WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Elimination Bout #6



Over the past five weeks forty writers have stepped into the WRiTE CLUB ring and twenty emerged victorious. We whittled our ten winners down to five in the first the elimination round (named that way because it’s the first time winners face off against one another), now its time to send home five more. Our ten winners from phase two will again be shuffled and -- like the first bouts -- randomly matched to compete against one another with their same submission. A writer who emerges victorious from this round will earn a spot in the play-offs and will be asked to submit a new 500 sample to use in the next round. Let me remind you that our competitors are not only scuffling for notoriety…recognition…a $75 Amazon gift card…but also free admission to the 2016 DFW WritersConference, who helps sponsor this contest.  




This week there will be daily bouts (M-F) between the Anonymous 500 word writing samples, submitted under a pen name by the winners of our first 10 rounds.  The writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction. Today is Elimination Bout #6.  Read each sample carefully and then leave a vote in the comment section for the one that resonates with you the most.  If you didn’t have a chance before, please leave with a brief critique of both submissions as well.

This week, voting for each bout will remain open only until noon (central time) on Sunday, June 28th. The winner of each will be posted at the WRiTECLUB scoreboard. 

Are you ready?


Here are today's randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, please welcome back to the ring……..MissWriteNow




Uglier than snot on a two-year-old. Yep, that’s Ms. Pearson all right.

“Kevin? Your essay?” she says, her left eye twitching, which is never a good sign.

“Well, you see…”

“Excuse me, Ms. Pearson?” Abby Parker interrupts from her front row seat. “Kevin must have forgotten his essay at home. I know he finished it, I helped him with his reference sheet.”

Whaaa?

Ms. Pearson’s face turns from stalker to well-if-Abby-says-so-it-must-be-true in two point three seconds. Because Abby Parker doesn’t tell big fat lies to help some jerk who snapped her bra so hard in fifth grade he thinks maybe his balls suffer permanent damage with the kick she gave. I’ve never so much as laid a finger on a girl’s bra since that day, unless the girl asked me to, which hasn’t happened yet. But I’m totally prepared for it.

I crumble against my chair, flopping Ms. Pearson’s latest forced literature on my desk. A lecture on how to Scout and Mock a Boobird, or something like that, rattles through my head then leaks out my left ear. It distracts me from coming up with one good reason why Abby saved my non-essay writing ass.

Ringing assaults my ears.

“Abby,” I yell as soon I hit the hall, chasing her not-so-natural blonde head. “Hey, Abby, wait up!”

She whips around so fast her hair smacks the hell out of my face, crashing little waves of apple shampoo across my nose. “Yes?”

“Why’d you lie for me?”

“I need a favor.”

“Like what?”

She bites her bottom lip. “An escort to the dance.”

I double over. My chest heaves and bucks and my knees are on the verge of collapsing from under me. Hell, I may pass out right here in the hallway if I don’t control myself. Can people lose consciousness from laughter? Na, probably not.

A whack upside my head silences me. “You’re a jerk, Kevin Haynes!”

“You’re serious? Like, me”—I shove my finger into my chest—“and you.” I point to her, not coming anywhere near touching her for fear I’ll collide with her bra and endure testicle removal upon her retaliation.

She looks down at her feet and when she lifts her face, I see something I’ve never seen there before. Like one of those mangy puppies that hangs on the street corner. Like maybe no one else wants to take her to the dance and I’m her last shot.

“Please?” she says, swatting her eyelashes together like in one of those old movies my grandma watches.

A few inaudible, reserved-for-up-shit-creek curses creep from my mouth. And then, “Fine. Whatever.”

She does this weird bounce thing. Her books tumble from her arms, crashing on the tile so hard everybody and their momma heard it. When she bends to scoop them up, the neckline of her shirt dips too low, exposing tan lines and a barely pink bra.

A stabbing memory lands on my crotch. “Hey, Abby, do they make formal dresses with turtlenecks?”
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And in the other corner, representing the Sci-Fi genre with 487 words, let me welcome……….Lanfear





I step quietly down the hallway of the high school, running my fingers down the row of faded blue locker doors. Sometimes I imagine which one could have been mine. I like number sixty-seven. It’s on the end, close to the water fountain and the biology lab. Science would have been my favorite subject, or maybe math. Grandpa’s always said I’m a problem solver.

I rub the dust off the tarnished number plate and keep searching.

My dusty footsteps take me past more classrooms and the propped open doors of the gym. Banners hang from the ceiling, with Go Wildcats painted across in large blue and silver letters. Most are ripped or torn apart completely, but one still hangs whole, quietly defiant as it stirs from the breeze passing through broken windows. I try to imagine the bleachers filled with students, but I’m not even sure what that many people together would look like.

As I turn a corner, a yellowed piece of paper falls to the ground from a bulletin board that is barely hanging on the wall. I stop, hold my breath, and gently lift it up. Would they notice if I take it? The warning we live by rings in my mind: Take only what we need, leave no trace, and don’t get caught. I stare at the paper, its faded black words advertising the Homecoming dance. The silhouette of a boy and girl is still visible, he in a suit and she in a ball gown, but most of the details have faded away. I carefully pin it back to the wall, noting the faded splatter of bloodstains on the peeling grey paint.

My stomach clenches at the sight. It’s time to go. We really shouldn’t have come here in the first place.

The mark of civilization holds nothing but death.

People used to call this place a ghost town, back when that was something to be proud of. Now ghosts are all it has left.

I’m almost around the next corner when I see a shadow coming from the cafeteria. It’s moving slower than it should, for a human. I press myself against the wall, my mind speeding down the hallway behind me, planning an escape route, weighing the successfulness of each path, knowing it won’t really do any good. But I’ll still fight, regardless.

I tense, waiting for the shadow to manifest into something solid. I pray it is a person, but I know where everyone else is supposed to be. My heart sinks when I hear the faint whir of gears. We were wrong. They haven’t forgotten about this place. I pull my knife from my boot, wondering if I should attack first, or save both of us the trouble and slit my own throat.

I’ve come to expect death, but I don’t make it a point to seek it out.

Something clatters down the hallway, and the shadow stops.

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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.  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!



37 comments

  1. Ooh! Tough match up this time around. But I think I'll go for Miss Write Now for the voice and the authenticity of the scene unfolding. I can feel the kid's humiliation and surprise.

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  2. Great entries!

    I'm choosing: MissWriteNow.

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  3. Lanfear for me. I feel fully invested in what's going on, and although Miss Write Now was engaging too, it just didn't pack the same punch.

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  4. My vote is for Miss Write Now this round.

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  5. My vote is for MissWriteNow. I love the voice and the humor! I do question whether this is MG or YA (YA I'm assuming?) as Kevin does read a bit young.

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  6. MissWriteNow for me.

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  7. Voting for Lanfear.

    I like the voice a lot more.

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  8. My vote: Lanfear

    More suspenseful and interesting.

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  9. I hadn't voted for either piece the first go 'round, but it was a close call with MissWriteNow, so that one gets my vote this time.

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  10. MissWriteNow for me. The dialogue really sells the voice. Lanfear's piece is good, but the set up is strangely removed for me.

    (I'm just glad to be back to vote. Last week was the pits and I didn't get to a single one. :-( )

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  11. I'll vote for Lanfear

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  12. (Eeek, it's high school day! LOL.)

    MissWriteNow - It's funnier than I remember it from before. Good job.

    Lanfear- "My dusty footsteps take me" ... I'm having trouble with how a footstep takes someone somewhere. Still, I love that ending. I really would buy this if it were a book and that were the opening page. I'd want to take it home and read the rest. So, yeah, you have my vote.

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  13. This was a tough/close call. I'm going with Lanfear. My decision took me by surprise because I don't really get into Sci-Fi. In fact, while reading the first piece, written by Miss Write Now, I was extremely caught up in the story. The voice was fresh and the dialogue took me on a nostalgic trip back to high school. There was so much in that story that I loved, but I have to comment on the classic/humorous reference to To Kill A Mockingbird. Brilliant. "A lecture on how to Scout and Mock a Boobird, rattles through my head then leaks out my left ear." You gotta love that. The dialogue was very authentic and true for the age and I was hooked.
    I did not expect a Sci-Fi piece to woo me away, but it did. Why? Again the voice, but it was the voice combined with the element of suspense and mystery. I felt the stakes. I felt apprehensive, afraid and a host of other emotions and when a story resonates with me on such an emotional level, I have to give it my vote. I just want to say for the record, again ... both pieces were extraordinary. I would buy books written by both authors. I wanted to read on and find out what happened next with each story. Great job done by both writers. My vote is for Lanfear

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  14. MissWriteNow gets my vote. This was tough because I voted for each of these in the first round.

    MissWriteNow- I'm so caught up in that voice! I actually feel like a teenage boy while reading, and I'm anything but! Also, it almost feels like this piece could stand alone. It's a great little piece that has a beginning, middle, and end. Great work!

    Lanfear- I enjoyed your piece (I voted for you in the first round). But honestly, I feel like I'm getting too much backstory. If this were a longer piece, it would be okay, but with only 500 words to share, there's too much backstory.

    Best of luck to both writers!

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  15. MissWriteNow - I like the voice and it's a good scene. My only problem is the identification of the narrator at the begining as the one who snapped the bra strap is a bit unclear the way it's stated. There's just some confusing language around there, and it could come across better if it were clear. Also, hyphenated phrases are great for voice and snark, but in this one 500 word passage there's too many. Pick only the ones with the biggest punch.

    Lanfear - Eerie abandoned school and mysterious figure, gotta love it. Strong writing and excellent descriptions. Nice!

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  16. (I voted earlier but it seems mine never got published so here goes again.)

    My favorite is Lanfear's piece. It hooked me from the first line because the setting is a strong anchor and the verb choice in the second sentence promises that this isn't a typical story, which locker "could have been mine." Right away I'm left wondering, "why didn't this character get to have a normal school experience? why is the school abandoned? is the MC even a 'person?'"

    The strength in Lanfear's piece is that through the setting, we learn characterization, the tension builds, there's foreshadowing of a greater trouble brewing and from start to finish it's polished, tight, and cohesive, including just the right details and engaging the reader's imagination.

    MissWriteNow's piece has some humor and promise but it needs polishing -there's too much backstory that takes you out of the moment and the characterization lacks depth. For example, in para six it's stronger if you cut it after "...the kick she gave." And it helps to give your readers more credit in para 17 by paring down to "I point to her, not coming anywhere near her shirt." That way the reader gets to use their imagination, which is a far more powerful image!

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  17. I vote for Lanfear. I love the tension in the scene. Only suggestion is the words "dust" and "dusty" occur too close together.

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  18. MissWriteNow gets my vote. Already left critiques on first round for these two.

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  19. Lanfear for me, even though autocorrect keeps trying to change it to 'Lancer' :)

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  20. I vote for MissWriteNow. One of my favorite pieces from this contest!

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  21. I vote for Lanfear ... it is brilliantly written and really held my attention and now I want more ...

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  22. Going with Lanfear if only because the MC can hear the faint whir of gears! It could've been something more cliche like a zombie but I like this because...well...what is it exactlt that's creeping around in the dark. On top of that, it sounds like something far more sentient than a zombie. Definately grabbed my interest.

    Again, although I think MissWriteNow was well written, I do get tired of YA being based in school settings or dealing with school in general. I know it's realistic as we spend about 60% of our lives in school when growing up, but it does get tedious after a while...probably because it's always an american school. Would be nice to read about a high school setting in another country!

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  23. MissWriteNow. Exaggerated emotion hammers at the right intensity.

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  24. This is hard, because I like both. I just read the whole week and voted on all the others, saving this for last. Seriously- nailbiter! But if I could only get one, as a book at a store, I think it'd be Lanfear. So my vote is Lanfear.

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  25. MissWriteNow had me laughing, so he/she gets my vote. The To Kill A Mockingbird bit is great!

    Lanfear left lots of questions, but in a good way. I really enjoyed this piece as well.

    It's a shame one of these writers will be eliminated in this round. They could easily go on and beat some of the other pieces I've read today.

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  26. Lanfear gets my vote.
    (I hope this gets posted. If it goes up twice. I will pull this one. Real trouble voting today!)

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  27. MissWriteNow. Amazing voice!

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