The Official Writing Challenge
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If ever there was a time to be earnest this must be it.

I wonder if Scott will be able to live with the earnest choice he has made?
Wow what a story! You had me at the first line and my heart was racing to the very end. I really liked that you didn't6 tie the ending into a neat little bow. Outstanding!
Chilling! Truth! Well told. More stories.
Pulsed with tension. Well done.

To develop as a writer, write ... but then also, become passionate about re-writing.

Let's try this passage ...

"Jolted from slumber, two men stumbled out of their beds and onto the floor. Ryan squinted from the glare of the flashlights. Scott winced with pain at the end of a rifle smacking into his skull, while handcuffs were slapped onto his wrists. The men were blindfolded and thrust into the back of a military vehicle, barefoot with only a t-shirt and pajama bottoms."

"Jolted from their slumber, Ryan and Scott were tossed from their beds to the bare floor. Ryan squinted in the glare of the flashlights; Scott winced with the pain of a rifle blow to his head. Handcuffed, blindfolded, barefoot, clothed only in their pajamas, they were heaved into the back of a military vehicle."

Now you give it a try.
You have successfully captured the absolute attention of your readers from start to end! The intensity and emotions in your story is awe-inspiring or awe-frightening. May we all be able to hold fast to our faith when a situation such as this befalls us, and may we confidently without doubt know that our salvation is in Christ our Lord alone. Great piece of writing!
Congratulations for a well deserved win. Keep writing, you have a talent - I enjoyed it. God Bless~

I see one thing that needs to be worked on in this story. Please define for the readers which character's point-of-view you are using - from the beginning. For most of it, we can't tell if this is Ryan's story or Scott;s story.

Near the end, it becomes clear it's Scott whose point-of-view you're taking. Since that is the case, you'll need to delete Ryan's feelings and thoughts. Instead, try using observations by Scott to 'show' what Ryan might be feeling. Show Scott seeing Ryan wince or jerk as the sword is drawn from its scabbard instead of Ryan hearing it. Then I suggest writing in what Scott feels when he sees his friend wince or jerk.

Other than that, I enjoyed this story. We need to address these future issues. Thank you for doing so. Your story caused me to think, "How brave will I be when it comes my turn to choose the mark? Will I be a Ryan or a Scott?" You do have a talent for using words to influence. Keep writing.
This was a good dramatic piece and we can only guess for now if this is an accurate depiction of what this will be like for those left to chose.

I agree with another poster that, with the limited space we have here, to focus onto one character's thoughts and emotions so that we can get a better sense of that individual.

Choosing to focus on Scott was a good choice.

Overall, though, I enjoyed what I read and was left wanting to know more.