It's finally time to lace up those gloves and put up some dukes!
After months of preparation and anticipation, today we take the first step towards choosing the 2016 WRiTE CLUB Champion. Over the course of the next three weeks this blog will host 15 bouts (M-F) between writing samples that are identified only by the craftily selected pen names of the respective submitters. The writing can be from any genre, any age group, taken either from a larger piece of work or simply a stand alone flash fiction. The focus is on the writing...not the writer...or its categorization. The two writing samples for each bout will be randomly matched and step into the ring for a chance to find out what they're made of.
The winner of each contest is chosen by you...the reader. Simply read each entry and leave your vote in the comment section below. Anyone can vote, as long as you have a Google ID or belong to Google Friend Connect. Anonymous voting is not allowed. It is also customary to leave a brief critique of both pieces. You see, the comments are where the true value of this contest makes itself known. Not only do the contestants gain valuable insight about their work from those remarks, but everybody can benefit from how each piece is received and what works...and what doesn't. Please remember to remain respectful with your comments. If you see an opportunity for improvement, make it known in the most positive way possible.
How do you choose a winner? What criteria should be used? The method by which you determine who to vote for is entirely up to you. Which one resonates with you the most? Which one makes you want to read more? Which one demonstrates a total command of the English language and how it can be used to elicit emotion or paint a mental picture you can't stop staring at. There is no hard and fast way rules for determining a winner -- and that's exactly what the publishing world is like. But today you get to decide.
The voting for each bout will remain open for one week, so even though a new bout will be posted every day, you don't miss out on anything if you miss a few days. You can always catch up on several bouts at once if you so desire. Once the voting period ends and the votes have been tabulated, the results will be posted HERE, on the WRiTE CLUB scorecard. After we make it through the 15 preliminary bouts, then the winners will have to continue on through cage matches, then play-offs, until there are only two left with a chance to win free admission to the 2017 DFW Writers Conference.
The voting for this bout - Bout #1 - remains open until noon on Sunday - March 13th.
You hear that? It's the bell...and its trying to tell us something.
Let me introduce to you the contestants for this bout. In the near corner, representing the Paranormal Historical genre with 500 words, welcome to the ring Marie de France.
Some say the woodcutter’s daughter met the wolf by chance, on the way to her grandmother’s house. Not so. The truth is that the woodcutter had long suspected that his mother-in-law was really a Bisclavret.
To test the old woman, he sent his little girl, dressed in her red cape and carrying a basket of little seed-cakes, to visit her grandma. It was like baiting a trap with a rabbit. The father sharpened his axe and waited outside Grandmother’s window, hoping the demon would manifest itself.
It did. Flinging off its nightgown and cap (that is to say, every shred of humanity), the Bisclavret threw itself on the woodcutter’s daughter. The woodcutter leapt through the window, swinging his axe, which has been provided with a blade of silver. He clove the Bisclavret asunder, and to his astonishment the human part of the grandmother sprang free, cleansed of all sin and every evil intent.
The girl was too young to grasp what she was seeing. She thought her grandmother had been swallowed whole, and then hacked out of the wolf’s stomach. Her father was content to let the girl tell the story that way. The truth would have been too hard to swallow.
So—happy ending! Grandmother, wholesome and harmless now, could not even remember her nights spent roaming the forest, howling at the moon.
But in the instant before the axe fell, the Bisclavret’s fangs had pierced the little girl’s shoulder—not deeply, not enough to draw blood or require a bandage. The shoulder itched a little, that was all.
It can take almost a year before the contagion of the Bisclavret works its way completely through the victim’s veins.
Chapter 1. The Wolf Hunt
“Ach! Granny! That can’t be the ending!” Marthe cries.
“That’s as far as the story goes.”
“Then tell us another. It’s too early for bed.”
Marthe’s granny, sitting next to the fire with her back against the warm hearth wall, narrows her eyes at the children lined up on the bench before her. The five of them nestle together like peas in a pod, biggest to smallest, and Marthe’s in the middle.
“I’ll give you something better than a story,” Granny Cutter says. “The truth. If you can bear it.”
“Yes! Yes!” Marthe knows—they all know—that Mother and Father wouldn’t approve. But Mother and Father have journeyed to the harvest market.
“Well.” Granny looks doubtful. Half her face is lit fire red, and half is all shadow, so she looks as
if she’s winking. “Don’t blame me if it makes you shiver.”
Marthe wriggles with anticipation. She’s seven, and fearless. Besides, the house will keep her warm. A big fire is one thing a woodcutter’s family need never stint on.
And in the far corner, representing the LitFic genre with 424 words, also welcome to the ring Zom.
Jenny checked her phone as she passed through the narrow lobby of Simon’s apartment building: 3:46 AM.
It hadn’t felt like a conscious decision to leave. Cocooned beneath the duvet, the idea had arisen as a dream-like possibility, as a right thing to do, a cutting of losses. Then her feet had been on the ground and she had discovered herself sifting the detritus of the bedroom floor for her clothes. She seemed to know what she was doing, was too dazed to argue with herself. She paused a moment to listen for the susurrus of breath coming from the other side of the bed. It continued uninterrupted.
Now, out on the street, the silence and the chill night air were helping keep reality at bay. A childhood memory passed through her mind, of bitterly cold mornings back on the farm and air that could cut your face like a razor. The city air was made of much softer stuff; it cupped her face like a lover with cold hands.
Following the pavement, moving through pools of streetlight and tree shadow, she clung to this detachment, holding her mind as still as possible lest the slightest movement set it off like a clockwork toy. This languid sense of warmth and contentment, she knew, would not survive examination. She didn’t want to think about that now. At least the lingering alcohol in her bloodstream had yet to turn traitor, no symptoms of incipient hangover beyond the numbness in her head. If anything, it was helping her cause.
As she walked, she let the scenes replay in her mind, reawakening a tremor in her loins that was part imagination, part muscle memory.
A girl alone in the night. The neighbourhood was not a dangerous one as such; the walk from Simon’s apartment back to her own no more than a kilometre or so, a quarter-hour at most. A monochrome world broken only by the red eye of a traffic light. She looked about for the surveillance cameras, her friends in this deserted streetscape. None were visible, but they must be there. Fear would have been a safe emotion, but she couldn’t bring herself to feel it.
The afternoon sky had threatened rain. Here in the darkness of night it was hard to tell, but the ground was not noticeably wet. The rain, if it had fallen at all, must have been brief. Above her the sky was a starless glow.
She hurried on. A conscious sleepwalker, walking home alone through empty streets, one shadow among many.
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. Read both pieces, choose the one you feel is superior, then say so in the comments below and provide a mini-critique for each.
Now go tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well. If you're going to Tweet about this, please use the hashtag #WRiTECLUB2016. Tell them about WRiTE CLUB, where it’s not about the last man/woman standing, but who knocks the audience out!