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WRiTE CLUB 2018 – Bout #1

Welcome to the inaugural WRiTE CLUB 2018 bout. We’ve been building to this moment for five weeks and you know what’s exciting…that it was totally worth the wait! For those of you who might have just stumbled in, let me give you a run-down of what is going on here.

Weeks ago the submission window opened for this year's contest where we asked anybody wishing to participate to submit a 500-word writing sample – using a pen name. The sample can be from any genre, flash fiction or something from a larger piece of work, basically, anything goes except that it cannot have been previously published or posted on the internet. All of the rules regarding how to submit can be found here. After the submission period closed, we had fifteen judges (we call them our slush pile readers) read all 181 submissions from 132 writers and once all the ballots were total we narrowed the 181 down to the 30 that will be stepping into the ring over the course of the next three weeks. Today is the first of those bouts.

How this works – two anonymous (pen name only) writing samples step into the ring. Visitors to this blog (that’s you) read both entries and vote for the one that resonates the most with you. We ask that you leave a brief critique for both writers with your vote because that is one of the real values of this contest – FEEDBACK. Please be respectful with your remarks!

Even though there will be a different bout every day (M-F), the voting for each bout will remain open for seven days from the date it is posted to give as many people as possible to have a say. The voting for today’s bout will close on Sunday, April 22nd (noon central time).

It’s that simple. The piece that garnishes the most votes moves on to the next round where they’ll face a different opponent. Using a tournament style format, the 30 contestants will be whittled down to just 2, and the winner of that final bout will be announced at the DFW Writers Conference in Hurst TX June 9-10. You can follow along with all of the bout results right HERE.

In case of a tie, I’m the deciding vote. I can do that because, like all of you, I do not know the real names of our contestants either (my wife processes all the submissions).

Oh yeah – for every bout that you vote in, your name (see rule #2 below) will be placed into a hat for a chance for a $40 Barnes & Noble Gift card that will be drawn after the contest concludes.

A few rules –

1) One vote per visitor per bout.

2) Although our contestants are anonymous, voters cannot be. Anonymous votes will not count, so if you do not have a Google account and are voting as a guest, be sure to include your name and email address.

3)Using any method (email, social media, text, etc) to solicit votes for a specific contestant will result in that contestant's immediate disqualification. It’s perfectly okay, in fact, it is encouraged to spread the word about the contest to get more people to vote, just not for a specific writer!

That’s enough jibber-jabber…like the man say’s –

In the far corner, we have Doctornoir representing the Crime Novel genre.

Raunch sat on the edge of the pool with one foot on the drowning man’s back and wondered if he had time for a cigarette. Turns out you really can drown someone in less than three feet of water­—if you knock him out first.

He thought it would be more difficult. Not the physical punch—he was as tough as they come, if he dared say so himself—but the emotional wallop. Despite an extensive criminal record for a variety of minor offenses, he’d never whacked anyone before, and he expected a rush of fear or horror or…something. Instead, he felt numb. The way he saw it, if the mob wanted this poor guy dead, he wasn’t a stellar citizen to begin with, and when you’re hungry and months behind on the rent, well, the truth is, money makes a great anesthetic.

The neighbor’s hound dog howled a warning. The scraggly brown hedge separating the two suburban houses rustled. The darkness obscured the source. Raunch tapped his cigarette back in the pack and pulled out his gun instead.

“Ow!” The hedge’s brittle branches snapped as a spandex-clad arm and leg broke through the six-foot tall barrier. The flailing continued until, with a final heave, a masked man hurtled onto the manicured lawn and rolled to a rest on his back.

“Jesus, Frank, you trying to wake up the whole neighborhood or what?” Raunch slipped the gun under his belt, covering it with the tail of his Phillies team jersey and removed his foot from the dead man’s back. He shook the water off his shoe. Dammit. He knew he should’ve worn boots. His sock was soaked. His sneaker squished when he walked toward Frank, ruining his attempt to look casual—and innocent. He leaned over Frank, who lay motionless with his eyes closed.

“Frank, buddy, you okay?”

Frank groaned and attempted to roll to his side, but his long cape snagged on a spindly branch, pinning him to the ground. He engaged in a brief tug of war, wrenching on the cape with both hands until the green fabric tore free. Exhausted from the effort and with his legs tangled in the tattered cape, he thrashed around like a bunny snared in a net until Raunch took pity on him and set him free.

“Dude, you’re embarrassing. Good thing there’s no one around to witness how pathetic you are.” 

Raunch grabbed Frank by the shoulders and hauled him to his feet.

Frank hunched over, gasping for breath. “I’m. Lambda. Man.” He lowered his voice, forcing Raunch to lean closer. “I told you not to use my real name when I’m on patrol.”

“Last I checked, ‘Lambda’ is your real name. Whatever. Are you okay, Lambda Man? Shrubbery appears to be your Kryptonite.”

Frank’s breathing slowed to normal. He straightened upright and gagged at the sight of the dead body bobbing in the shallow end of the pool. He was too late.

“My God, Raunch. What did you do?”
And in the near corner, we have Groovy Girl representing the YA Upmarket Speculative genre.

My grandpa is a dick. I’m sorry about it, but he is.
Nana agrees with me, but she would say, “Keno, don’t be crude. Try another word.”
But she calls Grandpa a jackass – that’s her word for a dick. I haven’t called him a dick out loud. Someday I might, but for now I’m only crude in my head.
This week Grandpa’s problem is he thinks he owns the Mint, the house that used to be secret on Mint Lane. Nana filled it with food and tools and seed back before the sun zapped us with an electromagnetic pulse. This house saved our family and neighborhood. It helps us survive every day, now that the electricity, running water, cars, and phones are gone.
Grandpa’s been keeping neighbors out of the Mint, not letting them use tools to grow our food or get flour and yeast to bake everyone’s bread.
He’s got a damned shotgun and he means business.
He’s out there screaming at someone right now. Me and Uncle Eddie look at each other in the dining room at our house.
Uncle Eddie sighs. “Come on. We better go see what the hell he’s doing.”
I give my wife Alma a look, and she nods at me, rolling her eyes. I don’t know any other eighteen-year-old guys with a wife, but I’m sure glad I have Alma. She gets how I have to deal with Grandpa when he’s a dick. I want to kiss her, but Uncle Eddie is already halfway across the dead lawn toward the Mint house behind ours.
“I said get the fuck out of my yard!” Grandpa’s howling on the east side of the Mint, waving the muzzle of his shotgun at Silas Barnes. Silas is half-smiling, backing away with his hands up.
“It’s not your fucking yard, Dad!” Uncle Eddie yells as we slip through the hedge between our two backyards.
“Shut up, son. Get your pansy-ass out of here!”
Uncle Eddie is all muscly like a wrestler. If he says he’s going to whip your ass, you better run. Grandpa never used to say anything about Uncle Eddie being gay, but I guess now that he’s so angry he’s letting out whatever shit he’s been holding inside for freaking ever.
“Dad!” Mom hollers out of a Mint upstairs window. “Cut it out. Put the gun down!”
He’s like a brat kid gone out of control, my grandpa, except he’s got a gun and he’s meaner.
“Don’t tell me what to do!” he growls.
While Grandpa’s glaring at Mom in the window, Uncle Eddie motions for me to sneak around behind the old fart.
“Don’t try to get the gun, just pin down his arms,” Eddie whispers behind his hand.
Just as Grandpa turns back toward Silas, me and Uncle Eddie jump him from different sides, leaning our bodies into his arms so he can’t move them.

Leave your votes and critiques in the comments below. Again, be respectful of your remarks and try to point positives as well as detractions.

We’ll be back tomorrow with another bout.  See you then.


  1. *DING*! With that one, sharp sound, echoing through the ring, this year's championship is off, and the fighters close the gap.

    Doctornoir gets off to a fantastic start, harnessing the dirty street fighting style of Crime writing to land a solid, right hook liver shot that sends Groovy Girl staggering. As one, the crowd winces in sympathy. That's one hell of an intro hook.

    Far from out, however, Groovy Girl comes surging back, with a wild and unpredictable flurry of punches, kicks, and profanity-laced knees. What is this fighting style? Is it formal, Olympic boxing? Is it MMA? I don't know what Women's Upmarket/Speculative is, especially in a story with three male main characters so far, but it works, and I'd love to see how far this style can take the fighter.

    Groovy Girl gets an opening when the good Doctor decides to mix it up as well, and goes for a surprising, and very funny, if somewhat jarring, comic luchador grab with the introduction of a self-styled superhero character we don't really get a chance to connect with in such a short format.

    But Groovy Girl doesn't quite seize the opening, and looks somewhat winded herself at the end of the round, with a finisher that seems to cut off mid-flow and doesn't leave the reader quite as hungry for more as Doctornoir's does.

    Two skilled fighters here for our opening bout, Jim, but the ref can't cut the point in half. The power of genre pulls through: one point on the scoreboard for Doctornoir!

    Matthew Reardon

  2. Doctornoir definitely gets my vote!

  3. Wow, we're really starting off with a tough choice aren't we? I love reading stories that can find humor, and use it well, even in the most serious situations. We have murder in one corner, and what appears to be a post-apocalypse in the other. While both MCs were amusing in their musings, my vote has to go to Doctornoir. Groovy was interesting no doubt, but Doctornoir snagged me from the start and kept the punchy lines coming. From his flippant and hooky first line, to letting the whole world know that you CAN drown in less than three feet of water, to his ruminations of soggy shoes and--is that a caped hero bumbling about??

    My vote definitely goes to Doctornoir for giving me an opening that makes me want to know more.

  4. Doctornoir gets my vote despite the second line and the genre given. I don't think Crime Novel is a fitting genre if the rest of the story is like the beginning. More like COMEDY. It looks to be a very good comedy.

  5. Groovy Girl sets up a nice bit of world building, but then with introducing seven characters in 500 words, it's a lot to keep up with, which resulted in telling, not showing.
    In the first line, Doctornoir gave me a peek at the (named! thank you) MC, grounded me in the situation, and clued me in to Raunch's character. The voice and humor shines throughout - this reminds me of Dave Barry's bumbling South Florida mosbsters. I want to know more about Frank and his cape.
    Today's vote goes to Doctornoir

  6. I’d have to say DoctorNoir, as well. I had trouble following what was going on in Groovy’s section, and I couldn’t get invested in the characters - I think because there were too many for a 500 word blurb.

    SP Hofrichter

  7. I’ll go with DoctorNoir.
    Groovy Girl has voice though. I get a good sense of the relationship between the MC and the grandmother in the first three lines of the piece. That’s economical writing. But there are some sentences that made me go back and reread, like the sentence about the Mint. In one sentence we have that grandpa thinks he owns the mint, that it was once a secret, that it’s no longer a secret, and that it’s on mint lane. Too much in one line. If Groovy Girl took out the info about it being a secret and saved that for later, the sentence would have been great. There are a few other moments like that, when the sentence needed to be flipped for an easier read. Still, she made me want to read her book.
    DoctorNoir has a great first line. We also get the sense right off the bat of his situation and what’s going on with him—what he wants. I also like the contrast of the mob guy and the hapless superhero. For my critique, the one thing that bugged me was that he seemed surprised that his shoe was wet. I already had an image in my head that the guy was being drowned “in less than three feet of water,” which led me to image the mob guy’s foot completely submerged. When he gets mad about his shoe, I had to reimagine that moment, because then it became clear that there was less water than I thought, and he’d believed he might get out of that situation with a dry sock. You don’t want readers revising their mental images of things mid-scene. But it’s a small thing. The piece is awesome.

  8. The voice of Doctor Noir hooked me in and I was there. Just enough descriptive detail to give me a solid sense of place, internal dialog to begin to connect with the MC, and interaction between these two characters that drives me to want to know more about them, what led them here, and what's going to happen next.

    With Groovy Girl, a sense of place is established, but it's all through telling so I'm kept at a distance. I want to see luxury cars abandoned at the side of the road and expensive electronics thrown onto a junk heap. I want to connect with the MC as a result of this new world they have to deal with, but everything is focused on the grandfather and his anger, plus all these other family members brought into the first 500 words ... I couldn't end up caring about anybody. The genre stated and resulting blurb were also dissonant.

    Round goes to DoctorNoir.

  9. I loved them both! While I loved Doctor Noir for the excellent writing and super hero Fred-- I'm voting for Groovy Girl. I loved the story concept and wanted to read more.

  10. My vote is going to go to Doctornoir. Honestly, at the end of it, I wanted to read on...but I'm a sucker for a crime novel.

    Groovy Girl...I agree there's a lot of voice in this passage. It was the first thing I noticed. What troubles me is that the genre is listed as "Women's Upmarket with Speculative Elements" and the first person narrator is an 18-year-old boy. As a woman in her 40's, I'm honestly having trouble with that being the genre represented by these 500 words.

    Melissa Herman

  11. One more vote for Doctor Noir!

  12. My vote goes to DoctorNoir. I loved the story line. It was just the right balance of eerie and hokey for me. Also, great use of traditional literary elements such as alliteration.
    I agree with Melissa's comment above to Groovy Girl. I was also immediately disturbed by the category of your writing. I felt that there was simply too many moving parts for 500 words. I do, however, feel that you have a lot to say and would definitely be interested in hearing more from you in a more lengthy piece.

  13. I'm gonna go with DoctorNoir. Caped vigilantes for the win!

    1. JoAnne Turner

  14. Wow! Two very different pieces of writing. Both started out strong, but Groovy Girl lost me a couple of paragraphs in. Too much information and too many people on the page distanced me from Keno.

    DoctorNoir just kept throwing out snippets of character that kept me wondering and wanting more. I'd definitely give him the win in this bout.

  15. Tough choice to open. Both pieces had strong, distinct voice. In the end, I'm going with DoctorNoir because of the characters. I could picture both Raunch and Frank, both physical attributes and mental. And both set up as interesting studies individually, but I'd look forward to how they bounce back and forth as a team. Bad times ahead for those two, I believe, which means good times for me as a reader.

    On the other hand, GroovyGirl introduced so many characters, I had a tougher time. Moreover, a key issue I had with GG was that I assumed based on genre that the main character opening the story was a girl. When she turned out to be an 18-year-old male a third of the way through, I had to reframe what I was reading. Perhaps in a longer piece, these characters would grab me better.

  16. DoctorNoir, great voice and humor. I'd work on tightening up the writing in places, especially by eliminating filter words ("wondered if he had time for a cigarette" vs. "checked his watch and reached for his cigarettes"). I agree with a previous poster that the soaked foot shouldn't be a surprise. I like the detail, but feel rather than cursing the situation as if he'd just discovered the water in his shoe, his thought processes would be more along the lines of how he'll do it differently next time. You also hopped out of Raunch's point-of-view at the very end. These are just polishing issues, though. Overall, a strong entry, and I'd love to read more.

    Groovy Girl, the piece starts with a strong voice, but as others have said, I pictured the protagonist as a teen girl. Finding out the protagonist is actually an 18 y.o. male was a bit of a surprise, and it felt weird to me that he was all, "Yeah, I have a wife... I know it's weird..." without explaining WHY he has a wife. I really like the concept of a family trying to control the crazy grandpa, but had a hard time connecting with the story, maybe because there were so many characters and so much backstory. Finally, I'm not sure devoting 15 out of 500 words to profanity is a wise choice. I don't mind a swear word or two, but this felt excessive, almost as if you were trying too hard to be edgy, and I'd rather you had used those words to build your characters. I feel like I'm coming down really hard on you, so let me repeat the positives: Great voice. Great concept. Keep working on it, because I do believe you'll get there!

    My vote: DoctorNoir.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Great opening selections! I really enjoyed both pieces, so this was a tough choice. I liked the premise of DoctorNoir's piece - very intrigued by the pseudo-friendship there appears to be between a mob hitman and a caped crusader. I definitely wanted to read more, and I'm usually not a big crime novel fan. Really my only nitpicky feedback was that there seemed to be a bit of head-hopping at the end with the "He was too late" thought. But it's also hard to tell in a shorter piece - that may be Raunch's thought after all.

    I really liked the voice in Groovy Girl's piece, well done with the natural speech. However, I also assumed the narrator was a female at first, and was a bit thrown by the revelation that it's an 18YO guy. I do agree with some of the other comments that it felt like a lot of characters for such a short piece, and there were instances where there was some "telling" from the narrator that took me out of the action.

    My vote goes to DoctorNoir for this bout, but good job to both writers on some great work!

  19. This is a tough choice with two great entries, but I have to vote for DoctorNoir. The characters and the tone of the piece resonated with me.

  20. My vote goes to Groovy. The MC voice was strong enough to pull me in and the introduction of the whole family all at once created a feeling of instant connection, like you're part of the family on Mint Lane too. With just the quick 500 words I was invested in what they were trying to accomplish.
    Doctor started out strong and vivid. The description of his foot on the mans back was a great hook, but there was nothing about either character that made me curious to know more about them. Also got a bit distracted by a pool that's less than 3 feet deep but Raunch is still able to sit on the side of it with his foot over the edge?

  21. Wow, both were awesome! Kudos for entering the event and allowing us to read your work.

    Groovy Girl gave us a look at a future world and family life that was authentic and engaging. If I had to offer advice, I'd work on your MC's voice, I thought it was a teen girl until the wife part.

    DoctorNoir's piece was very entertaining and very much in the crime noir realm. Very solid work. My only suggestion is to make Raunch a little more unique so that he stands apart from the typical crime noir character. I liked that it was his first kill, maybe play on that a bit more.

    My vote goes to DoctorNoir

  22. My vote goes to Doctornoir. Nice mashup of crime and comedy, with not too much backstory, and I enjoyed the interaction between characters. Plus, it left us with a question. Although GroovyGirl's futuristic hillbilly characters were funny, there was too much backstory for my taste -- not to mention way too many characters for only 500 words. Plus, I also thought the narrator was a girl at first. (Not that 18-year-old girls of the future can't have wives, but prepare us, at least.)

  23. Two excellent entries face off in this year's first bout! Both writers have done well. Doctornoir presents a visceral scene with a great opening line. I love the voice. Groovy girl also has an engaging voice, and drops us right into a funny-but-not-funny situation to which many can relate.

    In Doctornoir's piece, there was a slight tense deviation in sentence 2 (I would write "You really *could*" to maintain past tense). I wanted the dialogue to be two-sided sooner (Raunch has to speak 3 times before Frank responds). You might compress the words used to make Frank clumsy/ridiculous to maintain the pace.

    In Groovy Girl's piece, my main critique is about the number of characters in this opening scene. I counted seven, so it's hard to keep track of everyone. These could easily be combined into 3-4 characters, with others introduced elsewhere.

    Both of these fighters have done well. My vote goes to Doctornoir.

  24. Definitely DoctorNoir. His hook was intriguing and the character was shown really well. I did get lost once Frank showed up - I think the dialogue probably could have been formatted better - but overall it was a really intriguing piece.

  25. Both are really good although I wish the stories had a bit more of a conclusion. My vote goes to the first one.

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Whoever left this vote - just letting you know it will not count. If you do not have a Google account then you must leave a name and email address. Anonymous votes are not allowed.

  27. While I found both pieces to have fantastic hooks, the hook for the second piece worked better, I think. Brevity worked for her. Both pieces did have good examples of voice, but I found it a lot easier to get into Raunch's head than into Keno's.

    To be fair, both pieces did have their flaws. Doctornoir's dialogue line of "Good thing nobody's around to see how pathetic you are" could have been cut entirely; as it is, it sounds a little hokey and drags down the tension in the scene. GroovyGirl trips up in the paragraph to do with Keno's wife, Alma, and the awkwardness shows--the phrase "I want to kiss her" is telling, and it feels to me like GroovyGirl is trying too hard to reach into the head of an eighteen-year-old boy instead of working on the character. Both pieces could do with a dusting of punctuation editing through their dialogue, but on the whole, both were entertaining to read and carried me through from beginning to end.

    But, since I have to vote one way or the other... vote goes to Doctornoir for the knockout punch.

    Taylor Koleber

  28. It's close-- both are solid pieces, but I'd have to vote for Doctornoir. Mostly because it's intriguing that it starts out as a newbie gangster crime narrative, and then a makeshift super hero is introduced, which is out of the ordinary for this genre. I like that he's sounding like a wannabe, half-baked super hero. This concept makes me want to read more, which is what made the choice for me. That, and "money is a great anesthetic" is a great line. As for constructive feedback, I feel like this author can dig a little deeper and give me more with the descriptors, e.g., words like spindly and scraggly and tattered are very ordinary-sounding, and at those moments I was aching for a simile or a more unique turn of phrase. They could be adjectives out of a picture book. How about something like "slit-ridden" or "sparse" or "twigs that reached like flimsy fingernails" or some-such.
    Re: Groovy Girl, my main concern was that it's labeled as Women's Fiction, yet the first thought we hear is obviously a male thought, down to a reference to male genitalia. In reading further, the MC admits he's an 18-year old guy with a wife. So this doesn't feel to me like women's fiction, at least not in this excerpt. I'm on board with the voice, and I like the general crankiness and colloquialism I'm feeling in the piece (I guess the sun going nova will do that to a person), but I agree that it's a lot of characters to develop in one short section.
    Vote is for Doctornoir but kudos to both writers.

  29. Both very solid, talented writers. My vote is for Doctornoir.
    Humor, tension, and character building flowed on this entry. The description on the kill hit home in that I could feel it (not that I could relate to it lol). I would have definitely read more.
    The second entry has promise, but I didn't connect with any character in the first 500. There were too many references to things that felt important, but breezed over (marriage, Mint, why they wanted Grandpa to put down the gun and was it the ONLY gun left in town?). Still, the plot setup is intriguing and I would have kept reading a bit more.

  30. Doctor Noir wins for me. I see what's going on and the character's personalities show through easily. Groovy Girl also has a great set-up and an intriguing stroy. I definitely want to know more. The thing that tipped the scales for me was that the MC in Groovy Girl's sample was 18, but had I not known this I would have thought him about 12. Also, not knowing the characters, the swearing feels indulgent. I very much like the stories in both samples though.

  31. I agree with many of the above comments. DoctorNoir managed to have a plot that gripped me in only 500 words, which is impressive. Already I want to know more about Raunch and Frank and what they're up to. Do they work together, or on opposite sides? Why did they kill this man? Will Raunch be wrong about the man deserving it? I want to know what happens next.

    In Groovy Girl's piece I liked the setting, and the family dynamics are definitely intriguing. But like others said, I think there were too many characters for me to really grasp onto one. I wasn't in the MC's head, and I think a lot of tension was lost there. What are the stakes? Who is Silas, and why do we care that Grandpa is being crazy?

    Today's vote goes to DoctorNoir for me!

  32. Although I enjoyed DoctorNoir, it didn't grab me quite as much near the end. From the contestant's name and the genre, I was hoping for a hard-boiled crime thriller, but Frank's appearance blindsided me and made me wonder what sort of story I was actually reading. With Groovy Girl, I feel like there are too many characters, but the voice is very strong and consistent throughout.

    My vote goes to Groovy Girl!

  33. Both of these pieces were strong and compelling.

    DoctorNoir's selection was humorous though campier than I expected from a crime noir piece. That said, I don't read the genre, so maybe it's exactly what is expected from crime noir. I loved the line "...when you’re hungry and months behind on the rent, well, the truth is, money makes a great anesthetic." though I did feel that whole sentence could do with some tightening. I was also fairly annoyed with Raunch for wearing sneakers to a hit-job and couldn't stop wondering about the muddy footprints he must be leaving. Lambda Man threw me way off balance. I mean, what is the story here? Why is he in a cape? Why is he patrolling backyards and pushing through bushes? Is he part of the mob? If so, why was he trying to stop Raunch? If not, how did he know Raunch was going to make a hit?

    I also felt the way Raunch speaks to Lambda Man was borderline demeaning and assholish, so I wondered if they are really friends or maybe siblings. I know I'd quickly drop a friend who spoke to me like that.

    GroovyGirl's piece had a very distinct voice, but the revelation that the MC is a married eighteen-year-old male threw this forty-something woman for a loop. That is really my main critique to this piece. Yes, there were a lot of characters introduced, but I liked the distinct personalities of each character. Whatever happened in the world, it seems clear that this family is toxic but they band together to take care of their own. And with a person like Grandpa in the picture, it takes all hands on deck to keep him in control.

    In the end, I'm still not sure who I should vote for. I enjoyed GroovyGirl's writing more, but I really don't think she nailed the genre. It felt more like a YA than Women's Upmarket / Spec Fic, so I lean toward DoctorNoir.

    But wait--as I scrolled up and re-read GroovyGirl's piece, I see that it is simply labeled as Upmarket / Speculative Fiction, and not Women's fiction at all, and that makes me feel better. I still think it has more of a YA feel, though.

    But DoctorNoir feels more like dark comedy than Crime Noir, so neither of them hit their chosen genres for me.

    So...Yeah. I guess I need to decide.

    Imma go with GroovyGirl!

  34. Both were so good. but I have to go with GroovyGirls. While DoctorNoir's post was funny and tight, I'm not sure I could read a whole novel about this guy. GroovyGirls had great voice, and it left me wanting to read more.

    Laura Creedle lauracreedle@gmail.con

  35. I like Goovey Girl.
    (The blackish text on the black background made the end a chore to read. Stupid mobile device. Unrelated to writing.)

    Anyway. The grandpa reminded me of people I know. So it's that familiarity that's edged me to this vote.

  36. Voting for Doctornoir. I think there's more narrative thrust there than in the Groovy Girl submission, who earns demerits for leaning on crude language instead of merely using it.

  37. Both stories were great, but sadly there can only be one winner. :( In the end, as a reader, I think it comes down to hook, content and pace. DoctorNoir had an iron clad hook. The pace was fast and moved along and there was enough content in just 500 words to make me feel like I had consumed a complete story.

    GroovyGirls hook grabbed me but did not hold on to me as tightly as DoctorNoir's did. The pace also stumbled a bit, as there was so much to tell to cover the essential questions (who are these guys, what is their problem/obstacle, and what is the resolution that takes place within 500 words).

    While I would definitely want to read the longer story, I just didn't have enough information in 500 words to determine what immediate problem and resolution was present.

    As such my vote goes to DoctorNoir!

    Marie Korman

  38. I found both quite humorous and I was leaning towards Groovy, but think DoctorNoir has edged it for me with the opening. I vote for Doctor.

    A.J. Cupples

  39. Such a tough call! Both have their own strengths and weaknesses. In the end I have to go with Doctornoir as it held my attention a bit more.

    Eric Warren

  40. Groovy Girl gets my vote. It left me wanting more.

  41. Doctornoir gets my vote. I liked how the story flowed easily and the bits of humor sprinkled in made it all the more enjoyable.

    Also enjoyed GroovyGirl and would love to know what happened to Grandpa!

  42. I liked them both! The humor in DoctorNoir's piece ultimately sucked me in, and the premise kept me reading. Like others, I got a little lost in Groovy Girl's characters, although I'd LOVE to know more about the world. Her voice is amazing, and I'd love to see the characters paired down a little and developed, although it's tough to do in 500 words.

    My vote this round goes to DoctorNoir.

  43. I'm voting for DoctorNoir. I was pulled into the story faster and stayed interested longer.

  44. Doctornoir gets my vote. Although it had a couple of really long sentences and some weak spots.

    GroovyGirl left me confused.

  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Whoever left this vote - just letting you know it will not count. If you do not have a Google account then you must leave a name and email address. Anonymous votes are not allowed.

  46. (figured out what happened with my sign in mix up)
    Tossing in my vote with Doctornoir!

  47. This comment has been removed by the author.

  48. My vote is for DoctorNoir. It was slow for me in the beginning but the ending left me wanting to know more. The biggest critique for Groovy girl is that nothing is happening to the POV character, all the focus is on the grandpa, the uncle, his mom....Also was jarred that it was a he. Might consider starting with someone talking to him by name.

  49. These are both really strong entries! The voice in DoctorNoir is so strong, but I'll confess I got a little confused at the logistics of the drowning and Frank rolling out from the shrub. The concept in GroovyGirl is great - a postapocalyptic situation with some family drama at its heart. I did think there were a few too many characters right at the beginning, so that could be pared down.

    The one I'd want to keep reading (and the one that gets my vote) is... GROOVYGIRL!

  50. I'm all for DoctorNoir for this bout. The story focuses on two characters (if you don't count the dead guy and the barking dog), and we get to know them both well in a short time. Raunch (great name) self-analyzes himself in the second paragraph, and we know Lambda Man is klutzy from the word go. It's all great show-and-not-tell. All that good stuff being said, the author head-hops a bit, switching PoVs near the end from Rauch to Frank. There were a couple of longish sentences early on, which don't work as well if you're trying to build tension while murdering somebody. Rauch seems uncharacteristically empathetic toward Frank, after just having killed a stranger with indifference. All in all, an engaging story--I would like to read more.
    Groovy Girl never grabbed me. It takes a long time to find anything out about the main character Keno, and then we only know that he's male and 18. Until he confessed he was married to Alma, I could have sworn he was female. Which begs the question - who is the eponymous Groovy Girl? I agree with someone's earlier comment that introducing seven characters in 500 words is 'way too many, like four or five too many. The post-apocalyptic world needs more description rather than just a passing mention. All the internal reflection detracts from the action, which was pretty lively. Would have liked to seen & hear the shotgun go off.

    1. I retract my question on who is Groovy Girl - new to Write Club, I didn't know Msr. Hammond & Co assigned fictitious names to the authors. As Gilda Radner use to say on SNL, "Never mind!"

  51. I don't read crime fiction. Never have. That being said, Doctornoir left me wanting to read this book RIGHT NOW.

  52. Both are a great read, but my vote has to go to "GROOVYGIRL", I like the voice, gets you right into the action. DoctorNoir, gets a second place.

  53. My vote goes to "GROOVYGIRL" . I liked her story line . It gets you right into the action of the story.

  54. Doctornoir gets my vote. The first line grabs my attention for sure. Setting the scene perfectly. Groovy Girl was a lot to follow though I do love a good post-apocalyptic story. I'd like to know more about this family.

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  56. My vote goes to "Groovygirl". I love the voice and action, and wanted to know more about the characters right off the bat.

  57. Both story excerpts are action packed, both scenes take place in yards, and clearly both stories exhibit tension. My vote goes for Groovy Girl as I think it has more potential for something I haven't read before as well as world building. Both stories open with strong lines, but in the end, Groovy Girl promises something unique, at least to me.

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  59. What a great start to the festivities! These are both fun reads. Groovy Girl had great characters. It felt like a glimpse into a fascinating story though I sense that the more interesting stuff is just on the other side of the submission. I do want to know what happened next though.

    My only concern with Doc Noir is that the expression "Dude" seemed out of line with the use of "mob" and "wacked". Maybe that was intentional. Anyway, I believe a word can be worth a thousand pictures and you had me at "cape". Both are good, but I'm voting Doctor Noir because I gotta have two things... more cowbell and more Lambda. Great job, both of you!

  60. I love layered drama and a wide variety of wacky characters a lot more than your run of the mill crime plot with cliche characters. Keno and his cantankerous, cussing family of survivalist misfits sounds way more original and entertaining, so it's easy to pick Groovy Girl!

    Aaron Longnion

  61. Vote: Doctor Noir

    Groovy Girl did some great world building, but it was a tall order to introduce a world and that many characters with only 500 words. She did an admirable job of it, but it wasn't enough to make them resonate.

    Doc Noir, while introducing us to a killer, found a way to make us care about him because of his friendship with this caped wannabe superhero that is adorably terrible. The cosplay friend is what makes me want to know where this story goes from here.

  62. This is a hard decision. Both pieces are strong. Doctornoir's voice sucked me in right away and the part with Lambda Man made me laugh. The reason behind Groovy Girls post-apocolyptic world is absolutely freakin' fantastic and I wanted to read more just for that. But, like others, introducing a plethora of characters in such a short piece turned me off. Also the fact that Keno wouldn't call his grandfather a dick out loud makes me think he's a wuss and easily controlled. I'm not wanting to see extreme masculinity but he could at least be confident enough to speak his mind. That being said, the piece has incredible promise. Groovy Girl has my vote!

  63. Doctornoir gets my vote with the funny voice intermixed with some classic hard-boiled language. I did find some of the descriptions a bit hard to follow and a little slow for a 500 word portion, I still enjoyed the comedy of the scene that didn't entirely take away from the dead body.

    GroovyGirl's piece was solid, but I found the large cast hard to remember. Even though it's a very interesting portion of the story with a punchy opening line, I found the writing too hard to follow.

    A.J. Dvorak

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  65. I’m going with DoctorNoir.

    While I actually preferred the world in Groovy’s store, there was a bit too much telling vs showing for my taste.

    However, in DoctorNoir’s story not sure why anyone would be worried about their socks being wet in 3 feet of water… 3 feet of water would cover half your body. Boots aren’t going to help. Haha Maybe fisherman rubber pants. :) Also, you can drown in inches of water... it doesn’t take feet.

  66. My vote is for DoctorNoir.
    DoctorNoir really caught my interest, without being cliche. And I enjoyed the contrast between the two characters.
    I enjoyed the world and premise of GroovyGirl's story, but there was a bit too much information dumped into such a short scene

  67. DoctorNoir for me. I had an immediate sense of setting. I didn’t get that from groovy girl until later in the narrative.

  68. I had to read these through a couple of times before I could decide. Neither is really my preferred genre to read, so a few genre-typical qualities bothered me more than they would a targeted reader. I did find them both a bit "telly," but something about the voice in the 2nd piece didn't ring true. I thought it was a girl for the first third, then really thrown off when it turned out to be a guy. So I'll vote for the Doctor.

  69. A tough choice and 2 very contrasting stories, but my vote goes to DoctorNoir though that me more to do with me, as a reader, being so far displaced from YAhood.

  70. Both set up interesting characters and intriguing plots in the first 500, but DoctorNoir really grabs your attention with snappy dialogue and punchy lines. GroovyGirl does present a lot of information at once, but the characters definitely have potential.

    This round I'll have to give to DoctorNoir.

  71. Doctornoir ... This felt like a fanfiction crossing the movies "Unbreakable" and "Kickass"-- which was amusing to read.

    Groovy Girl ... Good voice, interesting main character.

    I'm torn between the two. Groovy Girl by a slim margin.

  72. I go with DoctorNoir. It just worked better for me.

  73. My vote goes to Doctornoir. The story was interesting and there was more action/dialogue and less description. Both stories were good, but the cursing in Groovy Girl turned me off.

    1. Whoever left this vote - just letting you know it will not count. If you do not have a Google account then you must leave a name and email address. Anonymous votes are not allowed.

  74. DoctorNoir gets my vote despite the first paragraph. Breaking into “you” threw it off, but the doctor pulled it off. I wanted to read more.
    GroovyGirl read a little disjointed. Main character too vague. It says 18 year old male but I’m hearing female voice.

  75. This is a tough choice because both are great! Love the opening lines of each story -- real attention-grabbers. DoctorNoir's story takes a somewhat puzzling, weird superhero zig-zag that distracted me from its excellent "true crime" beginning. Nice use of swearwords by GroovyGirl and I always like seeing a gay character.

    My vote is going to GroovyGirl because that's the story I would want to read further to see what happens.

  76. I loved the pacing of Groovy Girl but the story that won out for me was DoctorNoir. Thanks for the great reads!

  77. I enjoyed both, though I wouldn't typically read either genre.

    Doctornoir: It's atmospheric so good sense of place. I love the humour in the second sentence - that captured me right away. There's a strong voice and some of the dialogue is good. However, I felt there were subtle point of view issues which whilst not glaring, meant I found it harder to connect: Some of it is really close pov but then at other times lots of filter words were used. At the end the switch to Frank's pov (he was too late) felt disconcerting. I also felt there was a lack of clarity at times which had me re-reading to check I'd understood, i.e. was the not 'stellar citizen' the dead guy or the murderer. Also felt that the murderer was a bit slow to pull out his gun.

    GroovyGirl - loved the voice, and loved the action. Although a lot of new characters were introduced, I think I still got quite a good feel for who was who and the relationships. Writing style is sparse, which I like. A bit more description would help set the scene. She managed to convey the situation and likely story conflicts in minimal words. I got an immediate impression of the MC being young, perhaps slightly younger than 18. Good dialogue.

    Overall it feels like both need a bit more work, but whilst Doctornoir had me re-reading to check stuff, GroovyGirl just carried me through.

    Therefore I'm voting for: GroovyGirl

  78. DoctorNoir goes straight to a genre that I greatly enjoy for the complex villains and flawed protagonists, the start off is great with a protagonist whose emotions and actions seem in sync but feel at odds. My singular personal engagement was disrupted by the name Raunch, it was jarring each time I encountered it and thus disrupted the read, but again that is a singular personal opinion.

    In a follow up a category I don't often read YA, we have a setting that quickly goes chaotic with high emotion and while I do feel the protagonist feels more 16 than 18 it keeps me engaged throughout therefore I am voting for GroovyGirl.

  79. A tough choice! They both appeal to me with their humor and their strong voice, but I have to side with DoctorNoir. While I love the world of GroovyGirl, I got confused. There are a lot of characters, and I couldn't quite figure out where I was. The Mint seems to be both a house and a compound of houses. Why would Grandpa want to keep people from using tools to grow our food? What's Silas doing there - what does he want that makes him challenge the nut with the shotgun? On the other hand, DoctorNoir's scene and events are crystal clear for me, and I want to know more about who these people are and what brought them to this spot.

    Thank you to the contestants for sharing their work. Kudos to you both!

  80. If they were both novels, I would probably stay with GroovyGirl for the long haul. Based on just these short excerpts, I'm going to have to go with DoctorNoir.

  81. My vote goes to DoctorNoir.
    I had trouble connecting with Groovy Girl's story, both the characters and the world. I like the premise, the world has ended and granpa's gone round the bend, but I would have liked to see more threads of consequences and possibilities if the characters failed or succeeded in the larger story.
    As for DoctorNoir, I like the comedic aspects, and I'm left with a oh damn, what's happening next, what went wrong, which I really enjoy. However, my critique is that the character's internal dialog is a little jarring in the very beginning. It doesn't sound natural to me.

  82. My vote goes to DoctorNoir.
    The beginning hooked me - I like the description of feeling numb - different from what he was expecting. For the crime novel genre, it had the clean feel of a Jessica Fletcher story - it was not all blood and gore. I would have loved to know more about Lambda man in this little segment - maybe if the description of him being tangled in the bush had been condensed, we could have found out a little more before the 500 words were up. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the idea of a struggling caped crusader.
    I enjoyed the concept of GroovyGirl's story - too many YA novels have parents/family that are dead to provide an opportunity for the YA aspect of the story. I really enjoyed this take where the family may be the root of the struggles this story faces. I have to say the amount of profanity turned me off - there is so much profanity that youth hear today, we need to show that you can express yourself without resorting to cursing. Based on the story, one or two would have emphasized the important points. I do like the hint of the relationship between the MC and Nana, and would love to see more of Nana's thoughts on the world. This feels like an ambitious piece, there are hints of larger cultural and apocalyptical struggles, and I think the bones of this is a great start.

  83. DoctorNoir-I agree with previous comments. Your voice was interesting though it might be a bit much for an entire novel (I would still read it)! Definitely interested in how a hitman came by a bumbling sidekick—Reminds me of Boondock Saints and their buddy Rocco who was a really inept mafia guy.

    GroovyGirl-agree with previous sentiments—I really did not know the main character was a guy until about halfway through the submission. Make that a but more clear. Also, I have heard from various agents/editors that a YA protagonist should be a maximum of 17 years old, so maybe age him down a year or two (plus it would be more interesting to have a 16 or 17 year old that was married. A sign of the times in the apocalypse??) The swearing seemed a bit overdone and distracting (especially if continued in this frequency through the whole book). A well placed swearword can have a lot more impact than constant use. Also agree that there was not a whole lot that the protagonist was DOING; he was just an observer. What’s that saying? Make the protagonist protag? Aka he needs to be more involved in the scene. Maybe he can come upon the standoff between his grandfather and neighbor and be forced to intervene???

    Both interesting entries but my vote goes to DoctorNoir.

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  85. First of all, I'd like to commend both writers for their effort! Here's my brief critique:
    Doctornoir had me hooked with the first sentence. What an opener! I'd like to read more about how superheroes and detectives work alongside (or against!) each other. Doctornoir has my vote.

    Groovy Girl had an 'dystopia' feeling to it - there's something up with the story's environment where cars, electricity, running water and so on are no longer available! I want to know about what happened to make the current situation as so. I was surprised that the narrator was an 18 year old male (I'm assuming) when the first line was apologetic, which felt more "feminine" to me. The swearing, perhaps meant to show strong emotion and lack of education, was jarring and distracting to me.

    1. Patti - this is excellent feedback, but unfortunately it doesn't count as votes need to be submitted before noon central time. Thanks for contributing though.




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