WRiTE CLUB 2016 - Bout #12



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 #12 - remains open until noon on Monday - March 28th.

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 xAdult Science Fiction  genre with 490 words, welcome to the ring Jean Rabender.




Queen Cleopatra’s eyes widened.  She lifted herself from the delicate dais and reached out to touch the ‘Golden Honor’ Benedict held in his hand.  “Fit for a queen,” he told her, relishing that he held it just beyond her grasp, “but meant only for a leader.”

Her eyes flashed in momentary anger.  She lunged the remaining inches to snatch it from his hands.  The time-traveler doubted she’d ever seen anything resembling clear plastic packaging before.  And he damn well knew she’d never tasted anything like the spongy, cream-filled contents within.

“You have to unwrap it,” he said, leaning forward to help, marveling that his modern common fingers might brush those of a legend.  “Go on.  Take a bite.  It’s filled with trans fats.”  Benedict stretched out the words ‘trans’ and ‘fats’ so that they lingered on the tongue, a syllabic smorgasbord of decadence for the inexperienced, yet pecunious, palate.

Queen Cleopatra lifted the cake hesitantly to her lips.  He watched her weigh the benefits of having a handmaiden try the suspicious treat first before deciding the risk of devaluing something rare was too great.  She bit off the end of the Twinkie ® with a rapidity that would make any male consort shudder, and as she chewed her heavily painted lids widened even further.  Two more bites and the black makeup above her eyes danced enough to draw their own second set of lines.  

Cleopatra licked her painted nails cleans. She regarded the time-traveler evenly for a moment.  Then she reached out like lightning and grabbed his collar to yank him close.  “You will bring me more just like this,” she threatened.

And now he had the upper hand, just as he had with his Ding Dongs ® and Napoleon, his Double Stuf Oreos ® and Charlemagne, his McDonald's Apple Dippers ® and the morbidly overweight King Louis XIV, who had ironically begged for the fast food chain’s healthy alternative to french fries until he’d come to tears, punching fists into pillows in his bed chamber, driving lovers off the silken bed he, in his final days, was too fat to leave.  The king had thrown every jewel and gold coin he’d had at Benedict until he’d run his nobles dry.  Then he melted things down.  And when that proved too time-consuming (for Benedict insisted he was on a schedule) the king offered larger rewards: land and horses and concubines by the dozen.  But Benedict wouldn’t accept anything he couldn’t carry in his pockets.  This fact nearly drove the king mad in his final hours.  There was nothing like a monarch out of wealthy yet portable options.  

And now he had another one.  Cleopatra’s angry breath smelled of cinnamon and coriander.  But there was an undercurrent her peons would never scent:  need, vulnerability, and the abyss of being actually denied!  

“I’ll get you enough to build a whole throne,” Benedict said to Cleopatra, “but you’ll have to pay for it.” 
___________________________________________________________________________________



And in the far corner, representing the Romance genre with 489 words, also welcome to the ring Zola Mars.




“Why didn’t my parents ever adopt you?” Jocelyn said.

She’d always meant to ask, but the question flew out before she could stop it.

Heath false-started a few times, his mouth opening and closing. “Let’s not get into that now.”
“Why not?”

She turned fully in the passenger seat, folding one leg under her. The question was already out; she might as well double-down. Plus it wasn’t like there could be more tension in the car. Not when Steve was in the trunk.

“Because I don’t want to discuss it.” His tone left no doubt: case-closed, stop asking.

Her brother had told her more than once to leave Heath alone about his past—particularly about his parents. Joc, we don’t know why it’s painful for him, but accept that it is. Don’t go sticking your fingers into open wounds. It’s not kind.

But she couldn’t resist. Not to purposely hurt Heath—she’d tried to move past old vengeful thoughts—but because she was too curious. She was a cat to his laser pointer.

“I thought Steve wanted us to talk,” she said.

Heath continued staring through the windshield.  

“Okay.” She put her hand to her throat. “I guess I could fill the time with singing—”

His eyes shot over to her. “Jesus, no! Anything but that.”

She laughed and then glowered. “I’m not that bad.”

“Anyone who told you that was trying to sell you something.”

She broke into an Adele song, her raspy voice cracking and straining.

Heath raised his hand in surrender. “Uncle! Anything. Just stop.”

She pursed her lips.

His shoulders quivered with a long shudder, then he shook his head like he was clearing water from his ears. “For a beautiful woman you’re as tone deaf as a troll. Do you just not hear the notes?”

“I’m a beautiful woman?” She scrunched her nose and shifted her mouth, pulling the ridge of her lip.

“Well… not at the moment.”

She removed her sunglasses and rolled her eyes as slowly as possible. Green and flecks of gold flashed at him from lids that slanted up.

“Come on,” he sighed. “You’ve noticed the reaction you get from guys. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.”

“I didn’t know trolls were tone deaf.”

He sighed and stared at her.

“Besides it means more coming from you.” Her voice was suddenly naked, stripped of the defense of sarcasm. Tourette’s, definitely fucking Tourette’s.

She rearranged her long violet-streaked hair over her shoulders and shielded her eyes with her lashes.

The ensuing quiet was equal parts awful and maddening. If she opened the door and rolled out would she definitely die? She wouldn’t want to survive it. Eh, either way it would get her out of the conversation. Might be worth trying it.

“Does it?” he asked softly.

She took her hand off of the door handle and shrugged. “Any connoisseur of women.”

He raised an eyebrow. She knew he wasn’t going to let her get away with that explanation.
 __________________________________________________________________________________

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!


41 comments

  1. Today was the best day of the competition yet! I was so drawn in by these stories that I want more of them both.
    I adore Jean's story. The time traveler stringing along the most famous people in history with snack cakes- genius! (Check out Hatshepsut in your time traveling next. Ruled Egypt with a sweet tooth; entombed with gallons of honey.) Keep going- this is brilliant.

    That being said, my vote goes to Zola. I got so much so fast and so easily. This is an effective piece of writing. What you did in 500 words has me in awe. I have got to know more!

    Where there have been days I really didn't like either piece (at all), today made me wish I could move them both through. Great job to both writers.

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  2. My vote goes to Jean Rabender.

    There were two points in Zola Mars's story that turned me off completely. First, the line, "You’ve noticed the reaction you get from guys. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know." rings in my ears as overused, and I just sort of cringed when I read it. Also, using Tourette syndrome as an excuse for saying something you immediately regret instead of just saying, "Why can't I think before I speak?" as there's absolutely no other evidence that the person suffers from that particular neuropsychiatric disorder, feels insensitive of the author (although I'm certain it wasn't meant that way, the damage is done).

    Jean Rabender nailed how someone who's never experienced anything like a Twinkie might enjoy it, but I wasn't interested in reading more at this time. I got lost at King Louis, and couldn't pull myself back in.

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  3. Hi Don - I'd go with Zola Mars ... though I thought Jean's story was fun to read ... bringing Tourette's into the mix is an interesting take for Joc to have. Why was Steve in the trunk ... and what hold has Heath got ...

    Cheers Hilary

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  4. I vote for Jean Rabender.

    Jean Rabender: Despite the present obesity crisis, I'm having trouble believing humans beings would become so addicted, so quickly and so devastatingly, to junk food. The writing is tight and humorous, though, and for that you should be proud.

    Zola Mars: With an unadopted brother figure named Heath, I'm wondering if this is a Wuthering Heights retelling. Such a powerful original work sets the bar high, and I don't think you quite captured the essence of the original, at least not in this piece. That's fine if it's not a retelling, and it may be something you develop more as the story continues. As it is, retelling or not, there were a lot of extra words where you basically repeated an idea a couple different ways (paragraphs 3 and 5, for example). The dialogue is funny, but sometimes got lost in the narrative, and I'm not sure whose point of view we're in. Also, unless she actually has Tourette's, I'd cut the reference to Tourette's to avoid offending those for whom it is a daily struggle. Steve in the trunk is intriguing, but I was frustrated that you didn't do anything with it. With some tightening up, this could be a great story, but I'm not feeling it today. Sorry!

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  5. I wasn't drawn to either entry today. Jean Rabender was all tell. You lost me as soon as you told me he was a time traveller. You spent 500 words telling me how wonderful and clever "time traveller" was and didn't leave anything to my imagination.

    Zola Mars - Jocelyn came across as very (too) young and the conversation didn't ring true for me. I also found the adoption reference at the start to be an odd conversation to lead into flirting.

    I wouldn't keep reading either - but Zola Mars gets my vote today.

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  6. I got a little lost at different points with both entries. With Jean's, the POV wasn't clear because at first it seemed to be Cleopatra, then the time traveler, then omniscient. With Zola, the conversation really went nowhere and although there was clear conflict between Joc and Heath, I couldn't really get interested in it or them.

    So, for today, Jean Rabender gets my vote because the time travelling twinkie monster is really funny to me.

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  7. I wasn't sure about Cleopatra, but LOL at transfat!

    Zola Mars- I loved the line about things not getting too much more tense with a guy in the trunk, but after that, the conversation and emotion sort of wandered and released all that tension, plus it didn't feel quite real. I liked the setup, though!

    My vote goes to Jean Rabender for an intriguing premise.

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  8. I thought the concept of Jean's was interesting- a time traveler selling junk food but there was so much info dump/telling.

    My vote goes to Zola Mars.

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  9. I didn't like either story today, but Jean Rabender can have a vote for a unique and interesting premise. I just wish it hadn't been told in such a direct and telling way. And the (R) symbols just grated on me. I know they were intended as humor, but when you consider the context it just makes no sense - how am I supposed to read a sentence with an (R) in it? I assume as if the (R) wasn't there, which means it shouldn't BE there.

    That really bothered me, but not nearly as much as the second paragraph of Zola Mars' story (she always wanted to ask, BUT the question just flew out. That's not a but - the question flying out matches her desire to ask, it doesn't contradict it. How about she always resisted asking, but this time it just flew out?).

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  10. Jean Rabender gets my vote. Both stories had weaknesses, but I loved the humour in Jean's.

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  11. My vote goes to Jean Rabender. Interesting premise, but I am curious... How many languages does Benedict know? I assume not all those people spoke the same language.

    Zola - I had issues with the flip-flopping point of view. I also don't see the point of this scene. Go back to why Steve was in the trunk, and I'd probably keep reading.

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  12. Jean Rabender: Wow, you apparently didn't research your topic. You present fast food/junk food as a superior flavor to the fine eating of ancient royalty. You are way off here. Even modern relatively poor people in this time are not so impressed with the prepackaged and fast foods once they try them if they are accustomed to fresh home made food, if prepared well. As well, getting entrance to see royalty if you aren't a citizen was difficult. Try going to see the president some time and it isn't much different. He's also not likely to eat anything you bring him. It seems you were trying for something along the lines of a Black Adder episode here where he brings mints to the queen. It didn't work. It might have been better if you put Comic Farce as your genre.

    Zola Mars: Your beginning was a little rocky but you have a good voice. Not sure if these are teenagers or adults though. The voice sounds young but that really doesn't affect the story. The youth comes across in the volatile emotions of the girl (woman). Overall though I would keep reading for a few more pages to see where it goes.

    If you can't tell my vote goes to Zola Mars.

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  13. Jean Rabender had humorous parts (great job for making me smile), but my attention wandered at certain points because of the telling.

    Zola Mars gets my vote. I love the banter between the two characters and want to know more about Steve in the trunk.

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  14. My vote goes to Jean Rabender
    Jean – what a unique and interesting concept! I’m a little unsure if the concept would hold up for a longer story but I’d like to read more!

    Zola – it seemed there were a few sections (e.g., your second sentence and your reference to Tourette’s) where I couldn’t follow your logic. Kudos for delivering a piece that is primarily dialogue!

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  15. Jean R: Over-the-top campy fun. Not sci-fi, though. Trademarks aren't needed in fiction, and here they're a huge distraction. The long paragraph about Louis only served to interrupt a funny scene. I wanted more Cleo vs Benedict. You've relied on telling. This works okay as stand-alone flash, but because of the many implausibilities, I don't see the premise or the funny yet overblown prose carrying a larger work.

    Zola M: If Heath's not actually J's brother, adopted or otherwise, there's no problem other than she likes him more than he likes her - maybe? Nothing unique there. What could be unique, interesting, and tension-worthy is Steve in the trunk, but you dangled it like bait then ignored it for 24 more paragraphs of trite teenage-angsty dialogue. Very frustrating.

    Jean Rabender gets my vote today.

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  16. I had an interesting conflict with these two pieces. I was drawn in immediately at the beginning of both but as the story went on, I felt myself losing interest. For Jean's, I think it was because of the listing of junk food and moving on to someone other than Cleopatra. For me (not for everyone ofcourse), your 500 would have been stronger if you had succinctly thrown in a one liner about that and moved on. The story stalled and the last line didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. We knew Cleopatra had to pay, but the more pressing question is WHY? I didn't get your time travelers motivation. Surely, it has to be more than simply gaining gold and riches? Because from your description before, your time hopper must be rich beyond belief. I needed more dimensionality to him.

    For Zola, you hooked me right at the beginning with the adoption and then again with the guy in the trunk. Bravo. But then the conversation veered to over used lines about main characters obvious beauty and it felt like a romance trope. This original piece probably works in a longer work, but not in a 500 where you have very little time to tell us what is going on. I still am very confused and I have so many unanswered questions that should have been answered from the reading. There were also parts that felt jarring. For example, when she thinks of opening the door to exit the conversation I felt came out of left field. I just wish I had gotten the juicy information about the adoption and not the awkward half flirting.

    My vote is for Jean!

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  17. Jean R: This was funny! The writing flowed well although the part about Louis XIV seemed a little over done.

    Zola: I was hooked at the part about Steve in the trunk. Your dialogue was effective but I was confused by Jocelyn's “Any connoisseur of women.” comment. I re-read it twice and still can't figure out what she meant.

    My vote goes to Jean Rabender.

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  18. Jean R: The trans fats line made me laugh and I liked the description of the twinkie, but overall I felt there was too much telling vs. showing and the voice didn't make me want to continue.

    Zola: Strong opener with Steve being in the trunk, and good writing/descriptions. I'd read more. Agree with others on not liking the Tourette's line.

    Zola gets my vote!

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  19. Both good reads, but my vote's for Zola.

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  20. Both good reads, but my vote's for Zola.

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  21. I am amused and attracted by Jean's hook, and--as a Louis XIV freak--I would love to read that particular episode of the time traveler's life. But having the Louis story told in paragraph 6 on page 1? Not so much, because it seemed to tell me so much that I am no longer curious to turn the pages.

    (It did occur to me that with all the treats mentioned, the clear and shiny wrappers might strike all those historical figures as a substance more rare and precious than the food inside.)

    Zola gave me a great opening hook--of course I thought of Heathcliff at once. After that, the drawn-out flirtation scene doesn't make me curious to keep reading . . . except for that terrific opener, which still makes me wonder whether this story will be a mashup of one of my favorite romances.

    I'll accept this sample as one draft away from being really interesting, and give my vote to Zola.

    (I agree that the Tourette's reference doesn't work as snark, and doesn't add to the scene.)

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  22. Vote: Jean

    Loved the idea and the piece pulled me through to the end, and made me laught out loud. I felt it was a complete piece and probably wouldn't view it as a chunk of a larger one? Which works great I think, also why I liked knowing about other people he swindled with treats. I agree on part with other comments about showing/telling but still gets my vote.

    Zola: oh dear. They both made me lol. So it was a hard choice. But this piece left me feeling aggravated and that was mostly because the timbit that there was someone in the trunk of the car but we didn't find anything about it. I wanted more of that, otherwise the story kinda didn't go anywhere and it definitely had places to go. I also didn't like the double standard with him not answering her question but she was somehow obligated to answer his?

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  23. I vote Jean. I honestly flipped a coin. (Actually, it was a Minecraft zombie figure, but it served as a coin.) I feel equal on these two. I liked and disliked them both for the exact same amount of reasons. (The Tourette's reference bothers me a great deal. The time-traveling snacks didn't do it for me, and how did he even get an audience or learn to speak dead languages...) So yes, I had to coin flip, because I don't think ties are allowed in voting.

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  24. Zola gets my vote because I, at the very least, wanted to see why Steve was in the trunk. Cut the Tourette's comment and fix the sentences that don't make sense ( others have mentioned which)
    Jean- too many thing that didn't make sense but I enjoyed the playfulness involved in the writing.

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  25. Zola Mars has my vote for the line "Not when Steve was in the trunk." I am curious how it plays to a romance.

    Jean Rabender- I'm not sure why it's Adult sci-fi. I'd think younger readers would be more taken by a protagonist who time travels with snack foods. Actually, I think it would also make more sense if the main character were younger.

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  26. Voting for Zola Mars. It could use a bit of tightening up, but I love intriguing throwaway lines like "Plus it wasn’t like there could be more tension in the car. Not when Steve was in the trunk."

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  27. I vote for Zola Mars. I think hers did a good job of teasing the reader on the larger themes, situation, and relationship. She also showed the action and characters, which Jean did not. Jean's piece built into an interesting concept, but I didn't walk away having a good sense of why I should be rooting for either character.

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  28. My vote is for Jean because that piece made me laugh.

    Zola Mars - there is a line directly from Princess Bride in your piece, and I'm not sure whether it was intentional or not. I'd like to see self-awareness from the character who's saying it, if it was intentional. ("Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something") Otherwise, I would remove it completely.

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  29. Jean Rabender: I like the basic concept here. I am always a fan of the protagonist we love to hate and this time traveler guy seems like a total jerk. Firmly impaled on my own sugar addiction, I can relate to the feelings these leaders are having ... but I think in reality, they probably would have found those items to be quite disgusting. As others have pointed out, there are issues with language and motivation (although I can see someone becoming addicted to taking things away from famous historical figures just for the power rush it would give). It wouldn't have been possible in 500 words, but I think making each of those leaders their own scene would have been more effective in developing the premise and the characters. As it is, it feels like an info-dump. Regardless, I am fond of the evilly humorous tone of this piece. And picturing him saying "Traaaannnnsss faaaatssss" made me chuckle for sure.


    Zola Mars: Some great lines--"She was a cat to his laser pointer."--and good solid GPS in this passage. The mention of Steve in the trunk piqued my interest. But for the rest of the excerpt I felt like I was the third-wheel, single friend stuck in the back seat while my bestie and her boyfriend flirt. It was just awkward. Especially knowing that they were close enough to family that her parents might have adopted him? I know it happens and there's nothing really wrong with it... but it feels weird. The MC has wit and humor which I like, but her comment about Tourettes missed the humor mark and landed much closer to offensive. I think I'd like to see this same character solving a mystery without all the flirting.

    My vote goes to Jean Rabender.

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  30. Jean Rabender: I laughed. I wondered about why Benedict is perpetrating this crime against (in)famous humanity. I pictured Benedict Cumberbatch as your MC, saying "trans fats" in his most sensual tones. In terms of your premise, I spent a bit of time wondering if the modern chemical wonders he's shilling would actually taste better to people of the past, and then I remembered that modern chemical wonders are designed ONLY to drive the palate insane with lust. I liked it! I liked it all, a lot. I think I said this to a previous entrant as well, but I wonder if you should claim "Science Fiction Comedy" or "Sci Fi / Comedy" as your genre, since comedy is really hard, and you've earned it!

    Zola Mars: WHY IS STEVE IN THE TRUNK? I love this touch in your excerpt, a hint that all is not what it seems with these two people (semi-siblings??) who are very flirty with each other. The flirtation itself was a little off kilter for me, a bit clichéd? I was pulled out of the story by the fact that we get a description of the MC's eyes and hair...is it not her POV? She wouldn't be seeing her own eyes, if that makes sense. The situation seemed a bit convoluted too--Heath wasn't adopted by Jocelyn's parents, but had his own parents they're not supposed to talk about? This could be an issue with the fact that this is an excerpt, though. I feel like we're coming in on the middle of a story and we don't have all the info.

    My vote is for Jean Rabender.

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  31. Both of these stories were difficult for me to finish and I did not feel pulled to them. In the spirit of trying to provide helpful feedback, both of these pieces felt overdone as if the writers were trying real hard to be clever. Sorry to be harsh. I wouldn't be helping you much if I wasn't honest.

    Jean Rabender- I was amused in the second and third paragraph but after that it felt like word spaghetti and I was disappointed it was still continuing with the same thing, just different characters. I couldn't imagine what could possibly come after this and if it was more similar stories of similar time traveling adventures, I wasn't interested.

    Zola Mars- I was irritated with the dialogue that seemed to be going nowhere. I didn't get a sense of who these characters are because of the drawn out conversation. The only thing I want to know now is why is Steve in the trunk. That was the one curiosity that had a slight advantage to the other story.

    Because of this I'm voting for Zola Mars.

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  32. Vote: Jean Rabender
    The piece could have been tightened up (particularly the paragraph with the King) and I don't think needed the registered trademarks, which were distracting. It did make me laugh, although to be honest I probably wouldn't have read more (I wouldn't pay a penny for any of the snacks he hawked, except maybe the Oreos).

    Zola Mars did hook me with the comment about Steve being in the trunk, but my attention drifted with their conversation. A few things threw me. "She was a cat to his laser pointer." I kind of get it, but doesn't resonate. I got a little lost as to who was speaking and had to reread the end. Her answer to him - “Any connoisseur of women" - felt contrived.

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  33. Jean Rabender is a unique premise, but really - addicted with one bite (or three, for Cleo)? And there were some POV issues.

    Zola has a great voice, love Steve in the trunk, and plenty of tension in the car. A bit fuzzy toward the end when she considered jumping out, but my pick overall.

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  34. I couldn't connect very well to either story today. I found them awkward personally, leaving me with questions which annoyed, rather than intrigued me. Sorry folks. Maybe I'm just having a bad day. I will give Jean Rabender my vote for her effective sense of humor!

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  35. My vote in this bout goes to Zola. Steve in the trunk was a great hook and left me wanting more. Jean had an interesting and amusing premise but I preferred Zola's writing.

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  37. The time travel story was stylized but damn funny - a bit over-written, but I think the author did that on purpose. I agree the diversion into King Louis was a bit long, and the piece would have benefited by a greater focus on Cleopatra.

    The couple in the car had decent dialogue, but the tonal shifts from deadly serious conversation to light flirting jarred. The guy in the trunk didn't bother me. I assumed this is an excerpt from a larger piece. Still further sense of the stress a (body?) in the trunk might have helped hold the whole thing together a bit better.

    My vote goes to Jean by the width of a hostess cupcake!

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  38. My vote is for Jean.

    I'm not a fan of farcical humor like this, but the writing in Jean's piece was much tighter over all. The first dialogue should have been a new paragraph. Others have mentioned other ways to improve the writing. I think Jean should be more careful about genre selection as well, since this is clearly a humor piece (that being said, I'm not sure how stringent the genre list is for the event).

    Zola's opened strong, but the dialogue piddled around too much and went nowhere. I didn't understand Jocelyn's thought process at all and didn't like her. I was more interested in the guy in the trunk than I was in what was going on in the cab of the car. I assume this is part of a larger piece, in which a lot of context would be made clear before and after this scene. As a stand alone piece, though, I came away knowing as little as when I started reading.

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