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WRiTE CLUB 2018 - Bout #11

Reminder - You can follow along with all of the bout results right HERE, and remember, the bouts stay open for one week and some of the first weeks are still live.

Today begins the final week of WRiTE CLUB first-round bouts and the last opportunity for ten new contestants to step into the ring. The battles so far have been fierce and tightly contested and this week will be more of the same.  Best of luck to everyone.

Here's a refresher of what's going on, in case you forgot how things work 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, May 6th (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

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 and 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 FoundMissing representing the Suspense genre.


It was a game he used to play with his wife, back when she was still around. They’d walk the neighborhood with Sir Lancelot, their regal Chow Chow with its blue-black tongue and lionlike looks. They’d create stories of what was going on behind closed doors. Lori developed the narrative, having spent her youth in this neighborhood and knowing the history behind some of its houses. Liam provided the dialog—male and female voices.

Especially in the evening, when houselights hinted at which rooms were in use.

The genre shifted as the houses changed—a sitcom where a family sat for dinner; romance when the upstairs lights dimmed; and mystery when the windows were dark, yet the door sat open. For Liam, every house represented a romantic comedy. But Lori’s narrative often veered off into dark corners, blind alleys, and serpentine pathways.

The night she crafted the story of a dark affair as they walked by Nils Eriksson’s house, Liam didn’t chime in with dialog. He wondered, instead, about the excitement in Lori’s voice. Anticipation, even.

The sexy Swede with a confident swagger grew tired of his wife’s so-called business trips. He took a younger lover—

“How much younger?” Liam interrupted.

Lori shrugged. “Five years, let’s say.

Lori was five years younger than Nils Eriksson.

She continued her tale, lingering, letting Sir Lancelot smell every bush near the Eriksson’s Saab.
He and his lover grew bolder, unable to stay away from one another. Even when his wife was in town. They found places—the back seat, the park, the library, once. Places his wife would never—

“What about the lover’s husband?”

Lori smiled, playfully tapped Liam in his chest. “You’re changing our game.”

Her impish grin was too much for Liam. Was she the co-star in her own story? This was her way of confessing?

Two evenings later, Lori added another chapter in front of Nils’ brick home.

His wife returned early from a business trip and discovered the lovers on the back porch. Devastated her. As one last act of revenge, she vowed to expose the woman who stole her man. She’d find the woman’s husband. She’d—

“Nils’ wife has a name,” Liam said. “Ana.”

Lori looked Liam in the eye. Tilted her head. Ashamed? Ready to make an admission?

“I don’t know Nils or Ana. Let’s cross the street to that dark house. We’ll tell a horror story.”

“This is a horror story.” Liam walked away, leaving Lori and Sir Lancelot to create stories without him. He’d seen Lori talking with Nils once in the grocery, possibly a second time in a restaurant.

Nowadays, walking the dog alone, Liam avoided Nils Eriksson’s house. To be clear, the game had lost its charm before he lost Lori. A laugh needed a conspiring ear. A mystery required a sidekick to bounce ideas off for solving the riddle. And a romance, of course, demanded a willing partner.

And in the near corner, we have Solar Eclipse representing the Fantasy genre.

“Hello?” called a familiar voice from the reception area. “Anyone home?”
 “In here!” Cal jumped up from behind the desk and greeted Isaac Bingham with a smile. “What a nice surprise. You look great. Retirement agrees with you.”
Despite the white hair, the elderly man’s grip was firm. “The grandkids keep me and Julia busy. No regrets taking over my law office?”
“None, except I have to pop a few extra-strength aspirin before every appointment with George Lydecker.”
Isaac’s eyes twinkled. “Trust me, his father was worse.”
Cal ushered him to a leather armchair. “Can I get you something? Coffee?”
“No thanks, I’m fine.”
“I take it you’re back for the harvest festival and to watch the eclipse.”
“Not exactly.” Isaac regarded the room with a pleased expression. “I like what you’ve done here; new paint, carpet.” He nodded at the laptop on the desk. “Everything is up-to-date the way it should be. I’ve heard good things about you from others in town. Now I know he was right all along, and I left clients in good hands.” Isaac’s expression took on a far-away look as if recalling a long-buried memory. “Why am I surprised? He was always right.”
The clock on the bookcase ticked off the seconds. Cal cleared his throat. “Isaac?”
“Forgive me.” Isaac shook his head with a laugh. “I must sound like a crazy old poot. I came back to see you. I have something I’ve waited a long time to deliver.”
Cal raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”
Isaac reached into his pocket and handed him a three-day pass to the harvest festival.
“Um, thanks.” Cal’s confusion deepened. “But I only planned to stop in for a few hours—”
“I also have a message. Strange,” Isaac murmured with a half-smile. “I’ve imagined this conversation often over the years. Now I don’t know where to begin.” His bemused expression vanished and he leaned forward. “Have you ever heard of the Lux Foundation?”
“Of course,” said Cal with surprise. “I wouldn’t be in Avalon Springs without it. The Lux Foundation awarded me a full scholarship to college and law school. When I passed the bar, they offered a grant contingent on locating to a rural community. It allowed me to buy your office and start debt free. Otherwise, I would have gone to a big city law firm.”
“Do you remember applying for the scholarships or the grant?” said Isaac.
“Well, no, but I applied for so many financial aid packages, and was told the grant was from an anonymous donor. Why do you ask?”
“Phillip Bingham was the founder of the Lux Foundation and my grandfather. He earmarked funds for your education and the grant. He’s the reason I approached you to take over my practice.”
Cal blinked. “Y-your grandfather? I don’t understand. Why?”

“I don’t know, but that’s not the strangest part. He set aside the money and made me promise to help you relocate to Avalon Springs fifty years before you were born.”

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. My vote goes to FoundMissing. It was tough, because I liked both authors' pieces. But mainly, the "hello how are you opening" of Solar Eclipse bugged me. And that Cal let the single intriguing item in the opening, the "he" who recommended him, slip by without comment.

  2. FoundMissing... Oooh, such intrigue! Love what you did here. Excellent twist at the end. Good setting. Well developed characters. I see how your story got picked! You have my vote.

    Solar Eclipse... An interesting start to a story. I'm curious where it will go. I feel like the writing needs a slightly different flow (just an opinion). Good luck to you.

  3. I vote for FoundMissing. I think both could use some upping of the tension from the beginning (and I agree with Melissa's comment about Solar Eclipse needing a stronger opening hook) but of the 2, I think FoundMissing's was tighter.

  4. I'm going to vote for Solar Eclipse. I was more intrigued.

  5. Both entries are good. Solar Eclipse works its way up to a strong hook (I'm guessing time travel). It just took too long to get there, and there were odd points that made me stop and scratch my head in confusion. Why was Cal out of sight behind a desk at the beginning? Why didn't he ask about the mysterious "he" who is always right? FoundMissing also has unanswered questions, but they seem more intentionally unanswered. I'm not sure I grasped what was going on at the very end, but that's probably just me.

    Both are strong, but I'm going with FoundMissing.

  6. As much as I like the Fantasy Genre, I am going to have to go with FoundMissing. Solar Eclipse, I did not get the Fantasy aspect of your entry until perhaps the very last sentence, when I had almost given up hope.

    While I wasn't quite sure why Liam was no longer with Lori (separation? divorce? Did Liam murder her?) I felt really engaged with the character and curious to know more.

    Vote: FoundMissing

  7. FoundMissing: Found the intrigue building as I continued to read.

    Solar Eclipse: I like the premise. An interesting mystery.

    Vote for FoundMissing.

  8. Both story excerpts are pretty darn good. So picking them to pieces, I have to give my vote to "FoundMissing." Everything, all the words, built the story. As well, it was intriguing. "Solar Eclipse" is also mostly well-written. However, I found myself to be a bit confounded. For example, "The grandkids keep me and Julia busy." While that information might be pertinent later, I felt some of the dialogue an information dump.

  9. Both were great and would keep me reading. However, something about the premise of FoundMissing's entry pulled me in, and I felt like I was right there with the characters. That's why FoundMissing gets my vote.

  10. FlundMissing.

    The prose was tight and believable. The scene ordinary and yet riveting. It was brilliant.

    Solar Eclipse was interesting, but the dialogue had too much “well, as you know...” background info and that threw me out of the story.

    -SP Hofrichter

  11. Week three opens with a resounding *DING*, with FoundMissing and Solar Eclipse marching up to meet in the centre of the ring.

    From the start, FoundMissing raises their gloves in a defensive guard, keeping us waiting for when that one, fateful swing is going to land. Solar Eclipse’s funky, pumpkin-orange trunks make me expect some sort of fantastic flourish to his routine, but his attacks turn out to be classic, by-the-books punches when they start coming down against FoundMissing’s guard.

    FoundMissing’s fighting style is solid, intriguing even, yet his entire routine relies on two bits of footwork: the husband-narrator, and the wife. It’s a shame therefore that they don’t seem to really lean into the steps and give us much info to go on to visualise either of the two characters, either physically or personality-wise, beyond the game that makes up the story, and the narrator’s doubts about his wife’s fidelity. We don’t get any echoes of the fact the wife is “gone”, how she is gone, how that affects the narrator today, when that could have given the routine a lot more stopping power.

    Solar Eclipse’s routine suffers from a similar issue, with a solid writing style and great voice but a ton of previous event recap and a lack of oomph in the tension and progression of the story itself. It is only in the final seconds of the round that we get some hint of something different going on — whether fantasy, slipstream, or paranormal, we have no real idea yet from what we can see inside the ring, even though we can guess that “Lux” Foundation and solar eclipses are probably not entirely unrelated.

    Both fighting routines seem to run into the same problem: fighters ready for a much longer, novel-length bout, and excerpts that don’t really stand up on their own merits outside of that wider context. But a hit, however late in the round, is a hit. One point for Solar Eclipse!

  12. I'm going to do something different for this bout and do a direct comparison(which is not fair when they are not even the same genre, I know, sorry. But I surmise this is what agents do often when they only have a few minutes to read through tons of first pages in their inbox).
    Solar Eclipse- For the first half, it felt like it was all just pleasantries, while in Found Missing, there is a whole lot of presented in just the first three paragraphs that gives us intrigue and tells us a lot about the characters' personalities. At the end of Solar Eclipse's piece I still don't get a sense of what this story is supposed to be about and don't get the feeling for Fantasy. At the end of Found Missing, it is clear to me the story is about complex marital relationships and the 'what happened to Lori' mystery.
    I hope my comments help someone out. In fact, as I typed this I realized I had the same mishaps in some of my beginnings of my writing. I am off to fix them!

    My vote is for FoundMissing.

  13. The first line of FoundMissing sets up the tension and questions, which the narrator then reels out answers to bit by delicious bit, until Liam perhaps lets us in on the final answer when he says, "This is a horror story." Yet never directly tells or shows us what happened to Lori. Chilling!

    Solar Eclipse: As fine as the writing was, I wanted more meat in the beginning. Then it became intriguing, which compelled me to read on. Finally, though, I re-read the last line several times and couldn't overcome the ambiguity and confusion and trying to figure out how one would relocate fifty years before they were even born.

    My vote: FoundMissing

  14. This will be a tricky one. FoundMissing and Solar Eclipse were both well written and the storyline flowed with ease. FoundMissing was more of a completed story with the right elements to end perfectly. Solar Eclipse was just as intriguing but left a mystery to be solved.

    Today, my vote goes to FoundMissing.

  15. I'm voting for FoundMissing. I wasn't drawn into the fantasy genre of Solar Eclipse as much as I was hoping to be.

  16. Both pieces were well-written, but for any story you need conflict or suspense early, and FoundMissing has that from the very beginning. While it was predictable that his wife (potentially) cheated on him, there was the did she? Did she not? feel to the piece all the way to the end.

    Solar Eclipse’s piece ended on an interesting note, but it came late—personally, I’d start with that moment rather than end with it. It was well-written, but didn’t hold me as tightly through the entire piece.

    1. Oops, I didn’t specifically say, so to clarify: FoundMissing has my vote.

  17. FoundMissing gets my vote. An interesting take on something we can all relate to in one way or another, and tight writing with real-sounding dialogue. The ending seemed a bit flat imo - I wanted to know more about how "the game had lost its charm." Was it really just the alleged affair that broke them up? Maybe a quick reference to this would pull us into the story more.

    Solar Eclipse - great hook at the end! I definitely wanted to keep reading but I thought the rest of the story was a bit slow. The dialogue was stiff and I didn't feel anything for Cal or Isaac. They just seemed to be talking a lot and I wanted to get to the juicy bits right away. Keep writing!

  18. FoundMissing really had me going right until the end...almost. I was ready for the intrigue to be drawn out and feel a little cheated it ended so abruptly. Great writing, although there may be a little description that's over done. Loved the characterization!

    Solar Eclipse gets my vote simply because the hook is so great. I saw a little repetition with the gray hair and elderly descriptions in the same sentence, but ultimately, fantastic story-telling!

  19. My vote is for FoundMissing. The story kept me engaged even if I didn't totally get all my questions answered by the end. I liked Solar Eclipse's story, but there was too much unnecessary dialogue and I felt my attention drifting. I needed a bit of a punch earlier, but that isn't to say it doesn't make a great hook for a much longer work.

  20. Solar Eclipse gets my vote. I kind of want to know more.

  21. My vote is for FoundMissing.

    I was more drawn to the slow build up of suspense in FoundMissing's piece. I think Solar Eclipse's needed to start with the hook.
    -Jennifer Kinzler

  22. SolarEclipse gets my vote today. While the dialogue is a bit forced in places, the writing is very well done. The suspense is eating away at me to find out what's going on.

    FoundMissing is done well, but I couldn't connect with the MC. He does't come across as a nice person - more like a self-destructive and untrusting character. There were also a few grammar issue that bugged me.

  23. Found missing starts and ends pretty well. It is clear and eary to follow. The stage is set for marital drama. Good job. It gets my vote.

    Solar Eclipse started slow and ended with an unbelievable concept. The premise of the story might be good, but the author didn't use the 500 words to his/her best advantage.

  24. FoundMissing: You hooked me in quickly with the premise. I was engaged but then I began to feel a bit confused about what was going on. It was hard to tell how (or how well) Liam knew the characters in Lori's stories. I had to re-read the story a few times to try to gleam exactly which character was accusing the other of cheating. The fact that I had to re-read it a few times and still don't feel quite clear means the story could use some clarification. That said, the hook and premise were exciting and I think the piece has real potential with some clarifying edits. Great original plot!

    Solar Eclipse: At first, I was thinking the story appeared a bit dry and not quite as exciting as FoundMissing. While this story took a little longer to get going it eventually grabbed me and had lots of surprises waiting. As Issac tells the full details of his visit we are left wondering what really happened 50 years ago. It leaves us wondering what set this all in motion and you are definitely hooked wanting more.

    For this round I have to throw my vote to Solar Eclipse for making me want to turn the page to find out what happens!!!

  25. Vote: FoundMissing

    While it sort of broke my heart, the piece painted a picture for me. Some of the dialogue could be condensed so we have a little more room for why he was immediately suspicious of his wife's story, though.

    SolarEclipse made a common mistake in that the genre of the writing isn't clear soon enough. If we hadn't been told before the piece began, we wouldn't know until the last sentence. It doesn't have to be outright, but even a hint a little sooner would do the trick. Also, opening with immediate dialogue is difficult because the reader has no idea who is speaking. It's like a disembodied voice. This is another common mistake. So with a few adjustments the piece could certainly be improved, but that unfortunately means that today wasn't your day.

  26. My vote goes to Foundmissing. Your story flowed over me like a seeet blanket of melted chocolate.

    Solar Eclipse, I felt a sense of deja vu. I swear I know this story. It took awhile to steer me into the story; I'm guessing this is part of a larger work. Not bad.

  27. My vote goes for Solar Eclipse.

    Sorry FoundMissing, I don't like to be purposely led in the wrong direction (repeatedly) unless done really skillfully :D Even so I'd keep reading because there are many possibilities this story could take and a good plot can be fun. Good Luck to both contestants!

  28. My vote goes to Solar Eclipse.
    FoundMissing: My Heart is breaking from reading this story (in a good way, of course). Your story presented a love between them, and a pain when it ended. (Oh, and the dog had the coolest name).
    Solar Eclipse: Intriguing with the hinted mystery after a comfortable stroll through the setup. Both characters had enough voice to warm me up to them.

  29. Found: The writing is good, the stage was set nicely, but in the end, there would need to be more there for the husband to leave the wife. I don't read a lot of suspense, so maybe seeing them talk in the grocery store was enough to make such a huge decision, but it feels like there is backstory missing, something that's big enough to convince him nearly 100% that she is having an affair. Otherwise, the story falls flat. Still, I was entranced right up until he ditched her without a good reason.

    Solar: The writing was good and kept things moving, though the setup was a little slow with the Harvest Festival and the "Can I get you coffee?" and what not. Still, it wasn't so slow that I got bored and the ending was excellent. I would definitely want to read more of this.

    In general, I think Found did a slightly better job with writing in general, but my vote goes to Solar because the story made more sense to me. Congratulations to both of you for getting in the ring!

  30. FoundMissing - it was a very interesting beginning with your dialogue. I felt sad for the man - so that's a good thing. Reminds me when I walk my dog. Maybe I should make up stories about the neighbors.
    Solar Eclipse sounds like you have a good beginning for a law thriller, but my vote goes to FoundMissing.

  31. Congrats to you both for making the bouts.

    I have to vote for Found Missing this time around. Although I think it could use a bit of fleshing out at the end -- not a lot, but it's not clear who is saying what and that confuses things too much, losing the impact of the great twist.

    Solar Eclipse was good too, but it hemmed and hawed a bit. I do like the twist at the end.

    My vote goes to Found Missing.

  32. Congrats for making it into the contest!

    Found Missing: The writing is sound, and I was intrigued at first, but the moment Lori started telling the story about the sexy Swede, the story felt predictable.

    Solar Eclipse: Yes, a lot of discussion of seemingly trivial things and recapping the past, but I felt comfortable with these characters. More importantly, I felt like the story was going somewhere. I did wonder where the fantasy came in, but even if it hadn't popped up at the end, mislabelled genres don't really bother me when I'm reading for quality of writing and general impression of the story.

    Voting often involves a tough balance of clarity of writing, efficiency of words, impact of style, intrigue of story... and a dash of something I just can't label...completely subjective personal preference, maybe? Today's one of those days that the intrigue and the elusive dash refuse to be ignored.

    My vote goes to Solar Eclipse.

  33. I enjoyed both stories. In the end my vote goes to Solar Eclipse simply for the ending. Left we wanting to know more about the Lux Foundation and the people of Avalon Springs.

  34. My vote is for FoundMissing. The movement and the game made it fun to follow an introspective character. I found the conversation opening from Solar Eclipse less attention-grabbing, especially since I had no investment in the characters yet. FoundMissing also gave us a pretty complete conflict in such a short space. I would keep reading Solar Eclipse's piece for the questions it left me with, but in just this segment my investment is stronger for FoundMissing.

  35. Found Missing

    Good writing, but needed a bit more of a pull into the story. I got interested only when I realised that she was potentially talking about herself. Nice concept but overall, I just couldn’t engage with it emotionally, though that’s a lot to ask in 500 words. As it’s suspense I assume something else happens with the wife/lover so some foreshadowing or a hint might be useful to draw the reader on. Is it going to turn into a tragedy?

    Solar Eclipse

    Technically the writing’s good and there's obviously set up here for a bigger concept storyline (though I assumed thriller rather than fantasy - didn't read the genre properly).

    As others have said, the opening is a bit too pedestrian, do we start the story too early, perhaps? Could you put the hook first and then go back? Or some foreshadowing - from the moment he walked in, I knew....

    The “as you know” made the initial dialogue and the later explanation of her degree etc a bit unnatural and weigh down the story. I wonder if there’s a more subtle way to make the location etc clear? She could clear a chair of legal files or something? Perhaps even cutting off each other’s dialogue could make it feel more natural in the later part of their conversation. It feels like a dialogue-based info dump at the moment.

    You could paragraph the clock and the dialogue separately to put space/time into the story itself.

    Nice twist at the end, but I think the story needs to move at a faster and more streamlined pace.

    Overall: Very close, but Found Missing gets my vote.

  36. FoundMissing: I love this idea and if there's more to this story, great. If not, that's okay too because you have the potential for a nice little capsule jam packed with emotion and narrative. What I would suggest is to go back and edit this so that it builds just a little more tension and suspense throughout until the end when we find out that the wife is the mistress in her own story.

    Solar Eclipse: I'd like to know more about where you're going with this, so you have succeeded in piquing my curiosity. However, I'm a little bogged down with too much explanation in this short entry and the second half of the dialogue is a little awkward. It's sounding a little Twilight Zone-y and that can be super good.

    My vote has got to go to FoundMissing just based on rhythm, style, and originality.

  37. FoundMissing was more interesting in a creative way. Solar Eclipse just feels like it's got a Back to the Future vibe starting.

    FoundMissing gets my vote.

  38. Congratulations to both writers!

    SolarEclipse's piece was hard for me to get into. The opening felt stilted and unclear. Were we in a lobby? A house's foyer? It ended with a good punch, but the whole conversation about the Lux Foundation felt like an info dump.

    Found Missing grabbed me with the premise, but I have to admit that I have always loved making up stories about what's going on in the houses I pass. I was unclear whether or not Lori was cheating on Liam in the end, and maybe it doesn't matter. What I got from the story is that Liam is insecure and paranoid, which is an unattractive set of traits in a partner. But, maybe I feel that way because I've been in relationships with paranoid, insecure people.

    In the end, I enjoyed Found Missing's piece more, so that's who I'm voting for.

  39. Awesome stories writers! Thanks for sharing. My vote goes to Solar Eclipse because I loved the mystery behind it.
    Thanks! Samantha Leach

  40. Vote goes to FoundMissing, though both were spectacular and very engaging.

  41. Found missing. It was creepy, and I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to know the rest of the story. What really happened to Lori?

    Solar Eclipse had great voice, but it needed an opening hook to pull me along.

    My vote is for Found Missing.

  42. Solar Eclipse: There's a nifty "gotcha" twist at the end, but a lot of chit-chatty dialog to get there. I have a feeling the weirdness is somehow tied to the festival/eclipse but without more leading language, I don't find myself intrigued.

    Found Missing: Reads like a stand-alone short. I like the way you've gotten us deep inside Liam's head, but I don't get the suspense. I don't see where this is going next.

    Today's vote by the slimmest of margins to Found Missing.

  43. My vote goes to FoundMissing

    FoundMissing: Wow, so I really like your words and the way you used the "story telling" situation between the two characters to develop tension. Good job. But, the first paragraph is clunky in a lot of places. Lines like "Liam provided the dialog--male and female voices..." read as particularly redundant. I get what you're getting it, but it didn't read like that for me. see if you can rework a lot of this. Also, when you jumped forward in time, quickly flying over the breakup part, I got confused. I still followed, but the second half cut the tension for me. And the conclusion seemed a little too heavy on narrator voice. I felt you trying to get a message across to me. These comments might sound mean, but I'm saying so much because I liked your piece a lot and want to see it flourish.

    Solar Eclipse: Hmm. While I found you did a good job with mixing action with dialogue, I struggled with how unnatural the dialogue felt. You were trying to hard to make the dialogue do the narration for you and it came off as telly. I was indeed curious about where this was going, good job establishing a sense of tension. But, if you're going to write dialogue heavy pieces, I'd make sure to read it and go over it again aloud.

  44. My vote goes to FoundMissing.

    Well written, even if the author telegraphed the ending a bit too soon.

    SolarEclipse had too much info dump that became an obvious example of author intrusion.

  45. Am going to vote for Solar Eclipse. The writing is rich and leaves us feeling like something complicated is happening, with enough details to be engaging without going overboard. That way we can concentrate on the gist of what's being presented, which is the Lux club and what it might entail. I'm curious to know more.

    RE: Found Missing, it sounds like a cute idea to have one side of a couple missing their nightly ritual of assigning dialog to the neighborhood houses, but it's described in a way that makes it feel kind of abstract, like we're just getting the dialog and not any of the reality of what's going on with the couple... how are they actually interacting, other than just talking? So I don't feel it's as strong a narrative.

  46. I'm going to toss my vote in with Solar Eclipse. I felt like there was a story there I could sink my teeth into.

    FoundMissing would've definitely gotten it if I didn't feel like it had an anticlimactic ending for a suspense short. Not bad, just missed the mark for me.

  47. FoundMissing took me two reads to sift through the names and figure out what was going on, but once I did I loved it! I wonder why Lori is telling her husband everything, but I like the way the story is structured and it built suspense. Great last line

    Solar Eclipse has an interesting beginning to a longer story. I'd like to know what happened, but the "stage directions" slow down the flow of the dialogue for me. I'd get rid of the "shook his head with a laugh" and "raised an eyebrow" and let the character's words speak for themselves to build up more tension.

    I'm voting for FoundMissing

  48. FoundMissing threw me off with 'lionlike' and 'But Lori’s narrative often veered off into dark corners, blind alleys, and serpentine pathways.', but after those bumps, it was executed just about flawlessly. I got lost into the narrative and of course enjoyed how it turned out.

    Solar Eclipse - The dialogue was not believable for me at times; it was too dense with information. And because, it was mostly dialogue; this ultimately lost me it's vote.

  49. Solar Eclipse gets my vote.
    FoundMissing's piece didn't gel for me. The narration felt strange and faraway, and the story itself didn't give me much payoff. I found the premise interesting and it had potential, but for me personally it didn't pay off.
    I really enjoyed Solar Eclipse, though there were a few elements that I kind of tripped over, or that didn't tie into the story yet. But I really like the promise, and the intrigue that this leaves me with.




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