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WRiTE CLUB - Skirmish #2

I’m back again to offer a chance in the ring for the writers who submitted an anonymous sample of their work to WRiTE CLUB 2012, but weren’t lucky enough to be chosen to compete.  There are no prizes to be won, or further advancement beyond this one bout, but as all of the other contestants have discovered before them -- there is still plenty to be gained…and learned. I will post one of these skirmishes each week until I run out of contestants.

In the near corner…weighing in at 474 words…I give you…I.L. Scribble.

The hallway was finally empty. And dark. The usual fluorescent lights that gave everyone a neon glow, in Oliver’s opinion at least, were turned off. Only the emergency exits glowed red making the hallway look creepy. Oliver heard Trip let out a long yawn and he looked over his shoulder.

He smiled and whispered, “You ready to do this?”

Trip nodded. “Do you have the key?”

Oliver shook his head. “Don’t need one.” He pulled a bobby pin out of his pocket.

“Where did you get that?”

“Your sister.”

Trip shook his head now. “It’s bad enough I’m an accomplice, now you’ve roped my sister into it.”

“Chill out, Trip. No one will know it was her. I could find a bobby pin anywhere.”

“Let’s just get moving. If Professor Douglas comes to check on us, we’re in big trouble.”

“Hold on. I haven’t heard Gunney’s signal yet.”

And as if on cue, a soft whistle echoed down the hall. Gunney’s signal that the Headmaster had left the building was all Oliver was waiting for. He and Trip stood up from their crouched position in one of the classroom doorways and walked down the hall.

Oliver’s heart sped up as if it were a train, going full speed ahead with no chance of slowing down. He knew the probability of getting caught was slim, but there was always a chance. And he hoped luck was on his side.

He and Trip met Gunney and Rusty at the door. Just as he thought, it was locked. Oliver kneeled down and pulled the bobby pin apart.

“Can you shine the light over here?”

Rusty pulled out a flashlight from his bookbag and shined it on the lock. After inserting the bobby pin into the key hole, Oliver pressed down until he could feel the latch catch and the lock click. “That was easy,” he said. He stood up and opened the door to Professor Burns office.

Oliver eased the door open and all four boys took a step inside. The smell of paper and ink hit Oliver’s nose hard and he sneezed. He yanked a tissue out of the box on the corner of the desk and wiped his nose. Keeping his wrists limp, he shot the used tissue into the trashcan. “Swish. Three points,” he said.

Oliver sat down behind Professor Burn’s desk and flung his legs up on top, crossing his ankles. He leaned forward and grabbed a handful of candy out of the dish. “I never pictured Professor Burns as a fireball candy type of guy,” he said as he popped one into his mouth.

“Ollie, come on. We only have a half hour before we need to get back to the common room,” Trip said.

“Nervous?” Oliver asked.

“No. I just don’t want to be late.”

“Right. First, I need the cardboard.”

And in the far corner, boasting 449 words, let me introduce to you…The Hairless Wookie in Baja

Allister stepped out of his unmarked vehicle, shoved the hem of his shirt down the front of his trousers and ran his fingers through his dark wavy hair. His shift was over an hour ago, but when the call came through on the radio, he couldn't resist checking things out. Plus, he knew Grace would be working the scene.

Flashing his badge, he made his way past the police tape, over the sand dunes and towards the body. A quick glance told him the victim was in her early twenties.He stopped short when the pungent odor of decay made his jaw tighten. The victim laid on her back, her mouth caught in a frozen scream. Her scuffed designer shoes hung to her feet by ankle straps and her matching sequin dress torn, exposing the top half of her body. Flies collected around the victim's eyes, mouth, and scurried up her nostrils. Allister’s throat tightened, he never could get used to that part of the job.

"Whatcha got?" he asked the forensic expert, dressed in her usual police issue lab coat.

Grace,crouching next to the body, looked up. "Detective Allister Black,” she said, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her delicate nose. “It’s 6am. Shouldn't you be in bed Slim?"

"Nice to see you too, Red. I was in the area, thought I'd check things out."

"Well don't come any closer or you’ll contaminate my crime scene."

"Your crime scene?"

"Yes, mine until I've collected all necessary information." She turned to a second white coat. "Marshall, start taking pictures and use the grid technique I showed you. And don’t forget to switch off the flash this time. I don't want you scaring my maggots."

Allister's mouth twisted in disgust. Grace was a no-nonsense professional and a red-headed knockout. But he never understood her fascination with the bugs. Clearing his throat he asked, "Who's the instar?"

Grace cracked a smile, a rare event. "A bug joke. The job must be wearing on ya,Slim," she said, tucking a ginger curl behind her right ear.

No, it’s your amazing body,incredible tits and full kissable lips. "Must be," he replied, sliding his hands in his pockets. "Can you estimate the PMI?"

Grace took a thermometer from her forensics carrying case and inserted the tip into a rippling maggot mass at the crux of the victim’s throat. Allister’s stomach lurched as Grace recorded the data before reengaging in the conversation. "I need to do a full body exam at the lab,but seeing we’ve got first and second instar larvae and an average internal temp of..." her voice trailed off, her face suddenly seared with horror.“Medic! We’ve got a live one!”

Now it’s time for you to tell us the one that resonates with you the most in the comments, along with a brief critique if you have time.

Thank you for taking the time to help these writers out.  See you again next week. :)


  1. The second one ended so disgusting! And my vote would go to that one. The first one had a good setup, but it didn't go anywhere.

  2. The second one is not to my taste (but bonus points for the nerdy instar joke!). I'd probably vote for the first one. I love the idea of schoolboys sneaking into the professor's office, but I wish I knew more about why they're in there... the stakes need to be higher in a shorter piece. Great writing in both though!

  3. I liked the idea of the first one, but there were some inconsistencies - like if they were waiting for the hall to finally be empty, why does that take time but it's suddenly completely dark except for the exit lights? Wouldn't that be a process as well, or the completion of a process? The section with dialogue lost my interest as well because I didn't get to see what they were doing while talking. Mixing a little action in with it would help that a great deal.

    I felt like the characters in the second one were better developed. It's not my kind of story typically, but in such a short time, I got background and insights into the characters.

  4. I preferred #2 and give it bonus points for the cool pen name.

  5. The first one is missing some interal thoughts so you know why the boys are there. It could also convey emotion (give a sense of urgency, motivation), which is also lacking from the piece. There wasn't much to make me want to read on.

    The second one is a better piece. Yeah, it was a little gross, but I like horror, so it didn't bother me. I didn't get the instar joke, though, and it kind of pulled me out of the story. In fact, I thought she was answering his question, not declaring a fact (or just making a comment). The ending hooked me, though. I'd read on.

  6. As a mystery writer, I love the forensic bits. So my vote is with #2.

  7. I would vote for number two. In the first one a lot of things happened but, nothing happened. It didn't go anywhere.

  8. #2 gets my vote - most of the weaknesses of #1 were mentioned by others...

    my prob with #2? how can she give off a lovely decay stench and still be alive?

    which brings up other Qs....

  9. Hairless did a good job of setting the scene.

  10. My vote happily goes to I.L. Scribble.

    I like the set-up. I like the simplicity and authenticity of the answer, 'Your sister.' I got a better feel for Ollie when I read that and felt comfortably situated in the scene and ready to keep reading. I also liked it when he propped his feet on the desk and speculated on the unexpected fireball-candy aspect of Professor Burns' personality. I'd read more.

    As for Hairless, what a fantastic pen name -- in a lightly disturbing sort of way.

  11. Hmm, tough choice. I like both, but the premise of the first one appeals to me more.

  12. Number 2 gets my vote. The ending was very intriguing, and the research was clearly done well.

    The first was well written, but didn't capture my attention as well as the second.

  13. I'm going to have to go with the Wookie. And not just for the pseudonym!

  14. Two very different pieces, but I'd go with #2. I loved the twist! 1 had a nice MG feel, but took too long to build up. I'd like to know why they were there, quicker.

    I liked the internal thoughts in 2 and got a better sense of characterisation.

  15. Eek, the ending of that second one! So icky and fun. I'd have to say the first one would keep me reading though - that one gets my vote.

  16. I felt like I got more story from #2, though both were good. Both gave a grasp of the characters, but I was able to be distracted while reading the first, not so much the second.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  17. I like Oliver in the first entry and could picture him sitting at the Professor Burn's desk very well. And the second entry, well... no comment. (;

  18. I had some issues with both and I liked stuff about both. #1 - didn't really get to know the boys & without context there wasn't anything to make me like them - but I liked the setup and the clear writing. #2 - a bit too icky for me but the whole setup was more compelling. Tough choice so I'm not going to choose :)

  19. The first one was well written, but the second one gets my vote for the raw readability of it. I was compelled to read more.

  20. I'm not a fan of CSI shows, so I probably wouldn't vote for #2, for personal reasons, but I also felt the phrases could be more original -- flashed his badge, frozen scream, red-headed knockout -- these are almost cliches in my book. I don't really like the fact that Allister sees Grace as an object (with incredible tits!). And shouldn't it be "the victim lay on her back"? Nice twist at the end, though. And the entire piece has a fast pace and a snarky feel. So good job.

    In the first piece, I like Ollie right away and the premise of breaking into the Professor's office, but I do wish the writer had given us more interiority and a reason to be there. Cardboard? This needs a zinger of a last line instead. But I would probably vote for it anyway! :)

    Great writing, both of you.




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