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WRiTE CLUB 2014 – Bout #3

Today we announce our first winner! Congratulations to Lord Codpiece for winning Bout #1 and thus securing a spot in the play-offs. Voting for Bout #2 remains open until 11:59 PM on Wednesday, June 25th. 

For anyone who's dropping by for the first time, here's a summary of what's taking place. On May 3rd we began taking submissions from WRiTER’s far and wide, spanning the globe, representing all ages and multiple styles of WRiTING.  We received 167 entries in all! Those 500 word samples went under careful consideration by 11 judges and that panel narrowed the list down to 32…which are the ones that are pairing off in the ring over the course of eight weeks.

Note: The submissions can be an excerpt from a larger work...or a standalone piece of flash fiction. The only rules are that they be 500 words or less, and never previously published or posted on a blog. Although I'll never instruct someone how they should choose a winner, I would recommend considering this when doing so. It shouldn't be about how much information is contained in those 500 words, but the way a contestant goes about communicating the information that is.

These illustrious WRiTER’s are not only from all walks of life, but they also occupy various levels of the publication world. But none of that matters here, because inside this ring everybody stands as equals. You know why?  Because no one uses their real name…the only identification you’ll ever see is their pen name. This is not a popularity contest.  The focus here is on the writing, where it should be.

Today is the third of sixteen bouts, two bouts per week, with a new one posted every Monday and Thursday. The winners are decided by votes left in the comment section and anyone can vote. The voting for each fight will last for one full week, so you can vote for a Monday battle all the way until midnight on Sunday, and you can vote for a Thursday brawl up until midnight the following Wednesday.  And when you do vote, please let the contestants know what you liked and disliked.

Understand what’s going on now?  Good…then here we go!

Here are this bouts two randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the New Adult Romantic Comedy genre and weighing in at 499 words, please welcome to the ring……..Sophie Grace.

I should have turned around and dashed out of the room the minute Maggie opened her mouth and announced, 'I dare you, Helena, to wear these black thigh highs and lace lingerie' with that voice. Now, standing in a basement of a shabby bar off 13th Avenue, my legs tittering on what felt like twelve-inch black stilettos, I debated my choices. I could walk away from this dare and prove to her that I was a prude-soon-to-be-the-owner-of-a-million-cats spinster, tossing my pride out the window in the process. Or I'd pull this through, show my best friend that I was not only brave, but also. . . . oh, who was I kidding! This wasn't me. Dressed like Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. And I was about to serenade some guy in a bachelor party in front of dozen of eyes. A dozen male eyes.

Oh crap! There was no way I was--

"Helena!" Pete, Maggie's boyfriend and the bachelor party coordinator ducked his head around the door. "Climb on that swing, pronto. You're up in three, two--"

"Wait! I--I'm not ready."


I hopped on the glittery swing, and gripped the ropes as it began to rise, leaving the wooden floor below. At the same time "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" blasted through the air.

Oh my God! Oh my God! I jerked my head up, slapping a hand on the mask fastened around my eyes to keep from seeing the ground disappearing fast. Nausea bubbled up my throat.

Oh no, not now! This would end up being more embarrassing than the time I locked myself out of my own house, left on the veranda with nothing but a pair of 'Hug-me. It's Monday' underwear.

Finally gathering the guts to peek through my fingers, my stomach churned as a ruby red velvet curtains parted and the swing started to drop. Silence reigned in one collection cloud of expectation. Then Whispers erupted, gasps filled the room, heads swung upward as I descended in all my lace glory.

My eyes moved wildly behind the mask as I searched for Maggie. The little witch sat next to the groom on a table on the front row, snapping pictures from a camera while giggling like a five year old in a candy shop. Fighting a scowl and the overwhelming panic I might topple face-down in my skyscraper heels, I took deep breaths readying myself for the dancing and flirting part like I'd practised in front of a mirror the last one month under Maggie's watchful eye. I was going to win this.

Then I saw him. Tall, dark and definitely pant-worthy, standing next to my other best friend, Abe. Oh, Mr Pant-worthy was my lure to perform this dance. Besides no one knew who was hidden behind this mask. That thought drove confidence in my body, straightening my spine. As soon as the swing slowed to a halt, I hopped off carefully, feeling the nerves melt away replaced by boldness.

And in the other corner, representing the YA or Middle Grade genre with 500 words, let me introduce to you……….Dreamer.

Gillian lurched, then steadied herself against the side of the bridge, its ancient stones damp from loch mist. Setting down her bag, she stared up at the castle, letting the afternoon wind sting her face and have its way with her hair.

To return here, terrifying, but to stay away. . . worse. She needed help, and only Kinsman could give it. She hoped.

Hoisting her bag, she glanced over her shoulder at the rental car, then crossed to the high arched door.

She grasped the thick iron ring, and banged it sharply. The door swung in so quickly she barely had time to release the knocker.

Without a greeting, the steely-eyed Alva took her bag and closed the door behind her. The sound wasn't unlike that of a crypt being sealed, and it echoed into the dank air.

Again Gillian stood under the high ceiling, encircled by tapestries and larger-than-life portraits of her ancestors. Their stares remained as she remembered them, remote with a hint of malevolence.

“He's waiting for you.” Her back more hunched than three years ago, Alva stood at the bottom of the stairway leading to the second floor.

Gillian flinched. Where was her Scottish courage—the mettle Kinsman used to remind her was in her blood? The day she left, she’d said terrible things to him, hurtled down these stairs and outside, frantic to be gone. Now she’d returned. She needed him. Desperately.

She counted each step to the library. Its door stood open.

“May I come in?” Rotten start. He'd sense her nerves unraveling in a weak request like that.

Kinsman turned from the fire to face her. Eyes, as dark and shrewd as she remembered, confronted her.

She ran her tongue over her lips and swallowed. “Did you get my message?” Another feeble question. Now she'd wait for him to speak.

The clock's pendulum became the loudest sound in the room. Her pulse drummed at her temples. The fire burned steadily, but gave little warmth. She needed a drink. A Valium. Damn. She needed sleep.

Kinsman drew his chair closer to the fire and sat with his back to her. “Do you intend to stand at the door the rest of the evening?”

He'd asked her to sit with him. He would hear her out. Without hesitating, she took a seat and waited.

“Why have you come?”

“The dreams. They've returned. . .only this time they’re. . .deadly.”

The tension between them melted with her words. At last she’d told someone who understood. None of the expensive doctors who made pages of notes and prescribed medicines for depression or anxiety or whatever they thought caused her condition, knew what she meant when told them about The Dreams, dreams that made her embrace days and dread nights.

“Then it’s time for you to know,” he said and the shadows stirred around them.

Like long, dark fingers they clutched at her, and she reached for Kinsman’s hand. Her guardian. Her protector. But could he save her?

Enjoying the words of two talented writers is only part of the price of admission, now it’s up to you to decide who moves forward to the playoffs.  In the comments below leave your vote for the winner of Bout #3.  Which one tickled your fancy?  After you vote please tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well.  The voting for this round will remain open until noon Sunday.  Yes, it’s subjective, but so is the entire publishing world.  It’s as much about the readers as it is about the writers. 

Here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing -- it’s the audience that gets clobbered!


  1. Nice job.
    Both pieces are engaging and well written, but I found that I was not as involved in Dreamer's piece as I was in Sophie Grace's.
    Sophie Grace gets my vote.

  2. Congratulations to Sophie Grace and Dreamer for making it to the battle grounds.

    This one is tough. Two pieces, polar opposite genres with two completely different tones. I am struggling!

    Sophie Grace: The premise drew me in immediately - I could clearly picture the woman on the swing and how overwhelmed she was in that very moment - and I loved where you ended the piece. Now I want to know about the tall, dark guy and where this goes!

    The writing needs some tightening - sentence structure specifically.Take for example the sentence that starts with "Fighting a scowl…" It was too long and difficult to read.

    Dreamer - this is more my type i.e. something I would read - dark, intriguing and you used one of my favorite words "malevolence." However, you too had some structural issues with sentence construction. Your third to last paragraph was a little bit wordy. Still, the end to your piece also left me wanting to know more.

    Ugh. OK - So the winner is (very tight race) Sophie Grace.

  3. Despite the 'tittering legs', I gave this round to Sophie Grace. in the short piece I felt more connected to the characters, and while both pieces felt portentous, with the first I had a clearer picture of what was being foreshadowed.

    1. I'm going to choose Sophie Grace, although I was distracted by the writing not being as tight as I'd like (punctuation errors, etc.). I felt more connected to the stakes of the story.

  4. My vote goes to Sophie Grace.

    Dreamer was a little to distance. The piece started out a little bit like a list (I hoisted my bag, walked across, grabbed the knocker, pounded the door.) it needs to get broken up, add some variation. There also needs to be something for the reader to attach to. Sophie Grace was a little on the cliched side (Character doing completely outrageous things while bemoaning the fact that this isn't like her normal self) The writing was good enough for a reader to get attached to the situation and character.

  5. Sophie Grace - I've read a ton of NA, and there's something here I like. The first paragraph as some sentences that are way too long. Also, New Adult Romantic Comedy isn't a genre, it's just New Adult. I haven't read one that starts at a bachelor party yet, that has potential for fun hi-jinx!

    For Dreamer, "She needed a drink. A Valium. Damn." - it is NOT a middle grade. How old are the characters? This is a great start though - I hope that it's the beginning of your work because it's a great jumping off point, where everything changes.

    I'm more intrigued by the premise of Dreamer, so I'm picking Dreamer.

  6. First of all, congratulations to both for making it to the battle rounds! As always, a close battle. I'm loving this contest :-)

    Sophie Grace has an interesting premise and I can see the embarrassment and the whole Moulin Rouge thing. However, the first sentence through me off so badly it was hard to recover. The author made many style choices that muddled the language and made the meaning harder to decipher than it should have been.

    My vote goes to Dreamer. Though a little further from our POV than the other entry, I felt the descriptions and actions balanced the scene. I could easily see what was happening. I think with a little more interior thought, or deep POV moments, the scene would sparkle.

  7. This was a really difficult choice.

    Sophie Grace - this needs a new set of eyes in terms of grammar, sentence structure, tightening of words, etc. I also worry that the introduction to the "pant-worthy guy" happens too quickly. But the emotional connection to the character is there.

    Dreamer - I actually prefer this plot-wise, I am left wanting to know what happens next, but the reader is quite distanced from the characters as there are almost no emotional reactions.

    Sophie Graces wins it for me, by a hair.

  8. For me, neither of these jumped out and said 'pick me'. While both were easy reads and I didn't have any issues with visualising the scenes or following the storyline, there wasn't a lot of depth to grab me and suck me in.

    I struggled with the cliche start to Sophie Grace and I would have preferred to be shown, not told backstory. The internal dialogue seemed overdone for my personal taste. Then we made the giant leap from 'OMG OMG/nausea' to 'bold seductress/no one knows whose behind the mask' which I didn't buy into.

    The first paragraph of Dreamer didn't capture me at all. Lurching, steading herself, setting down her bag and 'letting the wind have its way with her hair' didn't tempt me to read on. I felt a lot of the backstory (e.g. 'again she stood under the high ceilings' and 'the info on when she'd left the first time') could have waited until later (assuming this was an except of a larger manuscript) as it made me feel like I was wading through the shallows trying to get to the story. Things like "He'd asked her to sit with him. He would hear her out." doesn't add to the story. It's telling the reader something we should be able to deduce ourselves from the actions.

    I will vote for Sophie Grace, but it wasn't a convincing choice for me (sorry!)

  9. Another tough bout for me. Both have things to like, but both have cases where the writing could be tightened.

    The piece by Sophie Grace is fun and light. The author makes it easy to identify with the MC, even for a male like myself whose only experience with heels and lingerie has been to help remove them from a lady-friend on occassion. There were a few minor writing hiccups as I read through, but overall, the imagery in the entry worked well and by the end of the ppiece, I was connected with the MC and wondering how her act will go.

    I found the entry by Dreamer much closer to my preferred genre, and the author does a very good job of establishing mood, tension, and story questions. Clearly there are deeper stakes involved here than singing a flirty song at a bachelor party. I like the way Gillian's nervousness over her return is built up through the piece, but I think it needs a bigger resolution than just an immediate brush-off of, "the tension between them melted," after she mentions the dreams. Also, there is a lot of "busy background" in the writing – Gillian lurches, steadies herself, lowers her bag, stares, hoists her bag, glances, crosses, grasps, bangs, and so forth... Still, by then end, I'm engaged and wondering about Gillian and her dreams and how much help she'll get from Kinsman (although I did stumble over this adjective being used as a proper noun).

    Again – this is a tough bout, and I can think of reasons why both of these should advance. So I guess it comes down to: If they were longer pieces, which one would I want to continue reading first? And while I like Sophie Grace, I think I would be more likely to stay with Gillian's tale.

    So – narrowly -- Dreamer for me in this round.

  10. I vote for Dreamer.

    Both entries were really very good. I haven't read much NA Rom Com but I enjoyed Sophie Grace's entry, engaging story that kept my attention. Had I read more of the story I might have leaned toward that piece as my vote. But it didn't leave me asking , what happens next? I could tell where the piece was going after reading the last sentence. Dreamer was a good read as well, and I preferred the piece, it left me wanting to know what brought Gillian to Kinsman, what dreams is she having? And what are they that they are a threat to her life. In both pieces I could see the scenes in my head, but Dreamer piqued my curiosity. There were some cliché's in both and the writing needed tidying up. This was a tough choice, both writers told they’re stories well.

    Great writing, and congratulations to both!

  11. Dreamer by a long shot, though I agree with the person who said it's not MG. While the POV wasn't intimate, you created a menacing atmosphere from beginning to end, I was intrigued by your characters, and I would definitely have kept reading. Great work!

    Sophie Grace, while you communicated Helena's anxiety well, some of your sentences were unwieldy, I wasn't entirely sure where I was or how your characters were related, and it felt like it might be a bit cliched to open with mc being embarrassed in front of love interest. That said, contemporary romantic comedy is not my genre of preference (whereas, lucky for Dreamer, I love stories with fantastical elements), so please do not take my criticism too personally. It may be perfect for what it is.

  12. I preferred Dreamer's piece.

    Both were interesting reads, but both had some awkward word choice and sentence structure. 'Tittering legs' and 'pant-worthy' kind of turned me off Sophie's. Dreamer's had some good sensory details at the start, grounding me in the story, but later on those details evaporated. By then it felt rushed. But the 500 word restriction might be to blame for that.

  13. I'm not usually a fan of NA, but the other piece didn't connect with me, so I'll go with Sophie's. Just letting you know Don, in case you haven't had a chance to read my latest blog post - I'll be unplugging for a while so won't be commenting on these bouts. Just let me know when it gets to the final round!

  14. Sophie's needed a tiny bit more, but not sure what. I vote for Dreamer.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. While Dreamer had some great vocabulary usage and description, I think Sophie Grace's entry held my interest more. For me, voice wins out every single time, and her piece is chock-full of it.

    Vote: Sophie Grace

  17. (Previous comment removed.)

    My vote is for Dreamer.

    I loved the story and the voice of the writer. I felt like I stood in the Scottish castle.

  18. I vote for dreamer. The story is very intriguing and I really want to know more. :)

  19. This was a tough choice both were interesting but need a little help. I loved that dreamer has Scottish ancestry in it, but it didn't catch my attention until the end. I don't usually read NA more of a YA reader, but I liked the premise of Sophia grace. I vote Sophia grace, tough choice.

  20. SophieGrace for me.

    The very opening was confusing and pulled me out, but overall i thought it was just a lot of fun and i would have kept reading to see what happened.

    For Dreamer, i was confused by the YA/MG category tags. MG is very different from YA, and i don't see MG readers reading about characters who wants valiums, etc.

    But all of that aside, the set up seemed a bit cliche to me. Like a girl is having dreams and people are dying and now someone is finally going to tell her the truth about some sort of secret that's been hidden from her. It's hitting all the tropes, but not really expanding on any of them or turning them on their head. (assuming this is some sort of fantasy, of course. There's no genre listed so i had to make a guess)

  21. Hmmm... tough one. I didn't fully connect with either MC, but I think I came a bit closer to connecting with Sophie Grace's character. And Dreamer's setting seemed a bit more clear to me. And, overall, I liked the way both were written, other than a few editing mistakes.

    I think character connection is going to win out for me this time. Sophie Grace's piece spoke to me a bit better than Dreamer's, so I'm giving my vote to Sophie Grace this time around.

  22. Congratulations to you both for making it to the top 32!!

    While Sophie Grace's NA genre appeals to me more, the piece itself needs a lot of polishing. It also felt like the author is trying way too hard to be sassy - pant-worthy, tittering legs, etc (side note, maybe that was a typo? "Tittering" and "jittery" are not the same thing!). My other concern (as someone else mentioned) is this MC going from vomit-worthy nervousness to sudden vixen in a mask - I don't find myself buying the sudden turn around. While the premise is very interesting, I'm skeptical that the MC is believable.

    Dreamer's piece was full of great descriptions, but also needs a good editor to clean it up. I didn't feel an emotional connection to Gillian, but I think this is the better-written of the two pieces.

    My vote goes to Dreamer. Good luck to you both!

  23. In the interest of communicating honest feedback which is what I would want if I were one of the ‘fighters,’ here are my reactions to both, strengths and areas that didn’t work for me.

    Sophie Grace’s strengths: The premise is fun, the tone is appropriately light, the voice is humorous and it does communicate a sense of the MC, Helena. Areas where I felt thrown out of the story: in the first sentence, I do not know what “that voice” means here. Also, just want to concur with a few other commenters, some of the phrasing doesn’t quite work, “Pant-worthy” – just isn’t fresh or funny. And ‘legs tittering’—I think you mean ‘teetering.’ ‘Collection cloud,’ you mean ‘collective cloud.’ Overall, I am left feeling flat about Helena.I want to ask, what it is in Helena’s life that really led her to do this? Just a dare? What is it about her that made her want to accept that dare? I think adding a suggestion of the deeper character would heighten the piece, and make the funny more satisfying.

    Dreamer’s strengths: I know that the blending of the urban and modern with the old and ancient is a part of this genre, but I think Dreamer does it well, with just a few light touches and no belaboring. That’s tough to do. We’re in a land and time that include loch mist and a rental car, tapestries and Valium (though like some other readers, I’m not sure the valium is truly in keeping with the character, especially if she rejects the help she’s been receiving for those dreams). Places where I was thrown out of the passage: The wind ‘having its way with her hair.’ “Steely-eyed.” “lurched.” These phrases could be more fresh.

    I vote for Dreamer.

  24. Dreamer. With the advice to choose a more specific age group if pitching. It can't be both YA and MG. Pick one!

  25. Both are nice, but I'm going with Dreamer. I couldn't figure out in Sophie Grace's piece why the protag had gotten sucked into some high-tech public performance. I get that there was a dare involved, but how would she actually replace a professional performer? Getting hoisted onto swings and stuff is not something clubs let people walk in off the street and do, they have hired staff for that. So, Dreamer wins for me just because I got taken out the story being confused by the other one. Some feedback on both:

    Sophie Grace: nice voice, so kudos there! It sounds like a fun story. Some of the sentences got a bit lengthy and overly wordy, so use caution there. I noticed a few typos here and there as well, so it just needs a bit of polish. I notice at the end you mention she's been practicing for a month, but in the first paragraph it makes it sound like this was spur of the moment, thus her friend getting her to wear a risqué outfit. Again, just kind of confused how this dare came to be.

    Dreamer: this is not MG. That is up to age 12, sometimes 13, and someone that age is not mentioning needing a Valium (at least I hope not! Unless this is a serious pre-teen drug story, which does not seem the case) and not using curse words. Also, the voice is not MG, it's more YA. I'm not quite sure I like calling someone Kinsman as a name, when they are also her kin (or so it seems). I wasn't sure at first whether you had accidentally capitalized kinsman and meant she was visiting her kinsman, as in, multiple family members. I would be interested to find out about these dreams, and her family drama, so nice job enticing us to read on!

    Good luck to you both! Another tough choice!

  26. Congratulations to Sophie Grace and Dreamer for making the top 20%!

    In the piece by Sophie Grace, I liked the MC immediately: we were in her head, and she was way out of her comfort zone. The nice little detail of having once been locked out in just her underwear gave me a laugh and told me more about her. There were some cliches ("tall, dark" and "practising in front of a mirror") and I wasn't quite sure what pant-worthy meant. Or why "Whispers" was capitalized.

    Dreamer presented a very different work, almost certainly fantasy. I enjoyed the sensory detail and the dark images. Overall, the narrative distance was greater, and I felt there was little less fluidity to the writing. I'm not a fan of the weaker -ing verbs at the start of sentences ("Setting down her bag", "Hoisting her bag"). This submission also had some cliches, (“Then it’s time for you to know," "But could he save her?").

    My vote goes to Sophie Grace.

  27. Dreamer gets my vote, going against my natural instincts.

    The difference for me is in the writing itself. I'm not a fan of historical, but this is so well-written. Despite the historical voice which is really not my thing, it flows so well. While Sophie's New Adult story is definitely more my speed, the writing is clearly trying too hard. I see this when judging pitch contests--the writer will try to cram too much into the small word count allowed for the contest and what happens is that the writing comes off as inorganic and choppy. I think Sophie's story would pique my interest more and definitely would have had my vote on personal preference had the writing been stronger.

    But as this is a writing contest and not a pitch or idea contest, Dreamer is the clear winner for me.

    Good luck to both writers!

  28. I didn't really connect with either one. The storyline in the second one sounded more interesting, so my vote goes to Dreamer.

  29. Dreamer for me. There seemed to be a few mistakes in the first piece, and that really drew me out of what was going on.

  30. Sophie Grace for me. I just couldn't connect with the piece from Dreamer.

  31. NA Romance vs. YA/MG seems an odd match-up, to say the least. Sophie Grace wins by default.

    The first entry sets a dynamite scene and has a strong voice/POV, but Sophie Grace needs a good editor. The most egregious example is Helena's legs "tittering" on heels, when "teetering" is meant, not laughing furtively. Sophie Grace could work as a strong opening for an NA Romance novel with a bit more focus on the MC. Train the lens on her rather than cramming in so many other characters. I love the idea of Helena catching her prince's eye in sexy black lace. Hey, it worked for Kate Middleton.

    YA/MG is an age category, not really a genre, and Dreamer has content inappropriate for YA and MG: "She needed a drink. A Valium. Damn." I can't vote in good conscience for this as YA/MG entry. That said, the characters and story are intriguing. This could work for an adult audience or be rewritten to suit YA/MG. Either way, the passage might benefit by spelling out the story question a bit more (i.e., the mystery is too mysterious to hook the reader). The entry also suffers from too much exposition (especially about the past) for such a short work. Moving Gillian from inside to outside takes a lot of words. Dropping her right into the confrontation with Kinsman at the fireplace (or a similar scene from their past) would work better to introduce the characters and conflict. I do love the phrase "loch mist," but perhaps that could Gillian could see it cling to the windows or some such.

    Although I have major concerns with both passages as written, these can be easily addressed. If so, the two of these entries have great potential as longer works. Congratulations on qualifying for Round 1 and Good Luck!

  32. My vote goes to Dreamer.

    Although the concept in Sophie Grace's entry has the potential to be fun, the excerpt is riddled with awkward writing, incorrect grammar, and punctuation errors, so it needs a lot more work to realize that potential.

    Though Dreamer's piece could also use some tidying up, the writing is more competent overall, and it has a couple of nice images. However, I certainly agree that you can't identify something as 'YA or Middle Grade' -- and since this is definitely not MG, it must be YA.

  33. Admittedly, neither one really grabbed my attention and held it, but I thought Sophie Grace's piece had an interesting voice at least that carried the piece forward, so it'll get my vote.

  34. Sophie Grace caught my attention right away but was already losing it by the end. Dreamer was still pulling me in. My vote goes to Dreamer.

  35. Both pieces had moments that were great, but sort of wavered in the ability to hold my attention (I'm sick today, so it's probably just me). Despite that, I connected more with Dreamer because I felt that the stakes were higher and the tension was more tangible.

    I liked the brief look into Sophie, but the gravitas wasn't there--also she seemed to lack self respect. She was only there because someone else had dared her to it.

    I'm going with Dreamer for this round.

  36. Dreamer has my vote! I'm dying to read more.
    Sophie Grace was good. Perhaps not my personal cup of tea, as it isn't a genre I read very often.
    But Dreamer hooked me. I'd click an Amazon link right now if it existed. (Which it obviously does not, because the entry wouldn't be in the contest if it were published. But maybe one day...)

    1. -- I do agree with the others that it is YA, not middle-grade. But I still vote for it.

  37. I felt Sophie Grace has more personality. I go with Sophie Grace.

  38. Dreamer. I finished wanting to read more.

  39. Dream. By the end, I was dying for more. Not sure why the "middle grade or ya" - I read rental car and assumed the character was old enough to drive. Seems like a ya piece.

    Sophie Grace was also good. I'm not sure why the high emotions suddenly dropped off, other than the story needed them to in order to go on. If the mc had vomited on the groom, I'd have laughed. Where it left off, eh, I'm sure others would read on, but I didn't feel attachment anymore. But I'm not really a reader of that genre, so please don't take it personally.

  40. My vote goes to Sophie Grace. The story captured me more than the second, even though I'm not a fan of NA.

    On Dreamer's I couldn't tell if it was a fantasy or historical or what. Without grounding me in the world, I was lost. And just because the MC is young, doesn't mean it's a YA or MG. The voice dictates that. The voice here sounded adult.

  41. My vote goes to Sophie Grace. I haven't read any NA, but this story really grabbed me.

  42. Sophie Grace: Very, very nice. It's attention grabbing and it held onto me until the very end. I want to read more. I'm struggling to come up with any constructive critism for you.

    Dreamer: It sounds extremely interesting. I'm assuming it's a piece of a larger work? It should be. If I'm correct, you should work a little bit on your comma placement. Otherwise, outstanding.

    My vote is going to Sophie Grace this round. As much as I enjoyed Dreamer's story, I feel it would just suit a competition with larger works. I think the word count limited the talent the story shows.

  43. Congratulations to both Sophie Grace and Dreamer for making it into the ring!

    IMO, surprise is everything. Sophie Grace incorporated so many romcom tropes in her piece, I knew where the story was headed from line one. Plus, all those exclamation points were a distraction. Dreamer pulled me in by posing story questions that begged to be answered. I can't predict where the story is going or where it will end, and that's where the joy is for me as a reader. My vote goes to Dreamer, although as other's have mentioned, there's no such thing as MG/YA. The voice sounds YA.

    VR Barkowski

  44. Another interesting, and probably close, bout here, congrats to you both for getting through to the last 32. NA isn't really a genre I have read much in, but I thought Sophie Grace had a lot to offer, if a little cliched for my taste. Dreamer, I was confused by your MG/YA label I felt this sample lent toward YA because of some of the language choice i.e the sentences containing,"I need a drink, A valium, damn."
    However, I felt more connection to the Scottish castle setting, so by a hair, I will vote Dreamer.
    Good luck to both of you.

  45. I went back and forth on this one. Both pieces have strengths and weaknesses that stood out to me. In the end, I went with Dreamer, just because I found myself pulled in a little bit more. But I agree with the previous comments that this piece is definitely YA, not MG.

  46. Congrats to Sophie Grace and Dreamer for making it to this week's bout.

    One of the things I really liked about Sophie Grace's submission was the tone. Though there were many tropes present, I thought the piece sounded fun and definitely funny. I felt more connected to the character, and was drawn in to want to read more.

    For Dreamer's submission, I felt a little disconnected to the character from the start. Also, I wouldn't classify this as MG/YA because of some of the word selection in this sentence, "She needed a drink. A Valium. Damn. She needed sleep." I would pick one genre and it most definitely would be YA. By the end of the piece, I wanted to keep reading more.

    In the end, my vote goes to Sophie Grace. I connected more with that piece right out of the gate.

    Great job to both writers!

  47. Sophie Grace! The voice is pitch perfect. This-- "and prove to her that I was a prude-soon-to-be-the-owner-of-a-million-cats spinster"--is worth the price of admission to this bout! LOL! That's a perfect image.

    Dreamer is good, but a bit stilted for my taste.

  48. This was a hard one for me, because I loved both of them. Sophie Grace did a great job of setting the mood of the piece, and the descriptions were spot on. Dreamer told a compelling story that I would gladly continue to read, and I also enjoyed the descriptions there as well.

    Perhaps it's partly a matter of genre preference for me, but my vote has to go to Dreamer. While I thoroughly enjoyed both pieces, Dreamer's is the one I would continue reading.

  49. Congratulations to both writers for making it to the top 32.

    I found both pieces difficult to judge. Sophie Grace, for me, was trying too much to be funny, and although there were a couple of brilliant moments, overall it left me flat.

    Dreamer I felt was more to my liking. However, it lacks personality. I got no feel for the mc, apart from she had dreams that scared her. With a few touch-ups and re-writing, I think this to be the better piece of the two.

    So due to personal preference, my vote goes to Dreamer.

  50. I had to go with Sophie Grace as well... both piece were entertaining, and both had their errors (sophie's actually had more) but I felt more connected to the characters in sophies piece... it drew me in where Dreamer's piece did not.

  51. Dreamer's was the better written piece.

  52. Tough.
    I liked the voice/personality of Sophie and the tone/atmosphere of Dreamer.I'm assuming Dreamer's is at least an upper YA (although it has a more New Adult tone for me).
    My vote goes to Dreamer as Sophie's was a bit more predictable.

  53. I liked them both, but Dreamer gets my vote. I was a little confused by Sophie's piece. For me it didn't flow well, but I liked the humor, though maybe in some spots it was trying a little too hard.

    I felt Dreamer was the better written piece.

  54. I had more fun with Sophie Grace, so she gets my vote.

  55. Sophie Grace did do a good job allowing us to get in the head of the character. Dreamer did a great job painting the scene. Tough call, but I go with Dreamer. I felt more immersed in the story. Felt like this story was leading to something greater. I'm not a fan of YA either.

  56. As others mentioned, both pieces had strengths and weaknesses. I felt Sofie Grace's piece was a bit over the top with its breathlessness and heightened emotion. I got lost in Dreamer's piece in places, but I liked the voice and the descriptions.

    My vote goes to Dreamer.

  57. Seems to be a theme - both have ups and downs. In the end, the one I'd keep reading is Dreamer.

    However, IMHO, "She counted each step to the library." would be a great first line, then go on from there.

  58. My vote goes to Dreamer because I want to know what happens next.
    Sophie Grace’s premise enable a cute scenario, but it didn’t hold my attention as much as Dreamer did.
    Congrats to both!

  59. The piece by Sophie Grace was fun and full of snark. I enjoyed it, but I had a hard time staying connected with the MC. there were time when I was right there in her head and then she would kind of drift off into the distance.

    In the piece by Dreamer, I felt the scene more deeply. I had a strong sense of character and although I'm still waiting for the 'real' story to begin, it held my attention enough that I would definitely keep reading.

    My vote goes to Dreamer.

  60. When I read Sophie Grace, I loved the wit and humor and thought this is definitely my style of book to read. Needless to say, Dreamer came out using descriptions, and great scene setups, but you don't get all the story could offer because it takes up more of your 500 word count adding in those little details. Both are clearly very good in their own way, but my humor side says vote Sophie Grace.

  61. Both of these WRiTErs have smooth pieces that pulled me right into the tension. I enjoyed the humor in Sophie's but---after much internal debate---I'm voting for Dreamer. Dreamer's tension grabbed me immediately and drew me in ever deeper.

  62. Can't believe I forgot to come back and vote in the first two rounds. Darn real life.
    Going for Dreamer in this round!

  63. Romantic anything is not my thing, but I'm going to go with Sophie Grace for two reasons, #1, I liked the voice, #2 well, Dreamer just left me unable to finish. I was lost at the go. Both could use another edit. Cut out some of the LY words, and especially Dreamer could use to vary the sentence structure and length.

  64. There are things I like about both pieces and things that bothered me about both. The humor in Sophie Grace's piece saves it for me, but there are some awkward word choices (tittering on high heels?? Maybe teetering?) and the sentence about silence reigning in one collection cloud sounded odd to me. I was confused by the spur of the moment sense of this and then finding out she's been practicing for a month (and "the last one month" sounds awkward to me - why not just say the last month?).

    Dreamer has a nice dark misty Scottish mood to it. But this is definitely not MG. I was confused at first by the word Kinsman, because I didn't realize it was a man's name the first time you used it. Also, would you consider rewriting this in first person? It would have more immediacy.

    On the whole, I'll go with Dreamer.




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