This is it...the last week of preliminary bouts and a chance for some of you to finally find out if your writing sample was picked out of the one-hundred seventy one submitted this year. Needless to say, even those who are unable to claim victory in their match have nothing to hang their head about -- just getting into the ring was a feat in and of itself.
And kudo's to everyone who have helped drive interest in WRiTE CLUB these first two weeks. Week 1 bouts averaged 67 votes/comments (a new record) and a total of 3400+ views. WAY TO GO!! All of the winners have been posted on the WRiTE CLUB Scorecard and I'll continue to update it as we move through the contest. Unfortunately, voting has dropped off significantly during the second week, but there is still time to do something about that. Here's where I remind everyone that voting for every bout remains live for one week, so lets do everything we can to see that our 2nd week writers get the same amount of attention as the first.
For you newbies - here's a reminder of how this works. This is the 3rd and final week of daily 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. At stake is a chance to win free admission to the 2017 DFW Writers Conference and some bragging rights.
The voting for this bout - Bout #11 - remains open until noon on Sunday - March 27th.
That'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 Adult Science Fiction genre with 500 words, welcome to the ring Helveticaw.
Lucy watched Fritz in the bathroom mirror, while she washed her hands with the unscented soap he'd provided. He sat on the bed, hands folded, perfectly still in his grey suit, neatly buttoned and arranged. He'd arrived, as usual, thirty minutes before the time they'd agreed upon.
When he was perfectly still, he could pass for human.
Lucy checked for blemishes. She had no new ones, but her upper lip still bore the red mark where her most recent cold sore had blossomed, scabbed over, and healed. Nothing she could do to hide that: there was no makeup any more. She pinched her cheeks to put some colour in them, and made sure that her eyebrows didn't need plucking. A few grey witch hairs stuck out against her auburn bob. There was a time when she would have removed them. No matter. The audience for her lecture on human romantic love (the text: Pride and Prejudice) would be far more concerned with her scent, than her appearance.
She risked another glance at Fritz. He gazed into the middle distance, apparently absorbed in the task of waiting, or maybe off in the collective mindspace of his people. She reached for the deodorant she'd kept hidden under a towel--a plain white plastic tube, the original label gone. There was only a hand-lettered sticker that said "Ladies." She removed the cap.
A grey blur passed behind her in the mirror, and Fritz stood beside her.
"You can't use that," he said, taking it from her and capping it. "The scent harms us."
As he spoke, Fritz's face drooped on the right side, as if he were having a stroke. A ripple ran under the skin, restoring his appearance. As she'd done many times before, Lucy tried to read the underlying structure beneath Fritz's human drag. Insect? Reptile? Tentacle monster?
Whatever was under there, it was sensitive to all kinds of things, especially artificial scents. She'd traded three oranges for that tube of deodorant. As much as she longed to wear it, to feel clean for longer than it took her to break a sweat, she'd never meant to keep it.
"What does it do to you?" she asked. Fritz's reactions to stimuli were complex and unpredictable.
"It's like an electric shock," he said. The corner of his mouth slid down. "I told you before, if you need something, I will bring it."
Her skin crawled. Standing this close to Fritz always made her want to run or fight, the need for violent movement rising up like a fierce song from deep within. Instead, what happened was a kind of paralysis. Her limbs grew stiff, her knees locked, and she struggled to speak. It wasn't just her: the freeze was a known visceral response to Fritz's people.
The deodorant was strategic. She'd hoped that it would knock out his system, giving her a brief window to unfreeze, long enough to make a request.
"I do need something."
"Yes?" His cheek rippled.
And in the far corner, representing the YA Fantasy genre with 477 words, also welcome to the ring Omi Igbo.
I’m poor. That’s the first thing you should know about me.
Poor. Poor. Poor.
I also like the number three. It’s not an asshole like six, and it’s not as stupid as five, and don’t even get me started on anything greater than twenty. Three minds its own business and doesn’t kill people and helps keep me calm which is exactly what I need since I have to work for a hairy slug like Bonzo.
Bonzo. Bonzo. Bonzo.
I’m a girl if you haven’t figured it out yet. My name’s Zahara. I’ve been living on The Last Mile ever since my mothers died in a fire Unspeakable years ago when I was only Unspeakable. Unspeakable comes before nine and after seven and it’s the worst number of them all.
They call it The Last Mile because that’s how the ships are grouped, by miles, and ours is at the very back. All the orphans are sent here because it’s the cheapest place to live. Every morning we wake up to the aroma of crap floating in the water. And by “crap” I don’t mean just anything. I’m talking about poop, feces, excrement. There are thirty miles of ships ahead of us carrying thousands of people and their waste has to go somewhere. It was probably some First Miler’s idea. I can picture him now, sitting at the front of the Fleet in a three piece suit with a cigar in his mouth and a walleye on his plate. “Let’s dump it all next to the orphans,” he says with a yawn. “They don’t have noses, do they?”
I’d love to introduce his kneecaps to my frying pan.
Frying pan. Frying pan. Frying pan.
I’ll use my frying pan today, as I do every day, working for Bonzo. And it’s my frying pan, not his or anyone else’s. I saved up five stupid months for it. Bonzo contaminates everything he touches and I prefer to cook my catfish with my own germ-free equipment, thanks.
Let me tell you about Bonzo. He owns a restaurant at the back of the Fleet called The Last Chance Diner, but all the orphans know it as the Cholera Kitchen. If you eat at the Kitchen once, your odds of getting sick are only about fifty-fifty, but if you come every day for a week straight, you’re practically guaranteed to be losing buckets of water from both ends, if you know what I mean.
Buckets. Buckets. Buckets.
I just woke up, and it’s already a terrible day. I share a room with Percy. She’s the same age as me, and she’s my best friend, but I don’t want to marry her. It’s not like that. Percy left on time and got to work on time, and she never has Bonzo breathing down her neck because she always does what she’s supposed to do.___________________________________________________________________________________
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.
Enjoy the rest of your week, but not before you tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well. Tweet about it, and if you do please use the hashtag #WRiTECLUB2016. Tell everyone about WRiTE CLUB, where it’s not about the last man/woman standing, but who knocks the audience out!