Whew. That writing challenge was a blast!
I want to thank everyone who sent me prompts and who read my stories. For those who may have missed one, you can find them all here:
Doing a challenge like this is helpful to writers, in my opinion. Foremost, it forces you to churn out a story a day, which takes discipline. Add to that the guideline of using prompts from other people and that really flexes your creativity. I drove myself to try and find unique angles with which to use the prompts.
I wanted to go into behind-the-scenes of the stories, which means spoilers ahead in some places!
Monday: Prompt — an alleged woman friend locks you in the laundry room with a ghost. This one was sent to me by a friend who I play Phasmophobia with. My first steps were coming up with why the friend would lock someone in the laundry room. Next: coming up with a unique death. I didn’t really want to write about a typical ghost so I had a bit more fun with it. I am pretty happy with the end result!
Tuesday: Prompt — a state park employee needs to work a night shift at an isolated visitor center. This location takes nearly an hour to reach by car, yet as a curious weather phenomenon occurs, an after hours visitor shows up…and they didn’t drive there. I haven’t written a forest-based horror in quite a while so I was looking forward to this prompt. I didn’t really have any idea where I wanted to go with this one, but I knew I didn’t want obvious weather like snow or rain. I also felt like I needed a reason for someone to be working the night shift at visitor center. Those two things ended up creating the magic! By creating King’s Pool, it led to a whirlpool of clouds. After that everything just fell into place. Why the little girl? I guess just because there’s something naturally creepy about children out in the night, in places they shouldn’t be.
Wednesday: Prompt — a strong, handsome man navigates post-apocalyptic world to find love… while fighting off zombees. This one I especially wanted to be careful about not going the obvious route. First reading the prompt gave me the image of actual bees that are zombies. The Buzzing Undead. I mulled it over a lot and it wasn’t until Wednesday that I figured it out: bees that took over the brain, like Ophiocordyceps unilateralis which infects ants. From there, the story flowed pretty well. It was tons of fun writing some body horror as well. I wrote an insect-related horror last writing challenge too. Maybe this is my niche??
Thursday: Prompt — a vampire decides to go trick or treating. It was about here that I was struggling to keep writing. Originally I was going to save this prompt for Halloween, but I had no inspiration sparking for the other ones I had. This prompt seems pretty strange forward. If a vampire is treat or treating, obviously it’s not the candy the vampire wants. What twist could I put on it? I decided the vampire needs to be connected to the victims somehow (fun fact, I Googled Transylvanian names and that’s how i picked the names for the couple). I, of course, had to have them dressed as vampire hunters for when their visitor cam and the rest was history.
Friday: Prompt — a married couple (tourists), plagued by marital woes, take a trip to a village on a quiet island. They arrive amidst a once-a-century festival that honours the island’s pagan history. The islanders are convinced that the couple’s arrival on their island has been foretold. This prompt was tough because it was a prompt with a lot of potential. When I sat down to write it, I had no idea what to do. I felt like the obvious direction was that the couple is sacrificed in the ceremony and I do so love a folk horror sacrifice, but how to make it different? I started by setting the scene — a yacht, establishing the rich couple, and their discontentment. It was during the setup scenes that I decided what was needed. I wanted to add a little spice to it by having a betrayal as well. An ancient supernatural end inspired by a common lust for money.
Saturday: Prompt — today you can see for the first time in your life. Who have you really been talking to all these years? A simple but open ended prompt. Without thinking, I went with a rather bittersweet ending rather than super horrific, with a big of ambiguity thrown in. Was he hearing the voice of some supportive spirit that only communes to those who can’t see or did his blindness drive him to a strange coping method? And yes, that was a deliberate pun in the title.
Sunday: Prompt — a demon in your house that rearranges everything into LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH, kitschy stuff. Seasonal wreaths, reclaimed wood furniture, chalkboards with words of affirmation written on them. My very last prompt. I sat on this one for the whole week because I really wanted to use it but it was a toughie. Why would a demon communicate through those means? Honestly, I sat down to this story with absolutely no idea and just winged it. I wrote the first part about the chalkboard and suddenly it came to me. What if those affirmations had a darker meaning? What if the gifts had a future use?
So, dear reader, if you’re also a writer, I would recommend trying this challenge out. It doesn’t have to be as crazy as a full week, it could just be one or two stories. You might be surprised how much you end up liking the piece!
If you’ve read the stories, let me know which was your favourite in the comments below! I’d love to know!