WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Bout #4



What is WRiTE CLUB?  It started off as a modest writing competition, inspiration loosely derived from the movie FIGHT CLUB, and it has since grown into a writing community sensation that is now sponsored by the DFWWriters Conference.  There are numerous versions of this concept floating around the internet, but nothing like we do it here.  Its essence embodies simple, good-natured competition, with lots and lots of fun sprinkled on top. 




Over the course of ten weeks I’ll be holding daily bouts (M-F) between Anonymous 500 word writing samples, submitted under a pen name.   The writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction. Today is Bout #4.  Read each sample carefully and then leave a vote in the comment section for the one that resonates with you the most.  Anyone can vote... but only once per bout. Don’t forget to leave with a brief critique of both submissions as well.

Voting for each bout will remain open for one week. The winner of each will be posted HERE, at the WRiTE CLUB scoreboard.  Are you ready?


Here are the first two randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the fantasy genre and weighing in at 486 words, please welcome to the ring……..Quill Thrill




Mr. Parker dipped a hand into his waistcoat and pulled out a pocket watch. He checked the time the way he assumed most rich, aristocratic men would do in such a situation. This action surely implied he was busy, had other appointments to attend and could not be left waiting. If the matron of the orphanage wanted one of her children to find a happy home, she had better skip to it.

In front of the fireplace, Mr Parker’s ‘wife’ sat in a green velvet armchair staring at the hot coals. She placed her hands in her lap then looked through the double doors leading to the sunny courtyard. There, the matron spoke in harsh whispers to the owner of the orphanage. Mrs Parker turned to Mr Parker. “For married folk they argue a lot.”

Mr. Parker smiled. “Should we argue?”

She narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips.

His stomach tingled, as did other places, but he hadn’t paid her for that. Not today.

The matron returned then walked them through the courtyard, introducing the children one by one. But Mr Parker already knew what he was looking for. Rude, loud and confident – a boy hungry for adventure and who would, in time, relish the idea of impersonating a Lord’s son for riches. An aversion to sea sickness would be a bonus, too. And Mr Parker found him. The sea sickness would have to be tested but what stood before him was perfect. A boy of five or six fired his arms at a few older boys who merely laughed off the punches. Mr Parker pointed. “I want that one,” he said, forgetting to sound like a potentially loving parent and instead adopting the tone of a woman in a jewellery shop.

“Sam?!” the matron squeaked.

“Yes,” said Mr Parker.

The matron turned. “Sam, dear, do get off the floor and come here.”

Sam scrambled over, careful to avoid a final boot in the butt by one of the older boys.

“Hello,” said Mr Parker.

Sam pouted. “I ain’t dun nuffin’.”

Ah yes, lying before blame has even been placed. Another trait Mr Parker needed.

“Is that your misses?” Sam asked through missing milk teeth. “Are you his misses? When you kiss him, his beard scratches your face off, dunnit?”

Mr Parker was satisfied. He read nothing and signed all the necessary forms while Sam asked Mrs Parker if wearing a corset could make a woman’s breasts “go pop”. Happy, Mr Parker put Sam on his shoulders then left the orphanage. Equally as delighted, his ‘wife’ blew him a vermillion-lipped kiss and returned to work in the town’s shadowy alleys.

“Watch me swim,” said Sam the moment they reached the seashore. “Lemme get down.”

Mr Parker hoped that meant sea sickness wouldn’t be an issue and let Sam undress before the water’s edge. “Bollocks…” he whispered, both shocked and disappointed to find Sam had none.
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And in the other corner, representing the contemporary/science fiction genre with 499 words let me introduce to you……….Falphoenix



Deep breaths. Take deep breaths. Stop the shaking, inside and out. Push down the darkness, get through practice, then this suckhole of a day will be over.

I leaned my forehead against the row of lockers. Cold metal to hot skin.

The open locker shielded me from the rest of the team. Three minutes. All I needed was three minutes.

One breath for Father gifting me the fist-sized bruise below my shoulder blade.
One for my backpack vomiting my crap all over the hall before school even started.
One for the slap Amy Gosche laid on me when I pinched her butt.
One for the D+ on the math test.
One for Lindsey Buckner announcing I kissed like a wet fish. To the entire cafeteria.
One for—

BAM! My locker door smashed closed, then shimmied back open. My head jerked off the ringing metal as I spat out a long string of curses.

“Hey FRESHER!” Joe, a landmass of a linebacker, grinned at me with a rule-the-school smirk only seniors could pull off. “Gotcha, Corey. You meditating back here?”

I slapped the locker shut, rammed the lock home, and grabbed my helmet off the bench. Every muscle rang with tension as I said, “Outta the way, ass-wipe.” My helmet may have collided with his stomach as I pushed passed him. These things happen.

Joe’s hand, the size of a mallet, clamped onto my shoulder and spun me around. “What did you say?” His good-natured smile morphed into a pissed-off, upper classman scowl.

I yanked Joe’s hand off my shoulder. The rational part of me knew this was suicide, but the jangly, keening part of me begged for a fight. I couldn’t keep it in much longer. All the signs of an epic fail were there. Shaky hands. Jittery heart beating high and wild. Thoughts fogging to incomprehension.

Someone else’s hand landed on my shoulder, swung me around, and shoved me towards the door. Behind me, Trevor Pereira said, “Sorry, Joe. He’s in a mood.”

Another shove from Trevor, and we were headed out the door, Joe shouting at both of us to watch it. Trevor yelled “Okay!” Then, in a low voice, “That was stupid, Corey.”

I said, “Not your problem, Trev,” gritting my teeth in an effort to keep my voice from shaking.

“Yeah it is. I look bad when you act idiotic. I’m the freshman quarterback; I’m supposed to keep you in line.” Trevor’s even voice barely reached my ears.

“Good luck with that.” Three minutes. If I could breathe for three minutes, I had an outside chance of staying in control. I stalked away from Trevor and slowed to a walk once I caught up with the team, my head turtled into my shoulder pads.

Deep breaths. My hands were shaking. Caustic bile forced its way up my throat as I searched for something, anything to calm down and stop losing it.

Football players aren’t soothing. Someone slammed into my shoulder, and the darkness swept in.  
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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.  Which one tickled your fancy?  After you vote please tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well (but no coaching about who to vote for).  Yes, it’s subjective, but so is the entire publishing world.  It’s as much about the readers as it is about the writers. 

This is WRiTE CLUB – the contest where the audience gets clobbered!

53 comments

  1. Today's victory I award to Falpheonix

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  2. I was drawn in by quill thrill. Great characterization for such a short piece. Good sense of malice and mystery.

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  3. Vote goes to Falphoenix. I like the way the character tells us what's happened before with all the "one breath" statements. In Quill Thrill's the writing is good, but whether it's because of the word limit or what, it feels like something is missing.

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  4. My vote today is for Quill Thrill. I was drawn fully into the story and left wondering what's going to happen now.

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  5. I vote for Falphoenix.

    I liked Quill Thrill, but I Feel like stuff was cut out just to get it into the word count limit.

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  6. Wow, both are fantastic pieces. Quill Thrill, but only because I love the setting more. Both are brilliant.

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  7. These were both great! I'm voting for Quill Thrill because I was left really concerned afterward and want to read more of this story, it sounds quite interesting.

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  8. Man, these are both great. I would read both of them, if published. I think I'm going to have to throw my vote to Falphoenix, though--mostly because it feels better edited. But I wish I didn't have to vote. Nice job, both of you!

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  9. I vote for Falphoenix, but this one was a really hard choice. Both authors packed a ton of detail in a very short space. Both pulled me in with setting, but in the end it was the characterization that made me go with Falphoenix. I want to know more from Quill Thrill, but in the end I felt for Falphoenix' characters.

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  10. Both entries are very well matched. I'm glad I don't get to vote!

    Quill Thrill - Very interesting scene, and I like the concept of what's happening. I'm intrigued as to why this man needs this child, what his plans entail, and I would most definitely keep reading. Just needs some polishing in a few places, little overwritten here and there, but overall very clean.

    Falphoenix - Great characterization and deep POV. I was pulled into the scene and the voice felt authentic. Similarly to the other entry, just a few places are overwritten and can use trimming and tightening. Overall, I liked it a lot. One weird note is the genre is "contemporary/science fiction" which is not really a thing. It's either contemp or sci-fi, and I think what you mean was the scene you pulled reads as contemp but it's actually from a sci-fi, which is fine. You can't tell the full genre from this 500 word sample.

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  11. Makes me wish I could vote for both, but I pick Falphoenix for this round. Loved the POV.

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  12. Quill Thrill could use some editing... "missus" not "misses," I think, a missed punctuation point, general tightening and polishing. I liked the roughness of the characters, though, and loved the twist at the end. I'm curious to see where the story takes this trio. Obviously, adventure is on the horizon, but I feel like we got a good introduction to the characters.

    Falphoenix did a great job getting into the character's point-of-view. This piece was clearly taken from a larger work as well, but I don't really feel like this excerpt established as much as it could have. I don't know... I guess I have trouble empathizing with a guy who pinches girls' butts without recognizing he deserved to get slapped. The writing was okay and solidly in the character's POV, but I didn't connect with the character or story. I really don't like football, though, so that may have something to do with my disconnect.

    I vote Quill Thrill.

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  13. Quill Thrill's read felt not quite right for the time period. It was like the trappings of period with too many modern motivations I think. I was interested and it set up a situation that made me curious about the plot, but if you're going to turn the expected conventions of a time period like Victorian England on their ear, you have to really do it or it just looks like you made mistakes.
    I was much more drawn to Falphoneix's read. It gets my vote and while there were some small things that could be polished, it was a great read.

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  14. My vote today is for Quill Thrill, simply because I'm curious about what he'll be using the boy for. Curiosity is a great way to build tension, and this starts off with it right away. They both do an excellent job with voice though. With Falphoenix, I felt like the beginning was going to be a poem or something. I would have started off a little differently, maybe. I felt like the voice became more apparent after the locker slammed.

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  15. Most definitely Quill Thrill. I loved the hidden agenda that we don't quite know. That tension is great and I love that he picks the most unruly orphan. I would so love to read that book.

    I found the other piece overly generic and cliche. Big bad football player picks on the little guy. Has some vague Hulk-type power that is never explained. It didn't read sci-fi to me, maybe paranormal. The voice is nice though, especially at the beginning, though the part about when his head "jerked off" really stopped me and made me giggle.

    Great job to both writers.

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  16. My vote would be for Quill Thrill.

    Even though I liked both of these pieces, I like the world that Quill Thrill is set in, and the mystery of why they need the orphan child. Falphoenix's piece was written perfectly, but the high school football jock might be a little overdone. It's not bad, though, by any means.

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  17. Quill Thrill wins my vote!

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  18. I have to go with Quill Thrill today because I loved the way the piece flowed and my curiosity built. I laughed out loud when Mr. Parker realized he didn't exactly get what he bargained for. I would definitely continue reading this piece.

    Falphoenix was very well written, but I couldn't get as into it. The POV was strong, but the piece reminds me of so many other high school drama stories.

    Best of luck to both participants and congratulations on making it to the Top 40!

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  19. My vote is for Quill Thrill today. I would read on because I desperately want to know what the MC wants this "boy" for and what he'll do now that we've discovered that the boy is actually a girl!

    Falphoenix, I liked your piece, but for some reason I had a hard time connecting. I think I would have liked more internalization on Corey's part - what is he thinking as all of this happens? But I know it's a limited amount of space and you had to pack in more action.

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    1. Interesting. I wasn't sure if "none" meant a lack of balls, or a lack of sea sickness (and a typo from the line before), or maybe a lack of gills (it is a fantasy, these could be Mer people), or something else.

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    2. I'm fairly certain the author meant a lack of balls. The MC is hoping that the orphan boy doesn't have sea sickness, so he wouldn't be disappointed by the discovery that "Sam had none." That's how I interpreted it, at least! But it does need to be written more clearly!

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  20. Quill Thrill really drew me in so it gets my vote I don't any criticism per se for Falphoenix- it's really just a subjective preference for the storyline.

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  21. My vote goes to Quill Thrill.

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  22. Tough one today! I think I'll go with Falphoenix though.

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  23. I'm intrigued by Quill's story...Falphoenix has an interesting voice...but since I have to choose, I'll go with Falphoenix because I noticed a couple of typos in Quill's.

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  24. Quill Thrill - I don't exactly know what's going on, but I'm interested in finding out. I think it has a good hook and lots of intrigue. Pretty good character fleshing out for a 500-word limit. Could use a little bit of editing. I'm not sure how it's fantasy. I get the impression that it would need at least another two paragraphs to turn into a fantasy.

    Falphoenix- Very interesting. I like the hook. I'm not sure how it's sci-fi. The last line makes a possible hint at the genre.

    This is a tough vote, because I feel pretty equal about both. But where I think I know where Falphoenix is going, the last line of Quill Thrill has me very curious, and thinking of a million possible ways it could go. For that reason:

    Quill Thrill has my vote today.

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  25. Having just watched Oliver Twist this weekend I really enjoyed Quill's and was able to really see the potential. Falphoenix was great, but so much emotional writing left me wanting more story. Congrats to both! Vote quill thrill

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  26. Quill thrill wins my vote!

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  27. Both entries have a good start and they are quite different so this is hard for me. I liked the voice in the the football one but a pet peeve of mine is when a ms uses a lot of space to describe the act of breathing. So, I vote for Quill Thrill and am intrigued as to where it is going.

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  28. I am voting for Falphoenix.

    I felt that Falphoenix's writing was cleaner, sharper, and had some phrasing that I loved - the shimmying of the locker (which is perfect imagery), the turtling of his head in his shoulder pads. Loved it, loved it. It was a well paced scene with good character development, and I felt interested and invested in your protagonist. Very well done.

    Quill Thrill's entry was really good as well. They very first line tells us so much about the MC, "the way he assumes aristocratic men do." That told us without telling us he was an imposter, and it was great. But then we get to his so-called wife. And by putting wife in quotes, you could have just gone ahead and used "so-called." This was the main reason this entry didn't get my vote. By saying "wife," (in quotes) you, the author, inserted yourself into the scene to tell the reader something that they, if the scene is written well, should be able to figure out for herself. You are a really great writer, the rest of the scene is outstanding, which is maybe why I'm SO bothered by the way you tell us that's not really his wife. The twist at the end was really well done, too. This was a hard choice, and I really enjoyed this piece quite a bit as well.

    Good luck to both authors!

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  29. Tough choice, but I go with Falphoenix for the deep, deep POV.

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  30. Um, can I vote for both? No? Okay, then I vote for Falphoenix. It just caught my imagination a bit more.

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  31. I'm going with Quill Thrill; I like the humor. I especially appreciated the humor of the last couple of lines.

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  32. Quill Thrill. It was intriguingly clever.

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  33. Voting for Quill Thrill.
    This was a tough choice because both pieces of writing had really strong points in their favor. It might be easier to choose if they were both in the same genre. Falphoenix did a good job developing the storyline with dialogue, though the bully bordered on a stereotype of a roughneck jock. Quill Thrill had more subtlety to it, giving us more space to figure things out for ourselves.

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  34. My vote is for Quill Thrill.

    ... because your story was a pleasure to read. I loved it and would read as much of it as you could write. A novel. And a sequel. There was so much going on that all fit together. I love the way you worked in so many things. The way you revealed that Mrs. Parker wasn't really a wife. The ending. I had to Google bullocks, but I suspected what it was before I read the definition. Genius.

    Falphoenix, you had a great hook. There was nothing wrong with the opening and the countdown. But I must admit your story lost me. It left me wondering what the problem was between the POV character and the rest of the team. I would have liked at least a hint of what was going on. But there were many parts to your story well done. Like capturing a teenage voice and creating realistic characters. Good work.

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  35. QUILL THRILL. There is something nostalgic for me about orphanages and the whole set scene. Bravo.

    Falphoenix was also good writing, I just wasn't entranced. Maybe if you led into a little of what "the darkness" was. Was it a trait that overcomes him, witch magic, rage, what is it? The darkness? Does he faint?

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  36. Tough call. I'm going with Quill Thrill. Had just a slightly stronger hook.

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  37. Have to say Falpheonix. I love the character's voice.

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  38. I am going with Falphoenix today. The writing was a bit crisper and I like the concept of a young football player trying to meditate :) I'm super curious about what letting the darkness sweep in entails, especially in a sci-fi context.

    Like others said, Quill Thrill's storyline was great but there were some editing things that pulled me out of the story. However, I'd totally read that book!

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  39. Two well-written pieces here. Quill Thrill has a great pen name, and a piece of what I'm guessing is a larger tale with a nice twist at the end. Falphoenix's piece really brought us into the head of the character, and did well to provide both internal and external conflict. I liked the ending line, too.

    I give the edge to Falphoenix.

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  40. This was a most interesting match-up. My vote goes to FALPHOENIX

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  41. I'm voting for Falphoenix in this round.

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  42. Very tough one! I enjoyed both.
    #1 pulled me in a bit more, so my vote goes there :)

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  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  44. Quill thrill.. Loved the sense of period

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  45. I'm coming late to the game and I think everyone before me has good/fair comments. Mine came down to personal preference - I vote Thrill Quill.

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  46. I'm coming late to vote for Quill Thrill - I just got sucked into the "agenda" and concern for the orphan girl. Both were excellently written, so I'm voting with my gut.

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  47. I liked both of these entries in pre-judging, but Falphoenix takes the win for me by juuuust a smidge

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  48. I vote for Quill Thrill. Notes:

    Quill Thrill: Interesting! Lots of layers of intrigue here. I'd definitely read on. I got hung up pretty badly on this:

    There, the matron spoke in harsh whispers to the owner of the orphanage. Mrs Parker turned to Mr Parker. “For married folk they argue a lot.”

    I can't figure out who is saying what.

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    Falphoenix: It started out well, with the countdown of the insults du jour, but it didn't end up being very intriguing. A lot of high school boys posturing isn't something that really hooks me as an adult female reader. Perhaps good for another audience. I got tripped up here:

    Someone else’s hand landed on my shoulder, swung me around, and shoved me towards the door. Behind me, Trevor Pereira said, “Sorry, Joe. He’s in a mood.”

    Another shove from Trevor, and we were headed out the door, Joe shouting at both of us to watch it. Trevor yelled “Okay!” Then, in a low voice, “That was stupid, Corey.”

    I think this maybe took me one character over the line.

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  49. Thrill quill gets my vote. It was subtle and clever. Good balance of description & internalization.

    Falphoenix's piece felt a little too... typical? I guess. It felt like I was being told what was going on, without experiencing it (other commenters said similar things about not connecting, needing more internalization), and I felt the same. Distance. I didn't feel like I had a reason to care for Corey, even half the things he's 'breathing' about seemed to be his own fault -> bad marks, getting slapped for being a jerk/etc.

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