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WRiTE CLUB 2014 - Playoff Round 2 - Bout #1

Here we go with the second round of the WRiTE CLUB play-offs.  In this round our ten contestants will be battling it out with a brand new writing sample, which could very easily turn the tide.  The bouts will be posted on Mon - Fri, but the voting will remain open for all bouts until Sunday at noon.

Once again...every vote counts. The contestant who doesn't win their bout...but garners the most votes amongst all of the other losers...will become a wildcard winner and advance to round 3.  

Whether you've been following along from the beginning or this is your first time's just a matter of choosing the one you feel deserves to move forward. Please offer some critique if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote, so blog, tweet, facebook, text, smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun. 

If a contestant should make it to round 3, their sample will be paired off against a different opponent.  

And now...stepping into the ring with a brand new story to is...petrichor

Invisible strands of music drew Marina to the small pond in her backyard where koi fish turned puckered notes into a melody only she heard. Her best friend Rain was there already. On her stomach and stretched across a flat boulder, Rain trailed her finger along the top of the water.

“Rain, look what my dad made for me.”


“You’re not even looking!”

Rain twisted her body around and glanced back. Marina pointed to her sandals. Iridescent and purple, the sandals shimmered like a butterfly’s wings.

“They’re good,” Rain said without enthusiasm.

Marina grimaced. Really, she knew better than to ask for Rain’s approval. Rain’s fashion sense began and ended with running shoes.

Marina sat down on the boulder next to Rain, slipped off her sandals, and placed them next to her, where she alone would admire them. Then she plunged her feet in the cool water and let the koi fish kiss her toes.

“Pru’s granddaughter moved in,” Rain said. “Name’s Angela.”

The back of Marina’s left shoulder felt suddenly hot. She shifted on the rock, searching for shade, but there was none. The heat spread up the nape of her neck. Her dragon was restless. She dipped her hand into the cool fish pond and splashed water on herself. Steam rose off her skin.

“You want to knock on the door and say hello?” Rain asked.

No, Marina wanted to say. She didn’t feel like explaining her dragon tattoo to the new kid in town. Instead, she asked, “Do you?”

“Be nice to have another friend,” Rain said, piercing Marina’s heart.

“What if she’s a weirdo?” Marina asked.

Rain turned her head and raised an eyebrow at Marina. She scanned Marina’s floating hair, shot over to her shimmering sandals, slid down to the koi fish gathered at her feet, then raised her gaze to settle on Marina’s left arm where the dragon’s tail now swished. “Okay,” Rain said, drawing out the second syllable.

Marina tugged down her sleeve. “I’m not weird,” she said. “Lots of people have tattoos.”

Rain said, “Yeah, but they’re not twelve.”

The dragon writhed. Marina bit her lip and swallowed a scream. Never before had the dragon been so active. Usually it rose at dawn, circled once, and resettled back on her skin. But now it slipped past her shoulder and sent inked plumes of smoke down her arm that billowed then collapsed in eddies around her elbow.

“What if we can’t trust her with, you know…magic?”

Rain barked out a laugh. “Angela’s a shaman. Girl walks between worlds. Communicates with spirits. Speaks to the dead. I don’t think anything about us is going to scare her.”

Marina wasn’t sure any of this was something to brag about. “What does she do, raise the dead, have a conversation, then knock them over the head with a shovel and push them back in their graves?”

Rain snorted. “That would be hilarious.”

“No,” Marina said, “that would be evil.”

And with their own brand new piece of writing, welcome back to the ring....Miss Drake.

Minnie Dorsey had wandered her way into Chicago’s world-renowned red light neighborhood, the Levee District. Rubbish littered the ground and she dodged gaping patches of the street with missing bricks. The neighborhood was quiet in the early morning: the women who worked the night through were drifting off to sleep away the traces of the men from the evening prior.

She hadn’t ventured to the area before. She worried she might see folks she knew and they’d think Minnie a different sort of woman than she really was. Sure, she liked to spend time with a number of men. Sure, she enjoyed gifts and luxuries bestowed upon her by her men. But Minnie Dorsey was not a prostitute.

Minnie stopped in front of one house that stood out from the rest. The lines of the building, the strong arches over the windows, and the square cupola were things her favorite fellow Benjamin would appreciate. Ben was an architect, a lover of strong lines and sturdy things. She turned away from the house; not wanting to think about Benjamin Marshall anymore. He was soon to be married to another woman, after all.

A middle-aged woman approached her. “What’s a fancy-looking gal like you doing in this part of town?” the woman called. She wore a gorgeous dress, her dark hair piled atop her head. Her eyebrows were strong, her nose set low on her face.

“Just admiring this lovely building,” Minnie said. “But I should probably be on my way.”

“You’ve heard of this place, have you not?” The woman dug in her handbag, producing a large bundle of keys. Her fingers were sprinkled with rings, the diamonds sparkling.

Minnie realized the building had to be the site of the Everleigh Club. The woman, then, was one of the Everleigh sisters, the owners of that most-exclusive brothel. She’d heard the stories: of men spending hundreds of dollars in one evening, of the gold cuspidors for the men’s chewing tobacco, of how the Prince of Prussia had drank champagne from the shoe of an Everleigh “Butterfly.”

“Of course, Miss Everleigh,” Minnie said. “I’ve heard wonderful things of your devilled crabs.”

The woman laughed, a tinny sound. “I’m sure that’s not all you’ve heard.” She extended her hand. “Please call me Ada.”

“Minnie Dorsey.” She shook the woman’s hand. “I’m sure you haven’t heard of me.”

“That’s not a bad thing, in this line of work.”

“Oh, I’m not…” Minnie started, speaking too loudly, too quickly. She stopped, not wanting to offend the woman.

Ada waved her hand, dismissing her words. “Would you care for a refreshment? I know it’s not time for afternoon tea yet, but as you can imagine we have a bit of a... varied schedule.”

Leave your vote and we'll see you back here tomorrow for the next match-up!
Remember the WRiTE CLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!


  1. Petrichor for me. Idyllic scene by the pond, with undertones of discord and dark magic. Part of me wishes something more *happened*...but the dialog and characterization is very good.

    As for Miss Drake, the writing still has some rough edges. I struggle a little to get a handle on Minnie's character...she's chatting with the manager of a brothel, who apparently wants to recruit her, but Minnie's doesn't want to offend. I feel like something doesn't add up there...

  2. Miss Drake.

    I liked Petrichor but there were some clunky sentences and I definitely don't think the girls came across as 12 years old.

  3. Petrichor. I was hooked from start to finish.

  4. Interesting bout. There are things to like in both pieces.

    Petrichor's opening line is lyrical, but it doesn't really grab me. All music is invisible, unless you watch the speaker cones move, and I'm not sure how koi quite fish turn it into puckered notes. Still, the overall sense is magical and intriguing -- a dragon tatoo that moves and breathes fire, koi fish kissing toes, and pre-teens with shaman friends. We get an exho of "next to" when Marina sits and a PoV slip as Rain makes her scan, but for the most part, the writing is smooth. It's an interesting piece and I would keep reading.

    In the previous bouts, I really liked the wry understated tone Miss Drake had. But here I find that wryness is missing and it's a little dry. This piece is a little bland without that subtle influx of humor, and it seems to be missing here for the most part. Also, the previous entry had snippets of wonderful description, even down to the fingers knuckle-deep in a sandwich with sauerkraut strings being pulled off. Here, things strike me as a little too matter-of-fact and "telly". I also had a much clearer sense of character in the previous entry, and here, I'm not quite sure about Minnie Dorsey -- is she a bit of a party girl about to take her hobby and turn it into a vocation? Why? Jilted by the architect-loving Ben? She doesn't seem very sure of her actions -- things seem to just be sort of happening. Still, I liked it and would also keep reading.

    Again -- there are things I like about both, but I think overall petrichor wins it in this bout.

  5. Miss Drake's piece didn't reach out and grab me. While the writing was technically better (certainly smoother), Petrichor had me hooked.

    My vote is for Petrichor.

  6. Miss Drake. The story drew me in more.

  7. This is a great piece, Petrichor.

  8. This was a hard one. I like them both a lot. I'm going with Petrichor. I love the idea of a living dragon tattoo.

  9. I vote for Miss Drake! All the way!

  10. Oh, I liked both of these pieces. The ramping tension in petrichor's and the witty dialogue in Miss Drake.

    In the end, I think petrichor captured my curiosity, so that one gets my vote.

  11. For me, Miss Drake this round. Both were well written, but I enjoyed how she set-up the scene in her peice and I could really envision her characters.

  12. Count another one for Miss Drake!

  13. Petrichor, definitely

  14. Miss Drake--the writing is stronger. For me Petrichor's dialogue felt like dialogue and I didn't buy into the characters being as young as the author indicated they were. Drake's voice is great and the writing is cleaner.

  15. I have to go with Petrichor.

    This wasn't an easy choice, as both excerpts have a number of strengths -- though very different ones -- and the execution is pretty clean in both. Although Miss Drake's entry has some nice descriptive details, I agree with Chris Fries that parts of it are a bit 'telly', and that contributes to making the writing feel a bit more distant.

    A couple of lines in Petrichor's entry could be reworked to read a little more clearly, but I think that because the passage has a more intimate feel it creates a stronger emotional connection for the reader.




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