Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spookymilk Survivor X: Challenge 1 (Fiction 59)

Welcome back to a new season of Spookymilk Survivor! This is my fourth season, so I'm finally starting to get the hang of all the backstabery and malfeasance. This season is back to a more writing-based challenge structure, which is cool with me, because that's what drew me to the game in the first place.

My team is the embarrassingly named "Nibbish and His Vogons". I don't quite know what to think of that, but I suppose it'll teach me to be called away when Beau wants to discuss naming the team. Speaking of the team, the rest of the Vogons certainly seem like a formidable bunch, we've got a former winner, a former two-time winner, and a slug of people who seem to generally be awesome at this whole thing. I hope I'm not in over my head.

The first challenge was, as always, the Fiction 59. Basically, the point is, make a self-contained story using exactly 59 words. Here is my entry:

He started tiring six miles into the trip. The directions were clear, but the journey seemed impossible. He only wanted to see the louvre, eat Flamiche, and maybe flirt with some pretty girls. Instead, he was going to drown in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Fucking Google Maps” was all he could think as his head dipped underwater that final time.

Here's what Spooky and the new judge, DK,responded with:

Spooky: Don’t hate me, but this is totally what I want out of this challenge. There’s a hell of a stinger, and the more I think about it, the funnier it is (and the harder it is to believe that it was delivered in 59 words). This sounds like something only I would do, what with my rotten sense of direction. 5
DK: Stories where people die because of bad luck or circumstance, if the pathos is there, are kind of a sweet spot for me (cause I’m a sick, sick dude) and the unfolding of the situation is great. 5

In the past, my issues with this challenge have rarely stemmed from the word count, I just can't seem to find a story I want to tell with those 59 words. For most of this week, it was no different. I toyed with the idea of a machine (or a lovecraftian beast) that craved human sacrifice, a novice porn star paired up with his second grade teacher, and a bunch of different scenarios that had two things in common.

a) they sort of sucked
b) I had no reasonable way to tell the story I wanted to tell in 59 words.

I finally came up with the idea of a guy who wants to go to France, but is confounded by the directions Google Maps gives him (side note: the swimming idea came from the fact that a couple of years ago, getting directions to an overseas destination would result in a step that required the inquirer to swim across the ocean that separated them from their goal. This was hilarious, but unfortunately seems to have been taken out of the software). I wrote the rough draft and word counted it - it was 84 words. I didn't really have any entire sentences that I could rip out without crippling everything, so I went to work on slimming it. Phrases like "eat some foreign food" became "eat Flamiche". Next, I cut out as many adverbs as I could without making things confusing or bland (adverbs tend to be a serious problem with my writing, anyway... I like to put lots of them in). After a ton of rewording and hacking, I was left with the magic 59, and I hit 'send'. Simple as that.


  1. Not to pile on, but you have three former winners on your team - Brooks, Zack and Patrick.

    Way to nail down the only 5/5 while you're already the name of a team. Painting that target early, are we?!?!?!

  2. Heh heh.

    What I love about this challenge is that it forces you to throw away bland phrases like "eat some foreign food" and find something more concise and descriptive.

  3. Maybe this team should be renamed "Ozzy and His Vogons".

  4. I like this challenge, even in my childhood i remember this or similar show, it is really amazing!