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WRiTE CLUB 2015 – Elimination Bout #1

Over the past two weeks twenty writers have stepped into the WRiTE CLUB ring and ten emerged victorious. But before we call upon the next twenty writers to do battle, first we must whittle our winners down to five. This is called the elimination round because it’s the first time winners face off against one another. Our ten winners will again be shuffled and -- like the first bouts -- randomly matched to compete against one another with their same submission. A writer who emerges victorious from this round will earn a spot in the play-offs and will be asked to submit a new 500 sample to use in the next round. Let me remind you that our competitors are not only scuffling for notoriety…recognition…a $75 Amazon gift card…but also free admission to the 2016 DFW WritersConference, who helps sponsor this contest.  

This week I’ll be holding daily bouts (M-F) between the Anonymous 500 word writing samples, submitted under a pen name by the winners of our first 10 rounds.  The writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction. Today is Elimination Bout #1.  Read each sample carefully and then leave a vote in the comment section for the one that resonates with you the most.  If you didn’t have a chance before, please leave with a brief critique of both submissions as well.

As it was with the early bouts, voting for each will remain open for one week. The winner of each will be posted at the WRiTECLUB scoreboard. 

Are you ready?

Here are today's randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the fantasy genre and weighing in at 486 words, please welcome back to the ring……..Quill Thrill

Mr. Parker dipped a hand into his waistcoat and pulled out a pocket watch. He checked the time the way he assumed most rich, aristocratic men would do in such a situation. This action surely implied he was busy, had other appointments to attend and could not be left waiting. If the matron of the orphanage wanted one of her children to find a happy home, she had better skip to it.

In front of the fireplace, Mr Parker’s ‘wife’ sat in a green velvet armchair staring at the hot coals. She placed her hands in her lap then looked through the double doors leading to the sunny courtyard. There, the matron spoke in harsh whispers to the owner of the orphanage. Mrs Parker turned to Mr Parker. “For married folk they argue a lot.”

Mr. Parker smiled. “Should we argue?”

She narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips.

His stomach tingled, as did other places, but he hadn’t paid her for that. Not today.

The matron returned then walked them through the courtyard, introducing the children one by one. But Mr Parker already knew what he was looking for. Rude, loud and confident – a boy hungry for adventure and who would, in time, relish the idea of impersonating a Lord’s son for riches. An aversion to sea sickness would be a bonus, too. And Mr Parker found him. The sea sickness would have to be tested but what stood before him was perfect. A boy of five or six fired his arms at a few older boys who merely laughed off the punches. Mr Parker pointed. “I want that one,” he said, forgetting to sound like a potentially loving parent and instead adopting the tone of a woman in a jewellery shop.

“Sam?!” the matron squeaked.

“Yes,” said Mr Parker.

The matron turned. “Sam, dear, do get off the floor and come here.”

Sam scrambled over, careful to avoid a final boot in the butt by one of the older boys.

“Hello,” said Mr Parker.

Sam pouted. “I ain’t dun nuffin’.”

Ah yes, lying before blame has even been placed. Another trait Mr Parker needed.

“Is that your misses?” Sam asked through missing milk teeth. “Are you his misses? When you kiss him, his beard scratches your face off, dunnit?”

Mr Parker was satisfied. He read nothing and signed all the necessary forms while Sam asked Mrs Parker if wearing a corset could make a woman’s breasts “go pop”. Happy, Mr Parker put Sam on his shoulders then left the orphanage. Equally as delighted, his ‘wife’ blew him a vermillion-lipped kiss and returned to work in the town’s shadowy alleys.

“Watch me swim,” said Sam the moment they reached the seashore. “Lemme get down.”

Mr Parker hoped that meant sea sickness wouldn’t be an issue and let Sam undress before the water’s edge. “Bollocks…” he whispered, both shocked and disappointed to find Sam had none. 

And in the other corner let me re-introduce to you……….Luke Warmwater.

A rumble came from deep in the dog’s throat.

“Jake, you hear that?”

Jacob Graham rolled over. “Huh?”

“Chief woke me up . . . I heard a noise downstairs.”

“Wind’s been keeping me awake, Ellie. Haven’t slept a wink all night.” Jake pulled the pillow over his head, but the Yellow Lab growled again and pattered to the bedroom door. The rancher sat up and glanced at the clock’s glowing red numbers. 2:17 AM. The display went blank. He yawned and scratched the stubble on his weathered face.

“Think it’s somebody in the barn again?” Ellie asked.

He shook his head. His family had lived on this ranch for generations. He couldn’t remember the last time they’d had anything stolen, at least until the past few months. Ever since a real estate developer had bought up the surrounding ranches, tools had gone missing here, a pack saddle there. Nothing worth much. Jake had refused to sell, but now with his neighbors gone, it seemed someone was trying to steal the place one little bit at a time.

He tried the lamp. Nothing. A soft glow from the outside security light filtered in through a window. Still had power to the barn.

“Ellie, stay here.” Pulling on his robe, he fumbled in the bedside table for a flashlight. He paused, thought a moment, and grabbed his pistol.

“Don’t go down there. I’ll call 911.”

He patted her hand. “You know how the wiring is in this old house. Probably blew some breakers and you heard the fridge shut off.” When she didn’t respond, he added, “No need to get the sheriff out here this time of night.”

“But . . .”

“It’ll be alright. Gonna send Chief down first. Stay here.”

Jake eased open the bedroom door. The ancient floorboards of the second-story hallway creaked when he took a careful step. At the stairs, he paused, listened. A gentle breeze wafted up from below. The stench of dried sweat. His neck hair stood on end. Chief growled, bared his teeth.

Jake grabbed the dog’s collar, fumbling to hold both the flashlight and .45 auto with his other hand. “Easy, boy. Let’s take it slow.”

Downstairs, a hinge groaned. A thump. A muffled curse.

Jake released Chief’s collar. The aging dog tore down the steps, his tail arched high over his back. He charged into the kitchen. Jake hustled in behind him. The screen door screeched closed. He got the flashlight trained in time to see a man disappear into the darkness outside.

Chief rushed the opening, snarling like a lobo wolf.

“It’s alright, boy.” Jake slammed and bolted the kitchen door. He turned toward the wall phone and froze. The drawer beneath it, where he kept an extra gun. Open. And empty. He glanced around, grabbed the receiver. Dead. The bastard had not only cut the electricity, but the phone line, too. “Ellie,” he called, “get the cell.”

She answered with a scream. A pistol shot pierced the night. Then another.

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.  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. Tough one. My vote goes to Quill.

  2. Warmwater all the way for me!

  3. I've already left a crit for Quill Thrill on a previous bout. :-)

    Warmwater - Very nice scene, great tension. I don't have much to add. The whole piece seems pretty darn clean to me. Great job!

  4. I like both of these a lot. I really don't have any suggestions on how to prove either one. Both are intriguing with enough information to pull me in. I'm going to go with Warmwater though just out of personal preference. Sorry I can't offer any suggestions!

  5. Luke Warmwater- tight writing, kept me hooked, and now I want to know how it ends!

  6. I'd read both of these books. Ugh. This is hard. Quill Thrill is my vote.

  7. It's so tough but I give my vote to Luke Warmwater, only by 1%

  8. Tough one, but I'll go with Quill Thrill

  9. These are both excellent but the period piece charmed me. Quill thrill

  10. This one's hard for me as I probably wouldn't read either one, but Luke Warmwater edges out for me if for no other reason than the typos in Quill Thrill's beginning.

  11. Quill Thrill's rich period setting and feisty orphan get my vote.

  12. Two great pieces, but Quill gets this vote.

  13. I vote for Quill Thrill!

  14. I like both, but I think I'll vote for Quill Thrill this time around.

  15. This is getting *hard*! Quill Thrill by a nose.

  16. I voted for both of these stories in the first round, so it's a hard choice between two favorites.

    My vote is for Luke Warmwater.

  17. My vote is for Quill Thrill, because I still really want to read this story!

  18. Quill Thrill for me -- I want to see how this all turns out.

  19. My vote goes to Quill Thrill in this round.

    On Quill Thrill's piece, yes, I still wish 'wife' wasn't in quotes. Especially since you do such a great job of showing us their relationship through the dialogue about married couples fighting and your reference to him paying her! Trust that your readers can figure things out for themselves - your writing is good enough for us to do that! :) Another suggestion I would have is to tighten up the writing. You have great style in this piece, but it doesn't have to be verbose to work. Tightening the writing will heighten the tension and atmosphere in the scene. Finally, I wish there was more interaction b/w Mr. Parker and Sam before he discovers she's a girl. Maybe there is in the actual piece, and was cut for this contest, but if not, I think it would further character development and plot if it was there. I really enjoyed this piece and if you make it through, I hope there is more of this story for us to read!

    Ironically, I did vote for Luke Warmwater's piece the first time, and still like that a lot as well. I don't have much more to add than my first round comments, but I'll repeat what I just said - if this piece is the one that makes it through, I'm really looking forward to reading more of this story as well!

    Congrats to both writers on your first round wins and good luck!

  20. Quill Thrill has my vote. Best of luck!

  21. They are both really good. Well written, polished, interesting. Both grabbed my attention and kept it. For Quill the phrase "rolled her eyes and pursed her lips" is an instant dislike, but the rest of the writing was engaging and well paced. For Luke, I was intrigued and sympathetic through the entire piece, until the last line with the two gunshots upstairs. The stranger went out the back door with a stolen gun, so how did he make it inside and upstairs so quickly? Yes, having two intruders would resolve the issue, but then why focus on the open drawer and missing gun.

    As I said though, both are interesting and well written. I am going to vote for Luke Warmwater here, but would read either story. The voice, tension, and pacing are excellent in both. Well done.

  22. Voting for Quill Thrill, though both are well-written.
    Quill Thrill is more engaging in that is spells things out only part way and leaves me with more opportunity to deduce what else is going on.

  23. Ooh, tough. I'll vote for Quill!

  24. This is tough. I'm voting or Quill Thrill by a slight margin.

  25. If I happened to pick up the Warmwater story and started reading, I'd definitely stay with it. It was well written, believable, and drew me in. Unfortunately, it was paired today against a story that struck me as more off-beat and quirky. I like quirky. My vote goes to Quill.

  26. Oh man! I think I voted for both of these last time!

    Quill Thrill is the vote for me as well. The story line seems fresh and I'm intrigued with the time period.

    Luke Warmwater I really did enjoy, but again, I can watch any crime show and see this playing out. Is there a twist in this story that sets it apart from all others like it?

  27. Oh no! These are two of my favorite pieces so far in the competition! This is agony, as I really wanted to see where both these pieces were going to go. Writers, promise that you'll both continue with your stories, please!

    I am going to vote for Quill Thrill, just because the writing was a bit tighter and I am still a little confused about the shot that rang out in Luke's piece.

    Congrats to both of you for making it to this round!

  28. Luke Warmwater wins this one on points, in a split decision, but honestly, I almost had to flip a coin. Both of these are excellent. It's a shame they matched up this early.

  29. Quill, here. And I think the "wife" quotation marks are fine.

  30. Voting for Quill. I find the questions posted in her piece more interesting.




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