WRiTE CLUB 2016 - Bout #6



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.



Third gear.

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!





58 comments

  1. Today my vote goes to Hunley.

    I was drawn into the story right away and came away already liking the main character though I found the constant mention of spaceships a bit repetitive. I'm also hoping the story doesn't have the cliche of the humvee blowing up now that everyone is talking about what they're going to do when they get out of the Army. I admit I was expecting this and I'm glad at least that wasn't featured in this entry. Anyway, nice job, I really like the voice.

    Golden Pen, I found myself having to reread the first sentence three times before I realized what was happening. At first I thought I was about to read a coming of age story by the phrase downshift in my approach to turn fourteen. You have a lot of good descriptors and detailed action but it just didn't resonate with me. It's probably because I'm not familiar with motorbike racing, or racing of any kind in fact, that all the terms and technical stuff kept pulling me out of the story. Personally I wouldn't pick this book up to read but mainly because of the subject matter. I'm sure this entry would've been less confusing if I'd seen a blurb about what the story was about beforehand.

    Anyway, long story short, both entries were great but Hunley's story drew me in more. Good luck to you both :)

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  2. Golden Pen- I liked it. I wanted to like it more. Maybe if there was more emotion and less about shifting? I'm not sure. But I love your character and her goal. There's certainly a story there.

    Hunley- Powerful stuff. It really builds up to that ending. I tip my hat and give you my vote.

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  3. Golden Pen: It's a great piece, but need to trip back on the push/pull usage and "it". Such a small word can water down the writing. I wanted more emotion, not so much description of who was looking where; I wanted to feel as I was on the bike.

    Excellent piece, Hunley. You get my vote. Maybe too much about the spaceship. And the looking up the definition and giving it, not sure that bit really fits.

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  4. Hunley gets my vote. The story just flowed from the start and I liked the character.

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  5. Both are great stories, but my vote goes to Golden Pen.

    Golden Pen: There's something about the last sentence in the second to the last paragraph and the first sentence in the last paragraph that don't seem to fit, but I enjoyed the rest of it. I want to see this woman win and see how she goes from kicking butt to finding romance.

    Hunley: Great story, but there were things in his thoughts and the dialogue that slowed it down a little. I love the last paragraph.

    Congrats and good luck to you both!

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  6. And week two starts off with a bang!

    Golden Pen: I loved your first sentence. There was enough information there to allow me to figure out that the character was on a bike even motorcycle racing is something I know nothing about. I always enjoy when an author gives me all the necessary info but resists spoon-feeding it to me. I appreciate the quality of your writing -- strong, active voice, no glaring GPS mistakes, quick character and setting development. The only complaint I have is that the last paragraph doesn't seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the passage. I suspect it's transitional and would fit better if we had what comes after it, but for the purposes of this contest, I would have left it off.

    Hunley: Another example of strong writing, particularly the way you show us who the characters are. It's not easy to get the reader to understand how a character sees themselves AND how others see that character at the same time, but felt like that's exactly what you were doing. "Being ugly doesn’t mean I’m stupid. I looked it up." ... "The mucky heat in the Humvee is making my scars itch." ... “Didn’t I just f-fucking say that?” (especially since that's NOT what he just said) ... these lines are just packed with subtle details about these characters.


    My vote goes to Hunley. It was a tough choice, but Hunley's story just grabbed me in an unexpected way.

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  7. I vote for Hunley

    Golden Pen

    I thought the writing was pretty good here. I wasn’t totally into the scene. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with me knowing nothing about racing, but I kind of got tired of the turning and leaning and glancing. I bet others would feel differently, even those who don’t know much about racing. I thought the prediction of the kneepad scraping then the reality of the kneepad scraping was too close together, and you probably only needed to say that once. We’re kind of hit with how tight the turn is more times than is necessary, in my opinion. It also wasn’t what I was expecting with the genre, though I could certainly see it working in a largest romantic work. Overall, I think this is good, and I’m sure some people would want to keep reading. I would probably not keep reading because I’m not that interested in what’s going on here. Just personal preference.

    Hunley

    In the first paragraph, I’m going to include some thoughts I have while reading it. I’ll summarize in the second.

    I’ve got a good picture in my head after the first paragraph. Would this guy really need to look up claustrophobia? Doesn’t everyone know what that is? Or is he actually stupid? I like the dog shit line. I really like the spaceship paragraph. Having a leader talk about a spaceship is a nice detail, then the money discussion is nice, and tying it in to a Humvee getting blasted is nice. I also like the idea of the heat making the scars itch. I think the stuttering/shaking discussion at the end is good too.

    OK, I really liked this. Good voice, good characters. This isn’t the genre I typically read, but I’d keep reading. Good job.

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  8. My vote goes to Golden Pen because it held my interest more.

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  9. Hunley for me today. But what a hard choice!

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  10. Golden Pen gets my vote. I wasn't expecting a racing scene in a Romance genre, but that didn't distract me too much. I thought you held the tension well, and I could visualise the scene in my head.

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  11. I loved Golden Pen's action, but Hunley gets my vote. Before the characters get (possibly) blasted into orbit, I like knowing whether they're people I could enjoy being on the ride with. With Golden Pen's, I'm not so sure.

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  12. I enjoyed both of them very much, both strong contenders that I think could have made it to the finals. It's a pisser that they met in the first round. I can't choose based on subject matter either.

    GP: I have a soft spot for women who challenge gender-barriers. I got the motorcycle references right off, and the thrill of being in a race felt incredibly genuine. (Sometimes I quaver turning a corner too sharply on the back of the old man's retired-guy cruiser.) I can see how this piece would have a smaller niche appeal, but that's not a downside for me. Really strong, intense writing. I did stumble a bit over 'first female to win a race...' then right after 'beat him one last time.' Has she won before, or not? I hope she hangs on to take this one, either way.

    H: Armed Forces. Another really soft spot. You dropped us right in there. This had the feel of a movie opening, very, very voicy and visual. I appreciated how you relieved the tension and danger with bits of humor - felt real and true. I don't think the definition quote was needed, though, and the stutter felt a bit contrived.

    I would keep reading both of these. Wish I could. But today my vote goes to Golden Pen, for the sheer visceral thrill. Well done.

    Whoever doesn't make it today, no shame. These are both really strong entries.

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  13. Hunley gets my vote. Nice writing. I got a feel for every character.

    Golden Pen - for a romance you want emotion. You want the reader to be that character. I felt way too distanced to care. It was all action and no reaction.

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  14. Hunley gets my vote today. I was in awe of the author's ability to incorporate such visceral details and emotions into a very short piece.

    While there is some lovely writing in Golden Pen's entry (and what I'm certain is a fantastic protagonist), I wasn't as engaged with the story the way I wanted to be.

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  15. I vote for Hunley. Golden Pen seemed like it was always one sentence away from being Fifty Shades fan fiction (which would be ironic, right?).

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  16. I vote for Hunley

    Comrade or good old boy talk is not not my thing. That kind of spiel usually bores the bejeezus out of me. Thus, I say bravo for Hunley's story to have kept my interest. I attribute it to the smart craftsmanship. Had the dialogue gone on and on, I would've been out. But it was just a bit followed by explanation. I also like the non-exhaustive description of the setting to put us right there with those guys. Love the dog shit and scars itching. Laughed when MC said he is not stupid but had to look up the word just in case.

    What was glaring from Golden Pen is that it was overkill on the racing. My interest started to wane in the fifth paragraph. I did not feel a smidgeon of romance however I did feel a great deal of action, which is a good thing, the best thing about this piece. We all love to write about what interests us. The best writing recognizes that many may not have an interest in such a specific topic as racing and therefore supplement it with something else to give readers a connection with the characters. If there was some type of backstory as to past attempts and failures, something else in the MC's life that tells us about what made them are driven as they are etc. etc., weaving shreds of this in between all the racing would no doubt grab a wider audience imo. Also, "looming death" on last paragraph was a bit cliche-ish.

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  17. Boy, I have a hard time with this one! These are both excellent writing. I came out of reading the two thinking the winner was Golden Pen, but then I made the mistake of seeing what others were saying before I got to writing my opinion and they might have turned me around.

    Whichever one is better, they're both great, and very evocative of the situations they contain. I guess I will have to go with Hunley after all. It is a more emotional, more layered situation, so while they're both very well done, that was the one that I think would be harder for me to write. Difficulty bonus!

    Vote: Hunley.

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  18. My vote goes to Golden Pen. I felt like I was the one on the bike making those fast turns so you did a great job with the imagery. Not sure about the braid hanging loose though - isn't that a safety hazard?

    Hunley - you were great too. A few words in there that could have been eliminated IMHO, and why not introduce Chastain up front instead of calling him PL? But I would keep reading to see what eventually happens on that excuse for a road.

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  19. Hunley gets my vote. I loved the way you made the main character come alive and I was right there with him in that cramped, hot Humvee. I really enjoyed the writing.

    Golden Pen - I enjoyed the action and the fact she excels at racing. Your description was good, and I think it will work well in a book, but I would have liked to see interaction ( besides on a motorcycle) with the MC and someone else.

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  20. Hunley gets my vote. I loved the way you made the main character come alive and I was right there with him in that cramped, hot Humvee. I really enjoyed the writing.

    Golden Pen - I enjoyed the action and the fact she excels at racing. Your description was good, and I think it will work well in a book, but I would have liked to see interaction ( besides on a motorcycle) with the MC and someone else.

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  21. Having rode motorcycles i enjoyed goldens short story. I felt a little redundancy here and there, but overall I liked it. Ive watched those races and my heart races along with them when the knees scrape the pavement. Maybe more emotions like that may have enhanced it more to make a greater connection. Like- "my heart beat was audible in my ears" or "felt the motor quivering between my knees". I feel like phrases something like that would help ANYONE whether a rider or not connect with the MC.

    Hunley was ok. Kinda odd. I dont appreciate f bombs being thrown in randomly just to add a shock factor. I do feel like the writing was tighter than Golden's- im not much for military reinactments. Im trying to be impartial because i connected with g's more, but h's was better written... Agh the agony.

    I vote Golden

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  22. Another vote for Hunley.

    Golden Pen: I liked the tension of the race and the unusual setting of the racing world. The writing is pretty tight, but I don't feel connected to the character yet, nor do I have a clear picture of her history with Massimo. A better balance between action and emotion would strengthen this piece.

    Hunley: The writing is pretty tight here, too, and you have distinct, well developed characters. I enjoyed the snarky voice of the narrator and how he seemed both smart (clearly, he's a thinker) and a little slow (looking up claustrophobia, just to be sure, and the fact that he seems to be viewed as a little dim). I found the repeated reference to space strengthened the piece, actually, like a thread tying his thoughts together.

    Good job to both writers! I'd be happy to see either (or both) of you advance!

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  23. Wow, Tough Choice! I'm going with Golden Pen simply for the excitement, and that's the only reason.

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  24. Hunley for me. Loved how the writer creates vibrant characters in a very few words. I also liked the MC's voice.

    Golden Pen's sensory in-the-moment writing strongly appeals, too. But the MC was so involved in the mechanics of the race and the drive to win that I didn't quite get pulled in. I suspect calling this a Romance, without any qualifier, led me to expect a different kind of opening. Perhaps a more specific genre (Sports Romance, maybe) would have helped.

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  25. I love Golden Pen's concept, but something is lacking. Hunley's writing feels stronger and more vivid. I'd be more inclined to buy Golden Pen's story in book form. This is a tough one. I'm voting Golden Pen because I believe there's more room to grow into something that would hold my attention and book money. But Henley, I think you did great and should keep publishing works like this. I'm sure they have an audience and you'd do well.

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  26. Wow - no calling a winner here. Bravo, Golden Pen AND Hunley. What compelling stories.

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  27. I know nothing about motorcycles and war movies/writing is not my thing either.
    Golden Pen, with the romance genre, I would have expected a little less pavement and more background or interaction with the guy, which (I am assuming here) is who she ends up with. Sorry, the plot just didn't grab me, but you described the racing well enough for me to be able to picture it.

    Henley, my vote goes to you, only because I connected with the characters more. F-bomb was not really necessary, stuttering slowed down the flow and I had to read it a second time to make sure I figured out who was doing the talking.

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  28. My vote goes to Hunley today. Both works were well written, but I was really sucked into Hunley's story. Golden Pen's work was very calm and analytical, which I imagine fits how one needs to deal with riding two wheels at such speeds, but didn't resonate for me.

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  29. I vote for Hunley. Mainly for the personable narrator and the sense of humour that came with it.

    GP: I liked yours two, just that seemed to be less to it. The descriptions were vivid, but mainly they were covering the same ground. Yeah, I know this is just a 500 worrd extract, so that's not really a valid criticism in the wider context. I had to base the decision on something. Also, the introspective tone prevented you from taking as much advantage as you could have of the natural suspense of the race.

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  30. Hard choice. Both writing is top, but I'm going with Hunley because of the humor and the immediacy of the story. really get a sense of the guys in it.
    Golden Pen being a romance, I would have expected a hint at the romance already. Or that's what I've been told to expect in a romance.

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  31. Hunley gets my vote! Excellent piece. Strong writing, characterization, and voice. I wanted to know more about the world, about these men. Everything felt very real and nuanced to me.

    Golden Pen's writing was solid and the descriptions of racing made me feel like I was right along with the MC. The final line was great. But there was no romance here, and there was very little emotion or depth of character outside of her goal to win. I get the feeling this is the opening to a novel and the MC will end up with her rival, but I'm going by the samples alone in this competition.

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  32. Hunley gets my vote, even though I have no idea what a PL is and I found the story somewhat difficult to follow. I was on motorcycle detail overload with Golden Pen's story.

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  33. My vote for this round goes to Hunley. Your writing is strong. You really did an excellent job with voice and setting. It left me wanting to know more about the crew and their stories. I also have a soft spot for armed forces, as a former military brat and someone who attended a military based university, so that also played a role in my decision making.

    Additionally, well done on injecting humour into the subject matter. The line about dog shit made me laugh. The platoon leader's curse words didn't bother me like it did some readers. Curse words tend to be a normal part of some soldiers daily vocabularies, and I think you did an excellent job in portraying the reality of it all.

    Golden Pen-I think your writing is solid, and I love you wrote a female MC with a gender bending profession, but it didn't compel me as much as I would've liked. It didn't make me feel anything for the MC, and it almost lacked the emotional depth I usually look for in stories. I also had to re-read several sentences for clarity, and as a reader, it took me out of the story.

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  34. Hands-down winner for me – Hunley.
    Your characters came to life and drew me into that Humvee. I swear I could smell the sweat while reading your piece. I loved the line, “But being ugly doesn’t mean I’m stupid.” However, your next line, “I looked it up” had me thinking he looked up “ugly”. So when the claustrophia was mentioned again, the reference confusion (at least for me) pulled me out of the story’s flow. The stuttering didn’t fit for me because he didn’t stutter in his earlier dialogue. Your last paragraph was very strong. Loved the piece!

    Golden Pen – Your line about the braid flirting with the pavement was memorable. However, I felt as if I was listening to a tv sportscaster describing a race. I never got hooked into a story line.

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  35. My vote goes to Hunley--the voice was so consistent. Nice, tight writing.

    Golden Pen--I love that the MC is a motorcycle racer in romance. I think this fresh hook alone would make a book marketable. I also love the enemies to lovers trope so I hope this Italian guy is the love interest!

    A few things though--The crown/flag image confused me a bit--I guess this is on her helmet? I'd end that sentence with helmet and work in this image later when you can spend a little more descriptive time on it. Also, the tone/voice in the last two paragraphs didn't feel consistent with the confidence of above. Nothing's really happened, she was practically horizontal before, so why this "primal fear" "looming death" and "love-and-war" (all tired phrases--freshen it up!)

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  36. Oh, oh, oh. What an amazing start to week 2! Both these pieces do such a good job of pulling me into the exact moment of the story, and both have such distinct voices driven by the setting of their piece.

    Golden Pen- I love that I know within a few sentences exactly what's going on without you saying, "And here is a girl on a motorcycle." The voice immediately draws me into that hyper-focused, clear headspace of a person racing and high on adrenaline but not useless on adrenaline. I love that the racer was a girl! I really want to see the end of the race, and it kills me that I didn't get a peek at what kind of romance you'd get from these two. Beautiful writing, on a sentence to sentence level.

    Hunley, I thought the dialogue in this was just right. The stutter felt a bit forced to me, too, but having the guys chat about random stuff because they've been together for a million hours and they're that toxic combo of scared and bored-that totally rang true for me. I thought you did a good job of showing several characters in a short period of time, even though I was quirking an eyebrow at the looking up of claustrophobia. If you're trying to show the character is dumb without saying it in his POV, that's good and I applaud the effort, but to me, this would speak more to the fact that he'd never heard the word, which doesn't mean he's dumb. It's also statistically improbable. A better show of dumb would be if he remembered hearing it a bunch of times but couldn't remember what it meant. However, this was still good, immersive writing. The pacing was just right and I liked the having to steer around the craters in the road.

    For this one, I'm going to have to vote Golden Pen.

    Her situation grabbed me and yanked me through all 500 words in a blink, whereas with the Hunley's, the writing was good, but I had time to stop and wonder where it was going. In a pinch, I always buy the book that immerses me most fully in the world. Well done, you two!

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  37. I really enjoyed both these pieces :)

    Golden Pen - From the get go, I read this one all the way through without stopping. I loved the thrill of the piece, from not knowing if she was going to crash to wanting her to win. I didn't understand some of the racing language (but I'm a reader that is OKAY with not getting everything from the get-go and learning as I go), but my only caveat with your piece is the racing scene is too drawn out. I had the suspense but then that is all it was. While this works in a longer manuscript (which I'm assuming it is), for a short 500 piece, you really want a little bit of resolution. Give us something more than the same scene.

    Hunley- I admit, I had trouble reading this one. I read the first paragraph and stopped. After being so engaged in Golden Pen's, the shift was too much to catch my attention. (And that's not fair, so I read yours today for fresh perspective) I love war stories, from different perspectives, and while your main character isn't the kind that I like, I did find myself entertained with his voice. My only concern is I really wanted to be grounded in his situation. I wanted to know where they were stationed. Knowing that would really help understand whats going on for the rest of the piece.

    Both were great, and both had pieces of information I really needed to get 100% hooked, but my vote goes to Hunley. Honestly, it was that dogshit line that did it. Bravo.

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  38. Great scenes. Even though Hunley has less going on, circumstantially, it gets my vote because I felt in perfectly safe hands with the narrator, that he was going to immerse me in the story. I sensed the character's strong presence.

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  39. Vote goes to Hunley today.

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  40. olden Pen gets my vote. I like the final line about the love affair between gravity and centrifugal force. I found the line about the braid flirting with the pavement confusing, though. Wouldn't a professional racer have short hair or have the hair tucked under a helmet, because a braid that catches under a wheel could, at the very least, cause the driver to have an accident?

    Hunley's piece has some compelling writing, but I found it difficult to tell if spaceships were just commonplace for these characters and wondering about that kept taking me out of the story. Very good effort, though!

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    Replies
    1. 'Golden' Pen gets my vote. Sorry the 'g' got cut off:)

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  41. Golden Pen receives my vote. The action and descriptions were enough to hook me.

    Hunley, you were able to make me laugh but at the end I found myself wondering why I would want to continue to read. Your writing is great, but in this excerpt all I see are guys shooting the bull.

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  42. My vote goes to Golden Pen,

    To Golden Pen: I have to be honest, I do not see where this falls under romance, but I would assume the bigger book does. You lost me in a lot of the more detailed phrasing that is inherent to a racer. In 500 words I know you do not have a way to hint at what they mean, but giving those clues in the bigger passage would help. When I don’t know a word and can’t clue into what it means it takes me out of the writing. I saw a few small errors, but they were not distracting. I did like that you have a girl kicking butt. I was excited for her, and I wanted her to win.

    To Hunley: I wanted to care about your characters. My brother are both military and I wanted to see them in your passage, but I could not. I don’t want to sound harsh, but all I got were soldiers out on maneuvers bsing around. I feel like you could go somewhere really great with it. I like the quip at the end about the guy who is racking up hits, I want to hear more about him. It confused me that the PL did not stutter in the beginning of the text and did in the end. Why is that?

    Good job congrats to you both!

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  43. Hunley all the way. A bit of humor, a new way of looking at things. Golden Pen had a great subject, but packed too much info into sentences. I found myself overwhelmed sometimes.

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  44. Golden Pen - gave me a better vibe, though both were attention-getting and intense. Nicely done!

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  45. Golden Pen - gave me a better vibe, though both were attention-getting and intense. Nicely done!

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  46. My vote is for Hunley. There were a few lines that tripped me up, and I thought the first paragraph could be cleaner, but the dialogue was great and I got into the story as the guys got going.

    For Golden Pen - I like the idea, but this felt more like tell than show. I wanted to feel like I was on the bike. Deeper point of view could make this great.

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  47. My vote goes to Hunley.

    Too much action and description in Golden Pen to draw me in. I felt it could have been halved and I would still have experienced the thrill of being on the race track.

    Hunley gave me a great sense of all the characters and even though there were four of them in 500 words I didn't get end up scratching me head wondering who was who. I loved the dog shit line.

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  48. My vote gores to Hunley.

    Neither entry is really my thing, but I thought that Hunley used images that were more familiar to more people. The motorcycle race, though potentially exciting, kind of lost me because of all the technical descriptions of the position of her bike, her relative position to the Italian driver, etc. I just wonder if these details will be pertinent to the story later on, or if they are just used to establish the MC's know-how and seriousness about the sport. I just don't know if the intended audience will need/want to know too may details about the racing.

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  49. Argh, these are both good. Darn. I want to see where Golden Pen's story is going. But I really like the voices and characters in Hunley's already.

    Voting for Hunley!

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  50. Hunley GMV

    Golden: I'm an action guy, so normally this would be my thing. However, I have no idea what goes on in a bike race. I really got no sense of your MC other than she's a woman and she's in a race. I'm going to guess that you're incredibly knowledgeable on this subject, and a lot of times that leads to very technical writing. I would have loved to really get into your character's head and really feel her adrenaline pumping--Like how she felt going around turn fourteen with her knee scraping the track. It probably sent familiar vibrations up through her legs that resonated in her core or something.

    Hunley: As with Golden, I felt like this piece was almost like a list of items, though that makes no sense to me. The one thing that did happen for me though, was I immediately got into your character's head. I felt the sweaty, gritty heat inside a metal box with little A/C and a lot of B.O.

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  51. Hi Don - I vote for Golden Pen - I could relate to it .. cheers Hilary

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  52. Both of these entries had a ton going for them! Yet another tough Write Club bout!

    Golden Pen: This passage really hit its stride at the end of it, I thought, especially with the line about being caught between gravity and centrifugal force--GORGEOUS! Because it's romance, I expect "the only place I want to be" to change ;) But this is a good beginning! Your MC is a whole person at this point in the narrative, which is a nice basis for launching a new phase of her life. I would have liked more tactile detail in the scene. I haven't personally driven motorcycle but I have friends who do, and their primary reasons for doing so have a lot to do with the way it feels. I stumbled on the opening paragraph phrase "to turn fourteen"--I spent a bit of time trying to figure out if the protagonist was about to turn fourteen years old? Maybe that's just me being a dummy, but you could avoid confusing others if you changed the turn of phrase: "to the fourteenth turn," "to turn number fourteen?" Economy of words is important, but I didn't understand yet that we were at a race track.

    Hunley: I love your character work in this piece, and the detail at the end of the excerpt about the stutter. I have a good sense of your protagonist and the people around him. There's been a Write Club trend toward really punchy actiony sequences, and I guess a bit of an assumption on the part of we readers, that many excerpts are opening sections of the stories they represent. I love that you gave us a quieter moment that might be from the middle of your story, even if that means that the excerpt itself is a little bit less grabby. There's a humble quality to the voice you're offering here. It's quiet. I adore that your character describes himself as ugly. Just--yeah! Your piece feels very real to me. There are some rough patches--it's a bit meandering, and I am not 100% sure whether that means it's a slow point in the narrative or the narrative as a whole is a bit aimless, but since voice and character are really hard to get hold of, I'm going to say this one's my favourite piece of the two.

    My vote is for Hunley.

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  53. Golden Pen gets the win in this round. I really felt the exhilaration of riding a bike was captured in this piece. A couple of choppy spots that another edit would rectify: [My body lays, bike...] paragraph took some time for me to parse out the information.

    I liked Hundley's piece, but there seemed to be too much info to process: who asked the original question, character count/names, terms (PL, boom badge, photonic tag...) I think there is great potential here for a compelling story, but info I had a hard time processing and not sure another single edit would care for it.

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  54. Hunley gets my vote. I like military pieces that feel authentic but are still not so technical that a civilian would get lost in alphabet soup. This one gave me some great characterization and I identified with your MC without ever having served a day. Awesome work.

    Golden was a little too technical. I kept getting pulled out of the story by it.

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  55. My vote goes to Hunley. Good writing from both contestants. Thanks for sharing.

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  56. My vote goes to Hunley. Good writing from both contestants. Thanks for sharing.

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