WRiTE CLUB 2020 - Playoff Bout #3



Reminder - Playoff Bouts 1 & 2 are still taking your votes. Please make your next stop the WRiTE CLUB Scoreboard if you've not voted yet.

Before we get to the last Playoff Bout I want to take a minute to address an issue that I've become aware of - suspicious voting. Whenever a bout experiences a noticeable increase in voting activity, usually involving voters who only participate in that one bout, I get concerned. The rules and spirit of this contest is clear - THIS IS NOT A POPULARITY CONTEST! Encouraging family, friends, writing group members, or anyone else to vote for a particular contestant – or nudge them towards a specific bout – is wrong and if if can be proven, the offending contestant will be disqualified.  A victory gained by those tactics is a hollow one!  Yes, let everyone you know about the contest and help support our contestants/writers – but encourage them to visit ALL the bouts, not a specific one. It disappoints me that I have to bring this up once again.

Let's now see how our final two contestants match up with ALL NEW MATERIAL.

There will be three bouts this week (Mon-Wed-Fri) and pay special attention to when voting ends because a staggered timeline will be used again. Speaking of voting, it has a special significance during the playoffs because in addition to three winners advancing to the semi-finals, a fourth Wildcard winner will also be selected. How is the WC chosen? It will be the loser that had garnered the most votes among all three losers. So every vote counts - win or lose.



We do ask that you leave a brief critique for all of our contestants because that is one of the real values of this contest – FEEDBACK. Please be respectful with your remarks!

The voting for today’s bout will close on Wednesday, June 17th (noon central time).

The piece that garnishes the most votes will move on to the semi-final round where they’ll face a different opponent with yet another NEW WRITING SAMPLE

As always, in case of a tie, I’m the deciding vote.

Here are the voting guidelines –

1) One vote per visitor per bout.

2) Anyone can vote (even the contestants themselves), but 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 cause 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!

4) Although more of a suggestion than a rule - cast your vote before you read other comments. Do not let yourself be swayed by the opinions of others.


Please welcome back into the ring, with all new material - 

Scottish


Tink, Tink, Tink        

 

“The Dragon Sea,” Gan said. “Where typhoons blow half the year and cyclones blow the rest.”

He was a Vietnamese elder—a thay boi mu—blind and bent with age. He tugged the beard hanging from his chin, scowling as he shouted warnings to a crowd of foreigners on the dock.    

“There are no good seasons to search for sunken treasure, but still you come, as I came—a foolish youth.”  

Daily, Gan sat on a bench, telling fortunes. He put his begging bowl near his feet and listened for the tink of coins.  

“The Dragon sea is a bone yard where fools sacrifice bits of themselves to the gods, praying for treasure. We know the gods forsake us, but still we try. Some give all and go to next life where they try again.”

“And you? Did you sacrifice your sight?” A man asked.  

“Eyes knocked from head by a dragon. Searching the sea floor, I found a chest in the sand. Wood chest covered with clams, coral, tube worms, other creatures that no longer exist. In the center was a gigantic oyster with two pearls. As I reached for pearls, dragon guarding chest strike me with claw.”

“Why didn’t he kill you?”

“To punish me in the most cruel way. I found treasure but cannot see. For that, I name pearls “Tears of the Dragon.”

“You have them?” a skeptical voice asked.    

Gan stood, raised his head and opened his eyes. People nearby gasped; a few cried out. In his eye sockets were two enormous orbs the color of imperial jade—luminescent green flecked with gold dust.

 “Now I see as the dragon sees. Energy of goodness or shadow of doom, aura surrounding everything, everyone. Helps to tell fortune.”

Tension grew as the old man spoke. Hands reached out and he gripped them, feeling palms, reading lines with the tips of his fingers. He felt scalps, searching for significant bumps. He spoke to them all, telling each something they needed to hear. When Gan was done, he sat on the bench, exhausted.

“Fate is as always was. Riches for some. Death for others. Sameness for most. You know fortune already. Listen to your heart, yes?”

Tink, tink, tink—coins filled his bowl. As the people scattered, going back to their lives, Gan heard hope in their voices. That was his gift to them, as their money was a gift to him.

Wind from the southwest brought the smell of rain. It was time for him to go home. He picked up the begging bowl; it was heavy, and that pleased him. He would eat well and stay warm while the coming storm passed.  

 The old man was tired. His eye sockets ached, so he removed the pearls and put them in a silk pouch. He unfolded a white cane, moving it back and forth to keep from falling, for without the Tears of the Dragon, he was truly blind.      

End

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Our second playoff contestant is Imposter



"Cami," I hollered, fumbling to release my seat belt. I started out the door but realized the car was rolling forward again. Cursing loudly, I rammed the gear shift into park, then was off running.

The stench of burnt rubber hung heavy in the air. Black skid marks scarred the road for more than a football field in length – originating near a squirming blanket and a baby bottle. Cami had covered half that distance already, running in bare feet, ignoring the massive metal stampede headed our way.

My heart, already pounding in my chest, skipped a beat when I heard a chilling sound. It was faint, but unmistakable. The wailing of a baby.

How could this be happening?

I pushed my travel-weary legs to their limit. Although my wife was moving faster than I've ever seen her move, I was making up ground quickly.

The trucks, a pair of them running side by side like some steroid-infused drag race, were showing no signs of slowing. Cami was wearing a dark-colored tank top and blue jeans, which would make her hard to spot against the blacktop. Our car had taken almost 400 feet to come to a stop, but because of the trucks size and mass I knew it would take them considerably longer. A couple more seconds and they'd be unable to stop in time.

I ripped off my yellow t-shirt and waved it frantically over my head as I ran, screaming "stop" despite the utter futility of it. As each second passed my anxiety pushed up into my throat, and the more animated my waving became. See me! See me! Please, dear God, let them SEE ME!

My pleas were rewarded when a plume of white smoke spilled from the back of the truck on the left, then the other. When I heard a horn blare, I let the wind take my shirt and set my sights on Cami. It was going to be close.

The trailer of the truck on the left must have been empty because it was having no problem stopping, but not the other semi. As the second truck pulled past the other, its trailer began jack-knifing across the road. It was almost on top of us now. I reached Cami just as she was picking up the baby. Without hesitation, I scooped them both up and lunged to the left.

The careening tractor-trailer rumbled past us. The ear-splitting sound of tandem tires fighting for traction against the asphalt reverberating through my body.

With its momentum ebbing away, the truck eventually came to rest between our Jeep and us.

Dazed, I gently set Cami down. She wobbled briefly before finding her footing, breathing heavily. Her forehead glistened with perspiration. The blanket was clutched tightly to her chest, where her eyes immediately went. The bundle was now oddly still, and silent.

Using a special kind of tenderness, Cami peeled back the blanket’s corners. When the last layer fell open, her expression froze.

Something was wrong.
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Please leave your votes and critiques in the comments below. Again, be respectful of your remarks and try to point out positives as well as detraction's.

We’ll be back next week with our semi-final bouts. Those will be on Tuesday & Thursday.

Please help all our writers out by telling everyone you know what is happening here and encourage them to come vote.

This is WRiTE CLUB—the contest where the audience gets clobbered!

39 comments

  1. Scottish -- Both the puzzle and this new entry have an old-world feel about them. They're very different entries, though, with a different emotional payoff. This one had a good sense of wonder to it, and a wistful turn at the end.

    Imposter -- Action scenes are tough, because the tendency is to overdescribe. I feel like you did well overall, but a few constructions were a little clunky, especially the football field skidmarks. That third to last paragraph was a huge stumbling block, though, with six -ly adverbs in one paragraph. They weaken sentences, and more so when you bunch them together.

    My vote is for Scottish

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  2. Tough choice today—I would love to see both writers move forward and am bummed I can’t vote for both.

    Scottish—I loved your piece. The atmospheric setting is very well done and I loved how you wove the backstory of the dragon tears into a 500 word piece. Fantastic!

    Imposter—I also loved your piece. The tension was high and I’m curious to know more about that baby and what’s wrong. My only complaint, per se, is that I would’ve liked to have seen something new.

    My vote: Imposter

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  3. My vote goes to Scottish

    Scottish: another deliciously weird piece, strong in mythic imagery. I enjoyed the read, but logic issues knock much of the power out of it for me.

    The central element of the story is that he sees as the dragon sees, so can tell fortunes. I *absolutely* love that idea, including the visuals - but....they aren't dragon eyes, they're just oyster pearls, direct from an oyster. The dragon presumably still has its own well-functioning eyes, so I don't understand the premise. Gan naming the pearls 'Tears of the Dragon' doesn't give them special powers. I vaguely remember the story of the Graeae who are sharing a single eye (and tooth), swapping it between them, so I could accept some similar dragony situation where Gan has swooped in and stolen the dragon's magical eyes while it was busy doing something else.

    Your voice is less distinct than in The Puzzle, and I really miss that (though I couldn't define how it is different). Gan's own voice is also somewhat uneven - sometimes he sounds strongly Vietnamese, with the missing articles, sometimes English.

    Here are some fairly trivial points/questions:
    I misread his name 'Gan' for 'Gran' on the first line (it was quite a 'Granny' thing to say), and had to start again when I reached the second line. I then had to go to Google Translate for 'thay boi mu' - turns out it means 'where is the book' in Bengali, which is useful. In Vietnamese, 'thầy bói mù' with all the accents means blind fortune teller. So, some confusion to start, then thinking that it would have been useful to know he was a fortune teller - all before the end of the second line.
    Why would a dragon care about jewellery and get vicious about it? How can natural pearls be green? I got confused by the reference to a different semi-precious stone to explain the colour and had to backtrack.
    Is Gan telling fortunes honestly? I can't imagine that hearing about death/disaster/sameness is going to add hope to many voices.

    None of this prevents me from really liking this tale, but I feel it could be twice as powerful with better logic (as far as mythic logic ever goes). There are lots of phrases I love, such as "Wind from the southwest brought the smell of rain", and the final paragraph is brilliant in its weirdness. I would definitely pay real money for a book of your stories, once the logic issues are sorted. For your talent for a tale, you get my vote.

    Imposter: I've been puzzling my indifference to this story, as it's been competently told. I think it's because high-stakes action is being used as a substitute for emotional depth. When Bruce Willis is chasing someone in a car, *again*, I usually go and put the kettle on - so I may simply be the wrong audience for this, I realise that. Bruce Willis helping traumatised dead-people-seeing little boys is more my thing. Very much my thing. But, consider this: what a fabulous premise is a child-grieving, desperate couple finding a baby by the side of the road. Do they keep it, or do the right thing and go to the police? Truly love it. So many angles, so much humanity, so many ethical questions. So...why have we had a thousand words about cars and trucks, and only a sentence or two about the people?



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  4. Scottish, I'm so glad to read this piece -- IMO, so much stronger than The Puzzle. The writing is tight, the imagery is strong and evocative, and the premise is really interesting.

    Imposter -- interesting to see more of your story about Cami and the abandoned baby(?), and quite the cliff hanger you served us. The physical detail/description is distracting to me for being *too* detailed; I find myself wondering about the plausibility of every action rather than getting drawn into the characters. Other than idle curiosity, I'm not really hooked unfortunately.

    Scottish gets my vote.

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  5. This is a tough one for me. I feel like I'd read on in Imposter's story because the subject matter is more up my alley, but I feel like Scottish's piece is the better written of the two, even though just a whiff of magic or dragons will make me put a book down. I'm afraid fantasy just isn't my thing at all...

    But this is Write Club, not Genre Club, so my vote has to go to Scottish.

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  6. Scottish - Fun piece, and although I understand the dialect can read as inconsistent, I get it, because if you took out all the articles it would sound like an old Charlie Chan movie. The ending worked for me, and you seem to have a niche for yourself as an author.
    Imposter - The continuation didn't work for me at all. I would have loved to see something new. The first piece had me invested in the woman in the car, and I lost that connection to her in this entry.
    I vote for Scottish

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  7. Scottish- You have a gift in being able to seemingly write self-contained 500 word stories. I say seemingly because part of me wonders if these are separate tales or part of a larger piece where these threads eventually join. In either event, this was entertaining. I have any number of questions about this story (Are the pearls actual Dragon Tears? If they’re not, how did they get their power? Etc.) but they in no way lessened my enjoyment of it.

    Imposter- This really could have used some more editing. Describing action scenes are hard because of the impulse to use adverbs. I’m not really sure what is meant by “special kind of tenderness”. I also believe an empty trailer would be more likely to jack-knife because without anything weight in the trailer, there’s nothing holding it down onto the road. It has the elements to be a good story, they just haven’t gelled into one.

    My vote is for Scottish.

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  8. As well written as both stories are, my literal mind had trouble when I broke it all down.

    Scottish - The storytelling mesmerizes. But when I think of a literal translation, if the dragon punished Gan by taking his eyes, why would Gan name the pearls the Dragon's tears? I can't make the connection. Then I'm further confused that Gan is rewarded with the Dragon's powers of fortune telling. Why? Maybe I'm simply overthinking it all. The language flows well, though too many uses of "was" or a form thereof in the next-to-last paragraph had my inner editor twitching. Overall, though, the feeling and atmosphere were rich and full.

    Imposter - I enjoyed the first installment; this one, not as much. It's missing the connection between the narrator and his wife that you gave us in the rewrite. I understand the need for action, but we also need the emotion and why it's important for Cami to literally risk her life. I love action stories. Excellent ones still retain their human connection. As an aside, my brother drove semis for many years. An empty semi-trailer jackknifes way more easily than a full one because of lessened friction (due to lighter load weight) between tires and road.

    Another tough choice today.

    My vote: Scottish

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  9. Tink Tink :) OOH, dragons! Yes. That gets me every time.
    Imp: Like everything but the end. Too cliffhangery for me.
    Scottish wins my vote

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  10. These were both fascinating pieces!

    Scottish - You have such a discernible voice, rich with a sense of folklore. I love this idea that Gan sees as the dragon, though I felt it should read more like a curse, or an agreement with the dragon where he willingly sacrificed something in an exchange for the money-making clairvoyant pearls. Assuming the dragon now has his real eyes, what does that mean for him? Is he truly blind when the pearls are out or is he seeing the dark depths of the sea? Some of those loose ends need to come together, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story. From a technical perspective, I felt it was some of the strongest writing in the contest.

    Imposter - I was happy you brought us the next part of this story... only to leave us on a cliff again! In both cases, I'm invested in what happens next. I love your contemporary voice and action-centered scenes. The initial reference to the "massive metal stampede" threw me--I wanted an explanation for that reference to immediately follow, so I wasn't picturing a herd of robotic elephants for the next two paragraphs. The reference to a "steroid-infused drag race" also felt like a mixed metaphor. I *think* the sentiment is "a drag race on steroids" but, as stated, it suggests that steroids are used in drag racing. Something like "Nitrous-powered" may get your point across better. That feels nitpicky, but figurative language can be to our detriment if not used thoughtfully.

    TOUGH CALL, but I'm going with Scottish on craft. Congrats to both writers for making it this far!

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  11. Scottish - I loved your story. The character was rich, the details and the voice were there. AND there was a reference to dragons :)

    Imposter - I think you did a good job transmitting a sense of urgency. I don't usually go for this kind of contemporary voice, but that's just my subjective taste.

    My vote goes to Scottish.

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  12. Scottish: rich atmosphere, loved the descriptions, then you take it to a whole 'nuther' level. dragons, mystery and the supernatural. loved it.

    Imposter: another continued story. would have liked something different. at least an improvement over the first installment, but sadly it wasn't.

    my vote Goes to Scottish.

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  13. For this round my vote is for Scottish. I thoroughly enjoyed how skillfully you were able to create background and storyline through the modality of dialogue!!

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  14. A close call, but my vote is for Scottish.

    Scottish - Great use of dialogue to tell the story. I was a bit put off by the dialect of the old man, it seemed a little bit of a stereotype. Was he speaking English to the crowd? If not, then perhaps the story would read better without the dialect. Great ending, and good visuals with the pearls. An interesting character telling a good story got my vote.

    Imposter - The story here is intriguing, and the hook at the end certainly peaked my interest. However, there were some inconsistencies in the action that took me out of the story. I was confused by the skid marks described at the beginning, leading away from the baby. Were these from whoever had dropped off the baby? Another vehicle that swerved? The main characters' car? Also the description of the semis- the steroids and the metal stampede just didn't seem right to describe a pair of semis. The timing also seemed a bit unrealistic - the time it would take for a truck traveling highway speed limit to reach the baby versus the time it took for Cami to run to the bundle, and the time the trucks would need to stop. Overall, this is an exciting story with a great hook, if several people notice inconsistencies then you should take a look at those places in the story. If this were a novel I'd read the next chapter, and it was a close call between you and Scottish, I just thought their story was tighter.

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  15. I've grown to enjoy Scottish's eerie fables but -- my vote goes to Imposter for its fabulous story and great emotional tension. Scottish -- as with your original story, I kept wondering what the characters hoped to accomplish. So the old woman killed her evil landlord -- there'll be another landlord. Gan lived as a beggar while wearing fabulously valuable pearls. Why? Under the lovely language, the characters seem to have no clothes.

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  16. Scottish: If I'm being honest, Gan felt a bit generic. His broken English didn't help. I like the story he tells and the magic of the Tears of the Dragon, but I wish we'd had more insights into who Gan is and what makes him a unique individual worth following.

    Imposter: The pacing feels too slow for the content. Between this entry and your previous one, we've spent 1000 words on about a minute of action. To tighten your writing for a faster pace, watch your use of was/were and passive voice and keep descriptions short.

    I'm curious to know what Cami's holding, but I'm voting for Scottish today because I was more engaged by that piece.

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  17. Voting for Scottish. Another great tale. Imposter, I would have liked to see an all new story.

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  18. Scottish is the clear winner of this round.

    Scottish, you wrote an exciting and engaging story. This was a brilliant example of world building with few words. I want to visit this world and learn more about its people and magic. This is the best story I’ve read in the whole contest thus far.

    Imposter, I was confused All the way to the end as to what was going on in this story. I realize that this is a continuation of a story you entered in an earlier round, but this entry does not stand on its own because of it. Your MC scooped up Cami and the baby and lunged to the left, which I visualized as diving to the ground. Next paragraph he is setting them down... like Superman? Did he pick them up and jump out of the road, landing on his feet while holding a woman who is holding a baby? This story had some poorly constructed sentences as well, such as the “utter futility” sentence, and later you have asphalt reverberating through your MC’s body. Have someone proof read your work to catch these little things that you may be blind to as the author.

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  19. Scottish gets my vote. the story is tight. you built a world and characters and finished the story. hard to believe it was only 500 words. very creepy too.

    Imposter. too obvious it was part of a bigger story. you didn't tell a complete tale. when you spin a yarn you have to give more than part of a scene.

    My vote Scottish

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  20. Congratulations to both writers for making it this far.

    Scottish: I enjoyed the very fable sounding tone of this piece. The idea of taking his eyeballs out sort of grossed me out - might not have been the best feeling to leave your readers with after such a poetic piece.

    Imposter: I was really interested to see where your story was going - but I didn’t feel we got that far. In a book, that was a great bit of suspense as we wonder if Cami will make it - guided by your masterful descriptions of the agony of slowed down time. For this format, though, it was a bit too drawn out, and didn’t answer any of the questions that we had from the beginning of the story.

    My vote is for Scottish.

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  21. Scottish - It's a good story and I'm glad I got to read it.

    Imposter - This story keeps getting better. I love how strong the action is. Thrilling! You have my vote.

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  22. Imposter: Continuing your story in this round did not work, in my opinion. The scene is too drawn out. Perhaps if the action had happened faster, and whatever is wrong with the baby was revealed or suggested, it might have been better.

    Scottish: Like your first story, it was a fun read. I love creepy. You get my vote.

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  23. Oh, wow!
    2 great stories. Scottish: a little weird for my taste, but very well written.
    Imposter: another great cliffhanger. I need more!!!
    my vote: imposter

    Lindsey Tidmore
    lindsey.tidmore1976@gmail.com

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  24. Well in this round both of you had me a little confused in places and I had to read a few times to understand, especially in Scottish this dialogue. Is it written with missing words to give the effect of dialect? Because if so then the word 'the' in Tears of the Dragon' would be better missing. It just threw me. Otherwise this is well written, though not a genre I really enjoy, I can still appreciate the skill.
    In Imposter, I get that you are trying to continue from where you left off, but to be perfectly honest with you, I didn't think it was too polished to begin with. This addition looks rushed and flawed, and IMO much weaker than before. I don't really get the tension as it seems all very unlikely and I just think it's mostly 'telling'. I would have liked to find out more about the couple rather than the vehicles even though it is hard in such a short extract.
    My vote is for Scottish, it seems more care has been taken to polish, though the dialogue was tricky for me.

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  25. Scottish painted a vivid picture with just a few words. I wanted to know all the stories in that world. Imposter, you made me want a continuance of that particular story, but I didn't care to stay in that world any longer than I had to.
    Vote: Scottish

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  26. Scottish: great voice. Starting with dialogue is risky, and since Gan is talking about someplace else, it took me a minute to figure out what’s happening. He’s talking about things we don’t get to see in action, so I never feel like I’m there with him.

    Imposter: long, detailed sentences about the trucks and the distance make this feel less urgent. You might make some of these sentences short and choppy, to keep the tension high. This whole scene probably takes place over 20-30 seconds, but it seems longer. I like the cliffhanger.

    Scottish is more polished and accomplishes a lot in the word limit. But I’m more interested in reading on in Imposter’s story, so I vote for them today.

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  27. A hearty congratulations to you both for making it this far!

    Scottish: It took me a minute to find the rhythm of Gan's voice and his accent, but once I figured it out, things flowed smoothly. There's a lot to this piece I don't understand, though, and I don't know if it's because fantasy isn't my jam or if things were just a bit unclear. For example, if he's shouting warnings, why are people engaging with him and giving him money? In general, people tend to give a wide berth to homeless people and panhandlers. That distance is much greater when that person is also shouting. It seems to me he'd have a reputation at the dock and people would either actively ignore him or the town leaders would prevent him from begging there. I'm curious about the mechanics of how the pearls give Gan dragon-sight. How is it that they are just the right size and shape to fit into each of his eye sockets? Why would the dragon let him live after stealing the pearls? What is the point of him warning other travelers about the dragon if the worst the dragon will do is take their sight?

    My biggest issue with this piece, though, is that I just don't know what the point is. Gan isn't having a conversation, he's just shouting, answering, and listening for coins. I feel like this is a gorgeously written character sketch rather than a fleshed-out story.

    Imposter: I have the same issue as others: 1000 words to describe this one scene is just too many. The urgency gets lost in the details, and, oddly, the details detract from the believability of the scene.

    Cami jumps out of the car before it's even stopped to rescue what we assume is a baby from the middle of the highway. This dude says she is moving faster than he's ever seen her move, but somehow, he can unbuckle his seat belt, get out of the car, note the velocity of the trucks, describe his wife's clothes, strip half naked and flag the trucks to a stop all before she even picks up the baby? And before both of the trucks come to a full stop, he's scooped up both Cami and the baby, whisked them out of harm's way, and sets them down. The timing just doesn't work. The final sentence also didn't work for me. Of course something was wrong. They find a baby wrapped up in a blanket on the highway. Nothing about that is normal or right. I suspect the baby is actually some sort of monster or otherworldly creature, but without the benefit of more words, that cliffhanger doesn't feel effective. I would have like this piece better if you had ended it simply with Cami gently pulling down the corners of the blanket.

    Scottish gets my vote this round.

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  28. Scottish: I love the voice, the atmosphere, the sense of mystery. The question of why a dragon punished him for seeking the treasure by granting him the treasure and magical vision nags at me, though.

    Imposter: As a fragment of a longer story, this might work well (except that I don't believe a car traveling at any feasible speed could actually leave nearly 400 feet of skid marks). As it is, though, there's too much detail about the physical threat and no inner, emotional meaning aside from the physical fear. The twist is too abrupt for me, not giving enough time to register any emotional response.

    I vote for Scottish.

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  29. Imposter! 👶🏻 I really want to know what's up with this baby!

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  30. Voting for Scottish. Very creative and interesting.

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  31. My vote is for Scottish.
    Scottish – Great story. I love the touch of magical wonder. I did not like the broken English.
    Imposter – I did not know what was going on in this story and there was no real ending. A lot of adverbs too (pet peeve of mine)

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  32. My vote in this round goes to Scottish. I enjoyed the cadence, pace, and tone of the piece. Imposter, you have a strong writing style and voice; however, in this piece, as your last, I had to read and reread your piece multiple times to suss out what was happening, when, and to whom. Even after those rereads I am still left confused and overwhelmed by all the action and events occurring in such a short piece. I think your story idea is fantastic action/suspense scene, it just needs a longer format to be able to unjumble the events, in my opinion.

    Congrats on making it to the playoffs Scottish and Imposter!!!

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  33. Not my thing at all, but writing is stronger in the entry by Scottish.

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  34. I was drawn into Imposter's story and enjoyed the action and the mystery. Great job. But I think Scottish's story is stronger. I love the imagination and the imagery.

    My vote is for Scottish.

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  35. Voting for Scottish as I'm intrigued by the world! Nice job to both writers.

    Tara.roquemore@gmail.com

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  36. My vote is for Scottish!

    Scottish, loved the buildup, setting, and premise of the old man playing on superstitions, and there's a question are they props or just too burdensome to look through all the time. There were one or two words that could have improved sentences but otherwise great read!

    For Impostor I think this is a good continuation of the previous entry, and I definitely want to know what was in the bundle, but ultimately that was what set me off, there was a lot of tension and buildup and with this entry if there was more payoff I would have enjoyed this more.

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  37. Will leave longer critiques at a later when I have some time. But wanted to get the vote in:

    Scottish: Well-written and I super appreciate the specificity of location/depicting another culture, but nothing happens in this story (it's really more of a vignette). And it doesn't appear to intentionally be making any deeper commentary. The most interesting element is Gan's ability to see like a dragon to read fortunes... which we don't even get to witness. It's just glossed over.

    Imposter: Dig you continuing on with the tale! Like the idea of the action, but, as others have stated, it's so much that it impedes the pacing. I'm also not a fan of Cami being overtaken and swept off her feet. Doesn't match timing-wise, seems unrealistic, and robs Cami of being a more realized character. It'd be more exciting if Jason knew he wouldn't be able to make it in time, so has to hope and pray the semis stop or Cami is agile enough to escape.

    Giving my vote this round to Imposter. Scottish's piece doesn't have any emotional impact nor conflict, which weakens it for me.

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  38. Scottish nice story. Loved how you named the pearls.

    Imposter loved how you continued the story to this bout. Very exciting. Hope you make it to the next round because I really want to know what is in that blanket!!

    My vote goes to Imposter.

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