WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Bout #20


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 is the last bout in the second phase of the contest -- which involved ten daily bouts (M-F) over the last two weeks between Anonymous 500 word writing samples, submitted under a pen name. For the 171 entries that were submitted, this is the last chance to find out if they'd have the opportunity to take part. For those of you not chosen this year, I'm sorry, but the voting for the top 40 was EXTREMELY tight, so please try again next year.

As a reminder, the writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction. Today is Bout #20.  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 Fantasy genre and weighing in at 500 words, please welcome to the ring……..Seraphina





Peeling back the viny curtain that hid the cave mouth, Asha heard the passionate moans of a human man–a young one if she guessed right. She knelt and ran her fingers over a fine grey velvet cloak, trimmed in white fur. Asha folded it across her arm and continued inside.
           
The moaning echoed off the cave walls. Asha covered her ears. These were sounds that should be shared between lovers–not bellowed out to all within earshot. Human hearing was nowhere near as keen as Skryven, but Asha still worried that what was going on might be heard outside.
           
After awhile the moaning stopped. Neela and Kala would be sated now. A pang of guilt stabbed at her. Could she have stopped them? She remembered the times she'd seen them at it before. It would not have been easy, and then what? Their sick lust would return and they'd find another...then another, then another.
           
Asha sat on her blanket and unwound the cord of the satchel. Inside were the usual belongings of a traveler: a flask of wine, a coin pouch.

She heard shuffling coming from behind, but did not look up.
           
"Have you any food, sister?" Kala asked, sounding pitiful.
           
Asha rolled her eyes. She got up and stomped over to the old barrel where she stashed her things, came back and dropped her bag of berries at Kala's feet, then sat back down.
           
Kala snatched up the bag and upended it into her mouth. She sat down on her mat, chomping and smacking like a goat. Asha watched her with narrow eyes.
           
“You should think on us a little kinder, sister,” said Kala, tossing the mostly empty bag back.

Asha said nothing. She'd had this conversation many times before. Leaving home had been Kala and Neela's plan, yet somehow Asha was always made to feel as if she were to blame.
           
Kala's hands shook as she brushed her tangled hair away from her face. “We could have left you there.”
           
“I wish you had.”
           
Kala crawled to Asha's side, dirt from the cave floor sticking to her sweaty legs. Asha saw blood mingled with the sweat, saw the scratches that made the blood. Kala stroked Asha's hair, her voice raspy yet touched with something that approximated familial love. “Ashalina, you know not what you say.”
           
Asha sat still as a stone, repulsed by the odor of Kala's unwashed body.
           
"There now, all will be fine, won't it?" said Kala, smiling.
           
It was the smile that Asha hated the most–feared the most. The sated smile. That dreamy, happy, heavy-lidded smile that always tried to convince her that what had been done was right and for the best because it kept her sisters from suffering. It tried to make her believe that dead human men didn't matter.
           
Once, that smile had held Asha captive, fastened to the chains of family, of despair. Now she looked at it and saw only the remnants of dried berries between Kala's teeth.
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And in the other corner, representing the Epic Fantasy genre with 460words let me introduce to you……….Kim Patterson




On the twenty-first day of his life, a baby boy wakes crying in the middle of the night. This is normal—he has woken every night of his so far short life, waving his tiny little fists, wailing at the top of his lungs, and demanding to be fed, or perhaps changed. And every night for the last twenty-one, his mother has woken upon hearing his cry, and has fed him or changed him, or whatever it seems he requires at that particular time of that particular night.
Tonight is different.
The boy wakes, as usual, and wails for his mother, wanting to be fed. He waves his little fists and cries until someone hears him. But it is his father who wakes and his father who attends him. And it is his father who notices, in the dim light that saturates the nursery, the boy’s tiny tuft of blond hair… or what should have been his tiny tuft of blond hair.
For a moment, the father wonders if it is normal? Is a baby’s hair colour supposed to change in their first few weeks of life? The father has not read the baby books; he does not know how it is supposed to work. He remembers hearing somewhere that a baby’s eyes often change colour after birth. Does hair do the same thing?
He wonders all this for a good reason: his baby boy’s blond tuft of hair has turned pure white. Is his boy abnormal? Is something wrong with him?
But no, the father reassures himself. He hasn’t spent much time around his son yet; the boy prefers his mother’s arms. Perhaps it has always been white, and he only thought it blond from a distance. Or perhaps a baby’s hair is like its eyes, and changes colour soon after birth. His son is not abnormal. He will grow into a healthy young man fit to take up the mantle he has been born into, for this baby boy is the Crown Prince of Erminia, born to the newlywed King Guilherme and Queen Mariana, and the King and Queen must not be found to have abnormal genes within their family.
But they didn’t produce an abnormal son, and the father knows it deep in his heart. His son’s abnormality will not be due to his genes; it will be a result of something much, much worse.
As the father replaces his son in the crib, he stares down at the white tuft of hair—it was always white, he tells himself, but doubt is creeping up behind him, a shadow that hovers over him for the next twenty-eight years—and he knows that the fate that befalls his son, and eventually the entire land, is his own fault. 
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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.  

Next week will bring a second round of elimination bouts before we head into the play-offs.

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

 

24 comments

  1. Ooh, Kim Patterson, definitely.

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  2. My vote to Kim Patterson as well. I'm intrigued.
    The language in Seraphina didn't ring true to me.

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  3. Kim Patterson has me hooked. I really want to read more. The other piece didn't get me at all in either writing or subject, but that may just be my personal taste.

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  4. This is a really tough decision today, because I honestly wasn't hooked by either. In the first piece, I had trouble connecting to Asha, who should really be a sympathetic character because of the difficult situation she's in. But I feel that we were just observing her observing others. In the second piece, I felt this was a lot of backstory/exposition when it really should be full of action and anxiety, and it's also all telling, not showing. I'm not sure if the writer would consider also changing the tense; is there a reason for present tense in the scheme of the story?

    Today my vote goes to Seraphina because I think there's more potential there.

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  5. Have to go with Kim Patterson today.
    Seraphina's piece just felt kindof disjointed, and like someone else mentioned, I wanted to be more sympathetic to Asha but I just didn't get there.

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  6. two excellent entries, but I have to give the nod to Kim Patterson. I did feel empathy for the other MC but overall didn't feel as invested in her dilemma

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  7. I am not drawn to either story. Of course, it could be the genre. Both are fantasy, which is not my favorite (and maybe this is why?). Since I could picture the first story better in my head, and the second story is noticeably in present tense and then jumps ahead 28 years, Seraphina gets my vote.

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  8. Hmmm... I was kind of turned off by Seraphina's, but I didn't feel especially close to Kim's either. I think the POV kept me at a distance in Kim's, but my vote goes there this round.

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  9. Seraphina had stronger writing, but as a matter of personal taste, it wasn't a story I'd want to read.

    Kim Patterson was repetitive in places, needs some editing, and feels more like a prologue than a story. That said, it's a story I would read.

    Kim Patterson gets my vote.

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  10. I was hit harder by Seraphina's. Word choice made voice, tone, and the sisters' characterization pop.

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  11. My vote is for Kim Patterson. I'm intrigued by the family's interesting beliefs and would definitely keep reading!

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  12. Kim Patterson. Very intriguing, makes me want to read more.

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  13. I vote for Seraphina. I thought the writer did a good job of providing the conflict between Asha and her sisters. It was a bit confusing in the beginning, so if this is the start of a story, then I'd suggest working on making it more clear. But overall I liked it and I thought the premise was intriguing.

    For Kim Patterson's piece, it definitely raised my curiosity as to what this defect would be about. I thought it did a good job of portraying the father's concern and denial about the changes in his son. It would be even better if it didn't use so many rhetorical questions in it, and I really did not care for the present tense. But another interesting premise!

    Congrats to both authors!

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  14. I'm so disheartened that these were the last two stories chosen. I didn't like either of these. There haven't been any stories so far that I absolutely liked zero about- until now.

    Seraphina- Is this futuristic? Why are they living in a cave? Are they a different breed of human? Sirens that can live outside of water and seduce men to kill them? If they aren't, I have NO idea how her sister got the man there if she stank and didn't keep on up hygiene.

    Kim Patterson- I've never read anything in present tense. Now I know why. It's really hard to connect to the characters. And why didn't the mother get the baby? Is she dead? I was more intrigued on where she was than what became of the infants hair.

    I'll vote for Kim Patterson because I hated it the least.

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  15. Kim Patterson's gets my vote. I was drawn in by the tension of not knowing why the mother didn't go to her baby and why his hair changed color. Interesting voice, too.

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  16. Seraphina- I'm not especially drawn in or connected to the characters. I'm not sure what I'm to care about, exactly, and I don't know that I'm inclined to find out what happens next.

    Kim Patterson- Oooh, intrigue! I want to know what happens next. I'm captured, and thus, you have my vote.

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  17. Seraphina's writing is lyrical--- am so intrigued by Asha's world!

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  18. Thank you for sharing your work with us!

    I'm choosing: Seraphina.

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  19. Voting for Kim Patterson.

    I'm more drawn to the character. But I think the whole first paragraph should be dropped. What point is there in going into that much detail about what is typical, since it's typical of newborns to cry and fuss when they're hungry and typical for it to be the mother who tends to them. Then when the father gets up to tend to the baby (paragraph 3) we are told AGAIN that the baby "waves his little fists" and demands to be fed. The transition sentence "Tonight is different" between the 1st and 3rd paragraph is completely superfluous. That's obvious when we see the father go to the baby. The dispensable sentence definitely does not earn the special emphasis that being a stand-alone grants it. So there are a lot of wasted words in the beginning. Once we get past that, though, the writing improves.

    The situation in Seraphina is intriguing. The style, though, complete with the cliche gesture of eye-rolling as a sign of exasperation, has too commonplace a YA sort of tone.

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