The Commuter Challenge

1 October 2006

The October 2006 Challenge

by CC @ 13:20

Write a ghost story suitable for reciting at a ghost-story-reciting-type-situation: say, around a campfire with a flashlight held under your chin, or in the drawing room after a formal dinner while trying to top each others’ gruesome anecdotes over snifters of cognac, or late at night during a pyjama/slumber party with all your pre-teen girlfriends. So it should be more suitable for narration than for reading on the page (or at least as suitable), and it should be of an appropriate length. Shoot for anywhere from 500 to 2500 words. Try not to let the reading time go for more than ten minutes or so; a comfortable reading speed is around 150 words per minute.

The Results

Read Brian’s first story, or his second story.

Read Ryan’s story.

Read Andy’s story.


  1. Huh. I just tried posting here and it didn’t take. Let’s try this one as a test post…

    by RyanF — 30 January 2008 @ 01:11

  2. I wonder what happened to that earlier posting? Oh well, the general idea was: I am really fond of Brian’s stories… I won’t comment on Andy’s story… and my story is the only CC submission that I’m ashamed of, and regret doing. My only comfort is that nobody ever looks at these submissions, and nobody remembers the stories from Don’s GSR parties by Nov 1 anyway.

    by RyanF — 30 January 2008 @ 01:18

  3. Ryan is absolutely wrong, of course. He himself has previously written two extremely funny stories for Don’s ghost-story-reading parties over the years, and I remember them both to this day.

    I don’t really have much to say about my stories, surprisingly. They were both inspired by ideas/images from other things I had read. Which is not to say that they’re plagiarisms — the writing is still entirely mine — but I think they would both be significantly less interesting if I took out the ideas that inspired them.

    Having participated in Nanowrimo several times in the past, I found that my ability to churn out a first draft has greatly improved since college, but creating a second draft was if anything worse. I may have to participate in Nanoedmo one of these years….

    by breadbox — 12 February 2008 @ 04:04

  4. For me, one of the things that was heavy on my mind going into this challenge was a discussion that Brian and I’d had, where he lamented the gradual near disappearance of ‘serious’ ghost stories from our annual ghost story readings. I thought it was a valid gripe, even though I’m pretty bad at that myself, going for the laffs instead of the shivers more than half of the times that I presented anything. So I made an attempt to do a serious-ish story. And I failed.

    My main idea was to create a situation where somebody was seriously disturbed by something that used to be commonplace and mundane. And what better than a car alarm? If you live in the city (like I do) you can’t avoid the sound, day or night, yet of course they go off with no warning. To take this sound that you hear unexpectedly a few times per day, and have it permanently associated with some traumatic event and guilty feelings (to be ‘haunted’ by it), well, that would be just unbearable.

    But then I tacked a punchline onto it, which effectively spoiled the whole effect, in the hopes that folks at the reading party might find it more entertaining. I guess that I was thinking that the best way to salvage a boring morality tale was to end it with some wacky sounds. Homina homina homina. Wacka-wacka doo doo, yeah. Ecch.

    by RyanF — 26 February 2008 @ 23:19