Monthly Archives: May 2011

TBC June Writing Challenge

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table Pizza.

A well-loved literary chestnut is the old ‘fish out of water’ tale. Take a famous character (for some reason there seems to be about a 90% chance it will be Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, or King Arthur) and transplant them into a different setting. Whether it be the Great Detective fighting the cultists of Cthulhu or investigating a holodeck murder on board the Enterprise, or Dracula finding that movie theaters make a pretty decent place to hide from the sunlight during those long summer days, authors and readers alike seem to really enjoy these tales.

Usually they are played for some degree of camp. After all, watching ‘that crazy Arthur guy’ running around waving a sword at a bus and charming the love interest with his ‘chivalric’ ways never seems to go out of style. However, these stories do not have to be played for humor value, and sometimes some really good storytelling will come out of such a yarn.

So June’s challenge is this: Take a famous character and put him/her/it in a radically different setting. Play it straight or for laughs, your call. Try to keep it around 500 words or so, in order to promote other people having enough time to actually read your bon mot.

I should clarify: I’m looking for stories where the ACTUAL character finds him/her/itself in a different setting. Not simply taking the idea of the character. For example, Dr. Gregory House from the TV show that bears his name would not qualify. Even though he is basically a Sherlock-inspired character (actually, he’s a Conan Doyle inspired character, but ACD used himself as the template for Sherlock so… close enough), he is not ACTUALLY Sherlock Holmes. You get the idea.



— May wrap-up:

Well, we had zero submissions, which I guess is to be expected for our first try at this. It’s also possible that the topic was one that only appealed to me. Heh. Anyways, hopefully this month we’ll see the gauntlet taken up by some others. That would be neat.


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The Gun on the Mantelpiece

Or Table, as the case may be.

These days the most common usages of the rule of Chekhov’s Gun can be seen in television and movies where the time constraints of the medium prevent extraneous details, and since most people believe the origin of the famous quote comes from Hitchcock and not Chekhov, it is often assumed to be directly relevant to movies. People forget, or do not realize, that the origin of the rule was literary rather than cinematic.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Chekhov’s Gun is the name of the rule described in his famous quote which I paraphrase: “If you show a gun on the mantelpiece in the first chapter, you’d bloody well better have someone fire it before the epilogue.” As I said, I’m paraphrasing, but the bit about the mantelpiece is more or less correct, causing this rule of writing to sometimes also be known as the ‘gun on the mantelpiece’ rule. In a nutshell, the rule says that if you introduce an element into your story in some way, it should be used. Obviously things like background decoration in a description of a room do not apply (imagine if Tolkien tried to find a use for every single thing he described in Bilbo’s house in the Hobbit), but things that will SEEM relevant to the reader (such as, say, a gun) should end up being used.

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There By Candlelight May Writing Challenge

Since it seems to be the thing to do, I figure I’ll go ahead and post my own writing challenge. May’s challenge:

The Long Pun.

I don’t mean a pun that takes up half a page in length by itself (such as somehow managing to make ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ a pun), nor do I mean any sort of Piers Anthony dispoable two line type thing. I mean a pun where the author begins establishing the pun early on, but continues the narrative with no indication of the groan-inducing atrocity about to be unleashed on his unsuspecting reader.

The undisputed (as far as I know) master of this was Roger Zelazny who, in Lord of Light, spent something like half a chapter setting up a truly terrible pun and no one saw it comming. He did shorter, easier ones also, such as the one in the Merlin Chronicles with the two demons racing across the twisted hellish landscape raised a ruckus that had the hero out of bed to check it out only to end up dismissing it as trivial  (yep, it was just one damned thing after another).

So here is my challenge: In 400 words or more, create a story that stands on it’s own merits, and then deliver a real stinker of a pun at the very end that ties in to the story itself.  I’ll start us off.


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Love At First Sight – May Writing Challenge

It was love at first sight. How could it not be? He was everything she had ever wanted in a man. He was tall, handsome, strong. He looked like he could carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and remain unbroken by the ordeal. He was perfect, and in that first glance she felt her heart flutter.

They met for the first time shortly after her transfer from Chicago to the New York main office of her firm. She was late and flustered. After a short weekend in the city mostly spent dealing with moving in and getting the heat and power turned on, she hadn’t had time to learn the subway system yet and it was far more confusing than the CTA. She fumbled with her briefcase, attempting to fish out her letter of introduction which explained which floor she was to meet her contact on, and a gust of wind caught and scattered her papers. She scurried to fetch them back, and that’s when she met him for the first time. A photocopy of her birth certificate blew up against his leg and was trapped there for a moment.

He smiled faintly at her as she apologized and retrieved her errant document, and she felt her heart melt. She was even later getting in to work on her first day, but it was worth it. They met for coffee later that day.

Coffee became a regular event with them. On lunch breaks, she would head downstairs to the Starbucks and pick up a latte then meet him out in front by the fountain and they would spend the hour together. Although he never said it himself, she could tell he had feelings for her too. He always had that shy little smile for her, no matter how bad their days had been up until that point.

He was a very good listener. She told him everything about herself. About her family back in Ohio, and what it was like growing up in a small town. She told him about her first boyfriend in high school, and how he broke her heart when he dumped her just before prom so he could go with Susie Reynolds instead. She told him about moving away to college, and how hard it was to be away from her family for the first time, and about how strange it was to see them again a year later. She had changed while they were exactly the same. She told him about going to work for the firm, and her fast rise to on the corporate track. It helped, she admitted, not having a boyfriend.

And finally, after several weeks, she told him of her fears. That she was growing too old to find a husband, that she would die a spinster. And all the while he smiled his faint smile. She told him she loved him, and she didn’t care what anyone else thought about that. She was happy dating a statue.


In response to Sonia MedeirosMay Writing Challenge


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