Survivor X: Challenge 2 – Cooperative Story

My seven teammates and I were charged with each writing one section of a complete story.  I wrote the fifth section (labeled “Things Get Worse” in the challenge description).  So far in the story, a truck driver (Roger) has almost stopped to pick up a hitcher (Thomas) but decided against it.

Thomas felt that familiar foreboding that accompanied another missed ride. He pictured himself insubstantial, the gravel spit up by the tires of this truck passing straight through him without leaving a mark. If he acknowledged them, even these small impacts would be enough to fell him.
The driver’s eyes shifted between the dashboard clock and his side mirror that showed the unmoving hitcher receding behind him. In the time it took Roger to calculate just how far behind schedule he was, whatever strings had been holding the hitcher upright were snapped and he collapsed forward, splaying his ragged legs over the white line bordering the highway.

K: Some great touches here, like the strings holding the hitcher upright. This whole story has been a feast for a lover of language.

4 points out of 5

DK: Pretty powerful image of Thomas here for me. Sends the tension back upwards well.

4 points out of 5

Very satisfied with how this turned out.  Our team is crazy talented, so this was actually below the average score for the eight of us.  Plot-wise I had to give Roger a reason to turn around in future sections, and tone-wise I wanted to include in the descriptions of Thomas the ideas of being tethered and of being transparent or incorporeal.

The plot sprang from my initial idea that got bandied about and improved by the team, so I was happy to see that the overall story also got a 4 out of 5 from both judges, making our team the high scorer of the week (and also the only team that had everyone submit something).

Survivor X: Challenge 1 – Fiction 59

The latest Spookymilk Survivor season is upon us! As always the first challenge was to write a short story in exactly 59 words:

I stopped to lean against this wall.
My wall.
Instantly, I felt trembling upon my touch.
My wall will fall.
I’m compelled to stay, lend my supportive hands.
My wall.
Breaking contact condemns it to destruction.
My wall will fall.
My hands bleed as the wall fights to come down.
My wall.
I let go.
My wall will fall.

K: This is high concept, and I’m sorry to say after a few reads it hasn’t given me that moment of A-HA yet. I get that the wall is actually weakened by our lead character, but I don’t know why. Are we in a bad relationship here? I’m going to be annoyed when I find out what I missed, I hope.

3 points out of 5

DK: I’m kind of teetering on the balance between 4 and 5 with this one; it doesn’t quite hit a perfect emotional response for me, but I want to generally reward out of the box/original thinking on these standard Spookymilk challenges that achieve as much success as this one does with a different approach.

5 points out of 5

I love this new judge! With regards to the entry iteslf, the poem-like repetitive structure was the interesting part to me.  I’m glad that neither judge thought it detracted from the story.  But what was it all about?  The original idea was about obsession, and how you can grab hold onto something and refuse to be distracted from it.  I couldn’t get the impact that I wanted out in 59 words though (also, there was no good ending to that – the narrator would just keep leaning on the wall).  So then the ending that works is what?  He has to let the wall fall, he doesn’t want to let go of this idea, doesn’t want it to fall down, but in the end it’s the only way to make it work. It kind of ended up being a story about itself.

So, there is about 100 words to explain a 59-word story.   Hopefully future entries won’t require proportional explanation.