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WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Bout #8

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 #8.  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 literary fantasy genre and weighing in at 441 words, please welcome to the ring……..T.L. Wynn

The cobblestone streets of downtown Moulinet glazed over with a tint of yellow as Minxy and I biked home. Cafés and bistros along our route were setting up for the morning rush, and the smell of coffee and fresh baked bread welcomed us at every corner. Dew clung to the lavenders and dahlias that lined our path, and I pictured us biking through one of those National Geographic postcards you always see at airport terminals—vivid in color, but too beautiful to be real.

When we finally made it back to my house, there was a light on in the parlor, and my heart skipped a beat.

“She’s here,” I blurted, before I could stop myself.

Minxy dropped her bike and made a dash for the front door. Normally, I would have raced after her—the two of us like squirrels sprinting across the lawn—but that morning, I found it hard to breathe, let alone run. It’d been over a year since I had last seen my mother, and until I was sure she was home, I couldn’t allow myself to celebrate. Not just yet. Like a dog that has been licked one too many times, I was excited about the chance to be happy, but wary that something this sweet would be too good to be true. I lowered my bike onto the lawn and made my way toward the front door, my hands in my pockets and my eyes locked on the pebble walkway beneath my feet.

But if there had been even a sliver of hope in my heart, it fizzled out the moment I stepped into the house. Where I had expected to see a suitcase in the hallway, there was none. Where I had pictured a pair of heels on the shoe rack, one never materialized into view. I forced myself into the parlor, and the floor beneath me withered away. The light I had seen from the street had only been a trick of the sun, a cruel deception of the rays through the curtains. A lump formed in the back of my throat, and I didn’t know whether to cry or be angry or both. All I knew was this: I hated her. I missed her. I hated her. I missed her. I just wanted her back.

“Ancel,” Minxy called from the hallway. “Stop playing with yourself and come here.”

Even though Minxy had seen me cry more times than I could count (more times than a boy my age should openly admit) I was ashamed of my weakness. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand before I followed her voice.

And in the other corner, representing the historical fiction genre with 490 words let me introduce to you……….Robin Hood

They say you can't drown yourself on purpose. I keep trying to prove them wrong. It's not that I want to end it all. I just want to understand.

From the depths of our neighbor's pond, I look through murky water to the fading sunset above. Not a soul knows I'm here. My fingers cling to a slimy rock at the bottom, and I wait. Wait for the images to float away, disappear. An icy lake. My little sister. A black hole.

I let out a few air bubbles and wait until my lungs burn, wondering at what point a person gives up and sucks water into their lungs, instead of surfacing. I have no idea, because I'm able to swim up too easily, unlike Polly.

At the last second, when I can't take it anymore, I push off of the muddy pond floor. Breaking into open air, I inhale and sputter it out. In and out. Sometimes breathing hurts. I wonder how it feels not to breathe, ever again. I don't want to think about it anymore, so I swim in a circle, making sure I'm alone, and dive down again. My long brown hair swirls like seaweed around me. Maybe it'll choke away the memories, the pain.

Nothing hurts more than to think of Polly. I'd give anything to go back to that day to save her, to reach out to her, or run faster. But my feet had felt like boulders slowing me down . . . pulling Polly down.

I squeeze my eyes tight against the pain. If only the warm water would seep into my pores and wash my guilt away, but it's no use. My mind won't turn off tonight. I swim to the bank, blowing water out of my way. My knee scrapes against a rock at the bottom, and, angry at the pain, and angry at myself, I slap my hand on the water's surface as I stand. The evening breeze chills me, dripping in my bra and underwear.

A sob fights its way out of my throat, but I force it back. I can't let the tears begin, so I pull my clothes on, and shove my feet into Pa's work boots and stomp home.

A candle glints on the windowsill. It means Ma isn't home yet, which is good. She's still at the Pritchett's house, cleaning up after dinner, and putting the little ones to sleep. I'm sure Pa is in bed already. I don't have to worry about anyone seeing me sneak in. There is no one else.

I turn the worn, wooden, door handle to our house. Pa snores and gurgles as I inch the door open and shut it without a sound. I don't want to wake him and have him wonder why I'm all wet. Plus, he needs his sleep. He's been sick for a while—exactly seven months and fourteen days. Since the day Polly died.

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. Tough one but my vote goes to Wynn. I felt the suspense, excitement and disappointment of Ancel. However, the comparison of the scenery to a postcard in the airport didn't seem an appropriate perception of a child.

  2. TL Wynn for the win. While Robin Hood's story had nicely portrayed emotion I felt it didn't pull of the first person POV smoothly enough (5% of the word count is 'I').

  3. I have to vote for Robin Hood.
    I didn't feel that the voice felt young enough for a child. I wondered if it was supposed to read "Like a dog that has been kicked one too many times" instead of "Like a dog that has been licked one too many times."

  4. Both are interesting and sad. I'm going to go with Wynn, however.

    I do think Debbie is right about the postcard comment, and I wonder about Minxy's comment: "stop playing with yourself." Is that an attempt to let me know it's a boy. I don't know that a child who just had her hopes dashed like that would have said that to her brother. Perhaps there is more after the selection that makes that comment applicable. But, the writing is good--I felt the disappointment.

    As to the number of times both writers used "I," the percentage was equal. My impression is just that Wynn was able to incorporate the "I"s more effectively. Still, both authors should be proud--YOU MADE THE FIGHT! So way to go...keep writing.

  5. Ooh, this one's a bit easier. Voting for Robin Hood!

  6. These two are really close. Both were tightly written and well-developed. If they were against other pieces, they would probably both get my vote. Unfortunately, I can only pick one when they face each other!

    There were a few phrases in T.L. Wynn that seemed off - the licked dog, playing with yourself. Also, "my heart skipped a beat" is a worn out, cliched phrase. That said, the overall writing was engaging, and I felt drawn into the story and concerned for the characters.

    Robin Hood was also well written. Both excellent pieces, really. But I agree with others who didn't feel as connected to Robin Hood's protagonist. Maybe go a little deeper into her point-of-view.

    Wynn gets my vote today.

  7. Robin Hood gets my vote. I concur with Lisa's comments about some of the phrasing in T.L. Wynn's pieces (the licked dog and the 'heart skips a beat") although overall it was well written and engaging. I was pulled into Robin Hood's character more, though, and want to know more about this girl, her sister and family.

    Another great match up!

  8. My vote goes to T.L. Wynn. There was an innocence in the character that drew me in. And even though both pieces were dealing with grief over a lost or missing loved one, I like Wynn's the best. Really tough when they're so evenly matched.

  9. I'm voting for Robin Hood! I liked the details. I've actually read a book that was close to this called "Swallowing stones" when I was in middle school. It reminded me of it, and I did enjoy the feelings and flashbacks.

    I was into Wynn's, but there definitely a few places that pulled me out of the story. "Like a NATGEO postcard"... :Licking the dog". I totally understand what you meant by that phrase, but even in my mind I hesitated to think, beating or sincerely licking? "Stop playing with yourself". I assume Ancel is a boy, and when that is said to a boy, it means something WAY different than 'Stop silently torturing yourself."

    Sorry Wynn, good intro into a bigger story, but maybe work on smoother transitions and metaphors/similes.

  10. I am voting for T.L. Wynn.

    Robin Hood's piece was very well written, but I'd like more sensory details in the writing. It was a lot of "I did this, then I'm doing this, now I'm doing this," which made the writing feel a bit heavy.

    I really liked the writing in T.L Wynn's piece. It was smooth and I thought the details were descriptive but didn't get in the way, and I liked the internal conflict of your MC. I would definitely have kept reading.

  11. Wynn. Both were excellent, visceral reads, but I felt Robin Hood's was just a tad too bleak, without the colourful descriptive splashes like the first piece.

  12. Both of these pieces are wonderful! I loved the emotion in both.

    My vote goes to T.L. Wynn, however, because of the absolutely beautiful writing. The setting felt tangible, as did the heartbreak of the MC's realization. Lovely.

  13. Both are beautiful in different ways. My vote goes to Robin Hood.

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  15. Have to go with Robin Hood, in another heartbreakingly close bout. Both stories work, but I'm drawn to the pain in Robin Hood.

  16. I want to know more about RobinHood's family and what happened to the sister. Both pieces are great!

  17. Robin Hood. Th opening line sucked me in, and I wanted to know more by the end.

  18. T.L. Wynn - "Like a dog that has been licked one too many times" is an expression I've never heard before. A take on kicked, perhaps? In which case, fun way to redo a bad cliche. Nice job.
    "a pair of heels on the shoe rack, one never " - That sorta threw me though. Quantity wise.
    A very emotional piece though. Nice job.

    Robin Hood- Wow. A very emotional and powerful story. I was captivated the whole time. Great work.

    Looks like a battle of "the feels" today at WriteClub2015!

    Robin Hood- You have my vote.

  19. Robing Hood with a knock out for me!

  20. Love the descriptive language of T.L. Wynn. That one gets my vote!

  21. Love both. Robin Hood has my vote.

  22. I vote for Robin Hood. Very descriptive and brings out emotion.

  23. I liked T.L. Wynn but the voice was uneven. I couldn't get enough of a sense of the character. My vote goes to Robin Hood.

  24. Wow!--Another bout that is really hard to judge. I thought both entries were really good and seem to cover the same idea--a missing someone, one absent, one dead. It's very tough to decide which is "better."

    T.L. Wynn--I like the way the MC is so eager yet chides himself for his eagerness. I like the way you explained why it appeared his mother was home when he wasn't. I didn't really think the voice sounded like that of a boy. I kind of thought he was an adult when I was reading it. Also, be careful of redundancy. You write, "one never materialized into view." If something materialized, we assume it came into view, so you don't need the words "into view." Also, do you mean that the dog was "licked" too many times or "kicked" too many times? You wrote "licked."

    Robin Hood--I like the scene. I like the way you evoke the memory of the sister and the MC's guilt. I don't understand the idea that she is trying to drown herself although she doesn't want to drown herself. Overall though, I can't find a lot to criticize here.

    My vote goes to Robin Hood but only by a small margin. I thought Wynn's entry was great as well. But since I didn't think the voice sounded like that of a boy in Wynn's entry, I'm voting for Robin Hood.

  25. I vote for Robin Hood!

  26. This is a difficult choice, as I'm not a fan of 1st POV. Both of these have the typical mechanical feel to the perspective character's movements, and to the emotions. The phrasing is typical too. Neither grabbed me; but I think I was a little more intrigued by Robin Hood, so I'll vote for Robin.

  27. I vote for Robin Hood.

    T.L. Your story was great. I loved the depth of emotion and the picture perfect scenery. The names added an sense of place to an unnamed city/ country. It was really good writing. I could see your piece getting published in a literary magazine.

    Robin Hood, I loved your subject. You had my attention from the start when someone was trying to drown herself. You worked in so much of the storyline in such a short time. I like to read stories with obscure plots, and while survival is a primal instinct, trying to drown yourself and not being able to is very unique. Well thought out and well written.

  28. Voting for robin hood! Can't quite pinpoint why, they both deal with deep familiar emotions, but I guess Robin just made me worry for my own little sister. And if you can make connections like that, you know you'll be invested in the story.

  29. I think TL Wynn gets my vote. There were a couple metaphors that didn't quite work for me, but it was nicely balanced with description/internalization.

    While Robin Hood's concept was interesting, I felt it a little too over-written... which took away any anxiety/stress/fear I might have had for your MC.

  30. Aw, man! These are two of my favorite pieces in the tournament so far. Both of them do an excellent job of evoking a sentiment for the MC, of showing us how they've suffered.

    I give a slight, regretful edge to T.L. Wynn.

  31. TL Wynn. The other was way too melodramatic for me. Reads like an emo diary.




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