How about we start things off by congratulating yet another winner? Our Bout #5 victor is none other than Fitzwilliam. He/she will now have to wait patiently with the others for the play-offs to begin in four weeks. The voting for Bout #6 remains open until noon on Wednesday, July 9th.
Before we move on I’d like to comment on the feedback offered in the previous rounds. In a word…exemplary! Reading these mini-critiques is an education in and of itself, and watching how a 500 word writing sample can be viewed so diversely with various elements impacting each reader differently can be truly enlightening. My goal for WRiTE CLUB (one of the may) is not to just provide an avenue for writers to display their work in a non-threatening environment, but ultimately help them improve it. For that to happen I put my faith in the fact that our reader/voters would speak up and offer their suggestions…and BOY…have you! Sometimes that opinion can be as simple as a vote, other times it can be almost as long as the submission itself. Both are valuable, and valued. I want to thank you on behalf of the contestants (past, present, and future), for validating my trust in the nature of this blogosphere…and writers in general…and for helping mold their writing for the better.
For anyone who's dropping by for the first time, here's a summary of what's going on. 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. A rundown of past and current matches can be found right HERE.
Note: The submissions can be an excerpt from a larger work...or a standalone piece of flash fiction. The only rules are that they be 500 words or less, and never previously published or posted on a blog. Although I'll never instruct someone how they should choose a winner, I would recommend considering this when doing so. It shouldn't be about how much information is contained in those 500 words, but the way a contestant goes about communicating the information that is.
These illustrious WRiTER’s are not only from all walks of life, but they also occupy various levels of the publication world. But none of that matters here, because inside this ring everybody stands as equals. You know why? Because no one uses their real name…the only identification you’ll ever see is their pen name. This is not a popularity contest. The focus here is on the writing, where it should be.
Today is the seventh 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.
Now it's time to find your seat and get settled. The fun's about to begin!
Here are this bout's two randomly selected WRiTER's.
Standing in this corner, representing the YA Fantasy/Paranormal genre and weighing in at 492 words, please welcome to the ring……..Pixie Moon.
“You alright Vi?” Laura asks.
I nod, but can’t meet her gaze. How can I tell my best friend that I am losing my mind?
“You look a little pale, are you sure you’re not sick?” Laura persists.
I look up and offer a weak smile. “I’m sure, just ran out of foundation this morning, going for the pale and interesting look today.”
Laura’s no fool though. She gives me a sideways look from under her fringe.
The bell rings and I twitch.
“You’re as jumpy as a rabbit on a trampoline.” Laura furrows her brow. I know she doesn’t buy it.
“I’ve gotta go,” I mutter and start walking towards the school door.
“Hold it Brown,” Laura orders. “You don’t get away with it that easy. I’ll see you at break, by the canteen.”
I take a deep breath and spin back round. “Sure,” I smile. “See you at break.” I run up the stairs and join the jostling crowd in the corridor. Anonymity, that’s what I need. I don’t want to be different, but I know I am.
“Here.” Laura hands me a can of soda.
“Thanks.” I pull the ring and take a slug. The fizz hits the back of my throat and I cough.
“So tell me, things not great at home?” My friend, my wonderful caring friend, places her hand on my arm. “Is it your mum?” she presses on. “Has she ... been drinking again?
“No, yes ... I mean, not much, not too much.”
Laura eases me onto a bench and for a minute all I can do is watch the chaos in the canteen. Serena Mayhew is causing the usual distraction for the boys, baby blonde hair and blue eyes flick and flutter for their entertainment. A rucksack wings its way across the room as Caleb Branning annoys the younger kids. This is normal.
“Violet?” Laura whispers. “Please talk to me.”
I face my friend and almost crumble. “I’m fine, honest. Mum just had a go at me this morning. Things suck since Dad disappeared.”
“All of you have been so brave,” Laura sniffs. “I’m never getting married,” she says firmly. “Guys are such a waste of space.” She squeezes her empty can.
“Never?” I smile. My friend is beautiful and isn’t short of male attention. I can’t see her sitting at home with a cat for company somehow.
Her auburn hair shines effortlessly, falling in natural waves to her shoulders. Huge green eyes are framed by long lashes and she rarely gets spots on her peachy complexion.
Whereas I have pale skin, hence the constant need for foundation, and my dark, poker straight hair, falls in a curtain either side of my square face. My one redeeming feature - my eyes. Violet had really been the obvious name choice. My full name is Violet Rose Brown, nickname, Rainbow Girl. An ironic choice for someone who would much rather fade into the background.************************************************************************
And in the other corner, representing the Historical Fiction genre with 500 words, let me introduce to you……….Miss Drake.
The last time Benjamin Marshall ate a corned beef sandwich was the same day he killed more than six hundred people. It was early afternoon, and the wind had been bitter, coming off the frozen shallows of the lake. It made Benjamin feel as if the fine hairs in his nose were freezing together, so he had ducked into The Berghoff to thaw. He hadn’t expected an interruption, so his hands were knuckle-deep in his corned beef sandwich, pulling off the strings of sauerkraut, wiping away as much of the bitterness as he could.
Someone called his name, and when Benjamin looked up, his fingers deep in his sandwich, Minnie Dorsey was running at him, her face drawn tight. Her hair was piled in a loose knot on the top of her head, golden curls frizzling out from the mass. Most of the women Benjamin knew kept their hair pinned tight, any curls revealing themselves in a calculated, cascading way, but not Minnie. Everything about Minnie was different than the other woman Benjamin knew.
It was well-known that women weren’t allowed in The Berghoff, a mostly unspoken rule. Benajmin glanced around and everyone’s eyes were on him. On Minnie, really. If it were anyone but Minnie, he would have prepared himself for a slap over something he’d done, but Minnie was one of the fun girls, never seeming to mind when she caught Benjamin out with a different girl on his arm, dizzy with champagne.
“Ben,” she gasped again.
“Benjamin,” he corrected her, as he always did. He had been Ben as a young boy, sometimes Bennie. He’d be drawing on a large sketch pad in the yard, trying to decipher the varying whistles from the train tracks a few miles away, and then his mother’s long, “Be-en!” to call him in for supper. Now, he went by Benjamin, only Benjamin.
As a boy he was constantly scolded by his school teacher for doodling instead of working on his arithmetic. “Our little artist,” his mother would say when company came over. The problem with being an artist was that Benjamin couldn’t draw faces—the shadows and expressions were lost when he sketched on paper. He never got the look of happiness or of despair quite right and his portraits would end up looking like chiseled stone: cold and solid. But lines he could manage—he drew squares and arches and rectangles that spoke to people more than any two-dimensional face did.
Still, it frustrated him that no matter how hard he tried, he would never be able to sum Minnie Dorsey up with lines on paper. Standing before him, her cheeks were flushed rosy. She looked so wild, so Minnie that Benjamin wanted to reach out and touch her face, but everyone was looking and it was The Berghoff after all. “What is it?” he asked her. “Benjamin Marshall,” she said, with an edge to her voice, a mix of urgency and now, annoyance. “Your beloved theatre is on fire.”
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 #7. 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!