WRiTE CLUB 2018 / Semi-Final Bout #2



This is it! Your last chance to impact who will become this year’s WRiTE CLUB champ. After this round, we turn things over to our celebrity judges.  Whoever you choose as our two finalists, they will get to stand before our celebrity judges with a 1000-word sample, and then it will be on them to crown a new winner.

Several of you have asked or made mention of wanting to find out just who these wonderful writers are that you've been following over the course of weeks. Apart from the two finalist...who are named when the competition concludes...revealing the identity of the contestants is exclusively up to the contestants themselves. Shortly following the post where our champion is recognized, I will follow that up with a wrap-up in which I invite suggestions for improvements -- but also invite our writers to remove their masks if they choose to do so. I encourage everyone who is willing to step forward and do just that, but we will not push. All 30 contestants deserve whatever recognition you can give them.  

This week, four writers will again enter the ring brandishing another new 500 word writing sample. The voting will remain open for both until noon central time on Sunday, June 3rd.

Here's a reminder of how everything works. Writing samples from two different writers, identified only by the craftily selected pen names of the respective submitters, are competing against one another today. The writing can be from any genre, any age group, taken either from a larger piece of work or simply a standalone flash fiction. The focus is on the writing...not the writer...or its categorization.

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 leave your name and email address. Anonymous voting is not allowed. It is customary to leave a brief critique for all the 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 are 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.

What's at stake here? Other than bragging rights, there's also a chance to win a couple of gift cards and free admission to the 2019 DFW Writers Conference.





Ready to help an aspiring writer make their mark?  It's time to introduce our contestants and get this party started.

Our first contestant steps forward representing the YA Dark Fantasy genre, please give a hearty WRiTE CLUB welcome to I.N. Summer.


Slats of sunlight fell through the attic’s blinds, illuminating crates, old scrolls, and a massive figure chained to the floor. Shrouded in a soiled sheet, the figure resembled a human but three times larger. Chains tethered its gangly limbs, while iron stakes pinned it down.
“Is that a person?” I whispered as Vanya hurried past me.
“No, just the shape of one.” Vanya fell to his knees in front of the motionless form, grasping at the chains. Although his voice remained steady, his hands trembled as he inserted key after key into the locks, trying to find the right ones. “Can you remove the stakes, Toma?”
“What is it?”
“A golem.”
“What’s that?”
“No time to explain. Just remove the stakes!”
I seized the spike nearest to me and yanked it free from the underlying wood, grunting in effort.
“Thirty years ago, the Old Quarter was almost destroyed during another massacre,” Vanya said, tossing a lock aside. “My grandfather made the golem using clay from the Vesna River. He had the same gift as me, but he was even more powerful—he couldn’t just make things grow, he could give life to them. Even when they had none to begin withHe created the golem to protect everyone, but after getting its first taste for blood, it began going after the same people it was supposed to defend.”
Click, clack, clunk. The steady metallic tinkling of locks and chains striking wood. As the final chain spread across the floorboards like an uncoiling serpent, Vanya yanked off the shroud.
A noble face frozen in indifference, long limbs, sexless form. The golem’s eyes were open and without irises, lips parted to reveal a sliver of darkness.
Vanya turned to me. By the second, the color drained from his face. “Once it’s over, if I can’t control it… if I hurt innocent people… aim for its forehead. Or mine.”
An unnatural silence fell over the room as Vanya stood and embraced the sitting golem. Even at his full height, he had to stand on his tiptoes to kiss the lifeless lips. No, not to kiss. To breathe into them.
At first all I heard was our hoarse breathing, then the floorboards creaked as the golem twitched. Stirred. As its arms encircled Vanya, its mouth widened to expose a black hollow.
“Don’t hesitate,” Vanya whispered. “If I can’t come back, shoot to kill. No matter—”
His words were lost beneath the resounding crash of the golem toppling down upon him.
“Vanya!” I shouted, rushing forward to push the figure off of him. Too heavy. All I could see of Vanya was a boot trapped beneath the golem’s torso—then, as the golem shifted, nothing at all.
The golem lumbered onto its hands and knees and shouldered me aside, sending me staggering into a stack of crates. It tottered to its feet, its belly as bloated as a tick’s.

Where Vanya had been, the ring of keys was all that remained.
************************************************************************

Contestant number two is representing the Romance genre this time. Please welcome back Wingsong.

“John! Did you get it? Can I see?”
“Of course I got it, Becca. And no, you can’t. Tommy’s gonna see it first. Eat your salad.”
“Ugh, the salads are terrible here. Come on. Let me see.”
“What do you expect? It's a corporate cafeteria. And no, Becca.”
“But you have terrible taste. Take some sisterly advice and let me see.”
“Brat.”
“I’m serious. The only good taste you’ve ever had is falling for Tommy. But otherwise…”
“Fine. Here.”
“Oh.”
“I should have gotten a ring, shouldn’t I? Or is it too plain? I shoulda saved up more.”
“What? No. It’s beautiful. And he wouldn’t be able to wear a ring in his workshop anyway.”
“It’s just a dumb gold chain.”
“John.”
“No, seriously, Becca. He’s a certified genius. He’d built and sold three companies by the time he was 25. I didn’t even graduate college till I was 27.”
“Hey, stop talking about my brother that way! You were a little busy, oh I don’t know, fighting for your country. Give yourself some credit. You own your own business too. Have you thought how you’ll ask him?”
“Dinner? Or is that too overdone?”
“As long as it’s an actual dinner out, suits and everything, and not a ‘Netflix and chill’ thing.”
“This is going to go so badly. He’ll never say yes.”
“Not if you don’t ask. Come over tonight, we can talk outfits.”
“Oh no. I’m not going to be primped and prepped by my baby sister.”
“Come on, you wouldn’t go to a job interview in sweats, would you?”
“No, Becca”
“Fine. Ask Tommy just as you are, then.”
“Ask me what?”
“Tommy!”
“And that would be my cue. Bye John. See you tonight.”
“Bye Becca. No, you won’t.”
“Very interesting. What was that about?”
“Nothing.”
“You know, you have a truly awful poker face. It was definitely something.”
“No, really. Just Becca giving me a hard time. How’s your day been?”
“So busy. I wanna go back to regular people hours.”
“Working all night and getting up at 3pm?”
“Shut up. I hate being a grown up. Don’t think I don't see you sneaking that box off the table mister. What is it?”
“Nothing. Stop jumping, you idiot, you’ll hurt yourself!”
“Don’t hold it over your head, then! What are we, five? Ha! Victory is mine!”
“Jesus, be careful.”
“What do we have here? Oh.”
“Tommy…”
“It’s beautiful, John. Someone’s gonna be real lucky.”
“Someone? It’s for you, you doofus.”
“It is? Well, of course it is. People give me presents all the time. Jewelry, well, that might be a little different, but, no, no, I like it. Stop trying to take it back, it’s mine!”
“Tommy!”
“No. Mine! Back off! Back! Security! Right, you’re my security. I’d like to report an attempted theft. Stop laughing, we have a serious jewelry thief here. Totally serious. Stop smiling.”
“Tommy.”
“Yes, John?”
“Willyoumarryme?”
************************************************************************

There are no wildcards or saves this time. It's win or go home. Which will it be? As always, please honor these writers by offering a brief critique, and be respectful.

What contest is it where the audience gets clobbered?



Tell all your friends.

#WRITECLUBDFW



36 comments

  1. Wow, way to make it difficult for us. I.N. Summer serves up a well-executed new piece of genre fiction, and Wingsong goes full experimental with dialogue-only fiction -- and it works, as well!

    Congratulations to both of you, but I have toi give my vote to Wingsong. It's just plain impressive to have pulled off such a solid scene through pure dialogue, without any attribution tags, descriptions or action passages required.

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  2. Oh this is a tough one. Both pieces did some impressive things. I.N. Summer had great descriptions and hinted at a fantastical world with all kinds of amazing things going on. While you can only get a small taste of that world in 500 words, it was enough to entice me to read more were that an option for me. Wingsong's piece was brave. The dialogue only approach was daring, and it was done well enough to leave me caring about the characters involved. I really hope Tommy says yes.

    Difficult as it is, a choice must be made. I'll give my vote to I.N. Summer. Both of these authors are wonderful and deserve all the credit in the world for making it this far and for writing such engaging stories. Well done!

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  3. You peoples, you really did well this round, both of you. I was completely in from beginning to end the entire time for both pieces.
    However, the images put in my mind by the attic and the golem win it for me.
    My vote is for I.N. Summer.

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  4. This was clear for me.

    I.N.Summer - really not my cup of tea for subject, but I found I was really interested in what was going to happen, and the description of the attic really set the scene. I'd like to 'see' some other senses used - smell, taste etc. I also found the "'heard' was ..breathing" distanced me from quite a dramatic scene, perhaps cut the filter word here? Very engaging and exciting.

    Wingsong
    I'm dialogue heavy myself, so would expect to like this dialogue-only piece, but I'm afraid it didn't work for me at all. Without internalisation I didn't care about the characters. Without setting I couldn't imagine where they were beyond the cafeteria - I wasn't there. There was also a bit of "as you knowing..." going on, which felt forced and could have been done more elegantly. Well done for getting this far, it's been a tough comp.

    I'm going for I.N.Summer

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  5. I.N. Summer gets my vote. Overall, well told and highly interesting! I appreciate what Wingsong is trying to do with dialogue, but since I don't know the characters, I don't have a grounding, and the extra bits felt like forced exposition for me. I'm sure this scene works well in a larger piece, however.

    Congrats to both of you for making it this far!

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  6. I.N. Summer has my vote.

    Wingsong's dialogue only approach left me unconnected to the characters and the scene.

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  7. My vote is for I.N. Summer. The piece is intriguing and well-written, with an appropriate amount of action/setting/character for the short word sample. One question: if the narrator can remove the iron stakes by hand, how effective or necessary are the stakes at restraining the golem?

    Windsong: Noble effort with dialogue-only. The story itself was rather predictable and not particularly interesting to me. I

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  8. Romance is my least favorite of all the genres. I felt no connection to the characters in Wind Songs piece. Therefore it is I.N Summer for me.

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  9. Wingsong has written a scenario with dialoge similar to what I have seen in real life. My vote goes to Wingsong.

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  10. I.N.Summer!!! Beautifully written and captivating.

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  11. My vote is for I.N. Summer. I love dialogue, but not so sure that pure dialogue works for me. I need some action and description, too.

    Congratulations to both of you for making it this far.

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  12. My vote goes to Wingsong! Way to go :) I love the dialogue only style. I've seen very few writers pull this off and I think you did a great job. We need more experimental writing like this one.

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  13. I always appreciate when someone does something a little different and Windsong's submission was interesting. I'm torn because I want to encourage that but this specific submission just didn't work for me. Interesting convo, but I need more context. Story-wise, I have to go with Summer. I would be eager to know more about the story from this excerpt.

    Great writing and congratulations to both for making it here.

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  14. My vote is for I.N Summer-the piece was exciting and conjured up a really clear image in my mind's eye. Wingsong's story was cute and I like the characters but the dialogue only style didn't work for me. I like a little description of what the characters are doing and the expressions they are making while they talk.

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  15. Kudos to Wingsong for dialogue only. This would have worked for me if the exchange between John and Tommy had imparted a feeling of romance between two people in love. As is, it felt more buddy/buddy. Otherwise, I loved the concept and had no trouble following along.

    For I.N.Summer, I'm missing emotion. Excellent description and pacing puts me there, but I have no idea how the MC feels--scared, excited, apprehensive, maybe all three and more? Without emotion, I couldn't connect.

    For pulling off the daring dialogue only, and where emotion came through loud and clear, Wingsong gets my vote.

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  16. I.N. Summer ... Very captivating. Good take on the lore. You have my vote.

    Wingsong ... I like the story plot and theme. The lack of dialog tags, or verbs/ actions between speaking, feels unnatural to me. Like I'm reading a conversation via screenshots of text messages; which isn't what this is, just what it felt like to me. Bravo for trying the style, it takes great courage to make such an attempt, especially in a contest like this one.

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  17. Fer Ley (akidiser01@hotmail.com)May 31, 2018 at 6:14 PM

    Oh my Gosh! I loved both stories! Very unique writers and very interesting characters.

    It is a difficult choice, but I would have to give it to Wingsong. I love the voices of the characters, very unique. It also has a lot to do with the fact that i love romances, and thus one warmed my heart. Thank you both for the great stories!

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  18. I.N. Summer

    Though Summer's reads more like an MG than a YA to me, the setting and characters pull me in. It could use a bit more of the sensory details. Does the attic smell? Does the dust make one of them sneeze? Is it hotter than blue blazes in there? I can see it, but I want to feel it.

    Wingsong has been a great competitor so far, but I'm actually disappointed in the dialogue-only snippet we get here. I need more than disembodied voices for the story to pull me in.

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  19. Wingsong's dialogue might work for a screenplay if we could've seen the characters and the emotion from faces and body language, but for a fiction piece, it lost me. Even with a written screenplay, you get dialogue tags. Pretty good run of dialogue, but characters need emotions to be real on the page.

    For I.N.Summer, you immersed me straight into the scene, and the writing is so descriptive and lyrical. I agree that the MC could have used a touch more emotion, but other than that, it was perfect to me, and definitely deserving of a win.

    My vote goes to I.N. Summer.

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  20. Such a difficult choice. They both show strong writing, well done! I have to vote for I.N.Summer, though. Wingsong gets lots of points for going with the experimental dialogue-only style, but it really illustrates why you don't see this a lot. Without internalization, description, or action, it's hard to get a strong sense of place or character. Also, from the first lines I knew what was going on and what was going to happen. I.N.Summer's piece had flaws of its own (for instance, I agree with others that I'd have liked more internal reaction and feeling from the narrator), but I was still drawn in to what was happening and cared about the people.

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  21. Wow, congrats on getting this far! For me this time, I'm going to have to say Windsong. You took a big risk and I appreciate that. While Summer was good, it reminded me too much of works I've already read. This time, since both authors were equally skilled, I had to go with originality.

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  22. I'm not a fantasy reader, but I have to vote with IN Summer. I enjoyed the premise, but it was the writing that stood out. While it might have brought the senses out a little more in the scene, it kept me moving and wanting to learn more. And when the words were finished, I wanted to keep reading.

    Wingsong, it's tough to write dialog-only for 500 words. I had a problem with that aspect ("as you know" dialog is hard enough to avoid but in dialog-only, it becomes harder and there are a couple instances here), but my real concern was that the ending was too predictable. The set up from the opening moments was for John to ask Tommy to marry and ... that's what happened. That part fell flat for me.

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  23. I.N. Summer gets my vote. This sentence “Once it’s over, if I can’t control it… if I hurt innocent people… aim for its forehead." was confusing though. Made me start wondering and I got a little lost but I came back eventually:) Nice ending.
    Wingsong - very cute. Hopefully he said yes! Some breaks between the dialog would have helped.

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  24. I enjoyed both pieces, but I think the dialogue-only piece was just a bit long (plus, for a romance, the reader wants more than just dialogue), so my vote goes to I.N. Summer.

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  25. Voting for Wingsong for the well executed form. Hard to tell a story without action tags but you did it.

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  26. My vote goes to Wingsong.
    I.N. Summer set up a lot of possibilities in their world, but I wanted a little bit more context for the stakes and the story to actually be in the story.
    Wingsong was a little confusing to read without any environmental, world, or character markers at all.
    In the end, I found myself more invested and following along more with Wingsong.

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  27. I didn't get into the Write Club this year because of time constraints - I wanted to do all or nothing. But I read this post so I have to vote. It's a toughie but I'm going with the one that really drew me in and made me sorry when it ended...I.N. Summer.

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