How about we start things off by congratulating another winner? Our Round 5 victor is none other than Sissy Grimm. Her opponent, Tipa, will have his/her piece returned to the pool for a chance at re-selection for a future bout, and as always writers who have battled once are welcome to submit a different piece if they so wish.
Before we move on I’d like to comment on the feedback offered in the previous rounds. In a word…exemplary! Reading these mini-critiques is an education in and of itself, and watching how a 500 word writing sample can be viewed so diversely with various elements impacting each reader differently can be truly enlightening. My goal for WRiTE CLUB (one of the may) is not to just provide an avenue for writers to display their work in a non-threatening environment, but ultimately help them improve upon it. For that to happen I put my faith in the fact that our reader/voters would speak up and offer their suggestions…and BOY…have you! Sometimes that opinion can be as simple as a vote, other times it can be almost as long as the submission itself. Both are valuable, and valued. Thank you! I want to also thank you on behalf of the contestants (past, present, and future), for validating my trust in the nature of this blogosphere…and writers in general…and for helping mold their writing for the better.
It's time for that bell to ring again.
Here are this week's randomly selected WRiTER's.
Introspective. That’s what one becomes when faced with overwhelming odds. Not scared. Not worried. Not even resigned.
I’m staring across the battlefield at the hordes milling about in the enemy camp opposite ours and I’m not even wondering if I’ll die. Hell. I know I will. But I can’t acknowledge this knowledge with more emotion than resignation.
The thought of dying doesn’t get me.
The thought that I’ll die alone does.
It has me shaking in my armor.
It has me looking at myself and thinking. Well. You definitely fucked up your life.
I’m eighteen, the greatest magician in this world. Leader of a country, facing another nation’s king. But I have no magic. I have no idea what I’m doing.
And I have no friends.
I’m leading a force of forty thousand men and I’m completely alone.
How could I let this happen? How could I push my closest friends away? Betray them? Let harm come to them? What sort of person am I?
One who deserves to die.
Exactly like the agony I allowed my best friend to go through. No wonder he won’t come help now, even though he could. Even though I said sorry.
It came to late.
My officers stare at me, faces pale to green. What do they want me to do? We decided on the plan. Our allies agreed it would be the best way.
Do they want me to say anything?
Oh shit. They do.
I open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. I try again, and words flutter from my lips, dry and meaningless as autumn leaves.
“Thank you… for fighting with me.”
“’Ts bin an honor, son,” my finest general says, voice shaking with emotion. It’s an odd sound, coming from such a huge man, but it’s gratifying to know he still counts me as a friend.
I take his hand and slap his shoulder, then turn to the others. They expect me to say more. But Stor’s use of the past tense tells me now isn’t the time to soften my words.
I take a deep breath and strengthen my resolve. “Take as many of them with you as you can. Just make sure to leave them in hell before going upstairs.”
Stor and the others laugh. I smile a little and snap on my helmet, then slip outside.
My horse prances about, sensing my nerves, so I try to quell them, patting its cheek. It takes a bit longer, but at least the gelding is calmer when I do mount up. A horn blast sounds, summoning the soldiers to arms. My officers ride up to me and a sense of camaraderie warms my heart a little. Not enough to give me hope.
And in the other corner, weighing in at 500 words, let me introduce to you ……..Perdida
Her unwavering focus often made it difficult for her subjects to concentrate, and Bates Banner was no different. She flashed a card with a red square before his face and dipped her chin. His eyes scurried from the card back to hers. He never should have signed onto the project. He’d thought his own concentration was up to the task but he’d been wrong. Instead of allowing a free association to link spontaneous emotion with color, all he could think about was the shape of her lips—smallish, thin but remarkably curved. One of her black eyebrows arced slightly.
He hesitated, but knew the longer he waited, the greater the awkwardness. And everyone knew truth spilled out of awkwardness like wine in a ravine.
“Hunger,” he blurted.
Harley’s eyebrow remained on its perch. “That’s not an emotion.”
“Sure it is.”
“Try again,” she told him.
His face hung inches from hers. Every feature was penciled in. She was not a classic beauty. Or hell, maybe she was. All he could think was that signing onto this had been the worst idea of his life.
“Just relax,” she said.
Or the best.
“Look at the card,” she went on, “and just allow your filter to relax.”
She nodded. At least he thought the faint movement was a nod.
“We each have a filter, Banner,” she told him. “The thing most of us don’t know, though, is that we can relax it at will.”
He licked his lips. “How?”
“Look at the card.” Her voice was low.
His eyes ran over the shape from one clean angle to the next.
Red, he thought. Heart.
“An emotion, Banner. What are you feeling, right now?”
He could smell her. She smelled like—maple. Or was it vanilla? She smelled like rice milk with sugar and cinnamon.
He swallowed once more and his lips parted.
“Frustration,” he told her.
She lowered the card and took a sharpened pencil to her pad, scribbling his response. Then she laid the red square aside and flashed a blue triangle.
“Elation,” he said. Though he didn’t know where that had come from.
“That was better, Bates,” she said. The tip of her pencil glided across the sheet of paper and she lifted a third card.
He stared at it, jaw clenching.
“Beauty,” he said, finally.
“That’s not an emotion, Banner,” she responded with signature euphony.
He pushed the hair hanging off his forehead back with both hands.
“I don’t know. Riled,” he pushed out. “Competition. Validation.”
She fixed him with a placid stare.
“Try one more time.” She held the black spade in front of him.
“Hunger,” he said, again.
“Avarice?” she prompted.
“Isn’t that against the guidelines?”
She tucked in her finely-drawn lips.
So, how about it? By now you know the drill, leave your vote for the winner of round 8 in the comments below, along with any sort of critique you would like to offer. Please remind your friends to make a selection as well (and remember you must be registered on the Linky List to vote). The voting for this round will remain open until noon next Thursday. Remember, you can throw your pen name into the hat anytime during these last six weeks by submitting your own 500 word sample. Check out the rules by clicking on the badge below…then come out swinging!
Remember, here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!