WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Quarterfinals Bout #3


Program Note - On Wednesdays bout I forgot to mention the genre of each submission until mid-day when I corrected it, which may have lead to some confusion about one of the entries. If you haven't already, please take a second look at those HERE and decide if you would like to change your vote. Thank you.

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.

We started off with 171 entries, from which 40 were selected, and now only six remain. Four will get the opportunity to move forward into the next week.  The voting for these quarter-final bouts will remain open until noon on Monday, July 13th at 6PM CST.  This is the final bout. Your task remains simple…read the submission below from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  Please offer a mini-critique, if you have time.  After you vote, please blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun.

Here’s something else to keep in mind for this round...every vote counts. That’s because the contestant who doesn't win their bout…but garners the most votes amongst all of the other losers…will become a wildcard winner and still advance to the semi-finals.  

The winners will be posted after 6 PM on the WRiTE CLUB Scoreboard on July 13th and then the semi-finals will kick off the very next day on Tuesday July 14th. Winners of these quarter finals will need to have their next all new 500 word submission ready to go. Now is not the time to fall asleep at the wheel. :)

Good luck to all of the WRiTER’s!

In the near corner, please welcome back to the ring with a Contemporary YA piece at 499 words -- Commado Grace




Whered you get the cancer stick?

Doesnt matter. Molly perches on the edge of the moss-covered well, a cigarette between her fingers. The sacred quiet of the ruined cottage, crumbling beneath ancient oaks, makes the distance between us worse. Her thumb fumbles over the lighters wheel. Dont you want to try things, Grace?

Not lung cancer.

The flame dies as quickly as it sparked. One smoke wont kill me.

Dont be stupid, Molly. How do you think Trevor will like kissing an ashtray? Because if you fall in that well, it will be my solemn duty as your best friend to get him to rescue you, and I know for a fact he hates smoking. Athletes have a thing for healthy lungs. I grin, even though the whole situations far from funny. I need Mollys smile back.

She shakes her head and scans the tops of the trees. Like his lips will ever touch mine.

An ugly brown mutt hurtles from the woods and catapults onto my bench. I catch his collar before he slobbers my face. Molly flips her cigarette and lighter into the well. Trevor stands inside the arched gateway, swinging a leash.

Stupid dog never listens. Chewbacca, come!

He might have mistaken a deranged Ewok for a Wookiee, but for the first time, Im glad Trevors here. Molly and I were just having a little debate. She seems to think a guy who rescued a girl from a well wouldnt appreciate a kiss for his heroics.

Grace! Thats not—”

Trevor glances from me to Molly. Are there any strings attached to this kiss?”’

My opinion of our hero depends entirely upon how sincerely he kisses back. I dont care that Im putting them both on the spot. Something has to crack Mollys gloom. If Trevor has the balls to do it, hed better make it good.

Catch! Chewbaccas leash lands at my feet.

Trevor takes a deep breath and approaches Molly. His hands resting on her slender hips, he draws her close and whispers in her ear. Her back arches as their lips meet. Theyre so into this kiss, hes got to be tasting her stomach acid. Its weird and grossworse than my brother making out with his girlfriend. I cant watch.

My toes look like dirty vienna sausages peeping out of the plaster cast. The nail polish is chipping. Molly can touch it up later. Shell need some time to gush, anyway. I guess kissing Trevor Langston is better than puffing a cancer stick.

Trevors hand brushes mine as he grips Chewbaccas collar. He glances at Molly, sitting on the wells edge with a faint smile on her angelic, blushing face.

She needs you, Grace. Be good to her.  As he bends to fasten the leash, our eyes meet. And dont ever think I wont call your bluff.

Chewbaccas fat tongue slaps my eye. Trevor tugs the leash, his mouth set in a deep frown. Come, boy. I dont think Grace kisses back.

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And in the far corner, making their own return to the ring in the Contemporary genre with 500 words -- Eleanor McInnes.





While I was walking through the grocery store, I was sure everyone I passed could tell what was happening today. While my rational mind knew there was no way this was possible, the completely irrational center of my brain said that the bullet holes bleeding fifteen years of devotion to a man who would leave me for a bitch half his age told them everything they needed to know. The flashing neon sign over my head that said, “The divorce is final today!” would draw more attention than the 99 cent eggs or the half price on dog food.

Speaking of dog food, I found myself looking at the dog food with new interest. Rick berated me for buying too much for “that damn mutt.” Even though we’ve been apart for months, I had still been subjecting Hotsy to the same cheap food Rick had insisted I buy.

Well, no more! Today was a new day. I found the expensive cans that didn’t say ‘beef,’ but instead said ‘cuts of tenderloin.’ Oh, yes, this was a very new day, for Hotsy and for me.

Next I got a jar of herring. I had developed a love of herring in college. Ramen noodles and herring got me through four years that I used to think was hell. Now I knew where hell was, but I wasn’t a resident anymore. I think I relocated just over the border.

Once I had a Rick-free basket loaded to bursting with such previously-forbidden treasures as scented laundry detergent and raspberry chocolate truffle coffee, I checked out. I was only slightly less aware of the neon sign still hanging above my head, but went through the self-check line to avoid a clerk noticing. Ok, maybe the sign wasn’t real, but the tear-stains were.

I paid for my treasures, got them out to the parking lot, and loaded them without drawing attention. I sat in my car for a few minutes just watching the world go on with its day without me. The rest of the world was normal, but I was just one step out of time with them. Like a freed prisoner who is trying to figure out how to fit back into a society, I was at the same time alien and normal.

That night Hotsy and I enjoyed a Rick-free meal of all the things he would have hated.

“I hope Miss Boobs likes bland, but we are never eating bland again,” I said to Hotsy as he sat beside my chair. He wagged his tail in support.

“Oh, Hotsy, I’m so glad I have you,” I reached down and rubbed his head.

Hotsy began to convulse and hack before he threw up his gourmet meal on my shoe.

At first I was too stunned to move, but then I laughed and threw away the ugly shoes Rick had bought. After I cleaned up the floor, I held Hotsy and sat with my back to the dishwasher.

“Thanks. I had forgotten about those.”

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No, the choice is not easy...but if it were, this wouldn't be WRiTE CLUB...where the audience gets clobbered!

27 comments

  1. DL- "Your current account does not have access to view this page." (second look at those HERE) -- the "here" isn't working.
    Wondering how the playoff round 3 and the 4-way battle turned out.

    Commado Grace- (Commando?) - Chewbacca! OMG you're flirting with my fandom. And that ending... you're just toying with me here. I'm hoping that this turns into a book.

    Eleanor McInnes- There are some excessively long sentences here. The concept is good, and it works alright as a 500 word story.

    Certainly a dog-fight here. A dog-eat-dog duel! Ha ha ha. Okay, enough puns, my vote goes to Grace.

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  2. Alright: we have two tales about manipulation here. In Commando Grace's piece we celebrate a young manipulator. Of course she thinks she is "helping" her friend (as all manipulators do) but her ulterior motives are obvious. In Eleanor McInnes's piece, we see the aftermath of a marriage-worth of manipulation. Personally, I like the story of the woman finding herself better than the story of the budding manipulator.
    As for the writing: CG's is superior to EM's. But I like EM's story, so my vote goes to Eleanor McInnis.

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    Replies
    1. "As for the writing: CG's is superior to EM's. But I like EM's story, so my vote goes to Eleanor McInnis."

      There are no new stories under the sun. The human condition with all of its joys and pain, is experienced by people everywhere in every culture. Given that this is a writing contest, how skillfully a writer executes the story matters.

      Delete
  3. I vote for Commando Grace.

    I like the way the story handles the tension between the need to look out for a hurting friend and the need to treat a friend like a capable person when some bad choices by the troubled friend may be about to happen. One small thing to consider: I would mention some gesture by Molly before writing “Grace! That’s not—” We need some signal that it's Molly speaking, not Trevor, which does not become apparent until later.

    Eleanor, the piece needs a lot of work in focus and economy of language. I liked the line: Now I knew where hell was, but I wasn’t a resident anymore.

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  4. Best of luck.
    My choice: Commando Grace.

    Heather

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  5. I vote Commando Grace. It feels like there's a lot going on with these characters, and I'd love to spend more time with them.

    As mentioned in previous comments, Eleanor has some excessively long sentences and could use more focus. It sort of felt like a lot of telling. Also, as a matter of a personal preference, I don't like grocery shopping in real life, so reading about someone else grocery shopping... meh. I did like the dog barfing on the shoes, though. She should have weaned him gradually off the cheap stuff.

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  6. Vote for Eleanor, but boy was this a tough one. I read them both, went back to bed, and thought about them before I got up an re-read them and voted. The only thing they have in common are they are both in English and both have a dog.

    I like the Commando Grace piece, but then I kept thinking I had read it before. After going back and re-reading her previous entries I realize I had. This is very much like her earlier entry with the same characters. I realize this is from the same larger work, but they end the same way with the same character having the last line.

    So, is there any hope for the self-destructive Molly and the dude both friends want? Or are we reading the death of a friendship over the guy? Either way I didn't enjoy this as much as Commando Grace's earlier work. As an earlier commenter said, it reads like the birth of a manipulator.

    As for Eleanor's piece, I read a lot of chick lit and I like the woman rebuilding her life theme. I like how we are led through her experience shopping for a new life. This could have been a very bitter piece, but was laced with humor and hope. I really want this lady to be better off for her experiences in the end. There was a lot of wordiness, but I attributed that to the train of thought we were following. Still, it needs to be tightened... a lot.



    ReplyDelete
  7. My vote goes to Commando Grace. The Vienna sausage line was great! I enjoyed your descriptions very much.

    Eleanor, I enjoyed your piece. Many of your sentences are too long. Sometimes, not always, a paragraph reads better with a short sentence up front, followed by one or two longs, ending with another short. This is mostly how I try to write and then change as I see fit. I liked your character and her journey!

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  8. My vote goes to Commando Grace
    I think the author captured the voice of young people very well; the writing was spare and tight. "I need Molly's smile back," captures the essence of friendship. I'm not sure how many younger readers will understand the Vienna sausages reference. Strikes me as more of a Sr. Citizen thing.
    Eleanor's piece felt wordy and repetitious. The flashback to college herring and describing loading the groceries in the car didn't move the story sufficiently for the words spent.

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  9. This is a hard mostly because I'm trying to stay neutral after the whole deal with Eleanor McInnes, but I feel like Camando Grace's is a bit cliche and I'm not really emotionally tied in although the writing is good. Eleanor's isn't maybe quite as clean but I like the emotion behind it and was drawn in right away.

    Eleanor McInnes gets my vote.

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  10. Commando Grace for me today, since I felt like there was a story in there/conflict.

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  11. Commando Grace! While I liked the voice Eleanor had, I liked the plot and character interaction Grace showed.

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  12. Reading the earlier comments... manipulating a guy to kiss a girl, or a girl to let herself be kissed by a guy she likes instead of crawling into a shy shell and starting destructive behavior. Well, okay, I've done that. Guess I never knew I was a master manipulator before. Explains much about my life. Which means that story is totally relatable for me. I haven't had to kill an abusive monster to get out of a bad relationship though. Threaten and injure a bit, sure, but haven't gone psycho and murdered. And while being in that character's head was okay, it wasn't as fun as being in Grace's.

    So I say rock on, Commando Grace. ★ I vote CG ☆

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  13. The Eleanor piece feels more telling than showing. If you are going to take us to a place as ordinary as a grocery store, it would have been better to show us where your character was, rather than telling. Note how the competing piece showed the reader the scene, rather than telling. That aside, I am not a fan of the step-by-step shopping trip; it was quite dry.

    There's some repetition that really bogs the piece down, along with too many long sentences, and watch the use of a comma before a conjunction.

    The Commando Grace piece is nicely done with better characterization and tighter writing all around. It's clear to me why this person is this far into the contest.

    My vote is for Commando Grace.

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  14. Both are well thought out scenes. Loved the sentiment of each piece. Well done on the new segments.

    I'll vote for Grace this time. The writing is a bit tighter.

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  15. Both pieces had subjects that interested me. Commando Grace's story was more streamlined in the writing, so my vote is for Commando Grace.

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  16. Eleanor's entry makes a good attempt at presenting the turmoil in the character's mind and the irrational thoughts that can come at such a time. When presenting irrationality, however, a writer should not mix metaphors, even when the character's mind is all over the place. Is it bullet holes, or is it a neon sign? Either one would effectively draw attention. With both images in the first paragraph, the reader's attention is divided, and the writing loses focus.

    In CG's entry, which is better focused overall, I really like the dog's name, Chewbacca, in connection with the fuss over the cigarettes.

    I vote for Commando Grace.

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  17. I vote for Commando Grace. It's simply a better, more artistically written piece, with better depth of character and plot.

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  18. My vote is for Eleanor. I thought the illogical thoughts bouncing around would be how I would feel in the situation. I just didn't care for the characters or dialogue in Grace's. Not off to a good start for me.

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  19. Two pieces with cute mutts -- not fair! However, I vote for Commando Grace, for the spare, lyrical writing and development of the bond between two (or maybe three) good friends.

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  20. I vote for Commando Grace. Better writing and a smooth plotline.

    In Eleanor's piece there is a great gem of a line that I thought was going to be a significant turning point. It's a very sympathetic line that made me feel that character's deep hurt and anguish far more than the understandable, but more or less knee-jerk, and shallow spit-in-your-eye responses up to that point:

    “Oh, Hotsy, I’m so glad I have you,” I reached down and rubbed his head.

    It really is a very touching line. It says a lot more than the assertions about a neon sign or bullet holes or even the tear streaks the character hopes no one will notice. I kind of wish the story had not reverted to a strike-back frame of mind with the puke on the shoes, even though you can't blame someone who feels crushed for getting satisfaction from an incident like that. Just in terms of character development, I think the story would be richer if the character had found her way to higher ground even though the journey there can be so painful.

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