A writing duel is a timed "competition" between two writers. At Ink & Blood events, there is a live audience and the anonymous writers have their words projected on screen as they draft.
When the time is up, both writers must stop writing immediately (even mid-sentence!) and each work is read aloud in its entirety. A winner is then voted on by the audience.
In the interest of spreading the fun, here are Jim and I's pieces that we wrote for the writing duel that leads into episode 18. For the purposes of this duel, we simply set a timer for ten minutes and tossed out the prompt "orange". Since we don't allow writers to clean up spelling errors or grammar, they are presented as they were finished.
NaNoWriPod Duel 10/7/14
"Orange" by Jim Markus
You close the tabs on the screen just as you hear the door to the office swing open. Jason always knocks, but he never waits for a response. You're used to it.
"Hey Sharon," he says.
He always calls you Sharon. You don't mind. It was his daughter's name. He does it to everyone. You swivel in your seat, turning to face him directly.
"It's the new case file," he nods to the orange folder on your desk. You haven't opened it yet. "I know it just came in this morning, but we really need to make some progress before the end of the day."
"Any chance you'll get through a few pages before the afternoon conference call?"
No, you think. Of course not. You hadn't planned to touch the orange file until after the weekend. That was the plan even before you found out that Rose and Tim were planning a surprise party for Jason.
You hesitate to respond and Jason's eyes widen in realization. "I didn't mean," he starts. Then, still staring directly into your eyes, he asks, "Did I call you Sharon when I walked in?"
He picks up the orange folder and flips through the first few pages. "I'm sorry. You know how it has been."
You shift forward, ready to stand and take the file back, but he motions for you to stay seated. You really wish he'd leave. You had planned to spend more time browsing through Cracked.com articles before lunch.
"Listen," he holds the file in your direction. "Just do what you can before the meeting."
You take it and set it, unopened, on the desk where it had been when he walked in.
"I'm serious," Jason says. His eyes narrow with the last word. You see blackness spread across his eyes, starting from the corners and moving toward his nose until everything is covered and shining.
He is serious. He normally keeps his calm so well. You glance at the folder on the desk and, before you can stop him, he lunges forward, pinning you to your chair. His knees press on your wrists. His mouth opens wide. He is bearing his teeth now. You've never seen the fangs before.
Who is this monster?
The ending of a day is a solemn, quiet time. What I like the most, though is the promise. That sweet orange and pink as the sun recedes under the horizon. Then it is dark and I feel freer.
My buddy Tom calls me a little after dark. My phone trembles in my pocket and I accidentally answer before I have it to my ear. I fumble some more as I then accidentally swipe the screen with my palm and all I hear is, "-in a few minutes" before he hangs up.
I redial twice but he doesn't answer. Oh well, I put my shoes and socks on and make my way to my front door. I quick goodbye to the parents watching the evening news. It's Friday night, they know I'll be home late.
Living out in the country without a lot of trees around makes dusk a surreal time. Shadows impossibly long. Little kids with giants chasing them before they have to head home in the twilight.
And of course that sun, gods spotlight now aimed squarely at your optic nerve if you're heading westward. It shoots right down my street in the late summer. The sun's beam hangs on my street until the last possible moment to finally douses itself.