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Friday, October 13, 2017

Return of the Son of The Friday Challenge

Long-time friends of STUPEFYING STORIES know that it began life as an offshoot of The Friday Challenge, a sort of writing workshop -slash- writing contest that ran from 2009 to 2013 (and was itself in turn a spinoff from The Ranting Room, a blog that ran from 2005 to 2009). The very first, print-only edition of STUPEFYING STORIES was in fact a compendium of Friday Challenge contest winners, and all modesty aside, some of these stories are really quite remarkable, especially considering that they were all written quickly, as entries in contests.

The mechanics of the Friday Challenge were this: each week (on Friday, of course), I would spot you, the readers, an idea -- it might be the beginning of a story, or a scientific factoid, or just a few choice words -- and whoever wanted to participate in the challenge had one week to bash out and submit a short story inspired by that idea. Then, on the next Friday, we'd post all the entries received, post the next challenge, and open up the virtual phone lines for the debates, critiques, arguments, and voting that led to our selecting the best of the lot. Whereupon the winner would receive a token prize, and we'd all get going on the next week's challenge.

The original Friday Challenge was, quite honestly, a heck of a lot of fun, and it drew together an online community that became the nucleus of the original STUPEFYING STORIES crew. While I no longer have the time to run a contest every week, and the file-sharing site we used for sharing submissions without releasing them into the wild is long since defunct, lately I've begun to think, maybe, just one more time...

So here's the challenge.

True story: I once knew a guy who was such a cheap dirtbag, when he was going out on a date, he'd stop by the cemetery to steal fresh flowers.

I'd heard this about him before, but didn't believe it, until one day when I was riding in his car with him and he suddenly pulled over to the curb, jumped out, and ran into a graveyard, to return with a fresh bouquet. "I got a date tonight," he explained. "Nothing gets you into a girl's pants on the first date faster than showing up with fresh flowers."

"But, but," I sputtered, "you stole them! From a grave!"

He shrugged. "Yeah, well, they're dead. They don't care."

¤    ¤    ¤

Ah. But what if they do care?

That's your challenge. Write a short (1,500 words max.) story that answers the question: what if the dead do care very much about what happens to the flowers on their graves?

The (pardon the expression) deadline for this challenge is midnight Central time, Friday, October 27. (Snowdog rules apply.) Send your entry to, and include 10/13/17 Friday Challenge somewhere in your subject line or cover letter. Since we no longer have the ability to share files semi-privately for at-large discussion, we will convene a crackerjack panel of experts to review the entries and select a winner. The winning story will be published on Halloween; if we receive too many good entries to select a clear winner, we may publish the top [some number] and award a special prize to the winner, as determined by reader poll. (I've got a polling widget on this site now. I'm dying for an excuse to use it.)

Does this all seem clear enough? Then, you have two weeks. Ready, set -- Get writing!


Henry Vogel said...

Without the Friday Challenge I wouldn’t have started writing again. After the Friday Challenge, I have 10 published novels with more on the way. Don’t miss out on the fun!

GuyStewart said...

I don't have the novels Henry does, but FRIDAY CHALLENGE spurred me on to write fast, furious, and be a brutal editor. Since those days, I broke into ANALOG and have had five stories there; published two novels (which, because of the conflict of format and audience, is no longer "out there"...but it WAS). I couldn't have done it without the help of the FC crew!

snowdog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
snowdog said...

Nice! I'll be starting on 10/25/17. I don't think I've written a single word of fiction since then of the Friday Challenge. Well, there were a couple of tax returns, but otherwise...

David The Good said...

Excellent. And darn good to see you again, Snowdog.

snowdog said...

Thanks Vidad! Been taking some of your advice on composting!

David The Good said...

Awesome. I look forward to reading your story.

David The Good said...

And Henry and Guy - great work.

I've had four gardening books and three booklets published since the Friday Challenge days. My debut novel is slated for publication by Castalia House early next year, followed by another one I'm wrapping up now. Better than having a real job.

Allan Davis said...

I've published one short story collection (with quite a few Friday Challenge entries in it)...I have a humor collection that isn't quite thick enough yet, but hopefully in the near future...a successful Nano novel in the editing phase...and a non-fiction book I've started. Only two of six kids still at home, so there's a bit more time to write nowadays...*grin*

Allan Davis said..., I miss the Challenge...and it's great to see so many familiar names again.


Arisia said...

I'm not dead yet, but I've been buried in videos about genetics and other fascinating subjects like Baheemahs. This is just what I needed to climb out and dance in the cemetery.

David The Good said...

I sent in my story - thank you.

kersley.fitz said...

Miss you guys! I entered--not sure if it's brilliant or pretentious.

No fiction out there, but I was editor for a blog/webzine for a few years and am now writing a commentary on the Gospel of Mark. (!) Seriously owe all of you a lot.

David The Good said...

Howdy, Kersley! Good luck with the commentary.

Or, good "Providence," I should say.