WRiTE CLUB 2014 – Bout #14





Another slot filled.  The Baron strolled confidently into that space by winning Bout #12. The voting for Bout #13 remains open until noon on Sunday, August 3rd. Including today, only three 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 fourteenth 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 YA Dystopian genre and weighing in at 495 words, please welcome to the ring……..Karmann Ghia.




I’d come all this way looking for him, but now, standing this close, I’m at a loss. I had hoped we could just leave, but two women flank him while a small army stands nearby. They all look vaguely alike; tan skin, dingy brown pants and shirts, chestnut brown hair held back by makeshift hide bands.

“How did you find us?” the one on his left asks me. She steps forward, two long strides until she’s uncomfortably close. Her bright blue eyes search my face, and though I can tell she’s done this before, I’m not sure why I deserve this scrutiny. Didn’t he tell them about me, to let them know I existed, and that I would come for him?

My mouth is dry, the dehydration and exhaustion of my journey finally caught up with me. I try not to pull away, to step back from her – I can’t let her know how uncomfortable it is to have her so close. I swallow, hoping to moisten my mouth enough to speak.

“I found a traveler with a map,” I explain. “Another girl – she looked like you. She was headed in the opposite direction and said she wouldn’t need it anymore.” I don’t mention that the girl laughed, a relieved, bubbling laugh, and wished me luck. It was weird enough when it happened, I don’t like to think of what she could have or should have warned me about.

The leaves on the forest floor crinkle beneath my feet as I adjust my stance, my legs threatening to give out. Seemingly satisfied with my answer, she steps to the side, calling over her counterpart on his right. They bow their heads together, their voices incomprehensible against the sounds of the forest.

My eyes find Steven, finally relaxing enough to focus on him. His jet hair is chin length now, waving around the side of his face. His cerulean eyes, always kind, watch me, and as our eyes meet, he smiles hesitantly. I take a moment to relax – relieved that I finally made it to their compound, finally found Steven.

“Thank you,” he mouths, unwilling or afraid of speaking out loud I don’t know. I nod and look away – I know if I keep looking at him I’ll cry, and I can’t look weak, not in front of these girls. They can’t know that he’s all I have, that I’m terrified of losing him. My eyes shift to the forest canopy, watching the bright light of day dim as it filters through the leaves.

“We’ve decided,” the first girl says. She’s back at my side so quickly and silently it’s unsettling. “You can stay here with us.”

“And what if I don’t want to stay? What if I want to take him and leave?” I’m still faking bravado.

She grins, her lip peeling back over her teeth like a wild animal. “Then we’ll give you a six hour head start to run. And then we hunt.”


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And in the other corner, representing the Short Story genre with 492 words, let me introduce to you……….texgirly.



Lost and Foundling

“Did you see it?”

“Yeah, gross. And sad. But mostly gross.”

“Has the mother seen it? “

“Just before she passed out. Delirious. Said he looked like his father.”

“Must be one ugly dude.”

“She said he’s coming to get them.”

“She’s still unconscious, nearly died.”

“I can’t believe they didn’t do a c-section.”

“She wouldn’t consent. Against her religion, she said. Doctor Riggs warned her of every complication known to man, but she refused. Blinked those big blue eyes and he let her angelic face sway him. Could have lost them both.”

“Nearly did. Baby’s heartbeat went over 200, then stopped for two minutes. They were prepping for an emergency section when the monitor came back on line, perfect as pie.”

“Probably been for the best if the baby hadn’t made it. It looks like a zombie or something. All gray and twisted. Really long legs and arms, and big, pointy ears with tufts of hair.”

“Jeanie in neonatal said it’s a fetal alcohol baby, but the mother doesn’t look like a drunk. More like a farm girl. Blood work was textbook.”

“Well, she almost bled out. and Riggs stitched her like a quilt. Looked like the baby chewed his way out.”

“Gross.”

“He has teeth, Jeanie said. A mouthful, yellow and sharp.”

“Said he didn’t cry. He growled.”

“Jeanie’s a liar. She loves drama like an old drag queen.”

“I know, but she was really freaking out. Even Emma doesn’t want to hold him, and she loves all the babies.”

“Did the mother say anything else?”

“No, just that Daddy would be here soon.”

“Sorry to miss him, but--what’s that noise?“

“Something awful, sounds like. Every baby in the place is crying their lungs out.”

“More than babies. Sounds like the whole place is screaming bloody murder.”

“Crack the door so we can see.”

“Are you nuts? It sounds like all hell breaking loose. You look.”

“No way. The whole place is going crazy. Security has to be on its way.”

“I can’t stand it not seeing. Turn the light out. No one can see us peek out.”

“Don’t you dare open that door.”

“Ssh. This is weird. It sounds like singing, loud, horrible singing.”

“Singing? Over all the screams? Get away from the door right now.”

“No, come look. There’s a gigantic man at the nursery window, singing. It sounds like a lullaby, but it’s so out of tune my ears may be bleeding. Man alive—what a monster. Has to be eight feet tall.”

“Close the fucking door! The police should be here soon.”

“I don’t think the police are going to help much. This guy’s not just huge and gray. He’s glowing.”

“Glowing? People don’t glow. Not even giants.”

“He is though. Shit! He’s turning around. Shut the door. Hurry!”

“Ok. You’re shaking. Is he that scary?” “Worse. The mother was right. The baby looks exactly like his daddy.” 


************************************************************************


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 #14.  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!

41 comments

  1. KarmanGhia for the win.
    sorry texgirly, I need more than dialogue.

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  2. Once again I'm just not blown out of the water by either of these. texgirly, we need more than dialogue. Beats in the dialogue really helps set the scene and increase the tension. KarmanGhia, the idea is intriguing but the first paragraph is awkward, passive, and I'm not sure about the tense. Still, the writing is going somewhere so my vote is for KarmanGhia.

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  3. Neither one grabbed me. The second one had a great idea. I just had a hard time following it with all the dialogue. I vote for KarmanGhia.

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  4. I love the idea of using only dialogue to tell a story. It's brilliant. It still needs a tad bit of work to make it perfect, but it definitely intrigued me the most. So, my vote goes to texgirly!

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  5. Straight dialogue didn't really do anything for me. Karmann Ghia could use a little polishing, but it drew me in, made me care about the characters, stirred up questions, and I would have read more. There was a nice balance of action, dialogue, description, inner thoughts, etc. with hints of backstory nicely woven into the action. So Karmann Ghia gets my vote. Good work!

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  6. The first one bored me and I had a hard time finishing it. The second one, while it could stand to have some description, intrigued me and held my attention to the end. So texgirly gets my vote.

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  7. Karmann ghia for me. It started out rough, but ended with intrigue. I would keep reading.

    I had a terrible time following the second one. I had to stop and reread various sections over and over again. It was jarring and kept taking me out of the story. However, I think the premise is good. I would strongly consider adding something other than dialogue to frame this story and make me care about these characters.

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  8. Nice to see an entry that is a short story instead of the opening of a larger piece of work. The first one didn't really hold my attention. While I didn't like that the second piece was entirely dialogue, it did hold my attention. Vote for texgirly.

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  9. Karmann ghia for me. Although the setting seemed familiar the general premise drew me in and I would read on. I enjoyed the second but a little too much dialogue for me to feel grounded in the setting. Good luck to you both.

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  10. Voting for Karmann. Ooh, the second is creepy, though!

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  11. An interesting match-up. Both are full of description and paint a pretty clear picture of the surroundings and characters. One is donee all through dialog and the other a whole lot more telling.

    While I think Texgirly could use a little bit of description and setting I do like the ideal of a lot of dialog. With a little bit of work I think this could be a very interesting piece. I give my vote to Texgirly.

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  12. I wasn't crazy about either submission, but I'll go with Karmann Ghia on this one. The first paragraph switched tenses a lot which threw me a bit, and I wasn't really very invested in the story. Maybe if I had known that the man she was looking for was someone she cared about from the beginning it would have helped. The way it was written, I thought she was there to apprehend him and these other two women had gotten there first. The phrase "I'm at a loss" is vague and doesn't give me enough info to tell what about the situation made the MC feel that way.

    Texgirly does not seem like a story to me, more like notes of what might evolve into a story. It could use quite a bit of polishing.

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  13. gonna abstain from voting on this one. neither piece drew me in...

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  14. Texgirly for me. I love the dialogue only storytelling. And what a creepy story!

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  15. Karmann Ghia for me! Thought the tense choices did pull me out more than once.

    And Texgirly was a lot of fun, since i enjoy a straight dialogue story.

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  16. Karmann Ghia for me. I like textgirly's premise, but the dialogue only is just too hard to read.

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  17. Ghia needs a lot of polish.
    Texgirly had a great ending, but I'd kill for some dialog tags or something. Still, I like the voice, so Tex has my vote.

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  18. These were both good, but Texgirly had the better ending, and for that reason, I'm voting for Tex.

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  19. Karmann
    What is Jet Hair? You get 500 words to nail it. Now I'm hung up on this. Is the guy a lover? A brother? Her kid? I think you set the scene of a searcher but we really don't know why and it leaves the story sort of empty. Perhaps the last man on earth? I dunno. Bit confused.

    Texgirly
    Whoa!!!!! There really needs to be some breaks in here. I found myself reading that at break neck speed. Slow it down with one or two dialogue breaks which will allow us to focus more on the story line. I am intrigued with the little...creature...and would read on if and only if the dialogue thing was switched up a bit.

    Texgirly gets my vote.

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  20. Karmann Ghia gets my vote this round. The piece needs a bit of polishing, but the concept is intriguing. The second piece wasn't gripping due to the dialogue and lack of descriptions, and characterization.

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  21. Tough one. KarmanGhia's story was confusing to me for some reason, but I think the traditional writing style was much more palatable compared to the straight dialogue. However, the straight dialogue from Texgirly was intriguing. I want to know what the baby's daddy is. The devil? An alien? A monster? A super intelligent animal? Debating to myself whether writing well is > or < an intriguing story premise... I'm going to go with <, but texgirly wins, I hope in the next round she produces some traditional writing. The dialogue would've been a hundred times better if there was description.

    Vote goes to texgirly.

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  22. Interesting bout today. I think it illustrates that at least for me, a connection with the POV character is absolutely essential in order for a piece of fiction to be effective.

    Karmann Ghia made me smile because I remember being a teen a riding in my friend's old, ratty Volkswagen Karmann Ghia on many a weekend. That was the most temperamental, high-maintenance car ever, but my friend loved it. But all that aside, KG gives us an entry in the well-trodden YA dystopian genre which shows an unnamed first-person MC interacting with two other unnamed girls and a silent male named Steven. There is clearly some sort of relationship between the MC and Steven, and it appears that there are significant stakes involved given all the telling the MC does about her (his?) nervous reactions. But I feel remote and disconnected because I have no idea who the MC is and only a faint idea of what reasons she has for his/her actions. A big part of this is because I'm only seeing a 500-word snippet of what is clearly a larger piece, and so I'm missing much of what would come before or later in the story. I like some of the descriptions, and the dialogue is inserted well, and I would keep on reading. But as it is, the entry does not grab me as well as it could have simply because I'm missing that vital, most-important connection of "who" the MC is.

    I give texgirly credit for trying something different. Giving a whole story only through dialog is an interesting concept, but for me, it falls short because of the same reason that KG's piece doesn't connect as well as it could: I have no idea who the unnamed speakers are. From context, I can eventually determine that they might be nurses or someone else at a hospital nursery talking about the birth of what seems to be a demon baby or something. I think texgirly does great at revealing what she does through dialog, and fitting the whole "story" into 500 words was done wonderfully. But without a connection to the characters, I'm not given much reason to care about the events that they talk about.

    It's a tough choice for me. But while I give texgirly kudos for a different approach and giving us an entire "story," I'm going with Karmann Ghia for this bout – the descriptions and context help expand the story, even if the characterization is much too minimal.

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  23. This is a tough one for me. Karmann Ghia ' s piece was tough to get through; I found my attention wandering. It felt disjointed, like a big chunk of the story was sacrificed for the sake of word count. I suspect that had the piece not begun in the middle of the action, it would have made more sense. However, the ending was a wicked twist!

    Texgirly 's approach with only using dialogue was intriguing to me. It wasn't the easiest to follow, but I enjoyed it. Great elements of mystery and creepiness - I really wanted to find out if Daddy was a werewolf or not!

    The ending was Karmann Ghia's redeeming factor, but it wasn't enough for me. My vote is for Texgirly.

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  24. Tough choice this week. Karmann Ghia originally had me thinking she was some sort of bounty hunter, then we had the cliche, convenient "girl with a map" which didn't ring true. Relationship to Steven (he's my whole world) seemed overdone, but the last line was great.

    I had to re-read sections of Texgirly to visualize who was speaking. I did wondered why they were behind closed doors. It made me think they were in a cupboard for some reason - a problem when you give the reader no direction and let their imagination create it all.

    My vote goes to Texgirly as I found the entry more entertaining, even if it was harder to read.

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  25. I vote Texgirly.

    I'm not as into that style (it left me floundering), but I did find it much more engaging than Karmann Ghia's piece--I feel like I should note, that it's me, not Karmann Ghia. Good job to both writers!

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  26. Karmann Ghia for me. I also need more than dialogue.

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  27. It was so hard to pick a winner for this round that I flipped a coin, so Karmann Ghia gets my vote.

    Karmann Ghia's offering was good, but I think I would have preferred to read the scene of the MC getting the map from the runaway ... that was the most intriguing part of the entire sample for me. The odd choices of different verb forms made the voice a little shaky and "Cerulean eyes" was bothersome to me and I don't know why. Is it because another character has "bright blue" eyes and we need to differentiate what kind of blue? As mentioned by others, it was a little slow moving but I want to know more. The big plus was that it's a scene I haven't pictured in other YA dystopian lit I've read, so it had a kind of freshness to it. I want to know more about that runaway!

    Texgirly took a risk to submit a standalone piece that's pure dialogue. This writer definitely has a knack for dialogue, but it was a teeny bit dispassionate (the two characters hiding in the closet did not feel to me to be appropriately terrified when a demon turns up at the nursery.) Also, it felt a little too much like a riff on Rosemary's Baby, only with a less neurotic "mom." All that being said, Texgirly has the "gift of (written) gab" and it's something a lot of writers avoid.

    Good job to both of you!

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  28. texgirly. I liked the idea, the execution, and the pacing.

    While I enjoyed the style of the first story, it felt very incomplete. Like there were too many big pieces missing and unexplained. Just not enough foundation to build on.

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  29. Texgirly has my vote.
    They are both good, I just liked that one more.

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  30. Congrats to both writers for making it into this round! Karmann Ghia gives us a nicely paced story with a clear conflict and ever-increasing stakes. There were also some lovely word choices (crinkle, cerulean, and others) that I admired.

    Texgirly starts with white room dialogue, a risky gamble. It rarely works, and the entire piece was so dialogue that I never felt pulled into the scene.

    My vote goes to Karmann Ghia.

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  31. My vote also goes to Karmann Ghia, but by a small margin. Both had a couple of punctuation errors and Karmann's had a few awkward lines, but overall the writing -- though representing two very different styles! -- was fairly effective in each entry.

    I have to disagree with many of the other readers and say that I think the pure dialogue is one of the strength's of Texgirly's entry -- it's part of what makes it distinctive and what makes the concept work. To me the problem with very short stories is that, with few exceptions, they're inevitably slight stories that rely on a gimmick. (They are, however, in demand by plenty of magazines, and I would imagine that this story wouldn't be hard to sell.) In this case it's a creepy, fun gimmick, and I might have written something similar to it way back when, since I used to get a kick out of that kind of thing. And for what it is, I think this story definitely works.

    Karmann Ghia's excerpt has a few strong images -- though not enough to create the scene as fully as I'd like to see it -- and based on this passage, it seems to escape many of the over-used dystopian tropes. I did find it odd that Steven's name isn't used at the beginning, but I'm going to assume that's because it was in a prior paragraph, as I certainly didn't get the impression that this is an opening scene. A couple of specific errors I noticed are the incorrectly used semicolon in the third sentence, which should be a dash, or even a colon (I usually suggest avoiding semicolons until you're very sure how to use them correctly), and the way it implies in the sixth paragraph that the narrator's eyes themselves are relaxing, which I don't think is what was intended. The repetition of 'relax' shortly after that also feels redundant.

    I'm willing to excuse the fact that this excerpt doesn't give us much information about who the narrator is or about her relationship with Steven, because I am assuming this isn't the beginning of the story. However, unlike some of the other readers, I didn't care for the ending. I just feel that we really don't need any more stories that use the 'most dangerous game' concept, especially after Hunger Games, so I'm hoping it doesn't go in that direction, and the fact that the last line suggests that it does makes me uneasy.

    I had to stop and ask myself why I felt bound to select Karmann's entry here, since I actually found Texgirly's little story more entertaining and memorable. And I think it's because that kind of gimmicky short story, no matter how well-crafted, is essentially a form of literary joke, and I realized it just didn't feel right to me to put that over a passage that was probably lifted from a serious novel or novella that the author has put a lot of effort into. But it was a tough call.

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  32. My vote is Karmann Ghia. Ghia's entry needs work, in my opinion, but it is far better than its competition. Texgirly's piece is dialogue only--and, frankly, not that gripping. Doesn't work for me at all. Nada. Sorry.

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  33. My vote goes to Karmann Ghia.

    I chose it mainly because I didn't like the talking heads style of Texgirly's piece. That's just my subjective opinion. I got lost in the back and forth and had trouble following it in a few places. However, it was creative and the story it told was compelling. I was curious to know what was going on and that kept me reading . The only thing that didn't ring true was describing the baby as a "zombie." The description, with the pointy ears, made me think more of a wolfman than a zombie. But then again, I'm not a big zombie fan so maybe I'm missing something. I wonder what this piece would be like if you kept it all the same but also put in a few brief descriptions of a break room or an office or whatever setting, and a added in a tiny bit about the characters who are talking. Nurses? Orderlies? I would have been on board with something like that. As is, it's too experimental for me.

    I was intrigued by Karmann's piece and this society of dominant hunting women. I would probably read on to find out what it is all about. You did a good job of getting into the MC's head and getting across her confusion and fear and her need to appear in control. I wasn't clear on what Steven was doing this whole time. What was his attitude toward the women flanking him? Fear or complacency? Was he acting like their captive or their guest? We didn't learn what the MC's relationship is to Steven and I assume that was already established or will be brought out later.

    The writing also needs a little smoothing out. The tense is off in the line that says the exhaustion "caught up." Should be either "catches" or "has caught."

    Two creative entries. Good job.

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  34. My vote goes to Karmann Ghia! They were both intruging, but the straight dialogue felt a little gimicky to me. It could work with more polishing and less "describing" things to each other. And I did get a vivid image of the setting/characters, so thats a plus
    However, Karmann Ghia builds an interesting plot, premise and setting with her snippet, and I love the sense of the diverse world we get. Karmann Ghia could use a bit of polishing on tense. Also, a pack of hunting girls? It's like dystopian Artemis's hunters, which seems really neat! Great job to both :)

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  35. Karmann Ghia because I had to read Texgirl's multiple times to try and figure out what was going on. Ghia's is a little too hunger gamesy for me, but I could follow it and have a clear idea of what was going on :)

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  36. Did I miss voting on this one? Anyways, if not, my vote goes to Karmann. The stylistic choice of straight dialogue on the other is interesting, and the story sounds unique and scary, but having only the dialogue didn't pull me in. Nice cliffhanger ending on both.

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