Spookymilk Survivor — Challenge #2: Community Story

This was the first opportunity for SPOILER ALERT! to flex its muscles and put something in front of the judges with a player’s contest continuation on the line. Spooky hit us with a nasty challenge this week: Each team will write a story in eight parts with a different writer for each section:

1. Exposition
2. Introduction of protagonist
3. Complication
4. Protagonist’s Decision
5. It gets worse
6. Rallying the troops
7. Climax
8. Denouement

Yeah, it’s a team-building challenge, but man, what a potential logistic nightmare. Google Docs worked well last time around with group challenges, so I set up a sandbox where we could leave ongoing commentary. It didn’t take too long to narrow down a story line, which evolved over time into what we eventually submitted. The section writers’ assignments started out random, and sections shuffled a bit to aid with people’s schedule conflicts. Tragically, although we had the story pretty much done with a day to spare, one section did not get submitted for some reason. Results.

I jumped in for the exposition part when it appeared it was open at the time…

Chautauqua, Kansas huddled under a dark morning sky as heavy storm clouds arrived from the west to battle the early morning sun. A gusting wind caught the cafe sign and tossed a page of the early edition newspaper into the air of the just-awakening downtown. A few small shops — those still in business — began to show some signs of activity from their workers within. A screen door slammed as a woman in a bathrobe gingerly stepped out to turn on the sprinkler, but looking skyward, aborted her mission and went back inside.

Like most Midwestern towns, this home to 4,359 souls found itself holding on while waiting for an economic upturn that never seemed to come. Good, simple people lived here. Farmers, most of them, and yet 40 percent scratched out a living below the poverty line. A handful of those farmers shared a coffee in the cafe before recommencing their spring planting…or to repair their equipment, since the drops of rain that began to fall looked to preempt any thoughts of getting wheat into the ground today.

Chautauqua was known by many people as many things, but a hotbed of acting opportunities wasn’t one of them.

The judges’ comments:
K: I love how unexpected that last bit is – it makes the entire bit, which was already very calm and serene – just as the city certainly is. Two out of three stories this week take place in Kansas. Well, huh. 5

DK: My favorite pure “exposition” of these stories. Sets up the setting really well. 5

Since the introduction of the protagonist didn’t happen until the next section, I chose to focus on the setting, hoping to set the scene by showing a small town where the people were struggling with life. Also, since we talked about a possible tornado warning, I chose a city in Tornado Alley, and I decided an ominous storm on the horizon set an interesting atmosphere, particularly nice since this story was essentially a comedy, so it made the last line of my section really snap. Interestingly enough, one other story was set in southeastern Kansas. The two 5/5 scores were appreciated, but it doesn’t offset the fact that I’m going to have to vote to eliminate someone from the team.

With luck, we can avenge our lost writer with next week’s challenge.

Addendum: Who do I write like, in this challenge?

I write like
Arthur Clarke

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

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