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WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Playoff Round Bout #5

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.

We've narrowed the field down to ten and we're continuing on with the play-off rounds – which will continue to come at a rapid fire pace, Mon-Fri.  The voting for all five bouts will remain open until noon on Sunday, July 5th.  Your task remains simple…read the submission from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  If you haven’t already done so in the previous rounds, offer some critique if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote, so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun.  Vote on as many bouts as you can get around to.  Whether that is one bout, or all five, how much you participate is up to you. 

Here’s something else to keep in mind for this round...every vote counts. That’s because the contestant who doesn't win their bout…but garners the most votes amongst all of the other losers…will become a wildcard winner and still advance to the quarterfinals. 

The winners will be posted on the WRiTE CLUB Scoreboard late in the afternoon on July 5th and then the quarterfinals will kick off the following Monday, July 6th, again with all new 500 word submissions from the six advancing contestants.

Good luck to all of the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner, representing the YA contemporary genre with 500 words, please welcome.....Commando Grace

“Most people wait until they’re dying to do this crap.” My toes curl over the dock’s edge. Ive done many stupid things, for money and pride. This is different. I don’t deserve this. “You and your stupid bucket list.”

Molly shrugs, and I clutch the towel tighter around my shoulders. Forty degrees is colder than it sounds.

“Where’s your sense of adventure?” Molly’s elation scares and thrills me all at once.

“You sure this qualifies as a polar plunge? It’s not even freezing.” I’ll do it—kindred spirits do these things for each other—but I’d rather paint our toenails or something.

“Oh, it counts.” Molly drops the towel from her bare shoulders. “Being naked gives us bonus points. Come on!”

She grabs my hand and counts to three. My knees buckle and straighten, propelling me from the safety of the dock. The water assaults my skin like a million tiny ice picks scraping the flesh from my bones. There’s no way Molly can ever repay me. I come up sputtering, frigid water streaming down my face.

“Molly Braxton! You. Owe. Me.”

She’s laughing, treading water in a moonlit ribbon of lake. She looks toward shore, and her smile vanishes. With a tiny splash, Molly disappears under the surface.

“Hey, who’s there?”

It’s not enough to embarrass me on the soccer field. Trevor Langston has to show up when I’m naked in freezing water. I wish my brothers’ lake monster stories were true. If ever a snaggletoothed kraken inhabited these waters, let it devour me now.

“Grace? Grace, is that you?” He saunters down the dock as if he owns the lake and half of Wakefield.

Hiding under the dock, Molly shakes her head, a finger to her lips. Her heart’s oblivious captain crouches above her and peers straight at me with that arrogant smile. “Grace Welch, what on earth are you doing?”

I glance down and pray the water’s as dark from his angle as from mine. Id cover myself, but I have to keep moving. “Isnt it obvious? I’m taking my evening swim. If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to finish.”

He stands and surveys the lake.

“Actually…” His voice is muffled as he pulls the sweatshirt over his head, “I’d enjoy a swim myself.”

I ought to let him freeze in this stupid lake, but Molly looks like she’s been sentenced to the guillotine. My head may roll, but I’ll save her neck. Kindred spirits and all. I swim to the dock and pull myself up the ladder. Coming out, the air’s as brutal as the water was going in.

Eyes averted, Trevor hands me my towel. “You’ve got balls, Soccer Chick.”

“You might’ve grown a pair, too, if you had six brothers.”

“Ouch. Well played.” He stoops to pick up a second towel, Molly’s towel. When he looks at me again, his eyes are smiling like he’s the cleverest boy on earth. “So, um, it’s pretty cold tonight. How long do you think Molly will last?”

And in the other corner, representing the adult contemporary genre with 488 words, let me introduce to you………. Robin Hood

Never color inside the lines, and always take two steps at a time. It was Vanessa's mantra. A promise to hold on to her youth that first fall away at college when autumn stained the leaves piercing shades of orange and red.
She lifted her face to the rising sun and teetered on the four-inch concrete edging along the path to class, proving to herself she hadn't and wouldn't lose her balance. She'd be forever young. If anyone doubted it, her audacious laughter ricocheted between the stately stone buildings as proof.
Throwing caution to the wind before she went to bed, very late sometimes, Vanessa decided not to set her alarm. What's a skipped class or two?
In the late, hazy morning, she bolted upright, threw on rumpled clothes from a pile on the floor and ran to class with her coat half on, not caring about brushing out her mussed-up blond curls. She was untethered for the first time in her life. Free to be whomever she wanted to be. She didn't really know, but the not knowing didn't frighten her. Even if it should have.

Yesterday, she wanted to be a mother...someday. The kind of mother who would strive to be nothing like her own.
Today, Vanessa wants to save the world of its misfortune and injustice, stow away with a humanitarian regime bent on ridding the earth of its squalor one speck at a time.
Tomorrow? Perhaps she'll go the route of an astronaut, the very first—not just the first woman but the first person ever—to land on Mars.
But that night, everything changed as she clip-clopped down a lonely alley, short-cutting to her dorm. A faceless man yanked her arm and quickly stripped her youth away in a nightmarish alcove where no one could hear her muffled gasps. A hot, sticky, alcohol-ed body pressed upon her his impertinence. With his will against hers, his muscles against her, she was powerless, voiceless. Robbed and shaken, she stumbled to her dorm, curled beneath her comforter and went to sleep, forever.
Now, Vanessa's mantra turned in on itself. Color in the lines, every single time, and maybe that'll make it all better, pay for what happened. Take the steps, one at a time, slowly. Then maybe they won't notice you. Won't come for you again. Vanessa's heart emptied itself. Her soul faded away. She walked in the middle of the path and didn't notice the lacy snow or the spring buds as they came and went. Too soon, she felt old and very tired.
After following a constrictive, direct path in life, she ended up in a small loft apartment overlooking a peaceful no-name river in a peaceful no-name town with a not-so-peaceful dog that did, indeed, have a name. Skittles. His dappled coat reminded Vanessa of the dappled, dying leaves that dreadful winter so long ago...and of lifting her face to the sun. She'd nearly forgotten...

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. I'm going for Commando Grace this time. Robin Hood's writing is lovely, but it doesn't have the energy and immediacy that the other piece has. I feel like I'm seeing the scene through a veil or something rather than living it with the character.

  2. Commando Grace - OMG. Thank you so much for the laugh. I needed that. You sir/ma'am/whatever rock!
    Robin Hood - A very powerful piece in the middle. It sort of felt like multiple beginnings or something though. Maybe it's just me.

    I find myself stripping down to vote today. Plunging with the Polar Bear club, as I have been since the mid 90's, and chiseling "I vote Commando Grace" under the ice.

  3. I am going to go with Commando Grace. I like dialogue and this was well done and believable.
    While I thought the Robin Hood piece was good and would have beaten most of the previous competitors work, you were just up against a really solid story here. I am so sorry.

  4. Commando Grace gets my vote.

    Like Kate said above, Robin Hood's piece, though poetic, seemed veiled and distant. It's a beautiful, tragic story, and I liked the symmetry, but I didn't feel as connected to Vanessa as I'd have liked.

  5. I hate that these two are pitted against each other! Both are excellent but in very different ways.

    As in Commando Grace's previous piece, I got a clear picture of who Grace is and really enjoyed her voice. The descriptions of the icy water were so vivid (I actually shivered a bit while reading) and I would absolutely love to read on! The only thing I wasn't fond of was the unrealistic teen dialogue in the fourth paragraph ("You sure this qualifies as a polar plunge?..."). It's a bit formal and doesn't match the authenticity of the rest of the dialogue.

    I absolutely love Robin Hood's prose! It's probably my favourite in this entire compeition. I felt sympathy for Vanessa and was concerned about her traumatic situation. Unfortunately, as Lisa said above, Robin Hood's piece felt quite distant and I didn't connect with Vanessa as much as I wanted to.

    It's such a close call, but Commando Grace has the edge for having a more engaging protagonist.

    Best of luck to both writers!

  6. Commando Grace, hands down. I felt too distant and removed from Robin Hood's character.

  7. These are both really good! I vote for RobinHood because of the beautiful and bittersweet writing.

  8. Commando Grace gets my vote. Skinny dipping is a bit cliché, but this piece was done well.

    Robin Hood's piece was nice but it felt disjointed.

  9. Both are very well written and polished. I'm voting for Commando simply because Robin is just a tad too abstract for me to follow.

  10. Commando Grace gets my vote today!

  11. Commando Grace gets my vote

  12. I definitely liked that Commando Grace was an easy read, well thought out, no tripping up on language, etc. Just not too crazy on the story itself.

    Robin Hood's was sad, tragic, and really made me feel like crap by the end of it. Bravo. Really, no sarcasm. I think the author probably meant to leave a lingering feeling. It did feel a little distant, as other post-ers have said, but I think it was meant to be that way. It made me feel distant like she did in the story.

    It's hard to say which one was better. They were vastly different. I'll vote for Robin Hood to help out the under dog.

  13. Tie for me so I'll vote for Robin Hood. Hard to judge these when they're so different. I agree with the post above.

  14. Thank you for sharing!

    I'm choosing: Commando Grace.


  15. Here's a vote for Commando Grace.




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