I'm seriously honored (and humbled) to have won the Grand Prize, especially after reading the runner-up entries. The contest asked for a dialogue-driven scene or story which showed an instance of negotiation and persuasion, "like the post-party scene in Fellowship of the Ring in which Gandalf convinces Bilbo to leave the ring of power in the Shire."
Laurel is posting my excerpt on her site, along with her comments. She is excellent at what she does and her comments have been extremely insightful ---well worth the time to check it out. I've been learning a lot from her. Thank you, Laurel, for holding such a fun contest and for giving my writer's ego a gi-normous boost!
Without further ado, here's my winning excerpt from "The Other Prince":
Briann studied Bob for a moment before speaking. "Do you think you'll be appointed?"
Bob shook his head. "I don't know. Before, I would have said yes—you know my father. But with war looming? Even he can't be that blind. I'm hopeless on a horse and even worse with a sword. He must realize
Briann flipped over a bucket and sat. "Well, what do you hope happens?"
Bob appreciated that she hadn't just agreed with him about being so terrible. "I can't go to war," he said. "Not and live to see my sixteenth birthday."
"So you don't want to be captain," Briann said.
"I didn't say that," Bob hedged. "We both know how much I hate cavalry drills and sword fighting class, but wouldn't it be great to shut everyone up . . ."
"Like Friederick," Briann teased.
Bob scowled. "Yes! Like Friederick. Prove I can do it—to them and to me. And just once, I'd like to earn my father's good opinion."
"Then do it," Briann said simply.
Bob laughed. "Like it's that easy."
"It is!" Briann stood. "You could do as well as anyone if you decided to. I'm certain of it."
"Yeah?" Bob asked skeptically. "Have you found some magic charm that will transform me into a warrior? Or maybe a magic sword! That would work." Though Bob knew it was impossible, he couldn't help picturing
himself, the noble warrior, atop his steed. Crowds pressed forward to get a glimpse of the noble Prince Robert William II.
"Right, with the ban on magic." Briann rolled her eyes. "Just this once, be serious."
Bob sighed. "I'm sorry, but we both know it's hopeless. I'm hopeless."
Briann cleared her throat. "I could teach you."
"You'd only be my, like, twenty-seventh teacher," Bob huffed. "I've tried learning, Briann. I have! It's just no use."
Briann stood tall, hands on her hips. Anger flashed from her eyes. Bob noticed her right eye twitch ever so slightly. From years of experience, Bob knew that meant trouble. "You've never tried to learn from me. I'm better than any of those 'experts' they hire to teach. But fine! Be like that. Keep your pride. Just don't complain to me about feeling helpless." She turned to leave with an icy, disdainful look. "See you at supper."
Stunned, Bob watched Briann march towards the doors. What had just happened? "Wait! Briann! You really think I can learn?"
Briann paused and coolly examined him. "Don't be a ninny. I wouldn't offer if I didn't think you could do it."
Bob stared at Briann, astonished. She believed in him. And she really wanted to help. "Won't you get teased for trying to teach the 'hopeless prince'?"
Briann softened at Bob's tone. "If I cared what they thought, I wouldn't even be able to teach you because I'd never have learned. Besides, friends help each other."
Bob met her gaze. He felt his feet lifting off the ground. She was so beautiful, so kind, so funny, so talented, . . . and so engaged to his brother. He came back to reality with a thud.
Still, he smiled and stuck out his hand. "How could I refuse that?"
Briann took his hand, clearly pleased. "You've got yourself a teacher then!"