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WRiTE CLUB 2014 – Bout #16

Here’s the last chance.

First, let’s congratulate the winner of another close battle.  Karmann Ghia captures Bout #14 and will move onto the playoff rounds. The voting for Bout #15 remains open until noon on Sunday, August 10th.

Back on May 3rd we began taking submissions from WRiTER’s far and wide, spanning the globe, representing all ages and multiple styles of WRiTING.  We received 167 entries in all! Those 500 word samples went under careful consideration by 11 judges and that panel narrowed the list down to 32…the last of which are pairing off in the ring today.  For sure there are some disappointed writers out there that have been waiting to see their pen name in a bout every week, but came up empty.  I’m sorry…but don’t let it discourage you.  If we learn anything from competitions like this, it’s one thing…reader taste are subjective – fickle – and transient! 

Today is the final preliminary bout, and as always, winners are decided by votes left in the comment section.  Anyone can vote. The voting for this last bout will remain open until noon on Wednesday, August 13th.  When you do vote, please let the contestants know what you liked and disliked.

A rundown of all the past and current matches, with their respective winners, can be found right HERE.


Here are this bout's two randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the YA Urban Fantasy genre and weighing in at 493 words, please welcome to the ring……..Twilight Sparkle.

I fell ass-first onto the concrete, which sent a delightful sting up my spine, and the last few sparks disappeared into the closing rift above me. The ache in my arm faded since the crystal had finished its primary job.

In an alley between two tall buildings, rusted dumpsters straddled the narrow opening. The garbage hadn’t been emptied, and the sun baked the smell into a distinctive meld of leftover Chinese food and rotten fruit. It could be any city, looked American though.

I slid against the wall to the end of the alley. Pedestrians hurried down the sidewalks engrossed in their phones while drivers sped through a roundabout, hopefully not doing the same. Humans, that’s good. One jump to a world filled with lizard-people was more than enough for a lifetime.

A river of cars flowed around a familiar metal-work globe and concrete statue, Columbus Circle. So, good ol’ New York City after all, but the iconic skyline had reclaimed its missing crown…the towers. Nine-Eleven hadn’t happened here, or at least not yet.

On the sidewalk, the people passing by wore ordinary clothes; coats, scarves, and such. Not like some of the weirder realities that had spandex dress codes, my jeans and leather jacket wouldn’t stand out. To blend in, I joined a group and headed around the circle to the left till I reached the entrance to Central Park.

A young girl wearing a worn teal parka sat cross-legged, playing guitar for tips. Next to her an older woman peddled small bouquets of flowers, some mixes with lilies, but she had mostly roses. A twenty-something man with dusty hair and a trench coat bought one of the bundles of red roses. Some lucky woman would have a surprise tonight.

I passed by the girl playing guitar on my way into the park—not half bad. I bobbed my head to the music and then frowned. She grinned in return. She understood I didn’t have cash on me, not that I wasn’t sure my currency was good here. You never know who the right dead presidents are.

As I strolled down the pathway, footfalls scuffed behind me. I stopped.

The sound stopped.

I took a breath and walked forward, keeping a slow pace. If I ran, I’d lose my advantage; I knew they were there. Who would be following me anyway? I just got here.

The stalker gasped and muttered something. The tingle that precedes the adrenaline rush ran through me, pulling my stomach to my shoes and tickling my fingers. I took another careful step. Run in three, two—


He knew me? That’s impossible. I pivoted to see the young man with his bouquet of roses. He looked a few years older, but I’d know that face anywhere—Quin. Not my Quin…not my world. He shouldn’t know me.

“Oh my God…how is it possible?” The roses slipped from his grip and he bent to catch them.

I turned and ran.


And in the other corner, representing the Memoir genre with 495 words, let me introduce to you……….Wrinkled Suit.

My “Birthday suit” may be wrinkled, but my lining still feels young.

Change snuck up on me without consent. I glance in the mirror and there she is, my Mom. She didn’t stay long, but long enough for me to recognize her. She shows up frequently now, her hands, her voice, her mannerisms. When did she move in?

Aging is a process, and after its unannounced arrival, it takes years to interpret. I can wax philosophically or kvetch about this age old phenomenon. I take my fingers and pull my skin taut to give myself a quick face lift. Lines, spots, and roundness are not as easily remedied. Time has ushered in change.

“The Velveteen Rabbit,” a children’s book about a boy and his beloved toy, spins a telling tale. Once the boy’s constant companion, rabbit now sits on a shelf in the playroom questioning life. With one eye missing, whiskers pulled out and hair rubbed thin he ponders aloud what it would be like to be real. The nurseries sage skin horse suggests being real takes time, and involves wear and tear.

Unlike the rabbit I’ve maintained both eyes but pluck an occasional whisker, and have thinning hair. My “Birthday Suit” is wrinkled, my waistline reported missing, and whistles no longer accompany me down the street.

Seventy two candles will illuminate my next birthday cake. Hope I can huff and puff and blow the batch out. My battery pack runs out of juice earlier these days, my memory takes a skip, and words play hide and seek. The medicine cabinet holds more “stuff,” and my pill case has a waiting list. I have more dates with a man called doctor, and ten p.m. seems like a reasonable bedtime, with naps a plus.

The world feels more complicated, and technology has left me in the dust. Employees behind the counter look like they are truant from high school. Young people speak in tongues, and their underwear is outerwear.Teens hair comes in vibrant colors, earlobes look like port holes, and their skin a canvas. Jeans have shrunk and feature holes, wrinkles, and tears, all a pricy fashion statement. Their cell phone is embedded in their ear and their thumbs worn thin from texting. They are wired but suffer from disconnect.

Two contrasting worlds, we walk together, the young, and the not so young. Being the latter, I enjoy the sound of silence, and take comfort in solitude. Friends are savored, and time coveted. Family gatherings are a priority, laughter the fountain of youth, and great grandchildren icons on a calendar- turned by the passing of time. Age is a moving target, no road map provided, no G.P.S. to call the plays, no dress rehearsal. Life is more like a carnival ride, lots of ups and downs, with years dissolving like spun sugar on a stick. So step right up, get your ticket punched, and buckle up- for the ride of your life.


Enjoying the words of two talented writers is only part of the price of admission, now it’s up to you to decide who moves forward to the playoffs.  In the comments below leave your vote for the winner of Bout #16.  Which one tickled your fancy?  After you vote please tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well.

I’ll be back on Monday to let you know what happens next.    

Remember, here in WRiTE CLUB it’s not about the last man/woman standing -- it’s the audience that gets clobbered!


  1. twightlight sparkle

    and well done to all 32 chosen for the comp. another well done to the 16 who make it to R2

  2. Twilight Sparkle gets my vote this round. The story really intrigued me. This is the type of story I enjoy reading.

    Wrinkled Suit's piece didn't grab me as much, and sounded like a horror novel at the beginning. Seeing our mothers in ourselves is scarier then chainsaw massacre.

  3. Twilight Sparkle for me, like the voice.

  4. It was a slow start, but Twilight Sparkle does it for me.

  5. Twilight Sparkle. Quin intrigued me. Congrats to all who made it!

  6. Twilight Sparkle - the first sentence is kind of a run on, and personally, I dislike a 9/11 mention in a story. However, I really liked the piece overall, and I would definitely read more.

    Wrinkled suit was detailed and well written, but I wasn't drawn in enough to read more (though I do sometimes feel like my mom, and that's terrifying).

    Twilight Sparkle for the win (and not just because she's my daughter's favorite pony).

  7. For me, Twilight Sparkle by a nose. Congrats to both for great pieces.

  8. My vote is for Twilight Sparkle!

    There were a few places where i had to reread, where the writing got a little convoluted, but it was fun.

    Wrinkled Suit had too much telling and was a bit too repetitive for me (like when we're told more than once that your birthday suit is wrinkled. It loses it's cleverness when it's repeated)

  9. So this is the last of the prelims. Congratulations to all of the 32 who made the cut (and I also suspect there are many others who submitted great pieces, too. Judging a contest like this is very subjective, so don't let your non-appearance deter you from believing in your writing journey. Keep writing!)!

    Today, Twilight Sparkle gives a tale of some person who evidently pops through different universes – past, present, real, and alternate, and hasnow somehow managed to end up in one where she knows one of the first people she meets. Small world, huh? Or should I say, "small infinite-number-of-infinitely-wide-universes-in-infinite-times-both-real-and-an-infininite-number-of-alternatives, huh?" But who knows? Maybe the mechanism that causes her to shift between universes has some sort of homing beacon for people she has a connection to (or could have, in an alternate universe). Maybe it's tied to a masochistic personality that gets a "delightful tingle" from falling on her ass. But maybe not – a true masochist would have also relished the uncomfortable awkwardness of the chance encounter rather than turning and running. The writing flows pretty smoothly, and the voice is engaging with some touches of snarky humor. Plenty of interesting story questions are raised, and I would keep on reading.

    I also like Wrinkled Suit's piece. It's sweet and touching, and it deals with some universal issues of all us who will reach that age. But the fact that it is universal also unfortunately diminishes its impact. There is not really anything unique about the narrator that pulls the reader in. It is written well enough and there are some nice touches of humor, but there are no significant revelations or insights that make this more than a touching piece that could be written by almost any 72-year-old. Not to sound callous, but one the most difficult challenges with the memoir genre is overcoming the reader's attitude of "why should I care?" Why are Wrinkled Suit's thoughts any more relevant than anyone else whose 'Birthday suit" (and it doesn't need the quotes to emphasize a common expression) has a few wrinkles in it? Effective fiction involves engrossing characters engaged in compelling actions, and memoir has to also – except now both the characters and the events have to be real.

    Between these two, I'm going with Twilight Sparkle – nothing against the charming Wrinkled Suit, but there is just much more story involved in Twilight Sparkle's entry.

  10. Man-oh-man ... WRiTE CLUB is tough to judge this year!

    Twilight Sparkle for me.
    I'm not gonna lie ... I love the YA genre and T.Sparkle's is well written:
    -Great pacing
    -Really top-notch example of "show, don't tell" (I got a terrific sense of "place" without a bunch of exposition)
    -Believable, authentic-sounding voice for the MC and, to top it all off ...
    -I really want to know what happens.

    I enjoy the memoir genre and liked Wrinkled Suit's offering very much. I did, however, feel a little overwhelmed at all the metaphors so that it kind of wound up as "Wrinkled Suit Waxes Philosophical and Then Goes to the Carnival." But the following paragraph is very fine and it set, for me, the tone I wish the whole piece had had: "The world feels more complicated, and technology has left me in the dust. Employees behind the counter look like they are truant from high school. Young people speak in tongues, and their underwear is outerwear.Teens hair comes in vibrant colors, earlobes look like port holes, and their skin a canvas. Jeans have shrunk and feature holes, wrinkles, and tears, all a pricy fashion statement. Their cell phone is embedded in their ear and their thumbs worn thin from texting. They are wired but suffer from disconnect." It's a bunch of different images (how can a phone be both texted upon and embedded in an ear?) but it works because it resonated a truth in spite of a discrepancy. Wrinkled Suit, you just keep it up, there is so much in your offering.

    Congratulations to all 32 con-ten-duhs, and extra congrats to those who won their rounds.

    And House Hammons-DL and K- (the authors of this super-fun, equal opportunity contest) - you two are just the best!

    Can't wait for Playoff Round One!

  11. Wrinkled Suit but this crowd is way to young for this excellent piece.

  12. Twilight Sparkle for me. I like Wrinkled Suit's piece too, but it goes on too long about the same thing without ever really giving us any insight into who the character is - other than aging.

  13. This is a tough one to call for me. I've made it a point over the past three years to expand my horizons and read different genres. I liked both pieces very much, but I'm going to give this one to Wrinkled Suit by a whisker.

  14. The writing is very nice in both of these, but it's Twilight Sparkle for me! Mostly this is just personal preference - I'm not a memoir person much, and aging freaks me out :) For memoirs, I need something really unique and with voice that reads more like fiction. I want to be transported somewhere.

    Twilight: excellent opening. Love it. You had me hooked until the paragraph about the guitar player. That one, right after the one about the flower peddler, just dropped the forward momentum and seemed unnecessary. I love the very ending and I'm super intrigued, but just not sure I buy her being suspicious of hearing footsteps behind her in NYC. It's so crowded, how did she even notice that? Perhaps tweak their encounter so that it comes about a different way.

    What an exciting round of entries! Good luck to everyone!

  15. This one is truly a tough one for me because they were both among my top favorites in the judging.

    Twilight has written a complete scene. It is well polished; forward moving and well paced with the use of action and world description; the voice/pov is excellent as I can feel the youth and femininity of the MC; there is a touch of building romance even though that is not certain just because a boy with roses knows her name; and intense mystery for every aspect of world and character building. I feel a plot coming one and I don't mind waiting for it. Those last couple lines where the boy knew her (excellent weaving him into the background initially) and it was too soon solidified my intent to read on. This is one of the few I was disappointed that it ended already, but was a perfect transition into the next scene or chapter. On a side note, I think short chapters in the beginning of a novel are acceptable for tension building. I even think they serve a purpose for transitions in the middle.

    Wrinkled: a marvelously written flash fiction. I believe there are many many venues to publish this 500 word flash, and some of them even pay a one time fee. You should check out publication for this (just my not so humble armature opinion). I loved the introspective rant, and the voice was so spot on for a 70 year old woman reflecting on her life, and the changes of societal norms. I find myself reflecting over some of the same changes at 51. This was very well polished, had excellent voice and flow, and grabbed my interest from the first, through most of the middle, and the end. Were you not limited by the 500 word count, I think you could have transitioned to the end a little smoother. Or perhaps leave off a few of the euphemisms in the last paragraph to keep it to 500 words. Even without changes however, I feel this is and awesomely written, complete flash fiction. I'm no writing expert, but I am an expert on what I like to read; and as a short story reader, I am definitely your target audience for this piece.

    I have not read any of the critique comments left here; so if my comments contradict others, just know I am impressed with both authors. Both story concepts intrigue me. I like Twilight for the writing such a well balanced scene, and I like Wrinkled for writing a complete flash. In any other venue, there would be no clear winner for me.

    But, I have to cast a vote. Wrinkle, I felt your ending was just a tad contrived and rushed to finish within word count. Twinkle, this opening leaves high expectations for the next segment, and I hope your story keeps up this pacing.

    My vote goes to Twinkle for the well written, complete scene.

  16. Wrinkled suit for me. A well written piece that allows both a younger and older reader a good laugh at the things that seperate our generations.

  17. hmm.... ate my comment for a 3rd time I see........

    Vote= Twilight Sparkle
    (Though you should know that there's no way to see the Towers while walking at Columbus Circle. It's NYC- one can barely see a tall building two blocks over.) (Also- I'm curious what made the MC assume the roses bought would be for a lucky woman -- why not for a guy, or for a dog, or a kid, or sick granny... just saying.)

    Wrinkled Suit- I really loved your piece. It was a very close call. Very, very close.

  18. Wrinkled Suit was a nice, warm story and it felt complete.

    I liked Twilight Sparkle's piece too. However, it rather hits a pet peeve of mine. Namely that this is supposed to be a short story contest rather than a 'show us a snippet of your novel' contest. However, I suppose it's a little late for that now.

    Going with Wrinkled Suit but I hope Twilight Sparkle gets one of the save spots.

    1. This isn't a short story contest, it's a writing contest. Many entries are "novel snippets" (in fact, last year's winner was, and the novel you can find it in was just published ( ) . Here's DL's post about the rules-

  19. Wrinkled suit for me. I think it opened with much more tension and conflict. The scene in Twilight Sparkle's (ugh, the name lol) excerpt didn't really start for me until half way down the page, which tells me this probably still needs more work. Pace is wonky.

  20. Twilight Sparkle gets my vote on this round. It held my interest mroeso than the second piece (so personal preference) and had quite the tantalizing ending.

  21. Tough call! The ending was intriguing with Twilight Sparkle, but it took a while for the pace to pick up. Wrinkled Suit was better written, but a little repetitive here and there. Both pieces could stand a firm hand with editting... but I'm throwing my vote to Wrinkled Suit.

  22. Another two very good entries.
    TwilightSparkle: Regarding that first paragraph, IMO attention should flow outward, i.e., ass, spine, arm, crystal, sparks. I'd like to know what clues in the alley led the protagonist to believe she was in an American city. Might want to consider deleting that first mention of the guitar player unless you want the reader to focus on her because she's important to the story. Seems strange that a well-traveled person would automatically assume the guy was buying flowers for a woman. Not sure why the protagonist wouldn't recognize the guy when she saw him buying flowers (unless she saw only his back) and I wasn't sure whether the protagonist recognized him at the end or if only he knew her. Despite these blips, this entry displays skilled world-building and pacing and I love the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey aspect. Yes, the first paragraph contains run-ons, but still, the first line and the ending grabbed my attention. Overall, this entry drew me into the story. I'd read more.

    WrinkledSuit: I'm younger than the author; still, I identified with, and enjoyed, the entry. I wonder if this is part of a longer piece, who this author might be, and what makes them special enough that I would pick up their memoir. The bit at the end about a carnival ride sets me up to expect some thrills in the story that follows, and the juxtaposition of details makes me believe whatever follows will be thoughtful. I'm curious enough to read more of this one, too, which is odd, because I don't typically read memoirs.

    Hard decision this round. Because I'm pulled to read something in a genre I don't normally gravitate toward, I'm voting for WrinkledSuit. Well done, both of you.

  23. My vote this round goes to Twilight Sparkle. It took me a while to get over the delightful tingle when she landed on the concrete, but a few paragraphs in I was engrossed.

    I enjoyed the writing in Wrinkled Suit, but didn't feel like they were telling me anything unique.

  24. I vote Twilight Sparkle. Well done.

  25. My vote is for Wrinkled Suit. The writer was able to give me a visualization that walked me through her aging process, recognizing it as my own.
    Suzanne du Verrier
    Aug. 9th 2014

  26. This could be the most difficult judging week of all for me. I thought both pieces were remarkable. I hope both writers are already published, because if they aren't, they should be. Wrinkled Suit will stay in my thoughts for the rest of the day, I think. Twilight Sparkle was totally entertaining and I enjoyed the story very much, but it's done in my thoughts now. For that reason, I think WRINKLED SUIT WINS it for me! Oh, and if there is a 'Save' spot, I sure hope it goes to CRUX from a few weeks ago. I missed the voting that week--darn!

  27. Wrinkled suit left me wanting to read more of the authors work. Wrinkled suit for me.

  28. Two top notch examples of what Write Club is all about. I'm not going to critique either one, because I loved them both, and truly feel that had they been matched up against any other entries, both would be heading to the finals. I'm going to give my vote to Wrinkled Suit just because there aren't enough good memoir pieces out there.

  29. I loved both. Wrinkled Suit gets the vote though. Super close call!

  30. I'm giving my vote to Twilight Sparkle.

    While both passages are weakened by various issues, Twilight Sparkle's entry features a fun 'time and space' travel concept that may not be very original yet still has the potential for plenty of interesting conflicts. There are some awkward places where the grammar isn't in agreement in all the parts of a sentence, and several punctuation errors. (My recommendation is that anyone who isn't absolutely positive that they understand how to use a semicolon is better off not using them. Interestingly enough, in this excerpt there is one incorrectly used semicolon, but also one that is used correctly!)

    I also have a problem with the voice in this excerpt because it doesn't feel quite consistent. For the most part it's pretty flippant, as if this is primarily intended to be humorous, but the ending suggests the story is going in a more serious direction. On the plus side, some of the details do a good job of creating the scene -- those specific little things like the odor of the garbage and the image of the young guitar player sitting cross-legged and wearing a teal parka.

    Wrinkled Suit's entry has some nice bits, and since it's memoir, I see it as being more like part of an essay rather than part of a story, and the structure works fine in that context. However, there are quite a few punctuation errors (such as missing commas, or things strung together by a series of commas when they need to be punctuated differently to be grammatically correct). And although the idea is touching, most of the thoughts and images fall under the umbrella of standard clichés about aging (like realizing you've turned into your mother!). I'm afraid there just isn't anything about the observations here that strikes me as either particularly profound, or refreshingly different and unique.

  31. Both are good. I feel wrinkled suit was better written.




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