Survivor X: Challenge 6 – Create a Challenge

Come up with a creative writing challenge of your own:

Harrison Bergeron Challenge

The problem with most stories is that one character always seems to have the upper hand.  The story you write in this challenge will attempt to rectify that.

Inspired by the handicaps of Kurt Vonnegut’s classic short story, every 250 words* the characters in your story must forget all the events that happened in that prior section.  The ending of the story can be expanded a bit beyond the 250-word section limit (within reason) and need not conclude with a forgetting (although it certainly may).  Events that occurred prior to the beginning of the story can be recalled after each forgetting (e.g., characters will remember their names).

The cause of the forgettings is up to the author, but the memory loss must be total and complete.  The overall word limit for your story is 2,500.* Of course, the longer the story, the more forgettings you have to include (two of them is the minimum requirement).


Forced Curve – in order that no contestant feels inferior, the curve will consist of every submission (including any non-subs) getting a 1 from both judges.

*word limits and scoring method can be modified at the judges discretion.

K: I’m going to pretend I didn’t read that crack about the forced curve, so this is a pretty great idea. It’s only the first one, but it’ll be a tall order for three entries to beat this one.


DK: I like this idea a lot; I like challenges that leave a lot of room for creativity in the story with some limitations on how that story unfolds. It seems like the particular handicaps could create a lot of “Memento: The Short Story” results (I wonder if Memento was “inspired” by Harrison Bergeron at all…) but I think there’s a lot of room to work with anyway.

Once again, I used an existing story as my inspiration (in previous seasons it was Ray Bradbury or Clint Eastwood), this strategy seemed to pay off in previous seasons (two high scores in those two weeks), so I went back to the well one more time.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  That immunity will be used the next time our team votes someone out.

Survivor X: Challenge 5 – Bantam Bulwyr

Another Spookymilk Survivor staple.  Write the worst opening for a novel that you can think of.

The desert behaves drunkenly, the sun acting as its liver as it dehydrates the dry climate, only the sun uses solar heat instead of alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes.

K: This doesn’t seem like a story opener, which actually doesn’t help; I’d rather detect a horrible story here than not detect one at all. I’m not sure what to hate about it, and the ridiculous turn in this sentence made me laugh in a good way.

1 point of 5 (forced curve)

DK: I don’t even know if there’s a story here at all, but I know I don’t want to read any more of it.

4 points of 5 (forced curve

At least one of the judges liked it (or didn’t like it).  I thought there were less hilarious entries this year than in previous years (my entry included).  Maybe this is a blessing in disguise, with my scores keeping me under the radar for a bit.  I’m guessing that won’t be the case, but you never know until you have to vote to eliminate someone, and our team hasn’t had to do that yet.

Survivor X: Challenge 4 – 20 Questions

Given the answers, our team had to come up with the questions. My contributions are below:

I should have known that’s what “Louie Louie” was about.

I never knew of Mr. Berry’s obsession with Duck Tales.

Winner! (2 of 2 judges picked it)

Well, that’s one way to survive a nuclear blast.

He’s taking his Kafka fanhood too far, isn’t he?

Winner! (1 of 2 judges picked it)

I guess that’s the one good thing about visiting a KKK complex.

We haven’t lost a basketball game there in 12 years!

Winner! (2 of 2 judges picked it)

Of the nineteen answers provided, the team picked three of mine (I got there a little late, but added a few good lines).  The team dominated, picking up 20 of a possible 38 points.  Another good challenge result for us.

Survivor X: Challenge 3 – Half the Conversation

The judges gave us half of a conversation (person A in the conversation below), we had to build a story around it.

A: You missed a call.
B: Are you kidding? Six weeks at this hospital, and I haven’t yet actually called a death. No one else is here, can I do it now?
A: Yeah. There’s no reason not to.
B: OK, time of death is 5:26 PM. Did the nurse ever find the next of kin?
A: No. She never did. Neither did I, for that matter.
B: That’s awful, Can you think of a worst place to die than alone in a hospital surrounded by strangers?
A: At the Fall Festival?
B: Is this about that homeless guy again? I told you before that he was dead when I got there. I bought you a nice dinner to thank you for your help. You understand what it would have looked like if I was found in that situation?
A: Yeah, that would have been a disaster.
B: So why do you keep needling me about this? You even got those ghouls in the morgue to mess with me at lunch yesterday, that prank was incredibly disgusting.
A: It wasn’t personal. They don’t see things the same way you do.
B: I still don’t like them.
A: You’re not the only one.
B: They are evil. You should stop hanging out with them.
A: Absolutely not.
B: Fine. then I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands.
A: So what are you going to do about it?
B: The same thing I did to that homeless guy. They have it coming.

K: This one is so…quick. Yes, it’s light on words, but it also just moves along nicely. This one, too, peaked a bit early, but had some nice gags along the way.

3 points out of 5

DK: Real talk time: I’m learning that one of my hangups as a judge is balancing my expectations and desire of where something is going to go against where it actually does go. I thought this was going to go in a more interesting direction than it did, and it’s hard not to mark it down because I didn’t agree with the choice made.

3 points out of 5

Others weaved an actual narrative instead of just creating a conversation.  I did not do that, and the scores are pretty much what the entry deserved.  A non-submitter decided the elimination, so our team remains complete after this.