Some might find writing challenges to be too prescriptive or limiting. I think they force you to be creative, teaching you that, no, you don’t need to wait for “inspiration” in order to write a story.
A particularly amusing challenge to set yourself is the ABC Challenge.
The rules are this: write a story that is 26 sentences long. This first sentence must start with the letter ‘A’, and every following sentence begins with the subsequent letter of the alphabet, ending with ‘Z’.
It sounds straightforward, but is actually quite tricky to write.
This is my first not-so-great attempt, set, rather absurdly, around Christmas time. Perhaps those early Christmas commercials are getting to me.
And, err, yes, I am aware I’ve fallen into the ‘interjected/asked/queried’ pitfall with this story, but it seemed kind of unavoidable! (Also, apologies for the cheesiness.)
Aileen walked along the edge of a snowy road, lost in her thoughts and wishing she was back at home, in bed. Bedtime was her favourite time of the day, after all, as it was when she could finally let go and pretend the world outside did not exist. Could anything else really compare to the security of solitude?
Down the road she walked, absent-mindedly rubbing her cold hands together. Everywhere she looked, Christmas decorations sparkled garishly back at her, a nauseating overload of flashing lights and coloured baubles. Feeling a little bit sick, and more than a little lonely, she looked away from the houses, staring down at her shoes.
Granted, her life could be a lot worse, as there were numerous more miserable problems than loneliness. However, what her mind logically knew, her heart refused to understand.
Impatient with herself, Aileen looked up, determined to stop sulking and enjoy her walk, whether she wanted to or not. Just then, she stepped on a treacherously icy part of the road, and she slipped, falling backwards with a yelp. Knowing she was about to smack her head against a very unforgiving surface, Aileen tensed, expecting the pain.
Little did she know, however, that a young man had been walking behind her, lost in his own thoughts, and it was his misfortune to serve as Aileen’s personal cushion.
“Merde!” the man said, his train of thought interrupted by the sudden collision.
Not expecting the marginally softer landing, nor the outburst in French, Aileen heard herself yelp again.
Objectively speaking, she should have been thankful for the man’s unexpected (and unwilling) assistance, but Aileen, lying on top of him on the ground, could only feel embarrassed as she scrambled to her feet.
“Perhaps you should be more careful, I can say from personal experience that the road is rather hard,” he said, standing up with a wry smile on his lips as he rubbed the back of his head.
“Quite icy, yes,” Aileen agreed, feeling all the more foolish as soon as the words left her mouth. Rarely was she so flustered around a man!
She smiled shyly and ducked her head, her previous bad mood instantly erased by the strange turn of events. “Thank you for hitting your head for me,” she said finally, before turning, reluctantly, to leave.
“Unless you want to risk me passing out by myself, you should probably keep me company for a while longer until we’re sure no serious damage was caused,” the man replied, grinning hopefully.
“Very good point,” and here she felt a matching smile grow on her face, “I wouldn’t want you hurt.”
“Well, there’s a coffee shop up the road if you’d like to adjourn the head examination to there?”
“X-ray or MRI scan?” she asked as they both began walking side-by-side.
“You know best, I’m sure.”
Zealously, Aileen began her diagnosis, unaware that her heart and mind had finally reached an accord.
Update: Some people joined in on the fun!