Welcome to THE GAUNTLET, the event where you find out how hard you can write before it kills you! The prompts are arranged according to brutality: they get more challenging with each previous one completed. Last year, we had no fewer than seven people finish all nine prompts without loss of life or limb, which is downright UNACCEPTABLE. Therefore, we’ve decided to once again challenge you all to test your mettle with this series of weaponised prompts, so we can line you all up posthumously and see who is the nastiest, gnarliest, touch-as-nailsest SOB in town. In short, prepare to be smacked around by these heavy-calibre prompts until you either live on as undisputed Top Dog or as a stain on the pavement.
Warcries, if you please.
Because street cred and the top of the food chain status may not be enough to persuade anyone to go beast mode, we also have prizes! With the blessings of our judges, the following shall be awarded:
FIRST PLACE gets:
600 points from akrasiel
critique by Memnalar
SECOND PLACE gets:
300 points from akrasiel
critique by Memnalar
THIRD PLACE gets:
100 points from akrasiel
critique by Memnalar
HONOURABLE MENTION gets:
critique by BATTLEFAIRIES
EVERYONE gets a Sin City honorific depending on their ranking!
AS FOR THE RULES:
If you don’t want to end up in the Santa Yolanda tar pits, obey these rules as if they were Old Town Code of Conduct, with deadly little Miho watching from a rooftop:
1. The challenges must be taken in order, so no skipping any.
2. Follow the specifications for each challenge to the letter
3. Link your finished works in this journal’s comments
4. No submissions after the deadline: October 17th
JUDGING will proceed as follows: a circle of uncompromising mobsters will subject each piece to minute scrutiny, after which they’ll assign scores based on skill, impact and overall result. A flat bonus is added for every finished challenge.
HERE ARE YOUR CHALLENGES:
1. HISTORIC HIPSTERS (1000 words or less.) Without naming them as such, make sure the reader understands the protagonists in your historical setting are, indeed, hipsters.
2. I DON’T ALWAYS EAT HUMAN FOOD, BUT WHEN I DO… (Between 700 and 1400 words.) Write a recipe for something (anything) with a distinct, unusual narrator. You must make sure to use two different malaphors (en.wiktionary.org/wiki/malapho…), and you are not allowed to use the verbs ‘eat’, ‘stir’ or ‘put’ anywhere.
3. METEOR WHAT METEOR (1500 words or less.) Space exploration is in full swing, and new cosmic wonders are being discovered... alongside something unexpected that threatens all. (Unexpected, so not a meteor.) Your tale features suspense and hard decisions, and makes no use of numbers. Oh, and everyone’s a dinosaur. Give them names that rhyme with their species name.
4. LIKE A HOLY ROLLING STONE (777 words, exactly.) Someone living on the streets witnesses a crime being committed. Your protagonist for this story is God; make sure you mention all eight planets, four mythical beasts and two flavours of ice cream… without having any ice cream in there. Bear in mind, God does not directly talk to mortals. On top of that, make the first letter of each sentence spell out a message for the audience.
5. SUPER-MEGA-HYPER PHONECALL (Only triplet word counts allowed: 555, 777, etc.) A busy day in the office. Just like in anime fight scenes, characters announce each action by shouting its own special name. Show work floor drama and someone getting a promotion, use no commas anywhere and make sure all of your dialogue is hendecasyllabic (being eleven syllables in length).
6. THE SHORT END (55 words, exactly.) Turn something everyday into a horror story. Do not use the words ‘I’, ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘them’.
7. CAVEMANNERS (550 words and a half.) Channel your inner troglodyte by writing a love story without verbs, which also means no gerund (-ing). Include in your story a riddle of your own invention, and do not use any words with more than one vowel.
8. A’LL BE C-ING YOU (8 words, minimum.) On the subject of folklore, write a story in the form of an Abecedarius, meaning the first letter of each word follows alphabetic order. You don’t have to start with A, but all words need to follow the rule.
9. ONCE UPON A HAPPILY EVER AFTER (666 words, exactly.) Making use of reverse chronology, spin a dark fairy tale that is also a reverse e-lippogram (all words must contain the letter ‘e’) in which all proper nouns (i.e. names) are palindromes (www.merriam-webster.com/dictio…) and in which you make at least one food-related pun. Include one sea-urchin, two evildoers, swearwords in three different languages, and write in one onomatopeia (www.dictionary.com/browse/onom…) that somehow contains a foreshadowing element within it. You start with the word ‘after’, and your last word is ‘once’. Your 333rd word is: ‘verily’.
Lock ‘n load, ladies and gentlemen. The Gauntlet has begun!