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WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Bout #9

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 #9.  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 fantasy genre and weighing in at 495 words, please welcome to the ring……..Möbius

There was only water, and then, a small raft.

Essa hadnt realized that the Edge of the World would be so calm. Like the pause of heartbeat and lung at the end of an exhalation, there was that same kind of dead-air, of waiting, of uncertainty whether another breath could be drawn.

Far different from journey along the rocky coastline, the capricious currents, and the storms that shook and spun until her bearings were more tangled than a rogue fishing line dredged-up from the reef.

The water was still other than the ripple from her paddle and the bow of what had once been a boat, before the waves, before the dark, before the wind that scooped her like a gull scoops an oyster and dashes it to splinters.

This was an uneasy quiet.

For only gods and monsters lived at the end of the world, and Essa had come to beg and barter. To sacrifice, if necessary, if that was the price asked. Out here, or in the Wilds, there was no guarantee who would answer first: one who could be persuaded to help, or one who would devour with the swift ruthlessness of a winter gale.

She lay the paddle down and drew a whale-bone knife from her pack. The trick was where to cut, where it would bleed deep enough to summon, yet where it could easily be bound. Hands were definitely out. It would be impossible to make the long trek back.

If there was a long trek back.

Choosing where to cut, that was a small, manageable decision. Thinking about what would happen after...

Essa lurched back, the paddle knocked wide with a splash. It was the reflection of her own eyes that had spooked her. Too wide, too scared, too young-looking for a warrior, for the one chosen and blessed by her village.

Blood thrummed in her ears, pulled and pushed by the gravitational force of her fear. She shut her eyes and drew a breath.

This too was small. This too was manageable.

It was important to master what was in her reach, because so much was not. Not the ocean, not the sky, not the run of fish spawning in the rivers, and certainly not the gods and monsters at the end of the world.

Retrieving the paddle, yes, that was within her means. The seal-intestine towline was strong, supple, and still tied tightly to her ankle. Essa pulled it in, hand over hand, the paddle slicing a low wake until she fished it to safety.

She crept forward and stared past her reflection, past the surface, past what she could see and control, into the far-off deep. Each challenge, each step had been building to this moment. She was strong. She was brave. She was loved. Her blood would call a god, not a monster.

It had to.

And above her temple, along the hairline, she cut, and she bled.

And in the other corner, representing the urban fantasy genre with 498 words let me introduce to you……….Gram Cracker

Hell, I'd take a slice of existential crisis with a regretful hangover crust instead of registering with the government. Imagine if the first time you saw yourself might be the last time you took a breath. The safer option was never to leave the gorgon homeland, the Isle of Stone, in the first place. Never try to live among humans and the fallen Greek gods and make a life for yourself.
But I was never one to play it safe.

Immortal friends and student loans would be my financial death. My Brooklyn death, on the other hand, now loomed ahead, blurring in the distance like a dark and murky nightmare.

The Center of Sorrow and Sisterhood or CSS was a bleak gray building with a lone black door at the front. It was both a savior and destroyer for young gorgons like me. On our thirtieth birthday, we either exited the front or shuffled out the back like a failed experiment. I shifted the protective goggles on my face to ease the bite of the frosty late autumn air.

No gorgons escaped this date with destiny.

Thirty was the age we discovered if we're cursed to turn living things into stone, cursed to live on the dreadfully drab and far away Isle of Stone. I refused to return to a place with dial-up Internet. 

I was due to make an appearance at the center earlier in the day but instead spent my last possible hours soaking up as much of Brooklyn as possible. The air smelled differently here and I didn't want to forget it. If I were forced to leave, I'd miss the smell of freshly made bagels the most. Last night I dreamed I rode a bagel out to sea and drowned. That couldn't be good.  

My older cousin Leto waved as I neared the doomed building. She had a few years on me and the sorrow, aka the gorgon curse, skipped her. Would I be so lucky?

She grabbed my hand. "You better hurry. They shut the doors in twenty minutes and there's already a line. C'mon." 

I followed behind her as I always did in everything. She not only had age but height and financial security over me. I'd barely chipped away at my undergrad and grad student debt. My M.A. in immortal rehabilitation had come in handy on my job when dealing with immortals, Zeus especially.  

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. so close it could have gone either way - enjoyed both offering immensely, and by a slender margin give it to Möbius.

  2. I like the tension built in Mobuis. My vote goes there.

  3. Both excellent samples. However, Gram Cracker slightly edges it for making me laugh.

  4. These were both good for me. I'm voting for Mobius though. The way he or she wrote was poetic and professional to me. As a short story, I think it was great. I don't know that I would want to read a full length novel though.

    Gram was good too. It might be because I just woke up and rushed in to read, but I had to read the first paragraph twice or three times to get it. It is a good concept though. I felt like too much was shoved into this tiny intro of a bigger story. I would read this as a novel, for sure. Urban fantasy is the perfect description of this one.

  5. Gram Cracker for me. I want to read more.
    Mobius was also well written, but my personal tastes tend to lean away from the literary style in that piece, so it's strictly a subjective opinion.

    I am blown away at the quality of these bouts so far. Congrats today to two more well-deserving writers!

  6. Excellent pieces today, both with intriguing concepts. On the negative, both could afford to cut a few words to avoid feeling repetitive in places.

    My vote is Mobius, for doing a better job with world-building, tension, and connecting me to the character.

  7. I agree with Lisa Dunn. Both pieces were excellent. Gram Cracker was funny, but some of the sentence structure was wordy enough to make me have to read twice. Mobius drew me in, except for the multiple similes at the beginning of the piece--those distracted.

    Still, my vote goes to Mobius.

  8. My vote goes to Mobious this round, but it was close. Both pieces I felt like could have used some tightening - I wanted to get to what was happening *now* instead of back story.

  9. My vote goes to Mobius today, because it's the story I would rather read, but I thought both pieces were well done! Mobius has very poetic, literary language, but I would just watch out for the long sentences (read them out loud if you haven't already) and tighten up the beginning, as I really wanted to get right into the action and know what Essa had journeyed all the way there for. That would increase the hook more, if we knew the stakes/motivation.

  10. Oh man! Toughest bout EVER!
    I'm going with Gram because the story reminds me of a favorite story of mine.
    Seriously, outside of that, this would be a tie for me.

  11. My vote goes to Gram Cracker. Both were wonderful, but Gram's made me laugh (which isn't easy with fantasy), and I knew what the character had to lose.

  12. This is a really tough decision. I thought the imagery was great in both entries, and imagery is certainly one of the things that draws me in...Grrr....Hard to decide!

    Mobius--I really like the idea and the imagery (like I said above). I like it that she has to cut herself and fears doing so. I think that's a great setup. As a writing teacher, however, there were two things that bothered me. First, in the beginning of the entry, there were a few places lacking articles (the words "the," "a," and "an"). Second, while it's fine to use sentence fragments in creative writing, it's not okay for a writer to mistake a sentence fragment for a complete sentence. The third paragraph is a fragment that appears to be masquerading as a sentence. Possibly, you are well aware of that fact; I don't know for sure.

    Gram Cracker--I really enjoyed your entry. I especially love your imagery, specifically this sentence: "Last night I dreamed I rode a bagel out to sea and drowned." I thought that was a clever way to fuse NY culture with mythology. I was a bit confused when you said, "Imagine if the first time you saw yourself might be the last time you took a breath." Is this a Medusa thing--if a gorgon sees its own reflection, it's turned to stone? If you haven't explained that previously in your work, you should. Or you can explain it in the above selection. Either way, nice writing and fun topic!

    For this bout, my vote goes to Gram Cracker.

  13. My vote has to go to Möbius. I love the voice. Gram Cracker's was good too (funny and witty) but it didn't pull me in as much as Möbius did. Plus, I love the world that the author had created.

    Congrats to both, though.

  14. I have to vote for Gram Cracker. It boils down to a personal choice. I preferred Gram's writing style, but both pieces today were excellent.

  15. My vote goes to Mobius!

  16. Dammit. I voted to put both of these through in prejudging and I loved them both so much.

    My vote today goes to Gram Cracker

  17. Möbius gets my vote - while I didn't like the "pause of heartbeat and lung" at the top, the rest of the entry was sparse and moody in the best of ways. I felt there was a natural flow and momentum to the story that seemed lacking in Gram Cracker's entry.

  18. Mobius immersed me immediatly in its world and I couldn't stop reading. Wow!

    I was confused by Gram Cracker's opening so it didn't pull me in as much. But great job to both.

    Mobius gets my vote.

  19. Ahg! This is so hard today. They're both really good with unique and interesting descriptions, But I think I have to give it to Mobius because the atmosphere is so well evoked in such a beautiful way.

  20. Voting for Gram Cracker but both were quality writing.
    For GC, I would like to have seen this be the second paragraph: "Thirty was the age we discovered if we're cursed to turn living things into stone, cursed to live on the dreadfully drab and far away Isle of Stone. I refused to return to a place with dial-up Internet." It just seemed to follow the dread of turning more naturally in this place than later in the piece.

    Lots of great atmosphere and texture in Moibus, but it could be that I have become numb to stories where some young person learns that she's the "chosen one" and sets out on a treacherous journey to do what is asked of her.

  21. Wow! This was a super tough choice! I think the writing is excellent in both pieces, and both have strong-voiced characters running the scene - love that! However, I'm going to go with Moibus because I felt the stakes were super high and the character had the possibility of learning a lot, or having a choice over the outcome of her story. I felt like Gram Cracker's story had a character swept away by circumstances out of her control - she's fighting it, but I wasn't sure that she was going to make the next choice or if someone else was going to make it for her.
    Both stories seriously interested me, but again, I'm going with Moibus.

  22. I'm going to have to go with Mobius. The writing was just excellent, full of wonderful descriptive phrases. I really enjoyed the entire piece. The only thing I wish I got a little more of was the reason she was there, trying to call a god or a monster, but that probably gets revealed shortly.

    Gram Cracker's piece was very well written as well, but there were a few confusing bits. The lapse into second person within the second paragraph was jarring. I really don't understand the line "Immortal friends and student loans would be my financial death." How are immortal friends and a financial death related? I didn't understand why the age of thirty, although I guess in any book with the "age where something life changing is determined" trope is used, it's arbitrary, but it seems like it's normally deployed in YA, not something I'm very familiar with in adult fiction. I guess that's why it seemed strange. Does anything important ever happen after age 16?? I guess with gorgons it does. :) But I really love the idea of the gods premise, and I loved the tone and voice of the piece.

    Congrats to both writers!

  23. Möbius - (HIMYM Ted Mobius Designs?)

    I really enjoyed both of these. By a slim margin, I am giving my vote to Gram Cracker.

    Honestly, I would read a full length of both of these.

  24. Going with Mobius. It is a bit overwritten with description and metaphors, but I am intrigued by the god or monster concept.

  25. I agree that both pieces could use a bit of tightening.

    Mobius was just a bit too every-other-fantasy-book for my personal taste, thus my vote goes to Gram for a new view.

  26. I vote for Gram Cracker.

    Mobius, You have mastered the art of describing action realisticly, and I love the complexity in your work. Very deep and well written.

    Gram Cracker, You made up a fantasy world and then went one step further and gave your fantasy character human issues, (what will your future be from 30). It is so easy to relate to this odd character. Very entertaining and fun to read.

  27. Eeeee, really hard to choose but I have to say Mobius. I love the feel of the world there, and am always fascinated by world building.

  28. Vote for Mobius. Got some clear grammar issues in a few lines, but stakes were clear.

    Gram: couldn't really tell why I should care if your MC goes/stays because she didn't seem all that concerned either way. Didn't feel like there were any big stakes if dial-up-internet is one of the biggest worries.

  29. I vote for Gram. Mobius has some nice tension and a lovely ominous tone, but Gram made me laugh, and their character felt more purposeful and grounded. Great job both!

  30. I love the concept of Gram's but the Mobius piece is just too powerful not to get my vote. I vote Mobius.

  31. Mobius pulled me in.
    Very atmospheric and I love the literary style.

  32. Mobius pulled me in and I don't really like this type of writing. Too many commas for my taste, though.

    G Cracker - fun story, but a little confusing. Possibly reading more I would understand.

    I vote Mobius.




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