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WRiTE CLUB – Round 8

Sorry for being tardy, but as Bob Cratchit explained so eloquently,  "It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir."

How about we start off with a late Christmas present for one of our WRiTER's from last week's round seven?  It was a very tight bout, actually neck and neck for awhile, but in the end TERRI LEE defeated GARGOYLE BEAUTY.  The official score ended up being:

GARGOYLE BEAUTY - 12 votes     TERRI LEE - 20 votes

TERRI becomes our seventh semi-finalist!  He/She will join the other six winners in the semi-finals which will begin in February.  As always, you can check my WRiTE CLUB page for a breakdown of all the winners along with links to all of the writing samples.

Before we move on to the next round I like to recount a conversation (email string) with one of my fellow blogging buddies for you.  In it my fellow blogger expressed how they enjoyed WRiTE CLUB very much, but they just couldn't bring themselves to hurt somebody's feelings (by voting for one over the other).  I replied by telling them that even though WRiTE CLUB was completely anonymous, I understood where they were coming from.  But then I went on to ask if that reasoning demonstrated a "glass half empty" point of view.  What about the exhilarating feeling of the WRiTER who earns a vote, doesn't that count just as equally, and if so, wouldn't it be better to look at it from a "glass half full" slant?  There are those that would counter by asking why we should be drinking at all.  My answer is that most of our readers ultimate goal is publication, and that doesn't happen in a vacuum.  There are winners (multi-book contracts) and losers (rejection letters), and WRiTE CLUB is just little taste of that.

Anyway, we had a couple new submissions last week, so one contestant will come from the newby pool and their opponent from the open group.  Here we go, without further ado....

Here are this week's randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 226 words, please welcome to the ring……..


That night, Shay tossed in her bed, unable to sleep. She stared out her window at the scythe-like moon suspended in an ocean of blackness. Faint glimmerings of stars pinpricked the sky here and there, but they weren’t enough to lighten her room much. Wind battered the side of the house, causing the timbers to creak, and then it subsided. It was suddenly quiet. Too quiet.

Even her breathing and the rustling of the sheets as she sat up sounded loud. The darkness around her was menacing, as though it was trying to crush her back down onto the mattress, swallowing up even the faint outlines of her closet and shelves as a cloud consumed the moon. Shay shook herself angrily. She’d never been afraid of the dark before. What was the matter with her?

Then a noise interrupted the silence—a faint shuffling, as though made by tiny feet on the grassy carpet below her window. Maybe there was a deer or a rabbit outside.

Shay closed her eyes, settling back down, forcing herself to breathe slowly in and out, in and out. There. She was fine. Her window creaked and she opened her eyes wide to stare at it frantically. She sighed in annoyance at her own jitteriness. There was nothing there. Of course there wasn’t—her room was two stories above the ground.

And in the other corner, weighing in at 250 words (*WARNING - Explicit Language*), let me introduce to you ……..


Scott grabbed the remote, flipping through the channels until he settled on Star Trek.

“I ran into Betsy Miller,” Joachim said as Spock and Bones continued their endless emotion versus logic argument.

“Yeah?” Scott yawned. “She’s got those schoolgirl pigtails right? And the tattoo on her neck? She’s hot. You should ask her out.”

Joachim rubbed his jaw. “Why don’t you?”

“Can’t man. Dated her sister.”

“Wait, Penelope Miller? When the hell was that?”

“I don’t know, like 10 years ago.”

“In Middle School? Dude, that doesn’t even count.”

“Say what you want.” Scott shrugged. “I’m not dating her.”

The toaster popped and Joachim headed to the kitchen.

“I’m just saying man,” Scott continued. “You need to get laid. It would get you over Jen.”

“I am over Jen.”

“So you say, but I know you.”

Joachim grabbed a plate and returned to the living room.

“What happened anyways?” Scott asked. “You never told me.”

“Nothing.” Joachim tossed Scott two pastries. “We grew apart.”

Scott took a bite. He rubbed the back of his hand across his mouth. “That’s bullshit. That doesn’t happen.”

“It happens all the time.”

“Yeah, it happens to normal people. But you two – you were hot and heavy. You loved her, man. You wanted to buy her a ring.”

“No I didn’t.” Joachim grabbed the remote and turned the volume up.

“Whatever. You don’t have to fuckin’ lie to my face. If you don’t want to tell me then don’t tell me.”

“Fuck you, you’re drunk.”

So, how about it?  By now you know the drill, leave your vote for the winner of round 8 in the comments below, along with any sort of critique you would like to offer.  Please remind your friends to make a selection as well.  The voting will remain open until noon Sunday. Remember, you can throw your pen name into the hat anytime during these last six weeks by submitting your own 250 word sample.  Check out the rules by clicking on the badge below…then come out swinging!

Remember, here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!

Where words are the true knockout!


  1. Wow, such different choices today. I have to say, I do prefer dialogue over just narrative, however, the dialogue confused me a bit.

    I will go with SPECTRAL this week. (#1)

    SPECTRAL - Loved your description. It set an eerie tone to your work. Normally I wouldn't start such a small section with description of the scenery but in this case, it worked. And you left us on a cliff-hanger. What was she hearing? What was in the room?

    DIRCH McGURKIN - I liked the voice of the characters. Right away, I had a mental picture. We couldn tell the one character really did love Jen. Only one suggestion, when I first read the dialogue, I thought it was the dialogue from the Star Trek Episode. Why? Because I have never seen an episode of Star Trek (original series), I didn't realize Joachim wasn't a character from the show; It threw me off and I had to re-read. For the sake of the Write Club competition, cut out some of the needless dialogue and end the section in a way the reader wants to read on.

    These are just suggestions.

  2. DL, maybe I shouldn't give my feedback. I don't know, should I just limit my comment to my pick or do the writers find the little opinions helpful? I don't want to offend anyone.

  3. I'm going with Dirch (#2) on this round. Congrats, as always, to both contestants.

  4. I liked them both, so it was hard for me to choose. Ultimately, I would have kept reading with both of them. This time I'll go with Spectral (#1) simply because I felt like there was maybe a little too much dialogue with the second. But really, it was a close call. Also, I agree with you - good writing doesn't happen in a vacuum. It's always nice to get feedback.

  5. Wow! These really ARE so different--it's tough. The first is setting up a scene, so the description-heavy style feels right. But! Look how much info is delivered rapidly in #2 through simple dialogue.

    Still, I got lost in #2 over who was interested on which girl and why, and what was actually happening. More tags (try descriptive/action tags).

    So judging based on most ready to fight, I have to vote #1. Just watch feeling too familiar.

    And #2 is so close. Great work, guys!

  6. Dirch almost had me with Star Trek, but voting for Spectral and the eerie feeling.

  7. Big fan of dialogue myself, but I agree with whoever said a few more tags were needed to keep me from getting lost.

    I'll go with #1 Spectral.

  8. Spectral gets my vote. I want to read more.

    Durch McGurkin was close, though. I love banter, but I did have a problem following, plus I had no idea who's POV it was in.

  9. First off DL, I’d like to say thanks for bringing the issue of “judging” up. I’ve submitted my own writing excerpt, and been through the “showdown” and I have to say it is the feedback that has meant the most to me. We’re looking for what grabs the reader right away, not what constitutes an overall read of the novel. First lines, first paragraphs, transitions . . All that is extremely important to writers.

    What I see in this Write Club is the opportunity to know what grabs a reader. I’m pretty sure not all these excerpts are the beginning of a novel/short story, and so when I vote, I’m trying to explain exactly how my vote was swayed, especially when it is a difficult choice. I don’t think there are any “losers” in this competition, unless the author feels they have “lost” because their excerpt wasn’t good enough. Again, I feel the feedback is more important than the actual vote.

    I’ve seen some of the feedback - and offered some of my own - that is intended to encourage the author with what is working/not working with the excerpt. I’ve also noted that sometimes what “doesn’t work” in the short excerpt for the competition, is exactly what would keep me reading on to the next paragraph/scene. Hopefully, none of the authors that have lost a round feel their writing efforts are unappreciated in any other arena. It takes a strong writing personality to accept feedback, especially if that feedback may not be glowing. It has been my experience that most critiquers have the writers best interest at heart.

    For myself, this competition has been a truly enlightening experience. I get to see what reader/authors find appealing in a scene, whether or not my excerpt “won” the round. I’m hoping other authors who submit excerpts feel the same; and thus the pressure really is off the audience/voter. Give honest feedback of what you did/didn’t like, what swayed your opinion either way, and feel no guilt about the competition. A confident writer will know exactly the value of the feedback regardless of the outcome of the competition.

    In my opinion, anyway . .

    Spectral: I feel this scene is adding tension to a prior action scene. I like the transition from one event to the next. And I feel the “tiny feet” has something to do with the characters plot crisis. I like how the unreasoning fear is built, as if she is unconsciously waiting for something to happen. I am eager to move forward and find out what the noise means in the larger scheme of the plot.

    Dirch: I like the emotional mystique you’re building here. Your action dialogue is also progressive and well paced. You have also integrated an overall plot and character plot for Scott. It appears as one guy is trying to convince the other that he should go out on a date with a certain girl. What confuses me is the “Star Trek” theme at the beginning, and the name “Scott”. I at first thought this was a fan fiction piece as I could associate “Scott” with “Scotty”. The other thing that bugged me was a lack of distinct characterization. One guy would speak, but the other had the action tag. In the end, I wasn’t sure if Scott or Joachim was supposed to be dating the mystery girl.

    While I am sure the previous scenes describes the mystery girls, and the name associations, this scene feels disjointed as a transition. It felt as if there was a lot that came before and I might have to re-read prior pages to understand; or that it is a recap of what has already been explained. Solidifying a distinct POV would help this scene.

    My vote goes to Spectral because the excerpt feels more progressive and active to the overall story plot.


  10. This was a tough decision for me. Neither selection was a clear winner, because I had to read both twice to truly absorb what I think the authors intended.

    In Spectral's scene, I didn't make the connection between the setting descriptions and the emotional state of the character until the second read-through. For example, I pictured her staring out the window, frustrated because she couldn't sleep, yet a moment later she was sitting up fearful in bed. I had to shift my perception of the character and to picture the bed next to the window. And, at the creak of the window, she stares 'frantically' yet sighs with annoyance -- two different emotions I don't easily picture piggy-backed in a single moment.

    In Dirch's piece, the dialogue was authentic-sounding, which I liked, but it was so bare bones and stark that I had to read it twice to pick up more than just what was said in the scene. The pastries confused me, though it was an unimportant detail. Must have been a toaster with four slots, two for each guy? Or maybe it was a two-slot toaster and Joachim tossed both Pop Tarts to Scott because he was going to snack on something else? Again, not important to the excerpt for our consideration, but it was one of those things that pulled me out of the moment while I thought about it.

    I did come away from the first and second readings with a greater appreciation for Dirch's style and scene, so my vote goes to him/her this week.

    Thanks to both writers for sharing their work with us. And Happy New Year to all!

  11. I'm going with number 2. It may be just the mood I'm in, but I needed something fast paced to keep my attention today, and that was it. :)

  12. both were great this week. I'm going with Dirch because i prefer dialogue in general, though i agree more dialogue tags would be nice

  13. I'm going with the first one. The second one lost me with the language.

  14. Another tough one. I did like the feeling that something mysterious was going to happen in the first one and the ST reference in the 2nd :) Hmmmm, I think my vote will go to #2

  15. Although both pieces were well written, I prefer Spectral's submission. It provided enough setting to build tension and invested me in the scene. (dark room, wierd noises etc). I also like how the piece brought me into the character's mind. I wanted to know the origin of the noise. I wondered if it was a figment of the character's imagination or if it was real. Great job, I would read further.

    Although I like dialogue, I am not a fan of jumping into a scene where that's all there is. Don't get me wrong, it was well paced, and each character had a distinct voice. Great job on this. However, the topic of discussion did not draw me in. Thus the bad thing about beginning with dialogue. I did not feel invested in Jen or the character who pined for her. Also, I don't understand the reason Star Trek was mentioned. It didn't add anything to the scene. In fact, it seemed to distract me from the banter between the characters.

    FWIW, I have no doubt Dirch's submission is very interesting, but with only 250 words to go by, I'm not sure that was the best starting point.

    This said, I cast my vote for number 1.

  16. I'm usually into dialogue. So much can be shared, backstory revealed with the "info dump" moment. However, Spectral piqued my interest and really made me want to know mare. So Spectral gets my vote this time around.

  17. While Spectral was written beautifully, I was pulled into Dirch McGurkin faster. I loved the teen voice. So my vote goes to number two.

  18. Spectral gets my vote. I get more of a sense of the character and the tone of the story than the Dirch McGurkin piece, although I give props to Dirch for his fast pace, which I like.

  19. i like realistic sounding dialogue so my vote's for Dirch

  20. I have to vote for Spectral. The second one had lively dialog but it seemed to drone on a bit too much.:)

  21. Does this get harder each week, or is it just me? Another two great entries, which I wavered back and forth on. My vote goes for number two. I enjoyed the dialog between them.

  22. Happy New Year! I enjoyed both offerings today, but the vivid descriptions by SPECTRAL just edged it for me.

  23. I don't know. Neither really did anything for me.

    The first one had great description. I could hear the wind. Literally, I can hear the wind because it's going crazy outside my window, but something about the opening was slow, non-urgent despite what happens. I can't explain it. It just didn't grab me the way I would have liked.

    The second one had great dialogue but there was something off about the piece, but again, I can't really put my finger on what didn't sit right with me. Maybe it was the first sentence in which the individual is changing the channel at the very same moment he is picking up the remote. He can pick up the remote and change the channel, but not the way it is here is not quite right.

    If I have to pick one, then I'll got with #1. :D




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