Final Prep For The Big Dirty Brawl!

Tonight is the deadline for the Dirty Fighting contest! All entries must be in my inbox by the time I get up tomorrow morning to be considered. If you missed the details of the contest, please click here.

To things sum up, Tiffany Lawson Inman, editor extraordinaire and instructor at Lawson Writer’s Academy, will be our judge for the three finalists.

What GRAND PRIZE do these three lucky finalists get?

  • A critique of their dirty fighting scene here on More Cowbell on September 20th.
  • Choice of (a) free critique of the first FIVE pages of your manuscript OR (b) a spot in Tiffany’s amazing October class, The Triple Threat Behind Staging a Scene,  hosted by Lawson Writer’s Academy.

I’ve heard so many of you grousing about this 150 word thing that I had to pull one of my fight scenes that I thought could use some juicing up. Could I do it? Could I get it down to 150 words? Was I too hard on my fantastic More Cowbell posse?

I’m here to tell you, it can be done. I got it down to 152 – like I said, I won’t cut you off mid-sentence over word count.

Forgive me in advance because these two particular characters swear a bit, especially when they’re fighting dirty, which they are. To give you one piece of backstory, “Captain”  denotes one of my favorite insulting phrases, used earlier in this book: “Captain Bringdown flying the mothership.” Captain Bringdown is NOT a nice name to be called.

As you read through the entry below, see if you can define the dirty fighting techniques used. To give you a hint, arguments can be successfully made for:

#7 – Cross Complaining: When your partner complains about something, make sure you raise a complaint of your own. “I forgot to make up the bed? How about all the times you haven’t taken out the garbage?”

#10 – Using Sarcasm: This really gets their goat! “Well, lookee here at who’s so perfect all the time!” Use just the right tone and your partner may not have a good comeback. Push their buttons!

#11 – Asking Why: Treat your partner like an irresponsible child. “Why didn’t you clean up after dinner?” “Why don’t you love me like John loves Helen?” Make your partner feel that he or she is incapable of an adult relationship rather than focusing on the issue at hand.

#18 – Labeling: Learn some negative terms like “neurotic,” “alcoholic,” “immature,” or “paranoid” to use whenever you want to give the impression that the other person is at fault. For a potent impact, use a term like “You slob…” whenever you want to suggest that your partner is inherently flawed as a person rather than focusing primarily on behaviors that can change.

#23 – Self-Righteousness: This is the great morale builder. By listing and reciting every slight, injustice, inequity you’ve suffered through and sacrifice you’ve made, you will experience a renewed sense of self-righteousness. Giving advice on how to think, act, and
feel maintains the superiority you need. You can use this approach to justify almost any activity you want to engage in.

Dirty Fighting Mini-Contest
Jenny’s Sample Entry – 152 words:

Patrick rounded on Thea. “Why would you speak to her like that?

She leveled him with a seething stare.

“I repeat. What the fuck was that all about?”

Shoving to her feet, she got in his face. “I’m thinking you need to bring it down. I don’t see why you’re in a twist because I didn’t make polite chit-chat with the nun.”

“She’s your new nurse, Thea, not ‘the nun.’”

“I’m aware of who she is.”

“Yeah, well why don’t you clue me in because you just treated her with all the warmth of an arctic blast. That’s Max’s sister for Christ’s sake.”

Thea drilled one of her lethal nails into his shoulder. “Max doesn’t need a sister like that. Where’s she been all these years? And she comes to take the family curtain call now that her sister is dying.

“Okay, Captain.”

“Don’t you call me ‘Captain’ in that stick-up-your-ass voice.”

Following this scene, you find out that Thea’s foul mood has to do with her visit to Max (her best friend) in the hospital the night before, but you don’t know any of that when you read the above scene. Like I said before, we really just want the brawl. 🙂

It’s OK to take some of the physical action out here – trust me, Tiffany will put it back in because she doesn’t have the same word count constraints that you do. This is the only down side of having a fun contest! I can’t enter  and have Tiffany dissect this for ME.

But you can! As long as you do it between now and the wee hours of the morning Wednesday before I wake up. To answer a few of you, yes you can submit multiple entries. I want to see you take your new Dirty Fighting techniques and THROW IT DOWN!

Techie Tuesday Test:

Taking my entry above, can you tell me which techniques were used by Patrick and which ones Thea whipped out? (She has a potty mouth like that all the time. He only does it when he’s incensed.) All ideas about making this a more powerful scene are welcome and appreciated!

How many of you still have entries to send in? Enquiring minds always want to know here at More Cowbell!


About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
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21 Responses to Final Prep For The Big Dirty Brawl!

  1. Laura Drake says:

    So glad Tiffany ‘called me out’ on Twitter last night – I was in 3-day-weekend mode, and almost forgot! Thought this would be really hard, so almost skipped doing it, but the prize was just too enticing.

    Trust me, people, it’s not as hard as you think it is. Go get dirty!


    • LOL – people are gonna start thinking I am mean if I am “calling you out” on twitter.
      I was very courtiously hinting that it was the last day for entries 🙂

      And I’m glad it worked! Can’t wait to see your brawlin’


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I didn’t realize people were thinking this was hard. It’s more that you have to be OK with just hanging out your dialog, without all the other things we usually fill in to qualify it with. Since Tiffany already let me know we’re doing this AGAIN, I’ll up the limit to 250 words next time.


  2. amyshojai says:

    Looking forward to reading ’em. And hey, where did you find that AWESOME picture? LOLOL!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Amy! We’re getting an entry from YOU, right?

      I found that awesome pic on Google images, but you can see the John Lund copyright, right? I’ll bet you could look him up with “dogs sumo wrestling” and get even more. 🙂


  3. GREAT excerpt, Jenny!

    Decisions, decisions. I thought the contest closed last night, so I sent my first entry last night. Followed by an ACK! TAKE IT BACK! email with a revised entry this morning. Now, I discover I can make multiple entries?

    Tempting. But I will ONLY consider it if it involves a scene already crafted, or on the grid to be crafted today. Discipline, Gloria, discipline. Try it. You might like it. Or, not.


  4. Oooooh Jenny I love the stick-up-your-ass voice! Nice way to end it.

    ** and never fear – I will have a great chance to work with your writing during an Immersion Master Class 🙂 and that’s face to face!

    Or, I DO have fiction editing services for hire at …just sayin’… *wink, nudge, wink,wink* Ha! I didn’t mean for that to read like a nervous twitch. But it does!

    Gosh is that what 150 words looks like? I want more.

    I think maybe next time we will ask for a few more words. (cuz, yeah, I think there will have to be a next time. Too good of a contest not to have a next time 😀 )


    • Jenny Hansen says:


      Shhhhh…don’t encourage the restless natives to revolt on the 150 mark! I promise we’ll do 250 for the next one.

      p.s. I can’t believe no one has risen to the Techie Tuesday challenge to tell me who is engaging in what filthy technique!


  5. Amy Kennedy says:

    This is cool! Just don’t know if I can find something…does real dialogue from my hubby and I count? Just kidding. Even if I can’t get anything entered it’ll be fun to read the entries.


    • Jenny Hansen says:


      You may enter anything you want, including a snippet from something you’ve read (just give proper credit). I’m going to label the dirty fighting techniques and Tiffany is going to edit and dissect it to give it punch.

      Let’s see an entry! 🙂


  6. Catherine Johnson says:

    What a great idea and great example. If I wasn’t in the middle of a challenge already I’d have a go.


  7. Just sent my entry in. If nothing else it’s been fun. I just did the 100 word Revenge short for Chuck Wendig but I’m not posting it. It was just a good exercise to do.

    These exercises are so helpful in stripping the scenes to the basics. One thing I’m guilty of is adding too much, especially adverbs/adjectives. I love those adverbs so I really have to work on it. Thanks!


    • evil adverbs !

      Yup, I too, like to see a scene stripped down to skin n bones – then you can play with what you add back.

      It’s the opposite in acting. You are supposed to give too much so the director can bring you back to an appropriate amount of emotional gusto for the character at that moment in the play. But with writing, we become SO attached to our too-much-info-and-sometimes-flowery writing if we let ourselves, and it is increasingly harder for us to edit our own work.

      So, starting naked is the way to go! I can’t wait to see these naked fights :))


    • Jenny Hansen says:


      Thanks for sending that in…you go, girl. It take guts to let others see your work. I didn’t see the Revenge shorts (God, that sounds hilarious) or I might have participated.

      I confess, I love me some adverbs (she says, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively) and it’s been a hard, cold war to dump them all. I give myself one every chapter or so, just to cheer me up while I write. 🙂


  8. It took a lot of cutting but I got my fight scene down to 152 words and just sent it in. I feel like the heart of the scene was struck with a knife. I slashed away the trimmings to get it naked. Jenny, thank you for hosting such a fun and challenging contest. I found your blog through Tiffany and love it.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Good for you, Haley! And you’re in luck because Tiffany wants to do it again, but with 250 words. If you managed 152, you’re going to manage anything more with no problem. 🙂

      I’ve learned a lot already, just doing the entry myself and looking at the ones that get submitted. I can’t wait to see which ones Tiff gives the final thumbs up to! Then results will be here on More Cowbell on Sept 20th.


  9. Wanna read them soon! Smackdown! Love it when character curses. 🙂


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