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WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Bout #2

What is WRiTE CLUB?  It started off as a modest writing competition, inspiration loosely derived from the movie FIGHT CLUB, and it has since grown into a writing community sensation that is now sponsored by the DFWWriters Conference.  There are numerous versions of this concept floating around the internet, but nothing like we do it here.  Its essence embodies simple, good-natured competition, with lots and lots of fun sprinkled on top. 

Over the course of ten weeks I’ll be holding daily bouts (M-F) between Anonymous 500 word writing samples, submitted under a pen name.   The writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction. Today is Bout #2.  Read each sample carefully and then leave a vote in the comment section for the one that resonates with you the most.  Anyone can vote... but only once per bout. Don’t forget to leave with a brief critique of both submissions as well.

Voting for each bout will remain open for one week. The winner of each will be posted HERE, at the WRiTE CLUB scoreboard.  Are you ready?

Here are the first two randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the Contemporary/Realistic Fiction (in Poetic Form) genre and weighing in at 407 words, please welcome to the ring……..CJ Rage

Said she’d come for me, kill the liars, kill the liars dead.
I’m handcuffed to the shadow’s rage that’s tattooed on my bed.
Eyes of soot, soul is gone, dying to be free,
She’s calling out, screaming out, “no one buries me!”

Heavy feet, heavy feet, heavy feet, I sink.
To the bed, to the grass, and to the cold concrete.
She wakes me from my nightmare holding shovels stained in red,
“I said that I would come for you and kill the liars dead.”

Between the sheets, the liars’ suite, “don’t say a goddamned word,”
Not the first but now the last, my pleas she overheard.
The day she came to rescue me, the sky was black and grey,
She promised if the liars won she’d never go away.

The smoke it is arising from the lower level’s flames,
She set the house on fire after digging all their graves.
A rope is laced around my neck, her words etched in my ear,
“He’ll never touch you, never touch you, never touch you, dear.”

The liars tried to shut me up, tried to break me down,
She wouldn’t let them, couldn’t let them, make another sound.
Said she’d come for me, kill the liars, kill the liars dead.
She’s calling out, screaming out, “for all the truths unsaid.”

Her fingers tap along my back; they paint my shirt in red,
She promised me the liars gone, they burned up in my bed.
“They’ll never touch you, never touch you, never touch you, there.
I severed off their hands and tongues, then said a little prayer.”

She leaves a note pinned to my chest, the truth for all to see,
It was not her who set the blaze, she tells them it was me.
“For everything the liars did, the life I did not choose,
Eyes are soot, soul is gone, there’s nothing left to lose.”

I’m on the ledge , on the ledge, the house in charcoal smoke,
She tells me this will wrong the right, and right his every stroke.
The rope it falls, we’re dying now, dying to be free,
We’re calling out, screaming out, “no one buries me!”

My body hangs, waits for them, waits for them to see,
The note, the red that’s on our hands, the blood that covers me.
I killed the liars, killed the liars, killed the liars dead,
She isn’t real, isn’t real, a figment in my head.

And in the other corner, representing the romance genre with 500 words let me introduce to you……….Lexi Howard

Distracted, I almost missed the two figures in the dark. Then a car drove by and showered them in its silvery headlights. Eli Lockhart and Brock Underwood skulked near the back of my truck.

I came to a halt. “Son-of-a-bitch.” For a minute I weighed my options. Judd was still inside. A couple of guys from the team were there, too. Pushing a hand in my pocket, I got hold of my key ring and fisted it so that the sharp end of the truck key poked out between my fingers. If they were gonna play dirty, I didn’t see any reason to fight fair either.

“What’s up, fellas?” I asked coolly as I took my chances and eased around the front of the truck.

“Mighty nice vehicle you got there,” Brock said, and stroked his hand across the tailgate glistening in the moonlight.

Eli nodded. “Bet it cost a pretty penny.”

“Enough,” I replied.

“Bet you really love it,” Brock chimed.

“You know it,” Eli agreed. “But I guess that’s what you get when your daddy owns half the town—nice cars, other guy’s girls.”

“Whoa, wait a minute. I don’t have anyone’s girl. Holly and I are doing what we have to. It’s business. That’s all.”

Eli growled and made two quick strides that brought him an arm’s length from me, and I squeezed the metal key ring in my grip.

“Yeah,” he blustered, shoulders pressed back and chin high. “And I suppose you’re gonna say you’re not the one who made her cry the other night either.”


“That’s right. She told me what you did.”

Was he talking about the money? Sure it had pissed her off, but cry?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You hear that, he doesn’t know what I’m talking about.”

“Maybe you should refresh his memory,” Brock said.

“So you’re saying you don’t remember treating Holly like a hooker?”

“What? You’re out of your fucking mind. I never did such a thing. I was trying to be nice to her.”

“Is that right? Do you usually pay girls to be nice to you, Davison?”

I closed the remaining space between us, and Brock flanked Eli in a flash. Stunned by his accusations, I’d slid my hand out of my pocket without the key ring and held my clenched fists at my sides.

“I’m telling you I didn’t mean anything by it. I only wanted…”

Suddenly, Eli’s arm was a battering ram that hit dead-center of my chest and I teetered backward, the damn blister on my foot biting against the unexpected movement. I steadied myself, digging my heels into the ground in case he tried something stupid like that again. The little shit had no idea how close he was to having his head ripped off.

But then Eli shoved me again. The mother-effer shoved me again. I was going to have to kick Holly’s blond beach boy’s ass.

“You better back the hell up there, Tiger Beat,” I warned.

Enjoying two talented writers at work 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.  Which one tickled your fancy?  After you vote please tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well (but no coaching about who to vote for).  Yes, it’s subjective, but so is the entire publishing world.  It’s as much about the readers as it is about the writers. 

This is WRiTE CLUB – the contest where the audience gets clobbered!


  1. I'm going for CJ Rage in this round. I'm usually not a huge fan of verse, but the rhythm here just drives the emotion deeper and deeper and really evokes the twisted mental state the character is in.

  2. I don't even like poetry (I know, shoot me), but it's CJ Rage for me. There are lot's of different ways to interpret what's going on in that but and they're all scary.
    Lexi's piece was good. Writing clear and tension high, but it seems to me to be a piece of a larger story that's been chopped out, so although the the tension is high, I don't really know what for or who's in the right. i can't make up my mind about anything. It doesn't feel like a short story to me...

  3. Two really good pieces, but my vote goes to cj rage. Innovative and powerful

  4. CJ Rage for me, although also, I am normally not a poetry person- in fact, I am not a poetry fan at all. But this style I can get on board with, so consider me a convert. I liked the writing style a lot in Lexi's piece, but because we are dropped in the action without knowing who is who and what the stakes are, I can appreciate the writing, but can't really engage with the characters

  5. CJ Rage - I'm not a huge fan of poetry, but I really enjoyed this. Good meter and it had voice. I think I got into it because it had a story in there which was emphasized by the form (poetry) as opposed to detracting from it. Nicely done.

    Lexi - I liked the excerpt and carrying through the image of the key ring from beginning till end. The scene lacked oomph and setting. The long stretch of unattributed dialogue could have used some interactions, character motions, scene description, physical sensation, or something to deepen the moment and really attach to the narrator. Also a good note is that "said" is generally an invisible word, while other dialogue tags jump out at the reader more and should be used sparingly.

  6. CJ Rage drew me right in, so I have to give it to them this round. Also the form of the piece was just so unique, I'd love to see more.
    Lexi's, as others mentioned, was like being dropped into a scene with no idea who the players were, so it was hard to get into it. Also, it was identified as romance and definitely did not feel like that genre (aside from the names, which had a definite romance novel feel).

  7. My first reaction was to abstain, as I didn't really care for either piece this time.

    CJ's poem is dark. It's dark. And, it's dark. I didn't feel like it went anywhere. After the second stanza I confess, I skimmed. Yet I feel like I got the gist of it. Darkness, death.

    In Lexi's piece, it was hard to understand the setup:

    Distracted, I almost missed the two figures in the dark. Then a car drove by and showered them in its silvery headlights. Eli Lockhart and Brock Underwood skulked near the back of my truck.

    I came to a halt.

    It sounds like the truck is still in motion when the driver discovers Eli and Brock skulking near the back of his/her truck. After that, I just couldn't grasp why the driver would stop and get out to confront this group of thugs when he was obviously outnumbered. I think it just needs some clarification as to what's actually going on here.

    In the end I guess I'll vote for CJ because although I didn't particularly enjoy it, at least it was "composed" while the other piece seemed still at a very rough stage and needs a lot of work.

  8. My vote is for CJ Rage, because the entry was incredibly well-written and evocative. I am usually not drawn to stories told in verse, but couldn't tear my eyes away until I had finished reading the last line. I'll be thinking about this one all day!

    Lexi did an excellent job building tension. The only thing I would caution is that there are a lot of names being thrown around, and we don't know exactly who's who, and this took me out of the story a bit.

  9. I vote CJ Rage.

    Lexi's piece didn't engage me. I was also surprised to discover a third of the way in that the protagonist is a boy. The whole guys skulking around the truck, key chain in the fist thing felt like every girl's parking lot fear and plan of attack. I kind of thought Judd was her boyfriend.

  10. CJ Rage gets my vote. I thought it was a very strong image with a cogent theme. I think it could have used some polishing to give it more of a meter, but I'm not a poet, so that could have been intentional. Thematically, it's not what I'm usually drawn to but it was the stronger piece.
    Lexi's dialouge was a bit cliche and stilted. I think if we'd met these characters in a longer scene we might have been drawn in more fully.

  11. CJ Rage was eerie... creepy... and AWESOME. I like the twist at the end. Lexi's I have no interest in what is happening. Sounds like a dude brawl. I see those often.

  12. I'm super picky about poetry...mostly the rythm. While there is wonderful potential with CJ Rage's piece, I just couldn't swallow it because the rhythm was off. I think taking out the italicized words might help. So, it's Lexi Howard for me which drew me in quickly and made me want to find out what was going to happen to the boys.

  13. I expect that the 500 word submissions are sometimes going to be part of a bigger story. While Lexi Howard was a bit cliche and might have been more effective if it included more backstory and less dialogue, I definitely was drawn in. CJ Rage was too dark for my taste. When I read poetry, I want every word to matter on its own, so the repetition put me off.

    My vote is for Lexi Howard.

  14. Congrats to both for making it through. I love poetry when done right and CJ hit it for me. Lexi I enjoyed but missing substance. Vote CJ

  15. I'm really particular with poetry rhythm so for me my vote is Lexi Howard

  16. I vote CJ Rage for originality & voice.

  17. CJ Rage - Wow. Nailed it! You have my vote.

    Lexi Howard - It's good. I'm not totally as hooked. But there's nothing wrong with it, really.

  18. I vote for the piece I understood - Lexi Howard.

  19. CJ Rage gets my vote. Like other commenters, I'm not usually a fan of poetry or novels in verse, but I thought this entry was well written and seamlessly combined elements of darkness and suspense.

    While I enjoyed Lexi Howard's writing style, I was also puzzled about the context of the scene and unfortunately didn't know enough back story to sympathize with any of the characters.

  20. I'm not a poetry person, but enjoyed the darkness of CJ's piece.

    On Lexi's, I too was confused about the MC being in a vehicle at the beginning of the chapter and the sex. Also I assume this was plucked from the middle of a novel, as Laura M said, a few more gestures, landscape or thoughts could have been added to let the reader know that MC was a beefy guy that could handle his own. At least for this contest view.

    Vote: CJ Rage

  21. Wow, just wow to CJ Rage's piece. It's a dark piece, yes, but to me it speaks of inner trauma and turmoil that many people cannot, will not, or are afraid to allow others to see. It's haunting. I would remove the italics, though.

    Lexi Howard's piece was good too, but I felt there was a little too much dialogue and too little background.

    Best of luck to both contestants!

  22. My vote goes to CJ Rage. It's a tremendously well done piece and I really enjoyed reading it.

    The dialogue in Lexi Howard's piece was excellent, she didn't overwrite it and just let it flow. However, this selection was clearly pulled from a larger story where events have already transpired that are driving the action and conflict here. It's hard to be invested in a scene when you're wondering what everyone is really talking about.

  23. Rage. I'm not usually a fan of poetry but that one was really fun to read. The other was great but felt like more of the middle of a big story rather than a short story.

  24. CJ Rage has my vote. Love it.

  25. I really enjoyed CJ Rage's poem. I anticipated the ending, but still thought it was well-written.

    Lexi's story is obviously part of a larger piece, causing me to have to many questions about whether or not I cared that the protagonist was about to get jumped. That said, it was still interesting.

    My vote goes to CJ Rage.

  26. Both are nicely written, and polished. They are well matched.

    I'm going with CJ Rage. A complete, visceral story.

  27. My vote is for CJ Rage.

    Lexi Howard wrote a very character driven piece that was intriguing because either it seems to be from the pov of the antagonist. The writing sample intrigued me because of the action and because of the mystery of what really happened to Holly. Great, interesting piece.

    CJ Rage, your poem was awesome. I loved it, although it took two readings to understand. I'm glad I didn't have to go up against this poem. Loved it.

  28. Voting for Lexi! I always find misunderstandings sooo frustrating - why can't the characters just talk before jumping to conclusions? -- but this one's got action and attitude and I'd keep reading!

  29. My vote is for CJ Rage. I don't usually get poetry, but this one seemed to resonate and stays with me even after reading.

    I enjoyed Lexi Howard's story, and it was a strong contender, but in this battle I had to go with the alternative.

  30. I'm voting for Lexi. Thought there was a disadvantage in using an excerpt from somewhere a few chapters in (not enough background to be clear on who was who), I don't think this should count against the piece, since excerpts were acceptable entries. What Lexi does very well is capture the obliviousness of a privileged guy who doesn't get how insulting his treatment was of a girl below his socioeconomic class. And his insult to her is an insult to the world she belongs to. So the reaction is bigger than just hers. This was put across without a lot of explaining by the narrator. All done in the confrontation between characters.

    Content wise, CJ Rage was great. The poetry scans in too rigid a way with the beats and stresses falling in sing-song rhythm. No tension between form and content, or daring tampering with the meter that would add a bit of surprise and intrigue to a work of poetry.

  31. I'm voting Lexi simply because I don't like poetry that rhymes. Sorry, not fair perhaps. Lexi, I get accused of using too many dialogue tags, so take this with a grain of salt, but I feel your entry is too sparse on them. With three people you need to clarify who's talking, plus I'd like to see more facial expressions, posture, etc. so I can see and feel what's happening better in my head.

  32. My vote goes to CJ Rage.

    I think you told a great story in the poem. I took me a few goes to understand and I'm not sure I'm 100% there (but that's poetry). I like the repetition and I like the twist, but I'm not sure I completely buy it. You seem to foreshadow a lover's revenge (with the in my bed and between my sheets), and then it's more of a multiple personality issue. I might try and make the substance more clear so long as in the process you don't lose the great writing.

    I liked Lexi's, but I didn't vote for it because it felt a little canned. I know it's part of a much larger story and from the traces that I see, it's an interesting one. But the whole scene seems done. I think a way to get around that would be to give us more of a sense of place and emotional depth and back story (which I understand is nearly impossible to do in 500 words).

  33. My vote goes to CJ Rage

  34. I believe I'm in the minority on this one but the poetry just didn't do it for me. Lexi's piece left me wanted to read the rest of the story. My vote goes to Lexi Howard.

  35. Two strong pieces here. Lexi Howard drops us right into conflict. Great tension from the get-go.
    CJ Rage's piece is simply enchanting. I'm drawn in by the rhythm of the language, and even though I only understand 80% of what's going on, the twist at the end is simply terrific.
    My vote goes to CJ Rage.

  36. I'm voting for Lexi Howard. The poem was a bit too heavy-handed on the poetry and not enough on the narrative aspect, I thought. Also, it seemed a bit repetitious to me. I liked the use of language; it just didn't seem like anything new happened. It seemed like it just repeated the fact that a bed was burning over and over again.




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