WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Bout #5



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 #5.  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 contemporary erotica genre and weighing in at 500 words, please welcome to the ring……..A. P. Chelopech




It was in our fourth session from memory that Eva opened up to me on what was manifestly a difficult subject for her. I had, innocuously as I thought, asked her to tell me about her childhood. I was totally unprepared for what followed.

“I was at good school, school for kids of party members. You understand, I didn’t know such things then, I was only child. But something happened with my father, it was terrible time. One day, I was 10 and in 4th class, some people came to our home. We had nice house in Dragalevtsi, real house you know, not apartment.”

I interjected. “Was it your family’s own home?”

Da, my grand-dad – his father, how do you say?”

“Your great-grandfather.”

“So, my great-grandfather, he build this house long before communist times. When I was small girl, my grand-parents live there, my mother, father, my little brother and me. It was very good and happy time.”

“But something happened.”

“Yes, these men came, it was dinner, they talk to my father in other room. My baba, she was crying, my mother, she looked scared, it made me scared too. My brother started crying too. Then they take my father from house. I didn’t see him again for long time, maybe more than one year. In a prison, far from Sofia.”

I was uncertain what to say, though something was needed. I could have brought up the inconsistencies in Eva’s verb tense usage, or seized on the missing articles, but I did neither. For I was disconcerted to see that she was on the verge of tears. I detected the glistening in those big dark eyes.

“God, that must have been awful for you.” It was insipid but the best I could do, I’m afraid.

“There was more. Some day, two-three days, after that, I am at school. During class, the teacher spoke to me, in front of all students. She speaks in bad way, not friendly, not polite way. She tells me I am leaving school. I must take everything from desk, shkafche – this is, um, locker I think, and just go. Go home. Leave knizhka – this is student book, with grades, but you know that – I always got sixes – leave it in office and just go from this school.”

Eva was hunched forward now, her hands together in her lap, the one a fist, the fingers of the other kneading between its knuckles, she staring out across the room. The tears resolutely holding back. I had the clear impression that I had been admitted to a different room, which mostly stayed locked up.

She proceeded to tell me of how she had gotten off the bus from her school, walked to her home, seen the flat-deck truck in front, her family’s belongings – furniture, appliances, hastily-packed cardboard boxes leaking contents – scattered about, some men loading them haphazardly onto the truck. Her grandmother remonstrating with these men, loudly, they indifferent, following orders, neighbours standing in the near distance, stone-faced.
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And in the other corner, representing the historical genre with 489 words let me introduce to you……….Annie Corvo



Jerusalem, December 1917

A scream from the alleyway below Jack Solms’ window. A woman’s scream, then shouted commands in German, then other shouts in a language he guessed was Turkish. The report of a handgun echoing off the stone walls in this quarter of the old walled city.
On his bed in the upper room, Jack ran a finger along the deck of cards he’d shuffled.

He wouldn’t look. Wouldn’t look out the window.

In spite of the wind whining through the streets as Jerusalem staggered toward its third Christmas at war, he kept the shutter propped open. Better to be cold than trapped. Better to leave the window open to the sounds of that conscription gang working its way through the streets than to suffocate with a mouth full of dirt. Knowing the collapsing trenches of the Western Front were half a world away was one thing. Making the nightmares believe it was another.

He couldn’t find his card. Why couldn’t he find the goddamned card?

He tossed the deck onto the blanket, clasped his shaking hands together. Tight. Tight. Breathe in, breathe out.

He’d been OK until the shooting started. He’d got himself dressed this morning without help, not an easy thing for a man with a leg blown halfway to hell. Dressed, shaved, even combed his hair. He had an intuition about those things he’d once taken for granted. It was like finding the card he wanted on the first try. It meant a good day, a day he could limp downstairs to help Isabelle with the shop’s bookkeeping.

Thank God for Isabelle. She’d saved him, lit into the surgeons, kept them from sawing his whole damn leg off. Lucky day for him when he married her. Not so lucky for her maybe, left with a crazy, crippled husband to look after.

The screaming in the alley had stopped. The tramping of boots sounded fainter. Maybe they were moving the other way, maybe this would be a good day after all, a day he could stave off taking a morphine tablet until evening. He had intuitions about things like that.

He’d never held much truck with intuitions until the war. Now he knew better, knew to depend on them the way all soldiers did, all who survived. Intuitions told him which side the shells would come in on, when to advance under fire, and when to flop belly down on the ground. Intuitions saved him¾except when they didn’t.

He gathered the cards again, cut the deck, and glanced at the top card before he shuffled. He’d worked for the past week to turn his few card tricks into a Christmas treat for Isabelle, a treat to make her smile, maybe even clap and laugh after the dreary years of war. The glow of her anticipated delight warmed him more than the heat from the room’s charcoal brazier.

The noises in the street started again.
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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!

46 comments

  1. A P Chelopech has me hooked. I want more of this story right now. That's a knock out punch.

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  2. Both are good.
    I'll vote for Annie.

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  3. I'm usually not a fan of the erotic genre, but I like A. P. Chelopech's piece. It was really well written, and believable. Annie Corvo's wasn't bad either. I like the attention she gave to details in the scene.

    But since I have to chose one, my vote goes to A. P. Chelopech.

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  4. Interesting cross-section of genres! :-)

    A.P. Chelopech - Interesting scene of dialogue exchange. I did get distracted by the writing though. To improve this bit, you could cut extraneous adverbs, lessen the use of non-standard dialogue tags, and add more action instead. By action I mean character gestures or interacting with the environment, which in this draft doesn't seem very apparent. The scene could use with less telling as well, especially the distancing/hedging words from the narrator.

    Annie Corvo - I liked this slice of historical fiction with all the nice touches describing the era/setting. I also liked the depiction of the character's difficulties with mundane tasks after his wound. One thing, check the beginnings of paragraphs and see that you're varying language. Many start with "He" and it becomes repetitive and stilted. That's an easy fix.

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  5. I love both of these! Why do you have to pair them?! ;-) Yep, I know--random.
    So, I'll vote for Annie Corvo because I love the details and the genre.

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  6. Difficult choice. The pieces are so different. one with a lot of dialogue and one without. But, since I have to choose, I will go with A.P. Chelopech, primarily because I find myself more interested in hearing the rest of the story. Both are well done IMO

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  7. My vote is for Annie Corvo. I don't know if it was a stylistic thing, but I found myself more drawn to this story. I feel like in a small space and a short span of time, I was able to get a good grasp of the setting and the stakes.

    A.P. Chelopech's piece was very well-written. Contemporary erotica - that's a genre I can safely say I've never read, and never would have guessed it from this scene! I would watch out for adverb overuse, as there was one in each of the opening sentences.

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  8. Boy. I do feel clobbered by the pieces today... Both were so well done, and so emotionally impactful and I'd love to read more of both!
    My vote is for Annie Corvo. But only because it felt like more of a complete scene than A.P.'s piece, which I think will help it in the next round.

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  9. Wow to you both! An even match between two well-written pieces!

    My vote goes to Annie Corvo.

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  10. A P Chelopech: I liked this piece, but I think you need a few more action tags and almost no dialogue tags. They'd give us a better sense of the scene. Also, writing English dialogue spoken by a non-native English speaker is tough, you nailed it most of the time, but a few times it felt like you went into a different...idiom isn't the right word...speech pattern, more like an Asian non native speaker than Russian. I dug the story, and you get my vote.

    Annie C: This was a good story but I was too distracted by all the fragments masquerading as sentences. It took me out of the story and is honestly the reason i didn't vote for you instead. Work on that and you're well on your way.

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  11. This was a tough one to decide. I'm going with Annie Corvo because I like the fact that the action in the scene is happening now as opposed to Chelopech, which is a retelling of the past (though I understand why this visitation to the past might be relevant to his/her story). Also, I don't like it when writers use the words "proceeded to." It's wordy.

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  12. A P Chelopech's broken English bothered me.
    I vote for Jerusalem by Annie Corvo. It had tension and a good hook ending.

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  13. My vote goes to A P Chelopech.

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  14. I was confused by the opening lines of AP and the typo didn't help. Annie's piece drew me in right away. Plus, I love historical fiction.

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  15. Congrats to both for making it in. Once I read both out loud I found it harder to sway one way or the other. There are some editing errors and parts in each that drew me out of the story. A.P. Gets my vote

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  16. This one's close, but I say Annie Corvo. I like the voice better.

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  17. First time I've commented. Now I know why "Anonymous" has been able to vote so many times.

    Both are well-written and interesting. Congratulations to both. I had a hard time deciding. But my vote goes to A. P. Chelopech only because I want to hear more of the Russian woman's story.

    However, the contemporary erotica label to A. P. Chelopech's story threw me. Kept waiting for the sex. For purposes of this competition, this portion of a larger work should have had been identified as a different genre.

    Annie Corvo's character study is beautiful. But the paragraph that started, "Thank God for Isabelle," broke the flow for me as it lapsed into internal dialog. And, as someone once told me, "transitions are your friends." But, overall, very well done.

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  18. I'm going with Annie Corvo. Very well written. The first being a flashback just didn't draw me in. It's probably fine in the larger context of a story, but it doesn't carry the needed punch in a 500 word contest.

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  19. Annie Corvo for me. Very well written.

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  20. ow is the first a contemporary erotica, I wonder...
    Voting for Annie Corvo!

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  21. Annie Corvo- I liked this piece and connected with the character. Well written

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  22. I vote for Annie Corvo.

    A.P. Chelopech did a good job with voice and characterization. But I did not understand the story by the end. I understood that these things were very tramatic for the patient as a girl. I would like to have had some insight by the end of the story of why her father was taken away and the family forced to move.

    Annie Corvo, I liked the details and setting in your work. The story of Jack and Isabelle was told splendidly in such a short amount of words. Great work.

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  23. I liked both the entries today, though each one needs a bit of copy-editing. I'm voting for Annie Corvo as it seems more in line with the stated genre.

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  24. Annie Corvo. I can really see the main character.

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  25. A.P. Chelopech gets my vote today. Would love to read the rest of her story. It pulled me right in.

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  26. I vote for A. P. Chelopech.

    I liked them both a lot, I just simply preferred the flow of the writing in A.P.'s. But, I loved that last paragraph in Annie Corvo's!

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  27. A. P. Chelopech - Erotica? Did I read that wrong? The story is okay. But while normally the genre is fleshed out in 50 words, this didn't even feel hinted at in 500.

    Annie Corvo- Spot on with the genre. Good voice. Interesting topic. You have my vote.

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  28. I vote Annie Corvo. Story stands on its own, but it'd also be VERY easy to make it a longer story. The deck of cards was intriguing.

    I agree with the above comments on the AP C genre description. It seems this 500 word snippet came from a bigger story... If it didn't, the point didn't really come across.

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  29. I'm voting with A. P. CHELOPECH on this one.

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  31. My vote goes to Annie Corvo

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  32. I'm sorry that these two piece ended up against each other. I could have easily voted for them both. Since I can't, I'm going with Annie Corvo.

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  33. I enjoyed both pieces.
    My vote goes to Annie Corvo.

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  34. Both intriguing and I would continue to read with both.
    Vote goes to #2

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  35. Annie Corvo for showing not telling, although there are places for telling, especially if a piece is part of a longer work. :-)

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  36. APC's piece was intriguing, but at the end when the writer is telling how the session ended, it lapsed into broken English, like the dialogue. Threw me out of the story. (They indifferent.)

    Annie's kept the action going. And the tension.

    I vote Annie Corvo.

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  37. I vote Annie Corvo for the immediacy, character voice, and tension!

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  38. Gotta take AP Chelopech, if only because of my personal bias toward this kind of untold, yet oh-so-common historical tale. Captured the hopeless outrage well, I thought. Annie Corvo, from the votes, likely will win, and deserves to advance.

    But I'm going with AP Chelopech, in a split decision.

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  39. I am voting for Annie Corvo. It was an emotional piece.

    Ap Chelopech did not hold my interest. I think I was distracted by the attempt at a Russian accent?

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  40. My vote goes to ANNIE CORVO - Drew me in with action right away - and I was on the MC's side immediately. Good Luck!

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  41. AP - felt too doctorish for me -- didn't feel quite connected to the MC. Wanted to know more about his patient than the doctor. And I wasn't sure who the doctor is --- male, female?

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  42. I'll go with Chelopech on this round.

    A.P. Chelopech: I liked the setup of the psychiatrist counseling the patient. Because it said the genre was erotica, I somehow expected it to be a lot racier! The story told by Eva is interesting. I would maybe tone down the accent a little. It came across to me a little too cliché.

    Annie Corvo: I had trouble focusing in on the action. I originally thought it would be about the screaming in the alley. I was pretty hooked by that. Obviously, there's a war going on outside. But he's looking for a card. Why is the card significant? He's a wounded vet. He loves his wife. I don't know but I just felt like the story lacked cohesion into a single narrative, so it didn't really grab me as much as it should have.

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