WRiTE CLUB 2016 - Bout #8



Our next winner 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. That way there's always time to catch up on bouts you may have missed.

As we continue through 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.  After six years of doing this I think I've finally figured out why we see this drop-off after the initial surge.VOTING IS HARD! Choosing between two quality writers is not easy, and after people struggle with it a couple of times they stop coming back because of they don't want to face a difficult choice. So why 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 need.

Here's the obligatory 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 #8 - remains open until noon on Tuesday - March 22nd.

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 Thriller genre with 493 words, welcome to the ring Vodka.

(Monday June 23rd 1:15 A.M.)
           
Sal stared at the wreckage. The body lay mangled under the front wheel, but she couldn’t take in the damage to her car, shivering as the cold rain drenched her spine. She wrapped her arms around herself, and when the first medic crew arrived on the scene seconds after the police, took a step back. The car door hung open with the seatbelt dangling out, just inches from the puddle she’d stepped in. Flashing lights bounced off the surrounding storefront windows and she jumped when someone touched her on the shoulder.

“Ma’am?”

Blinking several times, Sal looked from the destroyed body into the face of a dark black man dressed in a Toledo police uniform. He was moving a flashlight in front of her eyes and she could barely make out his words. This wouldn’t be the first life she’d taken, but this hadn’t been deliberate. From her vantage, the dead man under her bumper looked like a boy. 

“Ma’am? Ma’am? Did you see what happened? Were you the one driving?” The officer motioned to the car and again passed the flashlight beam in front of her. “Ma’am, are you injured?”

“I didn’t…” Sal started then looked from the boy to the officer and tried to compose herself. There were other officers moving about, people shouting, talking, flashing lights, rain. She couldn’t concentrate on them, unable to tear her eyes away from the carnage. “He just ran out in front of me and I…” Her soft tenor voice laced with the bayou and mixed with her French heritage, thicker when she wasn’t in control. She heard her own southern drawl in just those few words and tried to focus.

“I understand ma’am. Is this your car then?”

His voice was kind; she wouldn’t have been kind.

“Do you have your driver’s license? Registration?”

He touched her shoulder again when her attention drifted back to the body as the medics knelt beside it.

“Harvey,” someone called. Sal looked from the body to her car and the officer standing in the open door. He held up the Glock she left wedged between the front seats when she removed it during the long drive. She knew she shouldn’t have come. It’d been a hastily-made stupid decision.

“Ma’am,” this time the man’s voice held more authority and Sal stiffened. “Do you have a license for the gun? Are you carrying any other weapons? I’m going to need you step to the cruiser. Can you tell me your name?”


He led them from the main activity to a black and white Dodge with Toledo PD written on the side. When she went to go back needing to look at the body, he took a firm hold of her arm shoving her toward the cruiser. He placed one hand on his gun and the other, she felt in the middle of her upper back. He kicked her feet to shoulders width, before speaking again. 
___________________________________________________________________________________


And in the far corner, representing the Short Story genre with 480 words, also welcome to the ring BonsaiBabe.


He leaned in close to the glass, his breath creating a small patch of fog, and probed lightly at his left eye with a fingertip. Overnight, the skin had darkened considerably. His mother, already suspicious about his refusal to eat dinner with the family last night, would undoubtedly have questions he wasn't willing to answer.

Aaron sighed. It was still early. Maybe if he got his shit together quickly he could get out of the house before she made it to the kitchen. He'd better hurry. She'd be up to make breakfast before long. He slapped some water on his face and ran his damp hands over his hair. Pulling on a black t-shirt and his favorite hoodie in quick succession, he stuffed his feet into the ratty old sneakers his mother kept threatening to replace.

He grabbed his backpack, which already held the only item he needed, throwing in a few textbooks to give the bag the right shape. He considered putting on his sunglasses, but decided they would only draw attention to the rapidly spreading bruise around his eye. The weight in his backpack felt strange as he slung it over his shoulder. Strange, but powerful.

He took the stairs two at a time, avoiding the squeaky edge as best he could. THUNK. The nylon bag wasn't enough to muffle the sound of hard metal rebounding off wood paneling. He froze.

"Aaron? Is that you?" His mother's voice floated up the stairs. "Peek your head into the baby's room and see if she's up, would you?" He could hear water running and pans scraping across the stovetop.

He did as she asked. The baby still slept soundly, her legs tucked under her chest and her little toddler rear shoved high into the air. He pulled the blanket over her, causing her eyes to flutter momentarily. Giving him a little half smile, she turned away from the light and fell back to sleep. He patted her softly. He would miss her the most.

"She's fine, Ma," he called as he dashed past the kitchen door. "Gotta run!"

"Aaron? Where are you going? You haven't even had breakfast." He heard the irritation in her voice. He didn't want her to remember anger in her last words to him. Too late. If he went back, she might say something to change his mind.


He grabbed his bike and headed toward the school, pedaling hard to burn off some of the adrenaline pumping through his veins. The sun just reached over the trees. Most of his neighbors had yet to embark on their daily commutes; their cars still huddled in sleep masks of frost. He could picture his classmates burrowed under blankets, dreams about to be shattered by the sounds of alarm clocks. Would they think of that moment, the sudden switch from asleep to awake, when they heard the sirens later?
 ___________________________________________________________________________________


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!





43 comments

  1. What a great way to start my morning! These two were tough to vote for. Pretty evenly matched.

    Vodka-I was confused during the first half of your piece but I think I have a good understanding of what happened. What interested me was the officers finding the Glock in Sal's car and her inner thoughts about this not being the first time she's done this before. There's intrigue to want to know more. I just wish there was a little more expansion on what was going through Sal's head that could give us a bit more grounding in her motives.

    Bonsaibabe-Your entry took on the same set-up as Vodka's which makes voting so hard. I liked the mystery behind Aaron running away. I wanted to know why he had a black eye and why he had to leave home. I think the last line cinched it all together, giving us a teeny hint at the consequences of whatever it is he's planning on doing.

    Tough choice, but I'm basing this one off of voice. While I liked the premise of Vodka's thriller, my vote goes to Bonsaibabe. I thought their entry had more voice and that ultimately drew me in to Aaron's world.

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  2. My vote goes to Bonsaibaby but it was a close call for me.

    Vodka – several of your word choices jarred me right out of your story, “drenched her spine” and “tear her eyes away from the carnage”. Also a few of your sentences were cumbersome- first paragraph, third sentence, and fifth paragraph, second to the last sentence. I also didn’t think you needed that last sentence in your fifth paragraph as you had already given us great detail on your character’s voice and background in the previous sentence. I loved your hook, “this wouldn’t be the first life she had taken….”

    Bonsaibabe – your story had a great rhythm. But the description of the metal hitting the wood paneling yanked me out of the story. I couldn’t visualize how a backpack was hitting the wall, especially if he was trying to move quietly. Might just be me. The scene with his baby sister was terrific. Definitely hooked me with your last sentence. Can’t wait to know what’s coming!

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  3. Vodka- This story had a couple pieces of phrasing that tripped me up. The participial phrase in the second sentence is confusing because it references "she" even though the subject of the sentence is "the body". Also the "dark black man" kind of bugged me. However, your story had a great hook! It was very visceral, with multi-sensory imagery that helped draw me into the scene. I loved the little bomb drops you doled out, keeping us way interested and showing the cop's switch from solicitous to suspicious when the gun was revealed. There was a lot of emotion for a short piece as well.

    Bonzaibabe- this story might have had an edge from the beginning because it's meant to be a short piece and so it is more self-contained. However, the writing in here was fantastic! You parceled out just enough information to make me wildly curious, and you made your character sympathetic surprisingly quickly. I hope the whole story doesn't end on as much of a cliffhanger, though!

    Bonzaibabe, you get my vote, for having strong writing and construction throughout.

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  4. Vote: Bonsaibabe

    Vodka's story is interesting (though I'm immediately a little unsympathetic to somebody who just hit someone with their car!), but there were a few turns of phrase or clunky sentences that turned me off. Right at the beginning, "rain drenched her spine" sounded like a physical impossibility (unless she's a lot more injured than she lets on!) as well as a cliche. The talk of her accent slipping in was a nice touch, though.

    Bonsaibabe's story is just a lot of great description, packed into quick sentences that keep it moving, rather than dwelling on each image. If anything it could be too quick! But I liked it.

    It's interesting to see how the match-up process works, as you can clearly see these two pitted against each other, both as beginnings to larger tales.

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  5. Vote: Bonsaibabe

    Vodka's story was intriguing and I would love to read more. However, in places the long sentence structure interrupted the flow. In an intense situation, shorter sentences give more punch. Sal is supposedly in shock and focused entirely on the body, and yet we get a detailed description of the activity around her. I wanted to like her more than I did. Vodka tapped on Sal's regret for killing a boy, but her only reaction is to stare at what she's done. Some internal dialog or other action might bring us closer to her.

    Bonsaibabe firmly rooted me in the scene. I'm intrigued by what must have come before that would drive a boy to run away and what will happen next. (Hoping it isn't suicide).

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  6. My vote goes to BonsaiBabe. It was much clearer in the writing, nice touches of emotion with the baby and mother. Shades of some sort of abuse (perhaps) which is why the lad is leaving - or maybe he is going to do something more vile than just running away.

    Vodka's piece was fast paced,the scene was perfectly set, the darkness and rain with the flashing lights, the confusion of Sal with her accent becoming thicker helped set the mood of the scene. I did find the dialogue was too frenetic for my taste.

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  7. I vote Bonsai. The only phrase i didnt like was the metal hitting wood panel phrase. I pulled out of the reading to try and think what that was. But overall great. Makes me wonder if the police are coming because he's run away, he's about to do something stupid/dangerous, or what. Very good
    Vodka- acidentally having someone jump in front of my car is an actual fear for me. I liked it until the glock. Whike the mood shift in the officer was great reflection of the new evidnce- i dont like thinking this happened on purpose.

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  8. Bonsaibabe. One of the best entries yet.

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  9. Bonsaibabe gets my vote. Besides the clunky description of metal hitting wood (I couldn't picture what was happening), the writing was good.

    Vodka - while the opening was intriguing, the writing didn't flow.

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  10. My vote goes to BonsaiBabe. Great writing that immediately drew me in and left me wanting more.

    Vodka - this was good too but it didn't grab me. I understand Sal's been in an accident but I kept wanting her to get over it and stop seeming so confused. Is that too harsh? Probably...but it sounds like she is familiar with death so I don't see why she's so obsessed with the carnage.

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  11. Vodka- More long sentences than I normally see in the opening of a short story. (27 and 24 in the first paragraph.) The story is interesting though. It leaves me with several questions that would get me to read on.

    BonsaiBabe- Wow. That's a powerful piece. An interesting head to be inside.

    You both did well and have stories that intrigue me. BonsaiBabe gets my vote though.

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  12. Vote: Bonsai

    Vodka: There were too many stumbling blocks in the piece that continued to pull me from the story and make me ask the wrong kind of questions. I also think some things can be simplified; the 2 sentences on her voice, the description 'dark black' which I believe in an oxymoron. I also wonder why the police officer and not the medic examining her? Why after finding a gun would he arrest her, he doesn't know who she is, if she has it legally, etc. I do like the idea behind this piece, it has intrigue and good description, though probably in need of toning down.

    Bonsai: Great little piece, holds your interest and gets you wanting to know more. The writing flows and is tight. I wise I could get a little closer to the character. I mean, I have a vague sense he's running away from him because of the black eye. I would just like it to be cemented a little more. Otherwise, love it.

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  13. My vote goes to Bonsaibabe, although it's a tough choice. Although I'm intrigued by Vodka's piece, Bonsai's character feels more sympathetic, which is always a plus for me.

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  14. My vote goes to Bonsaibabe, although it's a tough choice. Although I'm intrigued by Vodka's piece, Bonsai's character feels more sympathetic, which is always a plus for me.

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  15. Bonsai gets my vote- awesome writing. For me, it was so clear that Aaron was being bullied at school and this was probably going to end with a school shooting or murder/suicide. Such a hot button issue, but you made me care about the MC . Especially loved the baby scene and how he'll miss her the most - very powerful. I knew the metal hitting the wall just be a gun, but wondering if you could have made it a little more obvious?
    Vodka - You lost me with your second sentence. Why would she mention the damage to her car if she were so upset about the body? It felt unnatural. The rest of the writing was interesting but I also paused at dark black for a description. Can you convey this description with more vivid language? Good writing but need to read your work aloud to catch any awkward pacing.

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  16. Both entries are enjoyable. I'm voting Vodka. I was drawn in to the woman's internal conflict. I liked the way she seemed almost disconnected from what was going on around her. I bought into it completely.

    Bonsai's was extremely well done. But it left me with more questions than Vodka's piece and they were questions I felt I wanted answered within the entry. The biggest one being -- why is this protagonist saying goodbye to his family? Is he leaving home because he's afraid of something coming that he can't control (for all I know, this might be a supernatural piece) or is he about to commit a crime he knows will result in him being removed from his family?

    Vote for Vodka -- but both are great!

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  17. Vodka: I am so intrigued by what's going on. Fine job of using disjointed phrases to show Sal's confusion and shock. The mind jumps about, focusing on the strangest details. Anyone who's ever been in a serious accident can relate, I think. In another situation, the style would be a distraction, but here it worked. I was hooked when the cop found the Glock. Would definitely read on.

    Bonsai: This read like paranormal from the start- with the fog, probing, and darkening skin. I didn't get it was a normal black eye until the third paragraph, then had to go back and re-read. Perhaps if you had used "bruise" in the second sentence? As soon as we had dark tee, hoodie, and "the only item he needed" in the backpack, any suspense you were building dissipated. Much like yesterday's entry, I want to see the parts that make this "disturbed teen with a gun" story unique from all the others. It's well written, but feels cliched overall.

    My vote goes to Vodka.

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  18. Some intense pieces this bout.

    Vodka - interesting premise, great first sentence, but the mechanics got in the way with the very next lines. Awkward phrases and clunky sentences combine with confusing imagery and a character who does not fully capture my interest or sympathy. There's enough there that I'd like to see this story once it's been fully developed and edited.

    BonsaiBabe - I suspect I know what's going on, though there are a few points where things aren't clear. The backpack shape - I assume there's something in it other than books, then the noise of metal against wood makes me think gun. While I like the hinting, I think a little more clarity would have been nice. Otherwise, love the voice and the approach of the piece.

    Vote - BonsaiBabe, for cleaner writing, and a character that made me want to know more.

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  19. I am having trouble with these two. I didn't like either piece for subject matter, but I liked the writing in both. The first was disjointed as it would be if you'd just been in an accident like that.
    The second was clearly the thought process of a young man about to either kill someone else and/or himself. The awakening to sirens and approaching the school, the metal disguised with books hitting the wall... but why the black eye? That seemed unnecessary for this excerpt, unless it is revenge he is after. Since it is probably a part of a longer piece, I can go with that.

    I vote for Vodka - though BB could have easily convinced me I was wrong and should vote that way. I'm sorry that someone has to be out.

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  20. If Vodka was a tv show opening, I'd watch more.
    Bonsai has an interesting point of view character. Retaliation is an easy motivate to understand for a character, even if we all hate the end results. But something about the psychology bugs me.
    Hard choice! I'm voting Vodka though.

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  21. I struggled a bit with this one. On a technical level, I think Bonsaibabe had a cleaner, clearer style of writing, but it lacked something for me. Maybe it was feeling like I was in the head of a kid who may be about to shoot up his school that left me feeling uninspired. I don't know.

    Vodka needs some polishing. I appreciated the disjointed writing as a means of building the scene, but there were some unnecessary words and somewhat confusing sentences. Even so, I felt more invested in the scene than I did while reading Bonsaibabe's piece. If Aaron is indeed planning to commit some heinous act, as it seems he is, I'd rather follow Sal, whose confession that this stolen life hadn't been deliberate gives her some complexity and leaves me with questions I'd like to have answered.

    That's a vote for Vodka.

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  22. I thought Vodka stirred the most emotion in me, and I had a clear sense of what was happening in the story. It gets my vote.

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  23. Today my vote is for Vodka. Both stories were deliciously sinister, and I enjoyed reading them both.

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  24. Once again, both good stories. I like the drama in Vodka's story and how it brought up some interesting questions. I like BonsaiBabe's story, but I feel like I know exactly where it's going. My vote goes to Vodka.

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  25. My vote goes to Bonsaibabe.

    BB: The writing in this piece was excellent, and this is a writing challenge. The one thing that told me I was going to vote for you from the get-go was the fact that your character stood in front of the mirror and you described nothing about his looks. (Though, at first I thought he was in front of a window. May want to replace glass with mirror.) Your similes and metaphors were great--I loved the one about the cars sleeping under the frost. The meaning of the piece (a bullied boy about to go shoot up a school) is an all too-real scenario, and you put us in the kid's head wonderfully. Well done.

    Vodka: Great piece, but you kind of lost me in the first paragraph. I would re-think the lines about her spine, and wrapping her arms around herself. As a fellow writer words paint vivid images in my head, so at first read I literally saw her wrapping her arms around herself.

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  26. My vote goes to BonsaiBabe today.

    I felt Vodka dragged on too long and I didn't get any real sense of how Sal was feeling. All I got was detached which didn't draw me in and the constant reference to the dead body didn't appeal to me.

    BonsaiBabe flowed well and made me care about Aaron. Favourite line was "her little toddler rear shoved high into the air" I could see it so clearly in my mind it made me smile.

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  27. My vote goes to BonsaiBabe!

    To BonsaiBabe: Love it. Truly, I think this is the first one I have loved. I don't want this kid to go do something bad and it left me wanting to change the progression of your story. I hope you do go throw a twist in there somewhere so it is not straight forward.

    To Vodka: The scene was good and I liked it. I felt you did a very good job with it. Parts of it did feel disjointed. If I had just killed someone with my car I would not even be thinking about the damage to my vehicle. I liked the character and that you can see she had a past. I also like seeing her dazed when the police were attempting to talk with her. I have been in one of those places in my life before where I have gotten horrid news, and when that shock sets in you can not think. I know I could not have even given my name in the moment, I like seeing it there.

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  28. Wow! Bonsai's piece is dynamite! I love the subtlety! I was entirely drawn in and filled with dread over what is apparently going to happen. I'm praying he somehow gets diverted from his plan! I would definitely pay money for a book that begins this way!

    Vodka's piece strikes me as a great first draft that has been edited/released too soon after its original creation, where the author has not had the luxury of time passing prior to editing; enough time that it is approached from a fresh perspective where the author can read it like a reader and hear what it actually sounds like instead of what it was intended to sound like. Very tough luck running into Bonsai at this stage but congrats on getting this far!

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    1. I think I forgot to mention that my vote goes to BonsaiBabe.

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  29. Bonsai babe wrote a wonderful story that you could follow thoroughly but I felt more attracted to vodka's story mainly because the character Sal introduced a more complex character that I wanted to end up learning about. Why did she have a gun?

    I loved bonsai babe's story too. I was intrigued about why Aaron had a black eye and why he was packing up and where he was going. This story was throughly written.

    This voting session was hard for me because on one hand one story was throughly written while the other story seemed to need to work on their pacing in the begining. I still would vote for Vodka mainly because I was more intrigued by the main character and was more invested in her.

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  30. Bonsai babe wrote a wonderful story that you could follow thoroughly but I felt more attracted to vodka's story mainly because the character Sal introduced a more complex character that I wanted to end up learning about. Why did she have a gun?

    I loved bonsai babe's story too. I was intrigued about why Aaron had a black eye and why he was packing up and where he was going. This story was throughly written.

    This voting session was hard for me because on one hand one story was throughly written while the other story seemed to need to work on their pacing in the begining. I still would vote for Vodka mainly because I was more intrigued by the main character and was more invested in her.

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  31. I vote for BonsaiBabe. The writing was lovely and I was thoroughly sucked into the story. I think Vodka has an intriguing premise, but it was slightly disjointed and prevented me from becoming fully immersed in the scene.

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  32. My vote is for Vodka. Although you have some technical errors and your piece might benefit from some change in word choice I was extremely intrigued.

    BonsaiBabe - You writing is well constructed and I did not see any obvious errors. I like the part about the baby and your description of her sleeping. The only reason you did not get my vote is because of the subject matter. I am a teacher who recently lost a student to suicide. I have nothing against your work, but I have no desire to read any further into it either.

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  33. My vote goes to BonsaiBabe. Overall the writing had a better flow, I thought. (Although I'd cut the adverb in paragraph and there were a few other moments it could be tightened or tweaked.)

    In Vodka the shift at the end from questions to spread 'em and pat down felt abrupt. I'd rather have seen Sal fumble through explanations.

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  34. Vodka: Before I say anything else, I want to say that I nearly stood up from my desk chair and started applauding when I read this line:

    "This wouldn’t be the first life she’d taken, but this hadn’t been deliberate."

    WOW. This is such an economical way of letting us know exactly who this character is. I love that she's really, really rattled and we're invited to think it's because of the accident (accident?) that just happened, but the more the scene goes on, it becomes a question of whether she isn't rattled for other reasons entirely. That accident is obviously the worst thing that could have happened to her, so bad for so many reasons you're only barely hinting at. Bravo!

    There are definitely some technical issues to deal with. In general, commas are your friend, and should be used more liberally, I think? I tend to underuse them too, especially in first drafts. The writing could be cleaner but the situation is just delicious. I want to know more about who Sal is and why she's doing...whatever it is she's doing.

    BonsaiBabe: Your piece raised a lot of questions for me, particularly regarding Adam and what the heck he's about to do. I kept wondering if what I was reading wasn't a bit generic--typical teen scenario, disgruntled (bullied?) kid running away from home. And then there are the hints that this is something else--the thunk of metal--a gun? The last line left me wondering, though, if Adam is going to do something while the other students are asleep (waking them up with sirens) or if he's going to do a thing (school shooting?) that will make them think about being safe in their beds (which seems too particular to be a thing everyone would think about?). The writing is technically very strong, but the situation seemed more hinting at the unusual than actually setting itself apart. Why this story? Why this boy? What is particular about him? Why is his story worth telling?

    My vote is for Vodka.

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  35. My vote is for BonsaiBabe. I want to know why is he leaving, why can't he and his mother get along, why will his classmates wake up to sirens???? Just give me more!

    Vodka was good, but I wasn't as emotionally involved by the end.

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  36. Both good stories that I'd like to read in entirety. There was lots to like in Vodka's story, but there were a few places where I had to stop and ask what the writer meant.

    Bonsai gets my vote for clear, articulate writing and an intriguing short story.

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  37. BonsaiBabe gets my vote. I think I know what is about to happen with character and it gives me chills. We get into the characters head right away. Well done.

    Vodka, intriguing writing but leaves too many questions. We're told MC is killer, didn't kill on purpose this time but what else? Where was she going and what does that have to do with this particular car crash except that is was an accident? I can't really see even a hint of what else is coming next in the story and this is what loses my attention.

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  38. BonsaiBabe gets my vote. Tough call, as both are very good.

    Vodka - I like the disjointed feel of the MC, who has to keep looking at the body and has trouble focusing. That really set the mood.

    BonsaiBabe - You got the vote because your piece gave me the overwhelming urge to STOP HIM, whatever he was about to do! The urgency sealed it. Also, loved the sleep masks of frost on the cars.

    Thanks and congratulations to you both!

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  39. Voting for vodka! Grabbed me right from the start

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  40. Bonsaibabe has my vote, hands down!

    The writing is impeccable, and you can feel Aaron's indecision and fear about what is to come. What he is able to do. The little sister tugged at my heartstrings, and part of me was glad it ended where it did so I can pretend he changed his mind ๐Ÿ˜‰.

    Vodka, I got the feel for what you were trying to accomplish with this piece, I just think it needs some polishing and a few proofreaders. The "dark black man" bothered me as well. There are much more subtle, artful ways of describing a character to the reader and that just seemed a bit lazy. The second sentence also threw me for a loop: why are we talking about the damage for the car when there is a dead body under said car? Maybe you were going for your MC being in shock, but I just didn't buy it. I did think the dialogue was good though. Just needs a little more work.

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  41. Two very similar pieces in that they both place their characters in a predicament and build a story from there. So that is my basis for voting: which story established itself the most clearly in my imagination, which character came the more alive?

    On both counts Bonsai gets my vote.

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