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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: Do It Again
By Ruth Neilson


Two opponents faced off in a small clearing near town. One was dressed in black, including a black hood, obscuring his identity. The other, a young man with close cropped blond hair was stripped to his waist. Each combatant held a sturdy tree limb. This was the lad’s final test before he could proceed to the next part of his training.

Nathaniel saw the sturdy birch branch coming towards him from his left. He knew what he should do—Master Jora had drilled into him that he wasn’t suppose to think...or flinch, just react. The branch made contact with Nathaniel’s left shoulder with a thwap that echoed across the bare field. His opponent let out a triumphant laugh and moved to make his next attack as Nathaniel continued to consider his options.

Maybe I could… The slightly sharpened point of the stick was placed against his chest and Nathaniel let out a groan as Master Jora announced with his softly accented voice, “You’re dead, Nathaniel.” Master Jora paused and nodded to the person dressed in black. He smiled as the hood was removed, revealing a thick black braid. “Thank you, my daughter; I will see you later tonight. Young Nathaniel and I have a lesson to revisit.”

Nathaniel swallowed nervously as Master Jora’s daughter handed him her branch. It was now or never to try and redeem himself...again.

“I’m trying to...” Nathaniel began but stopped after taking a look at his master’s darkening face. Master Jora lifted the branch above his head, preparing to attack Nathaniel. He swung and Nathaniel flinched once again, just as Master Jora stopped short of striking the younger man.

“What must I do to help you learn this?” Master Jora’s voice became softer. “You begged me to take you under my wing, to train you as one of the warriors of the kingdom.”

Nathaniel winced. “Master Jora, I’m so-”

Master Jora shook his head and lifted the branch once again. He held it steady, gazing at Nathaniel for a long moment. “I’m not finished yet, Nathaniel. I redeemed your apprenticeship from the ‘smithy only because I see the potential in you. But, we cannot go any further in your training unless you learn to stop thinking and just react to what your opponent is doing, without flinching.”

Nathaniel lowered his head with a heavy sigh. He was going too be returned to the ‘smithy shop...he just knew it. A whistling sound caught his attention, and instinctively, he brought his branch up, causing a surprisingly pleasant cracking sound, and he finally made eye contact with Master Jora.

“I want to continue to learn, Master Jora. Help me tap into the potential.”

Master Jora nodded with a grunt. “You have far to go. But for now, you must do it again.”

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This article has been read 582 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 03/02/08
I love how you surprised us by a girl being the one that was getting the best of Nathaniel. You have very good descriptions. You do have a few errors but nothing major. Keep on writing!
Hanne Moon 03/03/08
I liked that his opponent was a girl. I'm sure that didn't help his feelings at all! I would have liked to have seen this expanded. Interesting take on the topic.
Glynis Becker03/03/08
This is so interesting and I'd love to hear more of this young man's tale.
Jan Ackerson 03/03/08
Reads like a scene from a movie! I could see and hear the grunts, the snaps--very good!

I was a bit thrown off by the masculine pronouns before the gender of the opponent is specified. If you wanted to keep it a secret, could you have gotten around it with some deft wordsmanship? For example, instead of ...and moved to make his next attack, how about ...and moved to make another attack Then you force the reader to go back and go, why didn't I catch that?

Love the action in this...it was great fun to read.

Joanne Sher 03/04/08
Great job, especially, with the details. I was engrossed.