WRiTE CLUB 2014 – Bout #13




Can you feel it?  The end of the preliminary rounds approaches and the tension is rising.  Will your submission be one of the chosen 32?  And if it is, will it survive the bout?  Dame Hortense Pemberton answered that last question by winning Bout #11. The voting for Bout #12 remains open until noon on Wednesday, July 30th. Including today, only four contests remain before the play-offs begin

A rundown of all the past and current matches, with their respective winners, can be found right HERE.

Here's a recap for anyone just stopping by for the first time. Back 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. 

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 thirteenth 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.

Ready?


 
Here are this bout's two randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the Romance genre and weighing in at 500 words, please welcome to the ring……..BellaD.


Girls’ night. We’ve all had them, haven’t we, ladies? One fabulous night to get yourself dolled up and laugh yourself stupid with your besties. They never happen as often as you want, and when they’re done, you all swear that you’ll have to do it more often. Except life gets in the way and months will pass before you can meet up once more. It makes those stolen nights of estrogen-filled bonding that much more sacred.

Which is why I was fucking seething.

There I was, standing at the bar, dressed to kill with a drink in hand. All four of my girls, who had entered this pit they call a club with me, had disappeared into the writhing throng of drunks on the dance floor. I normally would have been out there with them, but considering that every single one of them was plastered to a man, I was fuming. Tonight was supposed to be about hanging with my best friends and finding myself back. Instead? I was alone. At a bar. Drinking by myself. Oh, and my feet were bloody killing me.

Kicking off my ridiculously tall high heels under the premise that I just didn’t care anymore, I tossed back the last dribbles of my paralyzer and waved to the bartender for another. Bless him, he immediately started whipping up a fresh drink for me. “I finally find a man I can count on, but I have to tip him to get service,” I mumbled. “Figures.”

The bartender slid the almost-overflowing plastic cup in front of me, but waved me away as I pulled out my cash. “No need,” he explained, voice raised to be heard over the pulsing music. “The guy down the bar covered it.”

My eyebrows launched themselves northwards as I slapped a bill down on the bar. “Did he now? Tell the hotshot I can pay for my own damn drinks.” What guy tries to pick up by buying drinks for random women nowadays? I sneered to myself. Hey buddy, 1991 wants its ice breaker back. I dismissed the antiquated Casanova and turned back to my drink while trying to resist the urge to go berserk and punch anything with a dick within 10 feet of me. I smiled. What a great word, I thought. B-u-r-z-u-r… I eyed my drink suspiciously... both of them. What the hell is going into these things?

The booze wizard appeared before me once more, waving me close. I stretched up on my tiptoes and leaned over the bar, meeting him halfway so he could speak into my ear. “He said if he couldn’t buy you a drink, will you buy him one instead?” I couldn’t help it. I laughed. I had to give the masochistic cheeseball points for that one… except he could be a serial killer… and I hated men. Right. I grinned magnanimously at the bartender and yelled, “tell him to fuck off.” The mixologist laughed and turned away, leaving me to shake my head. 


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And in the other corner, representing the Upper MG Fantasy genre with 498 words, let me introduce to you……….ArwenWriter.



I know what you’re thinking. Trolls; nasty, ugly creatures that live in caves and under bridges. And you’d be right, for the most part.

I come from a long line of proud, ugly bridge trolls. It’s what we do. We guard bridges, take tolls, and occasionally grind bones to make our bread.

I’m kidding.

Well, sort of.

See, I’m not really a normal troll. I guess you could call me the black sheep of the family. Maybe not a sheep though, since my family eats those. I’m pretty sure they don’t want to eat me. I’m a vegetarian, which doesn’t sit well with them at all because the main staple of troll life is bone-bread. Made from…you know…bones.

Truthfully, I prefer to eat things that didn’t scream in fear when they died. Like berries, mushrooms, and whatever I can poach from the farmer’s crops at the edge of the forest. I’m not proud of stealing the food, but at least I’m not trying to eat the farmer. One night I took my baby sister, Ivy, with me, and things got a little ugly. She’s three, and big for a troll of her age. Anyway, the farmer’s dogs chased us out of the tomato patch, and, well, my sister was hungry. Let’s just say the farmer has one less dog now.

I won’t make that mistake again.

I just wish I could say the same thing about my current situation. Unfortunately the mistake I keep repeating involves breathing, according to my exceptionally foul-tempered cousin, Rot.

“Line ‘em up, boys.” Rot’s deep, grumbling voice says maliciously.

As I look up at the sky, which is also in line with my feet, I wonder what I am to be used for today. The thick vine wrapped around said feet suggests something that involves swinging. Or torture. All the same, really.

“It’s a good day for bowling, eh, River?”

Great. I would reply, but he’s conveniently wrapped another vine around my mouth. I settle for rolling my eyes.

The bulky trolls with Rot gather nearby, placing something on the ground, trying to painstakingly place whatever they have in a small pile. I hope it’s mushrooms; something soft that won’t leave a mark on my face. I twist my head to get a better look, causing blood to rush even faster to my head. When they move, a patch of angry-looking forest gnomes stand glowering at me, tied up more tightly than I am. One of them bares his teeth at me. He looks rabid. Or hungry.

On second thought, maybe I could just pass out now and get this over with.

The gnome snaps his teeth eagerly and I cringe. This day is going downhill fast. The trolls line up on either side of the path I will take to collide with the captive gnomes. I see flashes of silver and gold. They’re taking bets and it’s not even past breakfast. 

Rot pulls me back, his dark chuckle close to my ear. 


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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 #13.  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!

65 comments

  1. I'll award this week to ArwenWriter

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  2. My vote goes to ArwenWriter.
    I didn't connect with the BellaD piece at all. I kind of didn't like the MC, at all. Which is sometimes a good thing, but in my case, it isn't.
    The ArwenWriter beginning reminded me of the scene in Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure,(I have younglings), when she meets the trolls at the toll bridge and they tell her they grind bones to make their bread. So I was immediately thinking about that instead of getting into the story in front of me. But of the two, I preferred Arwenwriter.

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  3. Both entries this week begin with addressing the reader, which I generally do not like. Entry 2 does it way more, and at least in Entry 1, the voice picked up in the second paragraph.

    BellaD for me.

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  4. Both had good voice, but the first was too bitter for this dude. And the second was funny. ArwenWriter gets my vote.

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  5. Hmmmm...

    I must have the Monday grumpies – neither one of these really grabs me, and I can tell that it's both for the same reason: I'm trapped in the first-person PoV of "poor me" characters I don't like.

    Being a male whose drinking and carousing days were short and well in the past, I'm clearly not the intended audience for BellaD's piece. But that's OK – I'm not the intended audience of MG and YA and many other pieces in WRiTE Club either, but I can still appreciate them. And I do appreciate much of BellD's entry. The writing is smooth, the voice is strong, the setting is well-established, and I like the hints of humor. There are also some really nice turns of phrase in this piece. The problem is that it's a stereotypical situation with a cranky, self-absorbed, unsympathetic narrator. As a personal preference, I don't care to watch people I know and like turn to alcohol to drown their problems. I dislike it even more when it's someone I don't know, who has given me no reason at all why I should really care about her, other than her girlfriends have left her alone at the bar as she's trying to "find herself back," whatever that means. The "woe is me," "can't find a man" schtick is also really annoying. You want a man's perspective on how to "find a man"? Stop being grouchy, whiny, and self-obsessed, and stop basing your self-worth on whether or not you "find a man." Be a warm, positive, and confident woman who likes yourself, respects yourself, and expects that respect and appreciation from others – especially men. Men like that. At least any men worth knowing do, but then they're likely NOT the ones offering to buy you a drink in a bar, either…

    ArwenWriter also offers a first-person tale, but here the intended audience is MG readers. It's also been a long time since I was a member of that group. But again, I can still find things to appreciate in AW's piece. The concept of a vegetarian troll is cute and catchy, the writing flows well (although with a little too much telling), also has some nice touches of humor, and it does a good job of setting up a situation with tension and interest. But again, the problem is that I'm finding the MC River to be a poor sap who is picked on and abused by his cousins because he's different. Another stereotypical subtext for MG, but at least at that grade level it's one that many kids can identify with, and something they need help overcoming. Hopefully the later part of this story will provide some of that help, but this scene has an un-protesting, resigned victim, who's "mistake (he) keep(s) repeating involves breathing." I can feel at least some sympathy for him – unlike BellaD's MC, who seems to be the source of much of her problems, River seems to be young and inexperienced and forced by life to deal with his bully cousins. I just dislike the "well, I guess I'll just shrug and let them use me as a bowling ball to knock over these snarling gnomes" attitude (and side-note: I bet Baron the dog gnome-hunter could help in this situation!).

    So this is a tough bout for me. Writing-wise, there are things to admire about both pieces, but story-wise, they both leave me flat. I hope that both are early scenes and that the stories will develop in such a way that these MCs will evolve and grow out of their "poor, poor, pitiful me" personas. But in the scenes I've been shown, I find myself more annoyed by their actions than enticed to want to spend a whole book stuck inside their first-person heads.

    But I have to vote, so I will go with BellaD, since writing-wise, it was the stronger piece with more creative language.

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  6. Nice voice from both of these. Have to agree with the others that the first MC felt too bitter and that might turn me off from reading if it didn't change soon. The troll piece was fun. But I'm not voting this week because I know writer of the second piece.

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  7. Neither one did much for me. I didn't like the MC in the first piece and the second one seemed a little disjointed with the telling of stories. But of the two, I was able to picture the scene better in the first, so BellaD gets my vote.

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  8. Based on writing alone, BellaD is probably the stronger piece, but as an introvert to whom "girls night," as described by BellaD NEVER appealed, I was immediately turned off by the assumption that I'm in some kind of Girls' Club. I didn't like the mc at all. In fact, the only character I liked in that piece was the bartender. That's all very personal and subjective, I know, but when I pick up a book to read it, good writing only goes so far if I'm not interested and invested in the character. I'm sure others will love her, but I just couldn't muster an sympathy for her.

    ArwenWriter could use less telling, as well as cleaner and tighter writing (seriously, start us with the action and fill in the details as we go along), but a socially inept and bullied Troll interests me much more than a self-absorbed drunk woman whose night of partying with her girls has fallen flat.

    So ArwenWriter it is for me, with the hope that BellaD understands it's a thoroughly subjective matter of connecting with the character more than anything else.

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  9. I have JUST about had it with farging Blogger eating my comments!

    Anywho, the gist was: both pieces have smooth writing and flow so my vote is based on personal preference for content and goes to...ArwenWriter. The adventures of this veggie Troll promise to be delightful.

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    1. I have a simpler problem and have taken to 'right click-copy' before I post so I can just paste again if blogger is hungry.

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  10. I like both of these but my vote goes to BellaD because i laughed out loud at her drunken determination

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  11. My vote goes to ArwenWriter this round, for the sole reason I'm more interested in this story about the vegetarian troll. Not too crazy about the particular narrative in either story. BellaD's personal choice of narrative left me strongly disliking the character. ArwenWriter's story was slightly more telling then showing.

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  12. I really hate being addressed by the author and bot these pieces open with that, so I was instantly turned off by both of them. I like the voice in the first one, but the character isn't someone I want to spend 300 pages with, so my vote today is for ArwenWriter and the vegetarian troll.

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  13. ArwenWriter just blew me away. A troll as a protagonist? Brilliant!!

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  14. After the first few lines, I was prepared to not like BellaD because I'm not fond of stories that address the reader as "you" over and over...and both of these entries do. So after reading ArwenWriter, which is interesting but jerky, I'm back to BellaD - and really, it's intriguing (even though, contrary to its opening, I've never had a "girls night" even close to that one). BellaD gets my vote.

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  15. I was put off both pieces by being addressed directly and if presented with the books would be unlikely to keep reading either.

    BellaD's character wasn't someone I would want to spend time with - either in real life or in a book. The writing flowed well, but I just couldn't warm to her.

    My vote goes to Arwen Writer.

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  17. Maybe my blood sugar is low this evening because I’m not really excited by either piece.

    The writing in BellaD’s piece is wonderful and succeeds with me if her intention was to make me dislike her main character–I loathe her. I found nothing in her to identify with or even empathize with. I’m very afraid if I picked up the larger work and read these few paragraphs I would put the book down faster than I picked it up. I don’t care what happens to her next. A strong reaction to be sure. And good writing should elicit strong reactions. Kudos! But I’m basing my vote on whether I would want to read more
    .
    ArwenWriter’s concept of a vegetarian troll tickles me and I’m one of those readers who isn’t taken aback with a narrator addressing a reader. I guess I’ve read too much eighteenth century writing where it was done all the time. I find it amusing. This, to me, reads as another character introduction. The writing is far more simple but effective. I don’t read MG books but if I were in the bookstore and leafing through this one I would probably turn the page just to find out if the bully trolls had piled up cow patties or mushrooms. I'm hoping for the cow patties.

    So I am going to vote for ArwenWriter.

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  18. Definitely BellaD. I love the descriptive words and the humor. The main character is great, not the perfect type of person with a perfect body and perfect wardrobe that we are so used to reading about. I empathize with her and want to read more. She has a great sense of humor, and all of us girls know how it feels to not be the perfect one at the club or party. This is a great story so far and it makes me want to read more of it. I feel like I am there, part of the story.

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  19. BellaD.

    Aaargh. Toughest round yet. I don't like romance, didn't like the MC and I don't want to read more but dang! I was in that bar, sitting next to that MC thinking, "What a pathetic, loudmouth idiot" and then I thought, "What the hell am I doing here sitting next to a pathetic, loudmouthed idiot in this creepy dance club?" Once again, a writer in this contest has dragged me off into their world and it was solely on the basis of the writing.

    I like upper MG fantasy, sympathized with ArwenWriter's MC and would like to find out what happens to him/her but right there is the problem. Too much exposition has gone into establishing River as a vegetarian in a aggressively non-vegetarian troll culture, but I don't have a feeling for any other essentials about him/her. And the bowling scene, though well-written, didn't feel quite right due to River's eye-rolling resignation. Was he/she scared? Maybe, because he/she wanted to pass out. It seemed kind of dispassionate.

    Again, I have to comment on the quality of the writing in this year's WRiTE CLUB. Every entry is terrific.

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  20. I vote for ArwenWriter, though I was a bit confused by what was actually happening to the MC in the end. Something about the staging of that scene made it hard for me to envision. However, I liked the idea of a vegetarian, somewhat pacifist troll. The voice was clever and what I think would appeal to middle-grade kids (though this is pure speculation on my part!).

    BellaD's MC was so irrationally pissed-off that I found myself disliking her more and more as the scene went on. Her disgruntlement seems to have been intended to be funny, but it really grated on me. I didn't understand what it was about her situation that was making her so angry, so she just came off as kind of a "mean drunk" to me. For someone who was so intent on going out with her friends and having fun, she certainly put a lot of effort into not enjoying herself.

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  21. ARRRRGH! What are you doing to me?! I love the voice in both of these. BellaD's in pitch perfect and ArwenWriter is cute. So, I'll have to default to picking by which I'd come closer to purchasing. Since I long past audience age for both, I have no little cookie crunchers/yard apes to purchase Arwen's for. I'm much more likely to read BellaD's.

    So, BellaD gets my vote!

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  22. congrats to both writers for getting to the top 32!! I love the troll-as-the-protagonist approach in Arwen's piece, but I'm having a hard time picturing the scene... a little more description would be helpful, but that may have come in the next sentence or two (owing to the 500 word cut off). My vote goes to BellaD!

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  23. I'm ready to abstain in this round because I can't get behind either piece. I had no empathy for the girl at the bar. I found her vulgar without reason. If she'd laughed, bought the guy a drink, and then hauled herself home to rethink her girls' night out, I might have thought more of her. As for the troll, I guess part of my problem is I didn't quite connect with the humor. However, with this one I at least had some empathy for the MC. I mean how hard it must be to live among carnivores and hate the taste and the idea of meat. Not going to abstain. Now that I've written myself out of neutral, I vote for The Troll.

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  24. Once again an AWFUL lot of telling in each piece. I think BellaD could have shown more the Mc's angst and irritation as opposed to telling us about it. Like clemckenzie, I found her vulgar for no reason, and frankly figured her freihnds had ditched her and her totally negative attitude.

    ArwenWriter set the stage with a new and different premise, but I think again got a little carried away with the telling where they could have shown us more.

    Neither peice really did anything for me but in the spirit of Write Club I'll give my vote to ArwenWriter. At least i did not also want to ditch the MC.

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  25. The entry from ArwenWriter isn't perfect ("says maliciously"), but it's the clear winner.

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  26. My vote goes to ArwenWriter this week. I love the premise and think it would be appealing to Middle Grade.

    BellaD's narrator didn't win me over enough to follow through with her--the narrator was promising as funny, but in the end I found her mostly angry without my ability to empathize. I would have liked to know WHY she was so looking forward to being with her besties, maybe then I could have empathized more. But she was just angry at first one thing, then another.More striking detail, maybe? Friends' names? What sleazy guys are they dancing with? Just didn't rise above and beyond for me.

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  27. I vote for ArwenWriter.

    BellaD's narrator really annoyed me. Writer needs to completely remove all the whining and negative inner dialogue and replace with description that's funny (ex: her friend grinding up on a guy that is dressed in all name brand clothes) and also replace with more witty comments about people IF she reallllllllllly needs to complain. Like if someone spills a drink on her feet then insert witty one liner.

    For both stories, I didn't like being spoken to as a reader. "You" should only exist in 2nd person narratives.

    ArwenWriter needs more show than tell. I want to see the narrator thinking of ways to get out of the situation than feeling kinda sorry for himself.

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  28. BellaD's piece was well written and had a strong voice, but I felt like it needed more. I was on board with the girls' night out and wanted to start pulling for the poor-me MC but the last paragraph lost me. It seemed mean spirited. By that point I needed a hint that something was going to change and it didn't.

    I liked the voice and humor in Arwen's piece and the idea of a vegetarian troll, but it was also hard pulling for a hard-luck character who doesn't even try to help himself. I would be careful about stories for children that involve dogs being eaten, especially if you want the reader to like that character.

    My vote goes to Arwen because I think the story has potential.

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  29. ArwenWriter for me. Veggie Trolls sound like my kind of fun! Good luck to you both.

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  30. BellaD's MC was too caustic for me. I couldn't find a way to connect there. I'll go with ArwenWriter, even though I'm not big on trolls, because that piece caught my interest.

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  31. I thought both pieces were worth reading. I didn't want to like the BellaD story because addressing me as a reader (--we've all had them, haven't we, Ladies?) made me an outsider right off the bat. However, the story kept me moving and I found myself in the bar watching it all happen without intending to be there. So, good job, BellaD. But then the troll came along. I found myself laughing out loud which rarely happens! Creative story well-written. My vote goes to Arwenwriter.

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  32. The premise of Arwenwriter's piece is adorable. Unfortunately, the writing just didn't support it. It seems to provide a lot of information that would be better served by sprinkling through the story, rather than dumping it in the beginning.

    BellaD's narrator is a real b*^($@, but it is engaging and fast-paced.

    This round goes to BellaD.

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  33. My vote is for BellaD.
    Arwen- I too enjoy the Simpson's. Season 23 episode 6, "The Book Job," was great. I'm sure Neil Gaiman would be impressed by your entry.

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  34. BellaD has my vote! I laughed out loud :)

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  35. BellaD gets my vote. I'd love to hang out with her. :)

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  36. I found myself wanting to read more of BellaD's and drifting partway through ArwenWriter's. My vote goes to BellaD.

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  37. BellaD gets my vote. I've been that girl who thought she was getting a girls' night and ended up watching all her friends ditch her for the boys on the dance floor. And lord in heaven that is an irritating situation in which to find yourself, and BellaD captured it perfectly. I'll go out for a girls' night, BellaD!! :D

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  38. BellaD does it for me. That's my vote

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  39. Tough call for me this week, as I know both these writers and both these pieces. I think both appeal to their target audience--and very different target audiences, so it's really tough to pit them against each other this early on. So I'm going to vote on a comment element to all writing--voice.

    I love ArwenWriter's voice at the top of the excerpt. It's really funny and clever and attention-catching. But I feel like as the scene progresses, we lose some of that voice. Especially once the action starts. That said, I would definitely want to keep reading.

    For BellaD, I agree with the comments that she is unlikable, downright acidic, I'd say. But for me that doesn't make a bad main character. It makes a flawed main character who has a hell of a lot of room to grow, which is what women's fiction is all about. She would have to very quickly tell me why she's so bitter and jaded and it would have to be a damn good reason for me to empathize with her, something more than just her friends leaving her on the dance floor, but I'd read a little further to figure out what that reason is.

    In terms of the voice, though, BellaD is more consistent. And she's created a character that's giving readers a very instinctive, visceral reaction (albeit a negative one) and I'd say that's talent.

    My vote is for BellaD with the mindset that these both have potential (and room for growth)!

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  40. I am no writer but as a reader, BellaD's did it more for me! So my vote goes to her!

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  41. Bella D.
    Can't stand this genre of writing. I don't know how people can read this stuff. Same thing every time. A bit of drama and then the girl finds the gorgeous hunk of a perfect man. UGH! This one with its female overbearance is hard to read.

    Arwen.
    The idea of a vegetarian troll is nice. In the very least it is different. This storyline is wide open for showing us but you have preferred to tell mostly which is discouraging as a reader. Choppy reading as well.

    Writing doesn't have to be perfect to get a good story. Both fell a little flat here.

    I vote Arwen.

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  42. Read both and have to give my vote to BellaD - made me chuckle.

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  43. My vote is for BellaD I feel like I could spend hours trading snarky comments with the character. I also laughed which is always appreciated.

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  44. Arwenwriter: I love the premise; a vegetarian troll is unique and I loved the part about the farmer's dog! but someone previously mentioned that the voice isn't truly consistent and I have to agree. This piece has a lot of potential, just needs some polishing.

    BellaD: Yes, the narrator is downright caustic but there were humorous elements to it. While it was a little tough to connect to the character, it's an intriguing intro and it left me wanting to read more.

    Both pieces need to be smoothed out and both need work, but based on the above... my vote goes to BellaD.

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  45. BellaD: smooth writing, great voice, even the caustic bits. If this were another match-up I might vote for this one, no question. But I find I need to ruminate a bit in this round. This round, my attention goes to whether or not I believe the characters. Here, there were so many aspects I didn't understand that the entry was confusing. Some gratuitous cussing detracted from the narrative (for a moment I wondered if she was actually fucking while seething, and then I wondered what that would be like). If she was pissed at her girlfriends, why was she taking it out on the men around her? Why not leave? Why go to a singles bar? I really wanted to like this piece both because I was immediately drawn into the scene, and because I generally love "take no shit" women characters. However, those tough broads I love are also honest and vulnerable. In this excerpt, both the protagonist's misplaced anger without explanation, and her inability/unwillingness to admit the truth of her situation, covered her vulnerability and left me unable to root for her.

    Arwenwriter: a vegetarian troll is a delightful concept, and the writing falls in a similar vein (delightful). Sentence length, pacing, and voice seem more MG than upper MG, in my opinion. I agree with Mary Holm, above, and caution against killing the dog. Might the dog instead bite the little sister and she bites back? MG readers pitch a fit when an animal dies in a story, so unless it's central to the plot, my advice is to leave that tasty morsel out (*groan*). One sentence I found particularly awkward: "Unfortunately the mistake I keep repeating involves breathing..." It's a mouthful and the true meaning is not clear, as this scene as written portrays a bully troll game rather than something more menacing like Rot wanting River dead. I enjoyed the protagonist River's simple voice and appreciated that he/she was not a whiny. I didn't mind that the protagonist wasn't fighting back because what could he/she do when trussed up with vines besides wait it out? This "game" seemed like a normal part of troll life and I never for a second believed that anyone was going to be seriously hurt by any of it (besides the dog). I would read on.

    My vote this week goes to Arwenwriter.

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  46. I enjoyed them both, but I like the concept behind Arwenwriter, so Arwenwriter gets my vote (also, I might be partial to the troubles of trolls...)

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  47. I'm not a fan of romance and don't care much for MC with huge anger issues. Not to mention I thought the writing could have been tighter. That said, Arwenwriter would do well with another edit, but at least I was drawn into the story.

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  48. Though I did not return from my regrettable life-detouring absence in time to make my vote count, I still wish to state my preference for BellaD. Congratulations to both of you.

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  49. Oops. :( I also had a hectic week and missed the deadline on this one, but I thought I'd pitch in just in case the authors come back to check their comments. My pick was also the winner, ArwenWriter, so at least my vote wouldn't have made a difference -- though I see that it was very close!

    The writing in BellaD's entry is fairly competent, but it's just not the kind of thing I would read, and I agree that the voice is off-putting. I know from personal experience how tricky it can be to make a character sympathetic when they're depressed, bitter, or angry. What I learned is that it's important to let the reader in on why the character has come to feel this way as soon as possible -- at least drop some pretty strong hints -- so the reader understands where your character is coming from and can feel real sympathy for them, and perhaps even personally relate to them.

    Also, I have to say that although I'm big on realism and it may be quite realistic for many contemporary characters, I don't really care for the frequent use of the F-word. It tends to make a character come across as shallow and lacking in self-respect as well as respect for other people. And there are just so many other ways to convey strong emotion that are both less tasteless and a lot more interesting. There's also one other detail here that didn't work for me (though it may be a personal bias since I've never understood the appeal of bars). If the point is to have some female-bonding time, wouldn't it make a lot more sense to just get together at one of the girls' homes to make margaritas or share a few bottles of wine while watching a favorite movie? Frankly, I find it hard to imagine why you'd go out to a club if you didn't want to meet men!

    ArwenWriter's entry has a charming concept with a lot of potential (and to be honest I'd be more likely to read a midgrade book about a troll than a contemporary romance in any case!). In some respects the voice is quite effective, but this passage also struck me as pretty sparse. It begins with telling and summarizing the character's situation, which isn't necessarily a problem, especially if the voice is amusing and conveys a strong sense of the character. But as someone else mentioned, when we get to the action there's so little description it's a bit hard to visualize the scene.

    There's no reason that writing for MG readers can't paint a detailed picture -- and even be lush and poetic -- while maintaining the appropriate clarity and level of language. Simplicity doesn't mean the writing has to be choppy or dry. So while I think this is a good start, I believe the author could do a lot more to flesh out this world and help us to share in what River is experiencing.

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