WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Bout #17


WRiTE CLUB is a writing community sensation sponsored by the DFWWriters Conference that is loosely based on the popular movie Fight Club.  There are numerous versions of this concept floating around the internet, but nothing like we do it here.  This unique approach embodies simple, good-natured competition, with lots and lots of fun sprinkled on top. 

Today we continue with the second phase of the contest which involves ten more daily bouts (M-F) over the next two weeks 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 #17.  Read each sample carefully and then leave a vote in the comment section for the one that resonates with you the most.  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 CLUBscoreboard.  Are you ready?

Here are todays randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the Contemporary genre and weighing in at 500 words, please welcome to the ring……..Commando Grace




It shouldnt be hard for a girl to remember her underpants, but I almost left mine at home again. I guess thats what I get for taking my brothers bet to go commando my entire freshman year. That, six hundred dollars, and questionable bragging rights, but none of that helps on the first day of your sophomore year when youve told your brother how his girlfriend spent the summer while he was away. I probably deserve to be stuffed in this locker. I curl my fingers around the underwear in my pocket. At least Taylor and her fiends didnt find these. When the bell rings and the halls fill again, Ill get someone to let me out. If Im really lucky, Ill have time to run to the restroom before second period.

Is it true Wakefield High has a sophomore girl on the varsity soccer team? The boy must be new if he has to ask. Is she any good? Definitely a new kid.

Coach thinks so, but her six older brothers played for himone of them still does, actuallyso he might be biased. Jake Millers voice comes muffled through the locker door.

Is she you know?

Endowed? Jake asks.

Several of them laugh. I adjust my bra strap. Useless as it might be, at least I remembered one undergarment.

Hey, whats the big funny? At Petes voice, I shove my fist, undies and all, into my mouth to keep from screaming. If only the others would go away, I could call out.

New Boy doesnt seem to have an inside voice. I was just asking if Soccer Chick is ho—”

Soccer Chick is my sister, man. Pete doesnt sound amused.

New Boys answer is lost in the worst sound I can imagine. Metal squeaks, and then comes the unmistakable click of a released lock.The door swings open. New Boy steps back, his brown eyes wide as an owls, then crouches down and looks me in the eye. He must think hes some kind of hero.

I dont know who you are or how you got into my locker…” He cocks his head to one side. But is that a leopard print thong hanging from your braces?

I twist the loose thread out of the bracket, ball up the underwear, and slap them into his outstretched hand. I dont know who you are or why you left your locker unlocked this morning, but you really could stock it with better snacks. I crawl out of the locker and get to my feet. Ill see the rest of you boys at practice.

My legs are stiff, but theyll be loose enough to kick some butt by 3:30. I stride off with as much dignity as I can muster.

Grace, your underwear! Pete calls after me, but I ignore him.

His bet, his ex-girlfriend, his soccer buddies. Let him figure out what to with my underwear. I went commando for an entire year. Whats one more day?
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And in the other corner, representing the Speculative Fiction genre with 496 words let me introduce to you……….Tyrant H.




I run to the crash site, knife drawn. It’s a Range aircraft, and the pilot pulled off a damn good emergency landing in the small clearing. The plane’s right engine is on fire, and its solitary pilot is slumped over, head against the cockpit window. I could help the fire along, and let the pilot burn up so I wouldn’t have to face my enemy, but my curiosity, and a sense of the pilot’s humanity gets the best of me. The next thing I know, I’m dragging the limp body away from the wreckage.

I drop to my knees beside the injured pilot and remove the flight helmet. A boy, about eighteen—he’s beautiful—like the pre-Raphaelite paintings I’ve seen in the recluse’s mansion. Involuntarily, I run my fingers through his black mass of wavy hair. It’s longer than mine; The Unit shaved my head when we left, and I suddenly wish I looked more feminine. He shifts and groans in pain. For a second his eyes open, and I see a flash of blue before they roll back into his head.

I will not kill him.

There’s no time to lose. Becker will get to the crash site in about twenty minutes—the smoke will give it away. I drag the pilot into the thick bamboo on the edge of the clearing. God, I hope he doesn’t make any noise.

Then I have an ingenious idea.

I tear through the jungle to the tree holding the ancient WWII fighter jet, climb up, and cut my skeleton friend, “Ace,” from his harnesses.

“Sorry, pal. You’re about to save a life.”

Ace’s skeletal head bobbles a nod of assent, and his lipless mouth almost grins as I yank him from his long time seat. Thankfully he’s not too heavy for me to make great time and place him in the Range cockpit. I check my watch. Ten minutes.

Now, I need more fire.

Like a crazy person, I climb onto the plane and find the fuel jettison valve. I can turn it on and off and get enough fuel to set the area aflame. It’s an insane idea because the already burning engine could ignite the fuel and follow its path back to the tanks. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about Becker or anything else.

I turn the knob, press both the left and right jettisoning buttons on and off, and hear the fuel whoosh. No explosion. Now the rear of the plane is wet. It only takes a second for my lighter to catch the fuel-covered area on fire. The roar of the blaze builds. Success.

It’s ridiculous that losing my skeleton friend would make me sad, but it does. I watch the flame engulf him. Light glows through the eye sockets, and I sense he his seeing me for the first time. Suddenly I’m not sad but encouraged. I’m trading his companionship for someone who will speak back. The fire devours him.

“Goodbye, Ace.”
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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.  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!

 

30 comments

  1. Command Grace - pretty much for the first line!

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  2. Let me just say, I don't care for first person present tense. BUT, when I don't notice it, then I know it's good writing. I didn't notice it on Commando Grace's piece (until I went back and reread it), so that one gets my vote. Plus, it was humorous and I wanted to read more.

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  3. Commando Grace gets my vote too. Perfectly humorous, witty, short story woven in. No dull moment. Magically, this could stand on its own as a short story. We haven't seen too many of these. I'm surprised I'm voting for a submission about underwear though.

    I liked Tyrant, but as I'm posting this, I've already forgotten what it's about! I had to scroll back up. It was mildly interesting, just didn't hook me-apparently.

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  4. Commando Grace gets my vote. Generally, Contemporary isn't my genre of choice, but this was fun.

    Tyrant H. - There's an intriguing glimpse of something painfully sweet in that second paragraph, where the protagonist studies the enemy and remembers the paintings in the recluse's home. At first I thought the protagonist was a boy wishing he looked more like the beautiful paintings, but on the reread, I'm wondering if it's a girl hoping for a romantic relationship with her enemy. Maybe add some grounding details about the protagonist and his/her world. I'd also suggest a little less explanation of the protagonist's thought processes and just let things happen. ("Then I have an ingenious idea." felt particularly over-telling). One last thing - A quick google search suggests that after a few years, the tendons and ligaments that hold a skeleton together would decompose, making it difficult at best, impossible at worst for your protagonist to transport a whole skeleton from the tree to the crash site. Then I go back to the whole recluse thing, and I think there's probably a really awesome story waiting to happen.

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  5. Commando Grace gets my vote. Loved the opening, the writing was crisp and fun.

    Tyrant H, I enjoyed your piece. This is strictly a a personal preference, but present tense narrative doesn't appeal to me in general, and there were a few phrases and storytelling devices that could be tightened, as Lisa suggested above.

    Great job!

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  6. My vote goes to Commando Grace this round. It just hooked me more. The other piece seemed a little cliche (she shouldn't save the enemy, but does anyway).

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  7. Commando Grace gets my vote. The narrative voice sounds very much like teenage girl, and it expressed emotion without actually expressing emotion.

    Tyrant H... You story being a first person narrative, I needed more to connect. I get the action, it was thrilling, and you want to root for success against time, but without more feeling, it's difficult to connect to the character. And, I'm not saying you have to state "I'm nervous" or "I feel anxious" or anything specific like that, but maybe wipe a sweat from your brow or try to steady a shaky hand.... something to show me that he was tense, nervous, excited, etc. You do this successfully in the beginning, when he passes his fingers through the enemy pilot's wavy hair... an odd action for a pilot under stress, but it speaks volumes about the pilot's longing for companionship. It's a memorable moment. :-D

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  8. Commando Grace gets my vote, though it could use some editing.

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  9. I am voting for Commando Grace, because it had some awesome moments like the thong getting stuck in her braces and her response with: “I don’t know who you are or why you left your locker unlocked this morning, but you really could stock it with better snacks.” However, the "I shove my fist, undies and all, into my mouth to keep from screaming." seemed a little bit too much. I mean, realistically, I see herself covering her mouth WITH her undies and hand, but shoving them into her mouth seems like the author was really stretching to make it funny. Nevertheless, that was truly a young girls voice and I commend the author capturing it so well.

    Like another commentator, I too forget what Tyrant was about and had to scroll back up and reread and see if I am processing the story correctly.I think the reason that happened was because there was too much telling and not enough showing. I didn't feel myself going through the motions with the character, but instead was told. And when I'm told something is happening I tend to check out (maybe that's why I wasn't the best student in school).

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  10. Both are well matched for intrigue, voice, pacing. I don't like 1st POV; all those "I" statements make the story mechanical, flat. I think Commando did a better job of keeping that complaint to a minimum, so I'll vote for her.

    Tyrant: this is a good segment of the novel, not sure if it is the beginning or a couple chapters in. Doesn't matter, it was a good opening chapter. Well done on the setting and character intro. It needs tightening, but I wasn't put off by the lack of emotion during the action. However, if you stick to the 1st POV I am sure the voice will devolve to the same mechanical narrative and internalizations that authors resort to for descriptions and emotive dialogue tags. Hate to see that happen here. Plus, if you use the male perspective also, and make his 1st POV, it will get confusing. My advice is to change POV to 3rd. Good luck with this story, it sounds intriguing so far.

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  11. Commando Grace for me. If it makes me laugh, it's in...

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  12. Commando Grace for me. I enjoyed the prose and the humour sprinkled throughout, especially the line about the snack-free locker!

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  13. Tyrant H was good. But Commando Grace left me laughing and wanting to high-five a character. So Grace, you've got my vote.

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  14. I guess I'm the only person voting for Tyrant for now, as that piece had me asking a lot more questions.

    In Commando's piece, I had a strong feeling the conversation just outside the locker was going to about the MC, and its just too convenient. It felt like a "as you know, Bob" convo; there to feed you information. On the top of that, the way the cocky last words of the MC makes me wonder why she didn't just bang on the locker door and ask to be let out anyway...

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  15. Tyrant H gets my vote! I have so many questions (good story questions) about what the protagonist is doing and what trouble is going to rain down for saving the pilot. It has a thriller/dystopian vibe to me. The imagery of the skeleton looking through those fiery eye sockets was really nice.

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  16. Both of these pieces have some issues but I vote for Commando Grace.

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  17. Like both of these pieces, but I'm going with Commando Grace.

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  18. Commando Grace gets my vote. But I'm not entirely convinced with the dialogue coming from teen boys. I'm not sure they'd say "endowed" but rather "stacked" or something catchy like that. Also, the "what's the big funny?" line didn't do it for me.

    In Tyrant's piece, there's plenty happening but it feels like telling. It was good, but matched against Commando Grace, it feel short.

    Best of luck to both writers!

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  19. Both enjoyable pieces, but #2 felt a bit forced at times
    Vote for Commando

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  20. My vote is for tyrant. I like the writing and humor of commando grace, but the piece didn't have the emotional potential of tyrant's. Good job to both talented writers.

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  21. I vote for Tyrant. I agree with S.E. Dee's comment about "as you know, Bob."

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  22. I'm voting for Commando Grace. Love the humor.

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  23. I vote for Tyrant.
    The subject matter and genres were so different that it was hard to compare them. Each had approaches appropriate for their respective genres. Tyrant, though, struck me as the author having much more skill in writing overall. The work is more polished as if the writer made a lot more careful choices through several drafts.
    The one confusion for me was how long the narrator has been in that place before this enemy plane crash. The comparison of the narrator's hair length to the enemy pilot's seems to indicate that the narrator had just arrived. The narrator's very short regulation haircut is still very short. Yet, the skeleton in the WWII plane stuck in the tree seems like a long-time "companion" for a lonely soldier stranded for a long time. A skeleton is better than nobody. The skeleton even has a name, Ace. But then there is this Becker who is expected show up at any time, and the MC doesn't want Becker to catch him saving the enemy. Maybe the MC really has been stranded a long time along, and Becker's imminent arrival has been wishful thinking all along.
    In any case, this is a complex and wonderful piece with mixed emotions portrayed well. Nothing cliche about it.
    Commando Grace has some good humor and the narrative is structured well. The tone of the dialogue is a bit too standardized. While teens have certain expressions that they share, they are still individuals and their voices should reflect that.

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  24. You know, I'm going to go ahead and vote for Tyrant, even though Commander Grade me laugh. Grace's first paragraph I found to be a bit confusing, since there was so much information given to us about the bet and her brother's girlfriend and the fact that she's in a locker.

    Tyrant's was well-written and the romantic/longing undertone I thought was really well done. I do have a question as to why the character thinks the crash site won't be investigated thoroughly, and therefore the skeleton would be analyzed (and found to be a fake) but y'know, suspension of disbelief here. I would definitely keep reading on.

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  25. Commando Grace- I loved this story. I'd happily buy more. Your voice reminds me of the late, great Ned Vizzini. You have my vote.

    Tyrant H.- There have been several entries this year that, if you were against them, I'd vote for you. The story is good, and I liked it. You just have the misfortune of being up against a story that I enjoyed more. If there was a "save week" like in August of last year, you'd probably have my vote there.

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  26. Commando Grace. I was actually sad at the limit. I want to read more.

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  27. Commando Grace for me, too.
    Tyrant, I liked yours (more than several of the others I've voted for in other rounds) but you got pitted against a tough contender. I would love to read more!

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  28. Mervyn DejecacionJune 19, 2015 at 11:15 AM

    Commando Grace. The mc's voice is spot on.

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  29. I vote for Tyrant. It is well-written, interesting, thought-provoking and leaves the reader with a lot more to speculate than Commando.

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