WRiTE CLUB 2016 - Bout #2


It's time to lace up those gloves and put up some dukes!

Today we continue the march towards choosing a new  WRiTE CLUB Champion. Over the course of the coming 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 #2 - remains open until noon on Monday - March 14th.

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 Romance genre with 498 words, welcome to the ring Lizzie Bennet.




It’s not superstition. It’s known fact. Shit happens in threes. And tonight for Olivia Aberdeen that meant fighting for the life of a patient fate marked for death. Liv squeezed her eyes shut. She couldn’t stomach the bend and recoil of ribs beneath her fingers.

“No. No. NO! One more. One more round,” she pleaded, pounding away at the toddlers’ chest. Here it was. The third code for the day. Everyone knew the outcome would be when they got ambulance call, but this one had to turn around. It had too.

By all accounts they’d done everything. Lines, drips, meds. And more rounds of CPR than she could keep track of. There were no more ‘Hail Mary’s’ to pass. Liv forced her eyes open and searched the room, trying to connect with one person that still held onto hope this would be the patient they’d save today.

She pinched back angry, resentful tears at her chosen profession. “She’s a baby! C’MON y’all, One more.” Sweat dotted her forehead. A medic, pale and conflicted, helped take over compressions. She backed away, bent at the knees exhausted and hungry for air. It’s the longest two minutes of your existence, standing over a person and beating life into their heart.

Crowded at the head of the stretcher was the ER resident. No more than twenty-seven, it was up to him to call the time of death of a child, to say with finality that a Mother would never speak to her baby girl again.

He took a sobering breath then blew it through his nose.  “Alright, Liv. One more. Push a high dose epi and someone grab me the ultrasound machine. Let’s see if we can get something back to shock. How much longer until parents arrive?” People buzzed around, falling into their roles without direction. That’s the mark of a good trauma team. And even though she was new and a transplant, she melted right in.

Liv checked the Braslow’s tape and grabbed the corresponding med to the babies’ size. She’d thank the Lord later for the invention that made medication math fool proof, and use the time to ask God for one of his miracles, “Epi’s in,” she answered.

A little head popped around the curtain closing in the controlled chaos, “Family is here. I had the chaplain escort them to the private waiting room.” There was hushed discussion as to when the parents should be brought back. The answer should always be right away, but sometimes you need to compose yourself for the impending outcome.

“I’ll go,” Liv said. It was her responsibility, but the idea of doing this for the third time in less than twelve hours tore a hole in her gut no amount of Mylanta would fix. She caught the eye of the resident. He dropped a dollop of lube onto the sono machine and pressed it against the little one’s chest. Liv held her breath. Everyone held their breath.



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And in the far corner, representing the  YA Science Fiction genre with 441 words, also welcome to the ring Parchment Princess.




My brothers strapped me to the chair and swung my bound arm away from my body.  I closed my eyes, prepared for more broken fingers or a broken hand, and steeled myself from the pain.  What came, though, was much worse. 

I felt the blade cut through my skin and smelled my burning flesh.  My eyes snapped open to reveal my father carving up my arm with the fiery red tip of his penknife.  I squeezed my eyes shut again to block out the vision and bit my lip to keep from screaming.  The pain shot through my body, each cut of the knife another excruciating shock to my system.  Beads of sweat formed on my brow, and I felt bile rise in my throat.

I lasted two minutes before I released my first scream.  It startled me, the sound of my own blood-curdling cry, and it made me laugh.  My father, angered by my response, pressed harder.  I screamed again, the pain so intense I nearly passed out.  My parents were prepared for this.  My mother doused me in ice-cold water, and my eyes flew open to see my father still tattooing my bloody arm.

I closed my eyes and pictured Thomas’ sweet face.  “Please”, I silently prayed, “help me survive this.  Don’t let them break me.  There’s still so much I can do.”  Peacefulness washed over me, and I knew then what to do.  They could burn my book, but they couldn’t make me forget my favorite passages.  I started to recite them to myself, concentrating on the words instead of the pain.  I transported myself to a better time and place, using the words to guide me.

My father continued carving, whistling now, trying to drive me mad and take away my divine inner peace.  I allowed another scream to escape my lips before moving on to the next passage.

My father finally finished, and he set aside the knife.  He studied his work and nudged me, insisting I look at it too.  “Now,” he said calmly, “the motto you chose so long ago will serve as a reminder of who you really are.”

I read the still bloody, swollen words neatly carved on my inner arm.  Veni, Vidi, Vici.  They lined up perfectly with the infinity symbol, the mark of the New World Order, now carved on the palm of my hand.   It was the perfect punishment.  I could never outrun my past with it tattooed on the deadliest part of my body.

My father leaned in and whispered in my ear.  “My strong-willed Lydia, don’t ever forget who owns you.  Freedom is but an ancient folly.”

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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.  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!





79 comments

  1. My love and vote goes to Parchment Princess.
    Lizzie Bennet was okay. There were some mistakes. ("Everyone knew the outcome would be when..." -- pretty sure the word "what" is missing.) But it's an Adult Romance, yet I didn't feel any romance between any characters.
    Parchment Princess is sci-fi and it felt like it. I'm drawn in. There's a conflict. I'd read more.

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  2. Parchment Princess gets my vote.
    Both entries are so dark, but while Lizzie Bennet gave me hope that things might turn out okay, I am drawn to Parchment Princess's engraved motto and wonder why her family would torture her so. I need to know more about that, and feel like I already know that the little girl will live, so I'm okay leaving that one hanging.

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  3. My vote is for Parchment Princess. Both scenes were done well, and dropped you into an intense moment, but I thought the sci-fi piece had more emotional impact and I connected with the MC.

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  4. Lizzie Bennet for me. With the other, I was confused at first and it took me a bit to understand what was happening. When you only have 500 words, confusion isn't great...

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  5. Wow! High suspense today.

    Lizzie Bennet: I really liked the medical details in this one, but I felt distanced by the two times when the perspective pulled back and sort of spoke to the audience instead of staying in close third. It just made the scene feel less immediate and real to me. There were also some missing commas, a typo (too instead of to) and a misplaced paragraph break. But it looks really promising and you've got yourself a setting with lots of drama potential, so that's good.

    Parchment Princess: What a great first sentence!! I was a little confused about what was happening and why, but in this case, I felt like that pulled me along in the narrative and made me read faster. This is certainly a brutal story and a heroine with strong ideals, and I like that. I was a little confused about the word tattoing since there was no ink involved, and I did notice a misplaced comma. Overall, though, the emotions and suspense of this piece kept me engaged and I would have easily read more.

    My vote goes to Parchment Princess!

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  6. This one was much closer- both scenes read nicely, but my vote is for Parchment Princess

    Lizzie- I liked the voice but there was a lot of telling and thoughts that slowed the pace of something that should've read as an emergency. As others said I felt certain the little girl would live.

    Parchment- I thought this was very well done and left me wanting to know more.

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  7. Lizzie - Some powerful stuff here, if a bit too disjointed even for a chaotic ER. But the typos and grammar errors really threw me off. What can I say...

    Parchment - Yikes! Vivid, telling (laughing as she screamed, really?!) - not something I would read further, but definitely an intriguing start for those who like fantasy. It gets my vote.

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  8. Lizzie: I couldn't connect with the characters, and the errors broke the flow.

    Parchment gets my vote, though I still felt it took too long to get to the point. If I'd had to wait any longer, I might have stopped reading.

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  9. Parchment Princess gets my vote.
    Though both were mysterious, I didn't feel much surprise when I got to the end of Lizzie Bennet's story. It was much more predictable. That gave Parchment Princess the edge.

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  10. I'm with Parchment Princess.

    Lizzie: I felt tied to the characters from the outset. Being a mother myself, I felt her desperation as she tried to save the child. There were some small errors, but nothing is perfect! Keep working on it and I think you'll fix everything that's been said above.

    Parchment Princess: You did a great job as well. I liked the imagery and it definitely made me want to read more, and that is what I based my vote off of.

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  11. Parchment Princess for me.

    Lizzie: Although the story is gripping, the many typos broke my attention. I felt the ending was predictable.

    Parchment: Wow. Intense. Though it could have ramped up a bit sooner, and the scream/laugh felt odd, I really want to know the whys that led up to this and what happens next.

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  12. WOW! Talk about a bad day for kids LOL Both pieces were very powerful but ultimately my vote goes to Parchment Princess.

    The scene really popped and in a few words told the story of a strong willed girl living in a terrible time where it appears even her family is against her. I loved how she distracted herself with passages from her favorite books while willing herself to be strong against the torture. I was definitely riveted and want to read more.

    Lizzie, yours was a good entry too. I could feel the character's distress about losing another patient, especially one so young. Unfortunately, it was too confusing. I wasn't aware I was reading about a medical situation until about the third sentence and further along until I saw it wasn't a regular medical setting but a trauma unit. It felt like you weren't using the right terminology to describe techniques or equipment which made it hard to figure out what she was doing. A little Google Fu would've worked wonders here. You could also try pulling up a picture of the equipment and watch videos of how these things are used and describe what you're seeing. This way you present a clearer picture of what's happening.

    I also would've liked to see more about the situation. What was the situation that called for a trauma unit? Was there a fire or explosion? Maybe mention about the smell of smoke and ash. Was it a shooting? Maybe mention about seeing people sitting around in a daze as the character worked etc. As others had mentioned there were many typos and a couple of missing words that took me out of the story. Nice job though, keep at it.

    PS So, did the baby live?

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  13. Lizzie: I struggled a little because of some switches in tense and quite a few typos and grammatical errors. That being said, this piece could have a lot of emotional power once those are fixed up.

    Parchment Princess: I would definitely read on. You had both my attention and my curiosity.

    My vote goes to Parchment Princess today.

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  14. Tough choice.

    Lizzie, I really wanted to FEEL the story, not be told it. The potential is there for a riveting scene.

    Parchment, a good scene with too many filter words. Too many references to eyes. There could've more description of the parents. Of her. The surroundings.

    I vote for Lizzie.

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  15. Parchment Princess gets my vote, but both pieces could have used some editing and proofreading. Typos, cliches, and general lack of clarity of writing. Tighten it up, use your words wisely, and polish to a shine. In a contest like this, you can't afford not to do those things.

    Lizzie: A lot of typos, missed words, misplaced commas. These will - and have - cost votes. I also felt like you might have used fewer medical terms. There's a point when technical terms start to sound like showing off. I'm not sure you're there yet, but watch for that. I was kind of confused by some of your phrases, too, like how one person was crowded at the head of the stretcher and how he couldn't be more than twenty-seven, which seemed an arbitrary estimate of age and left me guessing that he's EXACTLY twenty-seven. I really wasn't invested in this piece, but it's not my genre of choice, so it may just be me.

    Parchment Princess: I read both entries twice. On the first reading, neither impress me much, but I liked yours much better the second time around. The piece could be polished for clarity, as well as typos and such. She's being branded, not tattooed, right? I think maybe drawing out the fact that the knife is more like a little lightsaber maybe - that the blade burns as it cuts? If that's the case, a little stench of burning flesh would be good. I don't know. The piece need refining, but I think you have a good start to an intriguing story.

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  16. Parchment Princess gets my vote today. Although Lizzie had a compelling story, I too found the punctuation errors and typos distracting. I'm overall more intrigued by Parchment's MC and her conflict. But great job, both, and congrats on making the finals.

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  17. Parchment Princess gets my vote! Wow! really intense story building here. I wanted to know why she was in this situation, why her own father is doing this to her. What happens next? Tell me more!! I'm completely drawn into this story.

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  18. I'll be honest, I'm not sure I would choose to read either of these pieces. I'm not a fan of YA Sci-Fi in general, and as a mother and former paramedic, I prefer to avoid reading scenes about trauma and children.

    But onward!

    Lizzie - the story is compelling and I like the voice, but the mechanics were enough to ruin the tension you created. It felt like reading a rough draft of a scene with great potential. You did a great job of capturing the organized chaos of the ER, and the MC's disjointed thoughts added to that, but you bounced between being close in her head, and observing from a distance (a lot of telling going on).

    Parchment Princess - this is really not my genre, so it was a bit of a struggle. The piece had a raw emotional impact and created a strong visual image. I did struggle with the knife/tattoo/carve image - enough that I went back and reread to see if I'd missed something (I had not). The writing could use some polish, but overall, it felt like a strong scene.

    Vote - Parchment Princess
    I could almost flip a coin on these, but in the end, I voted for the one with the stronger overall scene.

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  19. Both gripping stories that really pulled me in. The common theme here is: wow, how did we get to this point?

    Lizzie, your story is great, but too many technical issues. The sono machine should be a defibrillator, and there were several spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Nothing that can't be fixed. Keep working!

    Princess, I have to know more about what's going on here. Why is her family treating her this way? It must not be the first time, because she seems to know how to handle it. I can't wait to read more. By the way, original definition of tattoo includes scarring, so I applaud your creative use of the word.

    My vote is for Parchment Princess.

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  20. Tough to call. What a great 2nd round! I enjoyed both stories; they equally pulled me in and held my attention. The nits I have are as follows:
    Lizzie. It feels the final edit was a bit rushed. I think setting the work aside and going over it again 24-36 hours later would have pushed this in just the right direction for success. There seemed to be a few instances that getting the word count under 500 took a toll. Believe me, I know what that was like. Superb suspense and I am NOT sure the third baby survived. What made others think that?

    Princess. What a dark concept and vivid imagination. I really related to the pain Lydia felt. I would love to know more! But for 500 words I had too many take away questions and was a bit confused in the end by the questions in total. Make this 1000-2000 words and let me really immerse myself.

    Winner: Lizzie. To me you were closer to the mark in what can be accomplished in 500 words

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  21. Both caught my interest and my vote goes to Parchment.
    Lizzie – you have some great hooks in your story. Your phrasing and word choices conveyed action throughout the piece. There were a few places where you lost me out of the scene – “a little head popped around the curtain” – I thought you meant the child being revived. Also when Liv offers to talk to the family even though she doesn’t yet know the outcome. You’re definitely someone I’d have on my reading list!

    Parchment – It was hard to visualize the scene during the first reading but that can be expected when we’re just reading a 500 word sample of a bigger story. For me, a hole in the story was created when you introduced the brothers but didn’t mention them again. Seems odd that Lydia wouldn’t look to them or hear them during the scene. The intensity of your writing drew me right in. I needed a dousing of ice cold water to shake your story off of me. Great work!

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  22. Both riveting stories. My vote goes to Lizzie's story, even though the numerous grammar errors were distracting and annoying. Partner with an editor before you submit in the future. Timing seems off in a couple of places, as well.

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  23. I felt that Lizzie crafted a great scene - kudos - but the narrator confused me too much to have much of a chance at gaining my trust. It looks like third person but is rather too opinionated. The deal breakers for me: I don't believe for a moment that shit factually only happens in threes or that you can perform "pounding" CPR on a toddler without killing her.

    While I am horrified by torture scenes and really didn't want to read past Parchment Princess's second sentence, I forced myself and discovered an opening that is full of captivating tension and just the right sort of clues that make me want to read more after all! The Princess gets my vote.

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  24. My vote goes to Parchment Princess.

    Rough day. I don't like reading about medical trauma or torture!

    Lizzie Bennet: The scene is intense; good job on developing character in a scene that could be just about the trauma and emergency on hand. The writing itself needs work and editing. I also found this piece to be cliched and predictable; it didn't hold my attention and didn't seem to do much more than establish a setting and some excitement in a somewhat artificial manner.

    Parchment Princess: This piece presents a new, less cliched, less predictable event. The teasers throughout also sparked interest (why would the parents do this? What is she reciting to herself? Who is Thomas? What did her past hold?); this could be considered overdone, though. This piece had fewer writing flaws than Lizzie, but still, the writing here would benefit from additional work.

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  25. Parchment princess gets my vote.

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  26. Im voting for parchment princess. The story had some parts I'd cut like laughter and tattoo. Ive had warts burned off with those hot pens and it still hurt like heck -no laughing- and the smell of burning flesh was one of the worst stenches I've ever experienced. I dont think you really made it realistic. Even someone who has had abuse (ie the broken fingers) would still find something like this not funny. The mention of the new world order peaked my interest. I also dont get why having "i came i saw i conquered" as a bad mark on you. Its pretty infamous.

    Lizzie- i was all sorts of confused. At first i thought she was describing pregnancy with a babys hands twisting under her rib cage. But then it said toddler- so i thought the toddler was being tortured under her ribs. I didnt like it. And nothing of romance here.

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  27. I vote for Parchment Princess. Both writers created some great tension! Congrats for making Round 1!

    Lizzie, the atmosphere and tension in your sample are great! I was confused as to why Liv volunteered to go see the parents when she was so intent upon saving the child. Hopefully, this gets clarified later in the piece. Hone your technical skills (sentence structure, clarity, editing) and you're good to go. Thanks for sharing your work.

    Parchment Princess, I'm hooked. Why are her parents doing this? What about her past? Is her arm really deadly? Great tension. It needs some refinement for clarity and flow, but overall solid writing. Thanks for sharing.

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  28. Both of these entries are so intense! Both writers did lovely work choosing peak moments of high anxiety for their protagonists.

    Lizzie Bennet: I liked how you balanced Liv's professionalism with her personal feelings about the patient. Her desperation was really clear in this scene.

    I stumbled a bit over what, exactly, her role is? I thought maybe nurse? But then she's urging the team on, so is she in a leadership role? I'm not familiar enough with medical hierarchies to know. I also really dug your opening line, but tonally I thought it didn't match the passage. "Shit happens" felt to me like it was setting up a lighthearted comical "oh no," rather than the high drama that you gave us.

    Parchment Princess: My favourite part of your piece was final line. It suggested that Lydia's father somehow is doing this terrible thing to her for her own good, so his motives are more mixed than sadistic. Perhaps he's trying to protect her, or imagines he is? I also liked the hint that Lydia is somehow being punished for writing or for having a book.

    I wondered if the piece might have been strengthened if you'd been explicit about this. I know you're seeding information for the future of the story, but your opening felt like it was holding back information that would definitely be in Lydia's mind in this moment.

    While I liked the suspense of Lizzie Bennet's piece, Parchment Princess's feels to me like it's setting up a whole (epic) story, so my vote is for Parchment Princess.

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  29. Parchment Princess for me. I agree with comments above. I felt the opening lines in Lizzie's piece were a bit to light for the drama that followed. Shit happens seems light hearted, a bit 'oh well' not usually something you might say if a toddler is about to die. The epic set up going on in the second piece made me want more. Well done to both though. Great writing!

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  30. At first I didn't feel all that strongly about either entry. But in the end, my grammar OCD got the better of me. Lizzie's piece just had too many easily fixed errors to over look. Also, having a daughter that age, I doubt I would have read on. Too close to home...

    Also, YA is my preferred genre, though this piece felt more dystopian than sci/fi to me. But reading further could definitely prove me wrong. I also think the "screaming until she laughed" was a little bizarre. And definitely grounding the reader in the scene a little wouldn't go amiss. Maybe a few details about where she is. Is it hot? Cold? Outdoors? It would help to paint a fuller mental image of the scene.

    My vote is for Parchment Princess.

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  31. This is a difficult one for me, since neither of them particularly hooked me. The premise of Lizzie's interests me more than Princess's, but the grammatical errors in the former are difficult to overlook. However, we all make mistakes and these little errors can easily be fixed!

    The protagonist in Parchment Princess's entry is well fleshed out, which is very difficult to do in 500 words! I don't really read science fiction, but I sympathized with the protagonist and found myself wanting to learn more about her circumstances.

    That being said, Parchment Princess has my vote today.

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  32. Lizzie, I'm sure I'd like the next few scenes more. Probably Grey's Anatomy like. BUT I can't see those scenes, only this one.

    Parchment Princess, on the other hand, I already like what I read. So that earns my vote.

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  34. Parchment Princess has my vote.

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  35. Parchment Princess has my vote.

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  36. Parchment Princess has my vote. The premise is intriguing and it has a nice hook. But... I almost didn't get past the first two sentences. The writing felt robotic. Not a lot of reaction or emotion is shown. It's very distancing.

    Lizzie - there's nothing wrong with how you opened your story (even though it needs a lot of editing), but I didn't see anything unique here to hook the reader. Not sure this scene is even needed for a straight-up romance. If this is for a medical romance or romantic suspense, then you'd be okay.

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  37. Vote: Lizzie
    There were a few rough spots like this sentence - "Everyone knew the outcome would be when they got ambulance call, but this one had to turn around," but overall I thought the story flowed well. While I couldn't say if it was technically accurate (I presume you checked with someone in a medical profession for that), I did wonder if some T.V. drama sneaked in. While I have no doubt that losing a patient would crush most people, I do think it's only human that after two deaths in one day you might be a little numb to the third.

    Parchment Princess - Your piece had great language and kept me riveted, but I was too distracted by delayed reactions. For example, as soon as the blade cut through her skin she should reacted to the pain, even if she didn't scream out. Then shortly after her blood-curdling cry, peacefulness washed over her. Other bits could have been tightened, such as "I felt the blade cut through my skin and smelled my burning flesh" to "The blade cut through my skin and burned my flesh." (maybe describe the smell?) or "I lasted two minutes before I released my first scream." to "I lasted two minutes before I screamed." or "I screamed after two long minutes."

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  38. I like Lizzie. Killer opening sentences, and I actually appreciate a romance that doesn't have a "meet cute." Yes, there's a typo or two (as noted by others). And the sentence about thanking the Lord later for the invention of pre-dosed hypos stopped the flow for me--perhaps it's meant to let us know that Liv prays, but maybe that could be done more simply and directly.

    Princess Parchment, I find it hard to read descriptions of physical violence, unless they're brief and sandwiched into a lot of other good writing and storytelling. This is good, powerful writing, but not for me.

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  39. I vote for Parchment Princess. The torture scene was difficult to read... but it was supposed to be. The only negative comment I would make is that I thought the main character's arm was being cut off. I was surprised to find only the skin was being cut into.

    Lizzie's is a good entry. But it lacked the emotional impact of the second entry.

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  40. James get your information right before you say things about a sono machine being used in a code. It is used to see heart movement which a defibrillator gives shocks. I am a seasoned ED nurse and Lizzie was living what was happening in the ED at that time

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  41. Lizzie is the best and gets my vote

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  42. That last one was vicious. I vote for Parchment Princess.

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  43. My vote is for Lizzie Bennet.

    Ooof - rough emotion ground from both entries. Well done to both authors for digging into pain - emotional vs physical - to catch the reader.

    Lizzie's had typos that were distracting, but I got a sense of place there in addition to the character's frustration. Observations such as "That was the mark of a good trauma team" do pull me away - it doesn't seem like something Lizzie would be thinking at that moment.

    Princess' piece seemed like a substitution of grimdark pain for anything I'd be interested in continuing. Phrases like "I felt the bile rising" instead of "the bile rose" and "I felt the blade cut..." instead of "the blade cut...." add an extra layer that makes this one sound more like narrative than experience.

    In the end, I preferred Hospital Drama to Eli Roth. Another great round!

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  44. Lizzie, when I read the genre, I was expecting smooching or something going in that direction. I anticipated in vain. I am not a medical person, but I am pretty sure a sonogram is kind of useless on a coding baby this far along.

    Parchment, I think you made every parent cringe when you had her own family do the torturing. It bugged me for a while after I was done reading it. I think, to make the distinct nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling go away, you should include some kind of explanation of why. "She will be executed if they don't"...something...anything.

    Overall, I liked the writing of Parchment better. She gets my vote.

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  45. Princess for me.

    Lizzie's submission simply brought up too many questions while I was reading - setting issues, procedural ones, character ones - that I found it distracting. Drama for the sake of drama, almost, though the tension is high in the scene.

    Princess's piece, for me, also brought up questions, but the kind that propelled me forward instead of pulling me from the story. Great flow, great tension, and I love the hint that she's an awesome melee fighter.

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  46. I vote for Lizzie. She built depth of character, giving me a character I both understood and could root for up front. She also shared great scene with a fantastic sense of immediacy, begging me to want to know more.

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  47. Parchment Princess GMV. Though, if you move on be warned--Listing your piece as one thing, but then not showing that one thing, can hurt you. (What I mean by that is listing the piece as SF, but not having any SF in it. I speak from personal experience.) Other than that, it was an intense scene.

    Lizzie, pretty much everyone has said everything I thought while reading your piece. Just edit, rewrite, and you'll have a killer scene here!

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  48. Parchment Princess on this one.

    Tripped over typos in Lizzie.

    So many more questions raised in Parchment... and I'm more drawn to this character.

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  49. It was hard to choose today. Both stories had strong characters in difficult situations. I wish I had more of both stories!

    Lizzie Bennett:
    I could really feel the tension of the emergency room and the frustration your MC was facing. Unfortunately, there were a few GPS mistakes that stood out.

    Parchment Princess:
    Already in less than 500 words, I have had to adjust my idea of what this story is all about several times, which I enjoyed. This scene is horrific and I am filled with many questions.

    I vote for Parchment Princess.

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  50. my vote goes to Lizzie mostly because, been there done that and the scene rang true. Not sure where the story is going. life of a doc I guess. I'm not a romance reader, but again the scene rang true.
    I liked Parchment and would like to know more, but I didn't really connect with the character at this point. I feel like it might have started too soon.

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  51. My vote goes to Ms. Bennet.

    To Lizzy Bennet: I read this early this morning and cried through the passage. We came so close to losing our son when he was born that your words hit right on the mark. It took me back to the hospital and to the uncertainty that I felt so long ago. This passage hit me from the perspective of the parents in the chapel and not so much from the main character. I realize that my decision is not based on the crafting of the excerpt, because you do have some simple errors that could easily be cleaned up, but more from my own past. I feel that is important distinction to mention. We as writers are constantly striving to meet our reader where they are, and for me you have done just that.

    When I read romance for the genera and the opening line I had expected this patient to be a sexy love interest and was surprised to find a child in his place. It does leave me wondering where the romance is going to come in. In contrast to the others who have commented, I felt for sure this poor child was going to die, and was desperately hoping he would not.

    To Parchment Princess: The biggest hang up I have with your excerpt is labeling it YA. It sounds like an excellent read, but there is no way I would allow my sixteen year old daughter to read it based on the sample. It is too intense and far too dark. I realize that today almost anything goes for YA, we don’t shelter our teens anymore the way we used to, but I find it a shame that we don’t. When your book is on the shelf at your local bookstore you are going to be up against moms like me, (because how many teens do you know that spend their own money on anything) to allow your story into their hands, just something for you to consider.

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  53. This was tough. In yesterday's bout I didn't really connect with either entry. Today I could easily vote for both!

    Lizzie Bennett was full of emotion and I really felt for both the parents and the little girl on the table. I was right there with the trauma team, cheering them on. I did find the medical explanations pulled me out of the scene little and wonder how much of the jargon was really necessary. It also seemed a morbid way to start a romance novel (assuming it was the start) and one can only hope the child was the 'lucky' third on the day.

    Parchment Princess was intense. It picked me up at the start and kept carrying me through to the end.

    My vote goes to Parchment Princess.

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  54. Tough to call. What a great 2nd round! I enjoyed both stories; they equally pulled me in and held my attention. The nits I have are as follows:
    Lizzie. It feels the final edit was a bit rushed. I think setting the work aside and going over it again 24-36 hours later would have pushed this in just the right direction for success. There seemed to be a few instances that getting the word count under 500 took a toll. Believe me, I know what that was like. Superb suspense and I am NOT sure the third baby survived. What made others think that?

    Princess. What a dark concept and vivid imagination. I really related to the pain Lydia felt. I would love to know more! But for 500 words I had too many take away questions and was a bit confused in the end by the questions in total. Make this 1000-2000 words and let me really immerse myself.

    Winner: Lizzie. To me you were closer to the mark in what can be accomplished in 500 words

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  55. Wow. Both were difficult to read, in a good way! - very emotional and intense and with cliffhangers. I wanted to read more for both. Hard to choose but my vote is for Lizzie.

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  56. Both were a good read but Lizzie's drew me in and I'm holding my breath to see what happens.

    My vote is for Lizzie.

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  57. Lizzie's piece put me right there with my hands on that poor baby's chest, hoping that this wasn't the third tragedy of the day. I was so invested by the end of 500 words I wanted to yell at the screen, "Did she make it???"
    This is what can be done with 500 words and it was compelling and immersed me completely. Thank you for this piece.

    Princess' piece was so dark and horrible to consider I truly felt for Lydia, but I felt I wasn't seeing enough of the complete picture. I agree with some of the other posts that it really needed more than 500 words to fully flesh out the world that Lydia was surviving. Good job and I really wish you'd had more space.

    My vote goes to Lizzie.

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  58. Parchment Princess gets my vote with her intriguing story. It would be nice if it was fully developed as it really caught my attention.

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  59. I'll state up front that I'm not generally a fan of YA, and Parchment Princess plays into my prejudices, sorry. The wide-eyed immovable belief in ones' self is the hope of our future. For myself though, I prefer characters that have been knocked around by life a bit, have seen their limitations and now can't help but question, even themselves a little bit (or a lot).

    Lizzie speaks more to that. Once more, my bias would be to this piece as a fellow healthcare worker. I feel her need to compartmentalize and throw out a "shit happens" to protect her inner self from the horror she is witnessing. She sees the inevitable and in order to brace herself for another heart wrenching talk with a hurting family, she builds up a protective layer. Her next task is to be available to that family and her personal hurt must take second place to their immediate need.

    So the question is, how does Lizzie Bennet manage to be romantic? Is it off the books for weeks or months at a time because she mourns the trauma she witnesses pretty regularly? I'd want to know.

    Lizzie gets my vote.

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  60. Vote: Parchment Princess

    Lizzies piece does not come off as an Adult Romance to me and I'm sure the novel as a whole as those elements, but this is 500 words and that element does not come across. Since the piece is so short, spelling mistake/s glared out at me. The 'pounding' of the child's chest gave me pause as well. Normal CPR can break the ribs of adults, you wouldn't do that to a child. I do thing she weaved in the emotion fairly well, though I thought the dialogue seemed a little artificial. I'm also a firm believer that shit happens in 3s.

    Princess's story I found a little confusing as to what was happening/going on in the setting, but I think she had an interesting/creative idea. The repetition of her words starting her paragraphs/sentences, 'My Father, I' pulled me out of the story a bit, but in the end there was more here to keep me interested and less that took me out of the story.

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  61. Parchment princess gets my vote. I wanted to know who Thomas was and why her family was torturing her. I wanted to read more, and that's what tips it for me. Which story do I want to read more of? Lizzie felt like an episode of grays anatomy without the medical accuracy. And I would have liked more interaction with other characters.

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  62. Lizzie: As a mom, your story tugged at my heart strings. I liked the 'trouble in 3's' and the sense of emotion. The medical terminology/logistics occasionally confused me. Perhaps, less 'medical' is more.

    Parchment Princess: Creepy, dark, and well written. It raises a lot of 'what's going on' kinds of questions, but in a good way.

    It was a tough choice, but my vote goes to Parchment Princess.

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  63. I vote for Lizzie Bennet

    Lizzie Bennet

    I think this opened well. There were a couple of awkward (typo?) moments (e.g. “Everyone knew the outcome would be”; “it had too”), but I think it was a good mix of scene, dialogue, and thoughts. The line about “beating life into their heart” is nice. I think the sentence about the ER resident would have been better in active form. Overall, I thought you did a really nice job with this scene.

    Why “no more than twenty-seven”? Residents are 26 at youngest (unless they were gunners in college or something). And would you actually push “high dose” epi here? I don’t run codes on children, but that’s not what you’d do in that situation for adults. And what are you doing with the ultrasound machine during the code? I’m guessing that pediatric specific. All that stuff may be right, but I’d just double check to make sure that it’s consistent with the PALS algorithm.

    Parchment Princess
    I thought this was pretty good. “My eyes snapped open to reveal” is a little awkward. It feels like someone writing it instead of the character’s voice. The rest of that paragraph was good. I’m not a huge fan of “blood-curdling” because it’s overused. I’d like to see “angered by my response” rather than being told “angered by my response.” Show the father angry rather than say it. The peacefulness feels pretty sudden here. I am interested about what’s going on with the arm, and why it’s the deadliest part of your body. “Freedom is but an ancient folly” seems a bit archaic, but maybe that’s what you want. It’s tough to tell how that works out without having more of the text to go on.

    Those were just the things that stood out to me while reading it. I liked it overall, and I’m interested in seeing more of the story. I think I’d continue reading based on the passage, but if I continued running into the language issues I listed above, I probably wouldn’t make it too much further.

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  64. I enjoyed both excerpts. It's hard to get a good grasp of either story in only 500 words but I like the dark feel. With such gloomy starts, there's nowhere to go but up. In the end, I choose Lizzie Bennett. Maybe because it already hinted at the upward turn.

    Lizzie Bennett for me.

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  65. What I look for is to feel immersed in the scene and Princess's piece did this much more effectively for me.
    Lizzie: A few minor tweaks at the beginning could have helped, perhaps something as simple as saying she was a paramedic. "a patient fate" has two possible interpretations, which broke my concentration. Once I got my bearings things went much better.
    Princess: I enjoyed the sense of mystery in this. The image of the father with the knife really stuck in my mind, and here the ambiguity of what exactly he was doing with it added to piece by creating intrigue.

    My vote goes to Princess

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  66. Two strong, descriptive entries. Bravo to both of these writers for making the cut. Lizzie Bennett's piece felt a tad cliche at time, but I admire how the author built the tension in the scene. Loved the cadence and content of the ending, too. Parchment Princess immediately had me asking WTF (in a good way). The immediate violence kept me reading, though part of me took issue with the torture, and felt like it should have had a more vivid, visceral reaction from the MC.

    For this matchup, it came down to the ending. Lizzie wins my vote.

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  67. Parchment Princess gets my vote. The subject matter is intriguing and there is so much left unsaid. I want to know more; I need to know more. You have done an excellent job of drawing in the reader.

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  68. Hopefully neither of these are the opening scenes of a story. Too much gore and drama to identify with any character. Both are overwritten, but both definitely create a response.

    I'm an adult reader, so I give this one to Lizzie.

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  69. Lizzie Bennett for me!

    I think these are both good & give a good sense of character. I could use a little more backstory in the second one to anchor me into the scene (but that may have come earlier).

    For the first one, I'd like to go just a little bit deeper into the sh** storm of 3's. Telling is an underrated device that allows you to skim over interesting backstory, set up stakes, and get the reader immediately into the story, but I want a touch more.

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  70. Oooh, both entries captivated me. Even though I'm a huge romance reader, my vote goes to Parchment Princess.

    Lizzie, as others mentioned, I'd suggest going through another round or two of edits to ensure correct punctuation, spelling, and missing words etc. With that said, the character, how much she cared for her patients, and the medical drama drew me in to the story. I can see this as an opening piece. The rule of thumb is to portray romance within the first chapter. I think it's more difficult in doing so in a 500 word or less competition.
    I do also think this might be a part of a larger piece of romance, perhaps a medical romance or suspenseful romance. I think you did an excellent job of conveying an interesting piece. Well done.

    Parchment Princess-this was a very intriguing piece, as well. So many unanswered questions that made me want to continue reading. In a messed up way, I could relate to the MC. The fact that she screamed before laughing from pain is normal, and is psychological in nature. I think you did an excellent job of conveying the MC's psychological frame of mind when she was being essentially tortured. My suggestion is to watch for telling rather than showing. I noticed a couple of telling sentences. I really hope this is part of a novel, and it'll be published soon. Fantastic job!

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  71. Vote: Parchment Princess.

    I saw an earlier comment that hit my problem with Parchment Princess - there were cliches and parts that just said what was happening rather than anything literary (though other parts were great!). But it was a very interesting scene that left you wondering a lot.

    Lizzie Bennett's story on the other hand, was tense but didn't leave you wondering. I think it was actually a mistake of what part of the story to include - though there is tension in how talking to the parents will go, the fact that it was the third such death in a row, and that the death itself was already considered a certainty, means you lost a big question. Really there is no question about what's going to happen. So while it's a tense environment, there isn't much actual dramatic tension.

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  72. Vote: Parchment Princess.

    I saw an earlier comment that hit my problem with Parchment Princess - there were cliches and parts that just said what was happening rather than anything literary (though other parts were great!). But it was a very interesting scene that left you wondering a lot.

    Lizzie Bennett's story on the other hand, was tense but didn't leave you wondering. I think it was actually a mistake of what part of the story to include - though there is tension in how talking to the parents will go, the fact that it was the third such death in a row, and that the death itself was already considered a certainty, means you lost a big question. Really there is no question about what's going to happen. So while it's a tense environment, there isn't much actual dramatic tension.

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  73. Parchment Princess knows the YA genre a little too well, without adding anything new to it. So I vote for Lizzie Bennett.

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