What a first week...and I'm not just talking about the bouts! The mini-critiques and feedback I've read accompanying the votes have been nothing short of AMAZING! On behalf of those who've stepped into the ring...Thank you!
Our first winner (by a tie-breaker) has been posted on the WRiTE CLUB Scorecard and it will continue to be updated as we move through the week. Let me remind everyone that voting for each bout remains live for one week. We'll still be taking votes for last Tuesdays bout up (Mar 8) until noon today, then Wednesday's (Mar 9) bout will close tomorrow, and so on and so on. That way there's always time to catch up on bouts you may have missed.
As we move into the second week of matches, the challenge becomes how do we keep interests high so people will continue coming back? For those of you who've been Tweeting (#WRiTECLUB2016) and/or updating Facebook - THANK YOU - but we need to step up our game. As of this writing, Bout #1 drew in 1004 visitors and collected 72 votes, but Bout #5 only pulled in half that - 540 readers and 49 votes (although its still early). After six years of doing this I think I've finally figured out why this happens...VOTING IS HARD! Choosing between two quality writers is not easy, and after people do it a couple of times some readers stop coming back because of they don't want to face a difficult choice. So why do I make you do it? Because in the end, the struggle...and the competition, makes us all better at our craft. At the end of it all maybe some aspiring writers will get the exposure they so richly deserve.
For you newbies, here's a reminder of how things work. This is the 2nd of three weeks of daily bouts (M-F) between writing samples that are identified only by the craftily selected pen names of the respective submitters. Once we get through the preliminary skirmishes, then the playoffs will immediately follow.
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. At stake is a chance to win free admission to the 2017 DFW Writers Conference.
The voting for this bout - Bout #6 - remains open until noon on Sunday - March 20th.
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 Romance genre with 466 words, welcome to the ring Golden Pen.
The cool March air screams past me as I downshift in my approach to turn fourteen, a damn near 90-degree right corner that promises to have my kneepad scrape the Losail International track.
My body leans right, commanding my 300lb motorcycle around the tighter-than-tight turn. Sure as anything, as I creep closer to horizontal than vertical, my knee scrapes the track while my braid hangs over my shoulder, flirting with the pavement rippling inches away from my helmet—my trademark American flag painted across my crown.
I tuck in my elbow and control my breathing. Twenty-one laps down, two turns to go, and then I will fly over the finish line: the first female in history to win a race in MotoGP. Because I’m the first female ever to race in MotoGP. All I have to do is beat him, one last time.
Fourth gear. I pull back vertical and charge toward the sharp left of fifteen. Fifth gear. Sixth. Golden dust flashes on my right, black pavement and gray bailout gravel rushing by my left. The stadium lights of Qatar lead the way, and the best part of my view is Massimo’s royal blue fairing. It may only be inches away, but it’s closer to my back tire than my front. It’s even better than being in front of thousands of screaming fans I can’t hear over my engine.
I fade left, forcing him farther inside than he wants to be, but that’s what he gets. Italian know-it-all jerk never should have screwed with me in the first place.
Massimo peeks at me over his right shoulder, and I glare back at him over my left. He’s gaining on my inside, but it doesn’t matter—I’ve pushed him out of the apex for turn sixteen. When we bank hard and harder to the left, he’s going to run wide into the right side of the track. All I have to do is cut around behind him, and then I’ll fly past on the inside, taking the win. Today is the day I’m going to make history.
Fifth gear. Fourth. Third and lean.
My body lays, bike flexing under insane speed and gravity pulling it down. It takes everything I have to stifle the primal fear that wants to creep in, screaming about how I’m going to crash and die because I’m going too fast to hold it. There’s too much gravity and weight, and the laws of physics don’t mean crap because they don’t exist.
I swallow the lies and bury them under the truth. And the truth is that even though looming death is on my left, my body is caught in the middle of a love-and-war affair between gravity and centrifugal force, and it’s the only place I want to be.___________________________________________________________________________________
And in the far corner, representing the Adult Thriller genre with 500 words, also welcome to the ring Hunley.
Why doesn’t the Army ever ask a soldier how he feels about small enclosed spaces like this Humvee I’m riding shotgun in? Maybe nobody thinks of Humvees as small, but pack in four sweaty guys, three of us loaded with seventy pounds of combat gear, and even a Humvee gets cramped.
A medic asked me one time, “You don’t have claustrophobia, do you, Jones?” And when I told him there was probably something for that in all the shots he’d given me, he laughed. But being ugly doesn’t mean I’m stupid. I looked it up. Claustrophobia: an abnormal fear of being in an enclosed or confined place. So no, I don’t have claustrophobia. I just don’t like confined places. That’s not the same as being afraid of them. I’m not afraid of dog shit either. I just don’t like stepping in it.
It’s not making me any happier now to have a platoon leader in the back of our Humvee babbling about how when he gets out of here he wants to go up in a spaceship. If he can come up with the money, that is, which seems pretty unlikely considering he works for the U.S. Army. Me, I’m thinking the last thing I’d ever want to do is get into a spaceship, which sounds pretty much like a Humvee that gets blasted into orbit. I’ve seen Humvees blasted into orbit. It’s not a nice sight.
“How about you, Jones?” he asks.
“Not me. When I get out, I plan to keep both feet on the ground.”
“There’s the infantry for you.” That’s our driver. He’s detailed to us from Cavalry, and we know what they’re like. “I get out of here, I want to get me a convertible. Put the top down, find a nice stretch of road where I can really lay down some rubber.”
He steers the Humvee around a crater in this excuse for a road we’re on, full of craters so big they can probably see them from space. Maybe the PL can point them out to the other astronauts when he’s in his spaceship.
“Do they have air conditioning in spaceships?” I say. “Better than this, I mean?” The mucky heat in the Humvee is making my scars itch.
“Hell, yeah,” the PL says. “C-cool as you want it. And get this, n-no gravity. You’re carrying zero weight.”
“No, sir. Low-grav. Not the same as no-grav.” The driver’s got to put in his two-bits.
“Didn’t I s-say that?” Chastain, the PL asks. “Didn’t I just f-fucking say that?”
He didn’t used to stutter. Like he didn’t used to have memory lapses. Like his hands didn’t use to shake. I don’t have to look at him to know the boom badge on his helmet registers two hits. That little photonic tag changes color for every episode of blast force you’ve been exposed to. Sometimes it only takes one hit to scramble a soldier’s brain, and Chastain’s up for his third strike.
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. 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!