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WRiTE CLUB -Skirmish #7

Today I'm continuing my promise to offer a chance in the ring for those writers who submitted an anonymous sample of their work to WRiTE CLUB 2012, but weren’t lucky enough to be chosen to compete. There are no prizes to be won, or further advancement beyond this one bout, but as all of the other contestants have discovered before them -- there is still plenty to be gained…and learned. I will post one of these skirmishes each week until I run out of contestants.

This week it's Big Red turn in the ring.  Here is their 499 word submission.

“Only hold me as high as you have strength to.”

“Then I will hold you as high as my heart.”

The words should never have been there. The feelings should never have existed. But they were, and they were real. It was a struggle and a fight beyond measure. The worst was knowing it could never be. It was the Romeo & Juliet of their world – totally forbidden.

“I can’t do this with you anymore. They will hear our words eventually and then we will be punished for what we have done. Defying our Gods is unspeakable!” she whispered loudly, while looking around into the dark space never knowing who or what was out there.

“You’re right. We can’t do this anymore” He paused. “We can’t pretend that what we have doesn’t go beyond all theory. We are not meant to be, but I would fight our Gods to get to you. I’m already dead, what more can they do to me?” He grabbed her hand in his, holding it tightly. “I lost you once, but I can’t, I just can’t go through that again.” Jesu said looking longingly, painfully into her fiery chestnut eyes. He couldn’t look away anymore. This was knowingly his last impression of her and he knew once he said it, all was gone. All hopes of finding her again, would be suicide.“Rosilin, I…love…you.”

“NO!!” Rosilin shouted as the dark space behind Jesu turned into a flame as if thrown towards him and becoming brighter and brighter; engulfing him as he hung onto his last word. A sudden wind came pushing Jesu further back into the ball of flames with his hands reaching out to Rosilin as he was pulled away. Sorrow, complete pain, overtook him. Rosilin reached her hands out, hanging in the darkness; her body completely paralyzed and unable to rescue him from the immersing fireball. There was nothing she could do. The flame burst as soon as she saw him pulled into its force. There was no heat. There was not a single gale of warmth. It was as if it never happened, but it did. Jesu was gone.

As quickly as Rosilin was standing alone, a bright light engulfed her. The room was no longer dark but completely void of any color but pure white. She felt a serene calmness surround her, beckoning her return. Rosilin felt her brown hair standing on end as she awaited what was to come. She had breached all commitments to her God, as did he. No matter the mercy He held, she knew this went beyond His compassion. Rosilin sensed her body floating along space for some time. She could hear angelic singings of young chorale boys all around her. Her worried thoughts were less as she let the sweet voices consume her.

“I’m not sure I can continue like this.” She whispered to herself, holding a tear in her troubled eye, and letting it go along her cheek.

“You can.” A voice whispered back.


And in the other corner, also checking in with 499 words, is Dejected Dreamer.

They say it isn’t normal for a nine-year-old to sleep so much.

I’d be asleep now if my five-year-old brother, Mark, wasn’t crying. One thing I can’t do is fall asleep when Mark’s crying.

He’s not being bad about it; he could cry louder and wake up Dad. That’s what he did the first month after Mom died. I don’t blame him. He doesn’t even understand what happened.

“When’s Mommy coming home?” That’s what he asks when we’re awake. He even breaks down at school and cries in front of everyone. But at night, he just sobs quietly until he’s out.

They don’t see me cry. Dad knows I do, but nobody sees it, not even him. I don’t know why I don’t like them to see. Maybe it makes me feel like I’m older, stronger, like Dad.

We share that much, him and me. Sometimes I catch him in the morning after one of his dreamless nights. When I glance up over my cereal I see his eyes, red and puffy. Mine probably look just as bad, but he doesn’t say anything. He just stares back, knowing. He doesn’t have to tell me the things he tells Mark, those half-truths.

“Don’t cry. Mommy told me to make sure you’re not sad while she’s gone. She wants you to be strong like Damon.” And, “Mommy says she can see us in our dreams, we can even give her hugs and kisses. So, let’s dry those tears and go back to sleep.”

I know they’re half-truths because Mom died before Dad or anyone got to the accident. She couldn’t have told him those things. Yet, Dad is right. I do see Mom in my dreams and I give her hugs and kisses and tell her I love her and that she needs to stay.

But then I wake up. And it’s the middle of the night, so I cry while nobody is watching. And when I turn over onto my side and stare at her picture on my nightstand, I find the strength to go back to sleep. When my eyes finally close again, I hope to go back to the dream.

Some mornings I wake up happy and even if I don’t remember the dream, I know why.

So when they tell me that I sleep more than normal, I don’t care. Because what do they know? Sometimes the answers aren’t always so easy. Sometimes, dreams are all we’ve got, the only reason we keep going.

Dad must have been awake tonight because he’s sitting by Mark now, softly patting his chest, the way Mom always did. Mark’s sobs slow down and my eyes grow heavy. I stare at Mom’s picture on my nightstand and pour my heart into the soft green eyes that keep away my nightmares. “I love you Mom. I miss you.” I only mouth the words.

I will dream tonight, I tell myself. I focus on her face as my eyelids relax. Tonight… will be….


So? Which one resonates with you the most? Why? Leave your vote (and a brief critique if you have time) in the comments below.

See you back here at the ring again next week!



  1. Big Red for me...I'm a sucker for star crossed lovers.

  2. Wonderful write and a joy to read.


  3. Dreamer tugged at my heartstrings!

  4. Dreamer grabbed my heart with that story. Big Red's story was intriguing, as I'm drawn to Gods and such.

    Both did a great job, but I would've gone with Dreamer.

  5. Big Red's story is more my style, but Dreamer's writing really pulled me in. I just wish it didn't pull on my heartstrings so much. (-:

  6. I didn't quite know what was happening in Big Red's story, though it was beautifully written. Dreamer's felt very real and I could easily identify with it, so I'm going with that one.

  7. Dejected Dreamer, I don't see enough of this sort of writing. I loved reading your passage and want to just pull out my pom pons for you. Thank you for sharing that piece.

  8. I'm voting for Dejected Dreamer - what a great voice. The writing really pulled me in.

  9. Dejected Dreamer had the most voice. And emotion.

  10. My vote goes to Dejected Dreamer.

  11. Both are powerful in their own way, but I was a little confused by Big Red's (and phrases like "Rosilin felt her brown hair standing on end" pulled me right out of the story. No need to tell us the hair color. Not when something that major is going on!).

    Dejected Dreamer drew me in from the first line and although it's a tear-jerker, it's done so well, I would definitely vote for this one. Gorgeous voice.

  12. Dreamer put a lump in my throat, and gets my vote.

  13. #1 is well written, but it just didn't pull me in.
    #2 is touching and well written. Even though the voice sounds too old for a 9 year old, it would definitely get my vote

  14. I have to go with Dejected Dreamer on this one.The first one seemed a little too melodramatic - maybe that's because we were thrust into a Romeo and Juliet sob story without first really caring for the characters. I'm sure it would seem less melodramatic if it happened later in a book, rather than right at the beginning. Just my thoughts.

  15. Great job, Dreamer. Excellent work. Some of the best writing I've read at this site.

  16. I'll assume both are MG writings, so the Omni POV in Big Red's is probably alright. As is the running together of emotions and actions. It is active, progressive, tactile with all the feelings and sensations.

    Dejected Dreamer's excerpt is passive, but highly emotive. Can't help but feel a sense of loss for this family. I feel the story will have a literary appeal.

    My vote goes to Dreamer for the anticipation of a deep, emotive story.


  17. Dreamer for me too. A great voice and, although it's so sad, has a sweet element of hope too.

  18. I agree with Tiana. Big Red felt too melodramatic for me. Part of this I realized was because of the POV. In general--for children's lit. Omniscient point of view that steps closely into character's thoughts only really works if you stay in one character's viewpoint throughout a section. Some sort of break needs to be established before jumping into another character's thoughts.
    By not doing this, a passage can become an overflow of everybody's emotions...because as writers we think, "Each character is so effected by this--I need the reader to know!" It also keeps you from using a single character's observations to their fullest. I think you'd find you could get us to know what a character is thinking more artfully by showing us how he is reacting to a situation than by overly emotional dialogue or by jumping into his mind.

    I liked Dreamer's entry. A lot of personal interaction between characters always draws me.
    There were a few lines of dialogue that felt too old for the main character:

    "I find the strength to go back to sleep."
    "I stare at Mom’s picture on my nightstand and pour my heart into the soft green eyes that keep away my nightmares"

    However moving these lines might be, they both pulled me strongly out of the believability of the passage...a little too introspective as well coming from a boy who is telling us he doesn't let anyone see him cry.

    If you haven't already, read the fantastic book by Frank Cottrell Boyce, Millions. Damien's voice is so perfect, the emotional narrative beautifully subtle, and it deals with the same boy loses mother scenario.

    Dreamer for me.

  19. Dejected Dreamer pulled me in more.

  20. I think both of these passages have moments of really good writing, but I did find them both a little too emotive for my taste. I know the whole "show, don't tell" rule is practically made to be broken, but these are two examples of passages where showing the emotion--the actions that are caused by it--would be stronger than just telling us how the characters feel.
    I also struggled with keeping track of what was going on when reading Big Red's piece. I liked the drama--but I would have cared more about the characters if it was conveyed more subtly. The good thing is that a sense of drama can always be toned down, whereas it's hard to turn an insipid piece into something we care about, so you're on the right track.
    I got the very strong feeling that the Dreamer piece was written by a woman--I don't feel that a boy would have expressed emotion in that way, especially one so concerned with NOT showing emotion. He was almost TOO reliable a narrator--I wanted him to lie to us a bit, tell us everything was fine--but show us that it really wasn't through his actions...similar to the way he showed us that about his father.
    Still, my vote is for Dreamer--a very clearly-told piece with a character that I felt for.

  21. Dreamer for me~ I'm a sucker for a kid's POV :)

  22. I vote for Dreamer, though they were both good. In the first, the POV switched, which didn't work for me. In the second, something gave me a feminine vibe, so I was surprised when both children were boys. I'm not sure what it was. However, the story was clearer.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  23. I enjoyed both very much. I'm glad I don't really have to vote, but I probably would have gone with Dreamer for the emotional tug.

    Big Red's piece is very intriguing and I would have wanted to read on to find out more.

    Well done, both of you.




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