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WRiTE CLUB 2012 Play-offs - Round Three / Bout 4

We continue the third round with bout #4, where our contestants face off against different competitors using brand new writing samples.  The bouts have been posted on a different day of the work week...and like the previous rounds you'll have until noon Sunday (Nov. 18) to vote on any or all of them.  Read the submission from each WRiTER below carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  If you can, offer some critique if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote (after signing up on this Linky List) so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun.    

Remember...every vote counts. The contestant who doesn't win their bout but garners the most votes amongst the losers, will become a wildcard winner and advance to round 4. 

The five winners will be posted on the afternoon of Nov. 18th and round four will kick off the following Monday.

Good luck to all the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner, welcome back to the ring....Peanut Buttercup.

Tommy’s glassy eyes stared out at us through a tangle of tubes and wires.

“Please,” he begged, his voice weak and muffled behind the plastic oxygen mask. “I’m not asking for much.” His speech was slow, groggy, his face contorting as he spoke, as if every word required supreme physical and mental effort to utter.

I shook my head, partly in objection, partly to try and joggle the tears back into their overflowing ducts. I had to stay strong. The ventilator beside me hissed, pumping life-sustaining air into lungs too weak to inflate on their own accord.

“It’s just a stupid signature,” he said. His shoulders twitched faintly in an attempt at shrugging. “Come on, Mom, consider it my final request.”

“Don’t...say that,” I scolded, my voice quivering. Blinking back the film of tears misting up my vision, I stroked his smooth bald head, missing the softness of his wavy hair, hair that was as sunny as his personality.

“Hey, it’s not like I’ll need them where I’m going.”

“Stop it!” I snapped a little too loudly. “I don’t like you talking that way.”

Tommy sighed, but it sounded more like a death rattle: a rasping sound that emanated from deep in his chest. He rolled his eyes, grey eyes that used to gleam like polished pewter. Now they are dull and lifeless, the colour of gravestones on an overcast day.

“Mom, you’ve spoken with the doctors. You know what to expect. I know what to expect.”

The dams finally broke, unleashing a flood of hot tears. Turning away with a stifled sob, I clung to Rob for support. The feel of his strong arms wrapped around my shoulders did nothing to console me; it only made the tears come faster, harder. I buried my face in his chest, ashamed at myself for breaking down in front of Tommy. He needed me now more than ever, and here I was, bawling my eyes out like I was the one dying.

Tommy was right, of course. I had been expecting this. The doctors had delivered their bleak prognosis.

Two months to live.

That was nine weeks ago. Nine weeks of sleepless nights and tear-soaked pillows, of unanswered prayers and lonely vigils. Yes, I had been expecting it, but expectation was one thing. Acceptance was something else entirely.


And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring, let me re-introduce....I Am Not Shakespeare.

All at once, the vibrant blue sky curdled into a darker, venomous atmosphere. The storm clouds raged overhead and sharp, pricking raindrops began to fall. Troy's balled-up fists retreated from pummeling Andrew's bloody face as he looked towards the sky. The wind whistled with fury, displacing random debris and uprooting a nearby tree stump. Mother Nature's wrath poured out on Troy Mills and his angry fists as Hayley crouched behind a bush. The energy seeped out of her skin, dancing on the wind as she watched Troy and Andrew.

She clenched her eyes shut and focused on the tree limbs smacking together and the gradual roar of thunder in the distance. She imagined a tree branch snapping in half, hitting Troy in the face, knocking him straight on his ass. The thought made her giddy, and as studied every detail of the imaginary scene, an enormous crackle erupted from the sky.

Hayley peeled her eyes open in time to see a thick branch splinter from a tree and land on Troy Mill's head. He dropped faster than a sack of flour, his flabby stomach, and thick arms in a heap on the ground, unmoving. She'd done it again, except this time, she'd made it happen exactly as she wanted to. A delicious grin spread on her face until she glanced into the horizon and saw a funnel cloud stretching for the ground as it rushed toward her.

Before she could stop herself, Hayley screamed over the wind and rain, "Andrew!" The boy's head snapped in her direction and his eyes widened with relief. But when he saw the violent windstorm heading his way, he froze in place, unable to make himself move. He directed his attention to Troy's limp body, then back to Hayley. He would have to make a decision, but there wasn't enough time to do anything other than run.

Hayley jumped over the bush, and ran towards Andrew, desperate to drag him to safety. The squealing of tornado sirens mingled with the cacophony of the storm and evaporated as the wind picked up Troy and Andrew, spinning them around and around. Hayley watched in horror as the two boys were spit out of the tornado, each hitting the pavement with a sickening splat. As if the storm had done its job, the winds retreated, the clouds faded away and the sky opened up into a vivid, electric blue. Hayley walked towards Andrew's motionless body at the end of the street and when she was close enough to see a steady stream of crimson flowing from his head, she turned around and ran. She ran until her lungs seemed to collapse in her chest, and her wheezing, gasping breath was the only thing reminding her she wasn't in a dream. With tears streaming down her face, Hayley crumpled to her knees and repented for the boy she was trying to help and instead, had killed.


See you back here tomorrow for the final bout.

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


  1. Peanut Buttercup.
    A heart-rending scene, with the perfect emotional pitch.

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  4. I've been a fan of Peanut Buttercup's first entry, with the Minotaur in their subway labrynth, even since the first round. Now, in their new submission, I like how the author has shown a completely different style. Here the emotions are just as visceral, but they're ones of sympathy, compassion, and grief. No longer are we in a killer's PoV -- now we're seeing the impact of death through the eyes of a mother losing her son to illness. While this piece might be improved by having some of that emotion a little more understated, there's no denying the power of the scene. The story questions regarding Tommy's request about the signature is developed nicely (maybe asking about getting his mom's permission to be an organ donor?). The writing is smooth and the dialogue works well.

    I Am Not Shakespear's first entry about the young MC's father coming home and discovering the mom had left was also one I voted for in many rounds, including last round. It's also nice to see a totally new side of this author, too. Their first piece was understated drama and this one is all action and big events. The story questions about why Troy is beating Andrew and what supernatural power Hayley has that enables her to evoke the winds and a tornado are subtly inserted and arouse curiosity. The writing is pretty smooth, although the "All at once" kind of grates on me, especially as an opening, maybe because it kind of violates #6 of Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, one of my favorite little writing guides -- "never use the words 'suddenly' or 'all Hell broke loose'" (and I'd all 'all at once').

    There are quite a few things to like in both pieces, so this is a tough choice, but I think I have to go with Peanut Buttercup once again.

  5. This was a hard choice (and I'm still deciding as I write this!!).
    Oh vote goes to I Am Not Shakespeare.

  6. The tense change in "Now they are dull and lifeless" was a minor distraction in Peanut Buttercup's piece, but the subject held my interest more than Shakespeare's. Both were well written, though. But for today it's P.B for me.

  7. I'm torn. Several details in Shakespeare's piece irked me. But PBcup has written exactly the kind of depressing content that I'd prefer not to read ever, kind of like Shakespeare's first submission. I realize this is just my opinion.
    I'm sorry to be all negative nelly here.
    I vote Shakespeare.
    (Shakespeare, if you go through, fix this, "The thought made her giddy, and as studied every detail of the imaginary scene, an enormous crackle erupted from the sky.")

  8. Both pieces are engaging and I would like to read more. However, both pieces have issues as well.

    Peanut Buttercup's piece is written in past tense, so the line "Now they are dull and lifeless" should be "Now they were dull and lifeless."

    In the second piece, "Troy's balled-up fists retreated from pummeling..." is a very awkward phrasing. Troy stopped pummeling Andrew; his fists aren't acting of their own accord. Also, "...and as studied every detail of the imaginary scene..." is missing a word.

    Today, I have to vote for Peanut Buttercup. That piece was the better writing in my opinion.

  9. These are both great. Really nice writing, guys!! I'll have to go with Shakespeare simply as a matter of personal preference - there seems to be a fantasy element here with her power over the storm, and I would love to read on.

  10. WOW This is tough! Both of these are great but I am going with Peanut Buttercup this time

  11. Tough again but for me it's Peanut Buttercup.

  12. Wow, this was a hard choice. Peanut Buttercup.

  13. Two great pieces, with lots to like about both. Peanut Buttercup by a hair, in my opinion.

    Well done!

  14. Nice job, both of you! And a few minor errors in both. I'm voting for Peanut Buttercup because it definitely resonated more with me.

  15. Peanut Butter cup! (I keep forgetting to vote! Sorry!)

  16. Peanut Butter Cup for me. Great job to both authors.




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