Newsletter Signup


WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Bout #16

WRiTE CLUB is a writing community sensation sponsored by the DFWWriters Conference that is loosely based on the popular movie Fight Club.  There are numerous versions of this concept floating around the internet, but nothing like we do it here.  This unique approach embodies simple, good-natured competition, with lots and lots of fun sprinkled on top. 

Today we continue with the second phase of the contest which involves ten more daily bouts (M-F) over the next two weeks 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 #16.  Read each sample carefully and then leave a vote in the comment section for the one that resonates with you the most.  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 CLUBscoreboard.  Are you ready?

Here are todays randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the Science Fiction genre and weighing in at 460 words, please welcome to the ring……..Cj Lehi

The planet, they said, was called Strad, because somehow its discoverer was a violinist. It was firmly in the middle of the Goldilocks zone, orbiting a big yellow star almost the same nuclear composition as our own sun, named, prosaically, Gliese 2411, and which we started calling Two-fer almost before the first briefing was over. Strad would pull 1.1 grav, slightly heavier than Earth, but probably not so much that it would be a problem, if we lived long enough to get there. Strad was eighteen years away at the speed of light. By the time we reached it, more than a hundred years would have passed on Earth.

Oh, and there was room for two. Just two. Space considerations dictated by cost, very sorry about that, and weren’t you told?

We hadn’t been.

At first, I thought that put paid to the entire idea. Asking Alohi to leave Rani and Joaquin was akin to asking her to pluck out her heart and leave it, still beating, on the smooth glass of the briefing-room table. She told the gentlemen she’d need to think carefully about the assignment, thanked them politely (you have 24 hours, they said, before we move on to the next candidates), and cried great wracking sobs all the way home.

But she never cried again, and I underestimated the force of her desire, as it seemed I always did. By the next morning she had made her peace with the boys, arranged for them to live with their grandparents in Houston, and called NASA to tell them we were in.

Did I have a say in all this? Yes, I did. And no, I didn’t. If I had objected, really been serious about declining the mission, she would have listened to me and she would have stayed with me. I believe this. I must believe it. But if I had been the sort of man that could deny my wife the thing she believes is her purpose, the thing that defines her humanity, I could never have been Alohi’s husband in the first place. I am not and never was that sort of man. The power of her desire was partly my power as well. I didn’t say no. I never considered it.

In a ship called Hesperus we left Earth orbit fourteen months later and a year after that Espero was born.

There isn’t a lot to do on a smallish spacecraft, and no birth control – outside the one that we both agreed was morally indefensible – is 100% effective. If you’re thinking there are surgical means that could eliminate the possibility of pregnancy, you’re right, and we had those procedures, both of us, and still Espero came to us, so make of that what you will.

And in the other corner, representing the Sci-Fi genre with 487 words let me introduce to you……….Lanfear

I step quietly down the hallway of the high school, running my fingers down the row of faded blue locker doors. Sometimes I imagine which one could have been mine. I like number sixty-seven. It’s on the end, close to the water fountain and the biology lab. Science would have been my favorite subject, or maybe math. Grandpa’s always said I’m a problem solver.

I rub the dust off the tarnished number plate and keep searching.

My dusty footsteps take me past more classrooms and the propped open doors of the gym. Banners hang from the ceiling, with Go Wildcats painted across in large blue and silver letters. Most are ripped or torn apart completely, but one still hangs whole, quietly defiant as it stirs from the breeze passing through broken windows. I try to imagine the bleachers filled with students, but I’m not even sure what that many people together would look like.

As I turn a corner, a yellowed piece of paper falls to the ground from a bulletin board that is barely hanging on the wall. I stop, hold my breath, and gently lift it up. Would they notice if I take it? The warning we live by rings in my mind: Take only what we need, leave no trace, and don’t get caught. I stare at the paper, its faded black words advertising the Homecoming dance. The silhouette of a boy and girl is still visible, he in a suit and she in a ball gown, but most of the details have faded away. I carefully pin it back to the wall, noting the faded splatter of bloodstains on the peeling grey paint.

My stomach clenches at the sight. It’s time to go. We really shouldn’t have come here in the first place.

The mark of civilization holds nothing but death.

People used to call this place a ghost town, back when that was something to be proud of. Now ghosts are all it has left.

I’m almost around the next corner when I see a shadow coming from the cafeteria. It’s moving slower than it should, for a human. I press myself against the wall, my mind speeding down the hallway behind me, planning an escape route, weighing the successfulness of each path, knowing it won’t really do any good. But I’ll still fight, regardless.

I tense, waiting for the shadow to manifest into something solid. I pray it is a person, but I know where everyone else is supposed to be. My heart sinks when I hear the faint whir of gears. We were wrong. They haven’t forgotten about this place. I pull my knife from my boot, wondering if I should attack first, or save both of us the trouble and slit my own throat.

I’ve come to expect death, but I don’t make it a point to seek it out.

Something clatters down the hallway, and the shadow stops.

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.  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. Lanfear. I like the tenseness to the end of the piece

  2. Lanfear is my vote today. I enjoyed the build up, and I would DEFINITELY keep reading. At the end of the contest can we get this guy/girl's name? I'd love to see what else they have done. I also liked the hook.

    Cj Lehi was okay. It just didn't grab me. I felt like the names (even naming the ship) detached me from the story. I don't feel like the name of the ship mattered. What mattered more was why a husband and wife were asked to go on a space mission where there was nothing else to do but procreate against the odds.

  3. I liked the set up of both worlds. In CJ Lehi's I'd be interested to see what this purpose is that's so strong a mother would choose to leave her kids forever. That has to be a very compelling mission to inspire that kind of determination.

    That said, my vote goes to Lanfear. The details of the setting were just enough to get me in there with the character, but not too much to bog things down. Lots of interesting questions crop up for the reader, but not in a way that's confusing. I want to turn this book over and read the summary and then dive in.

  4. I vote for Lanfear today. I would definitely keep reading! Nice job establishing the setting and ending with the hook/conflict!

    CJ, I was not hooked by your piece unfortunately. There is a ton of exposition and backstory here, as well as passive voice. I would start with action/conflict and add these pieces of information slowly; weave them into dialogue or have the characters think about them. That would be a more dynamic way to put us in the story, I think.

  5. Cj Lehi- Very sci-fi. That's a lot of story, and is clearly building to something.
    Lanfear - Sci-fi with a touch of horror. Very exciting.
    I enjoyed both. I'm voting Lanfear because I'm most invested in what happens next.
    (Cj, I imagine, has four possible outcomes, being that the baby dies, the baby lives and ends up alone for all or most of a lifetime, the baby mates with aliens, or inbreeding occurs. If there's a fifth I haven't thought of, that'd win my vote. But I have to go with what is here.)

  6. Another vote for Lanfear.

    CJ Lehi was wordy and too much telling. The backstory would be better woven into some action. There are some interesting concepts in there - and overall, I'm sure you have a great story. As it is, however, I'm not drawn in.

    Lanfear felt poetic and tense, and I'd definitely keep reading to find out what happened to this town, who the narrator is, and what all is at stake. Good job.

  7. Neither piece interests me. The first one seems like it could be interesting, but too much telling of stuff I don't care about. There's no character interaction, which I prefer. The second one is written in a style that I dislike (plus, it's distant and I'm not feeling any emotion), but at least something is happening, so Lanfear gets my vote.

  8. Hmm...neither one grabbed me right away. Voting for Lanfear.

  9. This was a hard choice for me today...

    All in all, I think I am more interested in CJ's story, but it was told in such a detached voice I never connected to the characters.

    Lanfear had voice, but all the cliche lines (stomach clenching/etc) really pulled me out of the story.

    I'll vote for Lanfear, mostly based on the line, "I like number sixty-seven." because that was the moment I connected to the character.

  10. I like both of them, so it's hard for me to choose. (Also, Lanfear, your pen name is beyond awesome. WOT fans unite!)

    With CJ's piece, I did feel there was a bit too much back story and explanation going on, which I would have liked more if it'd been sprinkled in later in the story. If this is a novel, then it might be better to start with events that are going on "now" in that story and fill in readers later.

    With Lanfear, my problem was kind of the opposite. I wanted a bit more explanation about what he's searching for, what's coming after him in order for me to feel the danger of his situation more.

    I like the set up of both of them. I feel more curiosity towards CJ's piece, and I wonder what's going to happen next. So my vote this round goes to CJ Lehi, though they're both great.

  11. My vote goes to Lanfear. I was involved and it left me wanting to know what happens next.

    I enjoyed CJ's piece, but it felt too telly with too much backstory.

    Best of luck to both writers!

  12. Voting for CJ Lehi, but had a hard time deciding, since both pieces had strong and weak aspects.
    The opening of CJ was pretty cumbersome. And the exposition goes on a bit too long. Somehow, though, I sense a good story in the offing. It might have been better to open this with these candidates showing up to see if they had gotten picked for the journey. There would be more suspense sooner. I liked the overall writing style, the rhythm of the prose.

    Regading Lanfear:
    I really loved the lines, "
    People used to call this place a ghost town, back when that was something to be proud of. Now ghosts are all it has left." I think those 2 sentences would make a good opening and orient the reader better to the situation. I began thinking we're hearing the voice of a narrator who is visiting a school that simply shut down, probably for under-enrollment. Or maybe the narrator was someone who didn't live long enough (died of a disease or accident) to get to the high school he would have gone to. In general, it just seemed like a sentimental visit to a once-bustling high school after hours or after it was closed down. The narrator is searching for a locker with a certain number, but we have no idea why. This kind of vague quest is not very interesting or suspenseful. The suspense that is somewhat less vague is a noise heard somewhere else in the building. Still too vague and a cliche way to bring more action to a scene that has only one character up until we hear the noise.

  13. CJ - I admit I'm not a SF fan, but the last paragraph and sentence about 100% effective threw me out. I'm not an English major, but I don't think this was done right. But the fact that he followed his wife because he loved her, scored points.

    Lanfear - good writing, easy to read. Felt if I had read the previous chapters, I'd know what was going on. I vote Lanfear.

  14. I'm voting for Lanfear. I enjoyed the piece's dark and foreboding atmosphere.

  15. Both good, but my vote is Lanfear. I enjoyed it more. Excellent suspense.

  16. Very interesting submissions!

    I'm choosing: .Lanfear.

  17. I feel like both have a lot of telling and barely any showing. Lanfear was better simply because it had more suspense. I wish Lanfear said these four intros differently: "As I turn the corner," "I'm almost around the corner," "I tense" and "I've come to expect death" There were too many "I did this and that" instead of just letting us naturally assume things through the character's actions and emotions.

  18. Lanfear for me. It was far more involving than the other piece which was too heavy on backstory to really draw me in.

  19. I vote for Lanfear. I enjoyed reading both but the writing was weaker in the other piece. Lanfear's suspenseful ending got me. Although, Lanfear's piece had weak writing too. I thought it was better. I don't like info dumps.

  20. They're both good, but I'm voting for Lanfear, just because I tore through it faster.

  21. Hmm. I'm having a hard time with this one. They're both intriguing but have issues within the writing. My vote goes to Cj Lehi because I want to know what happens.

  22. Cj Lehi had too much explanation.
    I'm voting for Lanfear.




Blog Blitz

Design by: The Blog Decorator