I think if I had read it in context with the rest of the story, it would've come across clearly the first time around.

    Congrats to both Bout #1 competitors!

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  84. My vote goes to Lord Codpiece.

    Both of these entries were very good, and it was a tough decision, but I felt I was immediately drawn into the story Lord Codpiece presented. With Little Darlin', there was some confusion at first with what they were fighting, and I didn't connect with the MC as much as I did in the first story, though it did have humor. I would still read more on both of these stories.

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  85. Hooray for WRiTE CLUB 2014!

    Neat to see two fantasies pitted against one another, albeit of two very different stripes!

    I liked the general pacing of the first piece, and "clever thief" stories are always fun, though without a little more character development, it was hard to cheer too much for the main character. Juxtaposed against the jerk, though, the thief did seem like the more honorable of the two; still, I always need a little more reason to want to follow someone who's chosen a dishonest lifestyle. That's probably just me. What might be a little more universal is that the obvious pseudo-medieval/renaissance setting didn't jive with the clearly modern language that popped up from time to time. I don't think I would have minded if it all sounded like that, but it wavered back and forth between modern and dated in a rather confusing way.

    The second piece had me rooting for the main character early on, as I found her interesting and likable. Unfortunately, the style of the story diffused that interest. I felt it lacked coherence and that intangible "something" that we often call voice. I'm sorry to say that, as I've had the same critique aimed at me and there's nothing more frustrating than hearing that the thing wrong with your story is something that no one can tell you how to fix. The only thing I can suggest is to dig deep into that interesting character's mind and give us some of the details that make her very way of being and thinking unique. Since you do have an interesting character, run with that!

    I'll vote for Lord Codpiece today.

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  86. My vote also goes to Lord Codpiece. Although it was mentioned earlier that the excerpt lacked elements of fantasy such as magic etc., I still felt like I was in a scene with characters that belonged to a fantasy story because of the language used. And I felt that this story flowed better in terms of rhythm whereas Little Darlin's story I kept having to stop and go back.

    I think there are some great elements to Little Darlin's story, but in an action scene the backstory could be saved for another time.

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  87. I know I'm a bit late to the party, but Lord Codpiece entry flowed a little smoother for me than Little Darlin's story. Both were fantastic entries.

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