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Welcome, potential prosers to… Wait, wait! Hear me out. Don’t just look at who authored the post and leave. Especially because I’m only partially responsible for this. The other half is everyone’s favorite Colin (I assume I don’t need to specify, but let’s just say it’s not Wolfson).
So here’s the pitch… PWTP gives us all sorts of amazing writing challenges, but one type of challenge that it hasn’t given us is group challenges. Sometimes people hate group challenges, but sometimes people love them (I should have led with the loving part, right?). We’ve seen them in Spookymilk Survivor before (for example here and here). Much like regular PWTP, the difficulty and length of submissions will change from time to time. Probably a little bit more so here. Sometimes the submissions will be pretty minimal (think “20 Questions” if you’ve seen that played here before), and sometimes they’ll be about a regular PWTP length. We’ll never ask too much of any one player – that’s the point of groups, right?
Every week you’d get a new group, decided randomly, and everyone in that group would be trusted to participate. Scoring might need to be adjusted slightly, depending on the nature of any particular challenge, but for the most part I think we’d try to just give a group score. Sometimes we’d have big groups, sometimes small groups. Ultimately, the more often your team does well, the better you as an individual will do in the rankings. After the regular season the top half of players would enter the playoffs, and we’d still use group challenges to whittle it down to a final 2. Those 2 would then draft a team from the eliminated players to complete the final challenge.
In order for this to work, we’d probably need at least 15 players. So sign up today!
For this challenge, writers were tasked to write a story that could believably appear on the Twilight Zone. A writer’s family obligations pushed this one back a couple of weeks, and then a death in my family pushed it another. Well, the way this season went, it’s hard to argue that this shouldn’t have happened at the end.
I’m never sure whether to love or be bothered by the fact that so many of our stronger weeks happen when there’s a vague, wide open prompt. Anyway, this is my way of saying I had a really good time here with the six of you who decided to play with us this week. Although this season was marked by apathy, I really did enjoy a lot of the work done all season by those of you still with us; I look forward to the playoffs even despite the challenges getting people to hang around all season long.
Annette will let you know the scoring results when she comments here.
Next week, those who finished in 3rd through 6th place will write. Each judge will give one of each medal. The highest-scoring two will advance to the final four the week after, with any ties being broken by regular-season points.
If you’re writing this week, let’s do this one…
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by Robert Stevens
Originally broadcast Oct. 30, 1959
Gig Young gave a terrific performance as Martin Sloan, a 36-year-old ad man tired of his life, who finds himself transported to the hometown of his boyhood. There he not only basks in the remembered pleasures of carousel rides and chocolate sodas with three scoops, but also encounters himself as a child – and his parents, who understandably question his sanity.
You will write about a character who has the opportunity to deliver a message to his or her younger self. This message can be delivered in any way you like, including in person. I’d suggest that it would be hard to draw me in with a story that’s simply the writing of the letter, but if you can make it pop, I guess I can’t stop you.
Word limit will be 1500. Due Sunday at 8pm next week, and hey, maybe Sunday won’t suck for once, and I can start going to bed later again. Cheers, Prosers.
Not enough time to write though, apparently, as we received an all-time low four stories. FOUR!
A due date doesn’t have to be a start date, gang. It doesn’t matter when the Super Bowl falls if you’ve got six days leading up to it. Oh well.
Thanks for showing up! We gave two golds and two silvers.
Here’s a TZ episode I haven’t even seen, but now want to:
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by Jack Smight
Originally broadcast February 10, 1961
During Season 2, a budget shortfall led to six episodes being recorded on videotape rather than film to cut costs. While those episodes ended up being more stagebound than most (no exterior or backlot shooting was possible), the claustrophobia of filming strictly on a set greatly aided this small tale of a woman who repeatedly dreams that she walks down a long, dark corridor to the morgue, where she is greeted by a nurse who says, “Room for one more, honey.”
Of course, it’s only a dream, right? But as any “Twilight Zone” fan will tell you, premonitions are meant to be heeded.
Write a story about a long hallway. I want to see where you take us. This will be the final story of the regular season as six of you will then graduate to the playoffs; you will get 1000 words for this one as a season-ending gift. Have fun with them, okay?
I lament the fact that so few writers are left while also rejoice at it since doing this while moving has been a bear. Now that the important part of our house is clean and guest-ready, here I am.
I’m impressed at how strong the writing has gotten. The prose is better per person than I can remember in some time (even if I still non-secretly want Josh Longman back in the worst way).
Let’s tackle a Twilight Zone episode I saw as a kid that never left me:
“Time Enough at Last”
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by John Brahm
First broadcast Nov. 20, 1959
Perhaps the most beloved “Twilight Zone” episode, “Time Enough at Last” starred Burgess Meredith as a bookworm who would much rather escape into the worlds of Dickens, Shaw and Shakespeare than deal with testy bank customers or a hen-pecking wife. As he hides out in his bank’s vault to read during a lunch break, a nuclear bomb wipes out said wife, customers, and every other human being, leaving him alone in a decimated city with his treasured literary classics.
If you think that is bliss, it is – until the climax that would make O. Henry swoon with delight/agony.
For your story, write about a character who has found the perfect life/Heaven/utopia/whatever other than one detail that essentially ruins the whole experience. Due next Sunday at 9pm. I’m off next Sunday/Monday and the house is in good shape, so I’d say there’s an okay chance I can get to it quickly.
Wow, gang. This was a brief read. There were eight submissions (well, seven, really). On the upside, there were some really good reads in here, with a lot of effective prose and tension.
Here’s your link to the results. I’m not sure why I haven’t always done it that way. It’s a hell of a lot easier than adding HTML for boldface and italics.
Hey, look, a triple gold! Placements are changing. Odds are changing. The one constant is that I continue to bathe Joshua Longman in golden showers (that’s how you say this, right?).
Your next challenge:
“The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by Ron Winston
Originally broadcast March 4, 1960
Maple Street is just another bucolic, tree-lined setting, until the town’s lights and power go out. Strange electrical outbursts fuel panic, fear and recrimination among the street’s residents. Talk of alien invasion, at first deemed crackpot, now take on urgency in the darkness, as neighbor turns against neighbor.
The most dangerous enemy of mankind is, obviously, mankind’s irrational fear. And, as the real alien forces behind the blackout remind us: “The world is full of Maple Streets.”
In your story, characters must question other characters out of mounting paranoia. Let me be clear: this is paranoia, so the looming threat must not actually be real. I’ll admit I’m worried about some sameness from this prompt, but every time I say that, writers hit it out of the park.
These are due January 1st at 9pm Central. Cheers, Prosers.
This was a good week, gang. Isolation is a favorite story and song element of mine, for whatever reason, so I was hoping for a lot, and we got it. There are still just ten of you this week, but whatever. You’ve been a blast.
Up next is another episode you’ve heard of, even if your introduction to it came from “The Simpsons”:
“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”
Written by Richard Matheson
Directed by Richard Donner
First broadcast Oct. 11, 1963
Future Enterprise Captain William Shatner appeared twice on “The Twilight Zone” – once as a newlywed who becomes too trusting of a fortune-telling machine (“Nick of Time”), and then in this all-time classic by Richard Matheson.
Shatner played an airline passenger just recovered from a nervous breakdown who is convinced he has spotted a bizarre creature tearing apart the plane. It’s a story full of energy anchored by a man desperate to prove to himself that he is not going crazy.
Part of me wants to force you to write a story around the line “There’s something on the wing. Some…thing.” Seems a bit cruel, though.
You will write a story where a single character is aware of impending trouble. That’s all I want to give you, as anything else might steer you too strongly in a specific direction.
Hey, gang. Long few days here, as half my house has had strep throat, and a quarter of it is me, taking care of everyone. Then I learned there were only nine stories and I cried until I stopped.
It seems there are 13 “regular” writers at this point, though a couple serial non-submitters are on the ropes. There were two golds, two silvers and two bronzes from each judge this week.
There was a HUGE usage of italics in the stories this week, so instead of working in all kinds of HTML, I went ahead and made you a document:
As for this Sunday, due the same time and with the same word limit:
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by Jack Smight
Originally broadcast Nov. 13, 1959
Jack Warden played Corry, a convict sentenced to a solitary life on an asteroid millions of miles from Earth. When the crew of the yearly supply ship leaves him a special package, he finds it contains a life-like robot (Jean Marsh, the future star of “Upstairs, Downstairs”). Though initially contemptuous of a mechanical creature that appears to only mimic the emotions of a woman, Corry and “Alicia” develop a relationship that predates the movie “Her” by several decades.
You will write a story about a character who has been isolated from society for a very long time (“a very long time” shall be defined by you). The story should include his or her first contact with another being, of any kind, since their isolation began. Cheers, Prosers.
Production Note: With Novak definitely out and Jared Mitchell out, we have 15 writers, and have recalibrated medals to 2-3-3. We still only got twelve stories, so I wouldn’t say we’re done sorting this out yet. I can’t be sure who’s in and out, because surely, emailing me to say “Sorry, but I don’t have the time for this right now” is a long, arduous task.
Enough about that – let’s consider those of you that are here. This seemed like a prompt that woke a few of you up. This is the kind of prompt that everyone should be able to relate to – to some degree – so I’m pleased but not totally surprised that this happened. Keep the upward mobility going, gang. There are some great ideas here, and even a few that were expertly realized and will stick in my mind for a long while.
Guys, don’t work in retail over Thanksgiving. Also, don’t buy a house ever. It’s entirely too much. To be sure, never do these two things while running multiple online competitions.
On the other hand, let’s DO this thing! We had a lot of great ideas that give me hope that the season will be strong. Most everyone’s got some opportunity to grow, but we have to start somewhere, yeah?
Also, who wants to make a scoring spreadsheet? I’ll make it I have to, but SWEET MOTHER OF MYSTERY PLEASE TAKE SOMETHING OFF OF MY PLATE
Also 2, if we can expect this many nonsubs a week, I may rethink scoring. At any rate, I think at the very least we’ll go 2-3-3 on medals next week rather than 3-3-3 because I think another person is out.
Also 3: The Revenge of Also, your next prompt is at the bottom of this post, so even if you skip over everyone else’s hard work like the jerk you are, you should at least scroll down there.