Monday, 9 January 2012

New Challenges for 2012 - Your Help Needed!!

This year apart from the ordinary challenges facing an aspiring writer like writing a novel or two, I thought I would add an additional challenge to my year as well as the usual losing weight and getting fit new year resolutions.  Well I do love a challenge, I wouldnt have decided to be a writer if it was the easy road I wanted to travel.

So with this challenge in mind, I need your help.. yes, you included, all of you! Does anyone remember who's line is it anyway.  This was a programme where a panel of comedians would be put on the spot by the audience who would call out random situations for them to act out and make funny.  Well what I am trying to do is a "Who's line is it anyway" for a writer.  I plan to write a short story every two weeks and post it here.  Thats the easy part and  where you come in.  I want you to tell me what to write about and I will pick someone's comments each week and attempt to write an entertaining story for you all to enjoy. 

This could prove to be a great way for me to awaken my imagination and explore my writing ability or it could be a complete diaster ! Lets pray its the first one..  So come closer, are you listening, this is what I need you to do...  I will post my stories every two weeks based on the four elements outlined in a comment left after the previous story.  All you have to do is read the story, enjoy it (fingers crossed) and then let me know the following elements for the next story choosing one item from each of the following categories  which are genre, emotional setting, location, person/thing

Genre: for example, childrens, crime, fantasy, romance etc..
Emotional setting : for example, funny, humourous, sad, heart-breaking..
location: for example, park, spa, office, haunted house etc..
Someone/something to include: policeman, nurse, nun ,school bag..

I have included a story to get us started and the four elements for this one would be..

Genre - Childrens
Emotional Setting - Scary (well scary for children scary)
Location - Dunmore East, waterford
Someone/something to include: a power cut...

Hope you have the idea and hope together we can have some fun in writing (me) and reading (you hopefully) the results..

The stairs creaked under Amy’s feet and the dim landing light cast eerie dark shadows onto the high walls and ceiling.  She willed her heart to stop thumping against her chest and her breathing to quiet down so that she could listen to the sound. This is madness, she thought, here I am moving towards the noise when I should be running away in the other direction.  The rain was beating down against the windows and in the distance she could hear the low mumble of thunder as the storm was headed their direction.  Typical Irish Summer thought Amy but it didn’t help to settle her nerves.

As she got closer to the bottom of the stairs, she could hear laughter coming from the sitting room where her older brother and sister were apparently oblivious to what was happening outside.  Laughing their heads off at some new comedian they were.  “It’s not suitable TV for your little ears,” her mother would say. Her Mum and Aunt had gone down to the local pub for the evening.  Her mum needed the break, Amy knew that but she really needed her mum now.

Amy jumped and shivered as a large dark shadow behind her caught the corner of her eye. She willed her heart back down from her throat into her chest.  She didn’t want to draw any attention to herself as she didn’t know what she was about to face.  Turning around suddenly, she realised the dark shadow on the wall was her own. She smiled to herself, she needed to calm herself down.  Her nerves were gone in this place.

She hated this old house they were staying in.  It was their Aunts House in Dunmore East and they were there for a week’s holiday.  A week’s torture was more like it, thought Amy.  The house was about 100 years old and it creaked and moaned especially at night and Amy hated it.   Everything about the house was dull and dark, from the old fashioned oak furniture from the 1950’s to the dim light fittings that cast little light around the house, just dark creepy corners and giant shadows on the walls. It was so isolated too apart from Mr Pritchard, the mad neighbour down the road that at night the silence became so loud it was unbearable.  That was until tonight. Something her brother and sister seemed unnoticed by.  But there it was again, no mistaking the sound.

Tap, tap, and tap on the glass coming from the back of the house.  It was so much louder and quicker now.  Amy started to panic.  Whatever was making that noise was getting angrier and wanted in to the house no matter what!   Throwing open the living room door, she rushed in to be greeted by the shocked faces of her brother and sister.  “Can’t you hear that tapping”, she gushed at them.  “Something or someone is trying to get into the house, and I don’t know……..” “Calm down sis.”  Her older brother Toby, always the big brave man guided her to the armchair by the door and turned the volume on the TV down.  “Amy,” he sighed, “every-time we come here, you do this, imagine all sorts and it’s never anything at all”.  Toby tried to reason with her, “Please go to bed and sleep, its nothing other than the wind and the rain.”  Amy looked her brother directly in the eye … “not this time brother, listen……”

The three of them stared from one to the other as they sit still and listened. The wind howled around the old house and beat sheets of rain hard against the windows but just above the din of the weather, there is was.  TAP, TAP, TAP… It was blasting against the back of the house.  Amy couldn’t be sure but she thought a look of terror passed on Toby’s face as the sound got faster and increasing louder. It was coming from behind the heavy red velvet curtains that covered the French doors at the back of the house.  What was making that tapping sound?? They all shivered inside not knowing what it was, but one thing was certain.  It wasn’t going away until it got into the house.  “Do something Toby and fast” Julia piped up. At the sound of Julia’s voice, Toby jumped out of his seat like he had just woken up from a trance.  “Relax girls, its nothing” laughed Toby.  “I’ll sort it”…

The three of them all screamed together, Toby’s being the loudest as a gigantic bang of thunder sounded out above them and with a flash of lightening, the house was thrown into inky blackness. Panic followed as they each tried to search out the other in the darkness, feeling their way forward with their arms.  They grabbed tightly onto each other as the Tapping sound now turned into a menacing knock on the glass. It seemed to be gaining more force now just like the storm.  Toby moved in the direction of the knocking, causing the girls to scream out again as they frantically searched for him in the dark, grabbing onto the back of his jeans and shirt for comfort.  Toby got out his mobile and hit the screen lighting up his face and the room slightly.  “Come on girls”, he said, “there has to be a rational reason for the noise and it’s probably just the storm outside causing something to hit against the glass.  The girls looked doubtfully at him but undeterred Toby moved slowly towards the red curtains.  He had to move slowly as his two sisters were dragging out of his shirt behind him, hitting him hard in the back when he came to a sudden stop.  This room seemed a lot longer in the half light from his phone but Toby knew he had to be the brave one… Although, he didn’t feel very brave just now.

“Ok, on the count of 3, I will pull the curtain back and shine the light from my mobile at the window so we can see what it is” continued Toby, feeling more confident that it was nothing to worry about.  He pulled back the curtains when suddenly there was another clap of thunder overhead and a flash of lightening lit up the back garden revealing the cause of the knocking sound.

All three of them jumped back away from the glass as they stared at the ghostly white shape pushed up against the window. The ghost continued to knock hard on the glass as it seemed to hoover above the ground. It was horrible and it had no legs and no arms and it was sliding along the glass as if it was looking for a way in.  The half-light on toby’s mobile went out again leaving them in darkness and stunned silence.  There was another clap of thunder and lightning and they stared out into the garden.  The ghostly white shape now seemed to be flying around the garden a few feet from the window.  The stormy wind was blowing the ghost in all directions.  “It’s looking for another way in” screamed Amy, as they all stared helpless at the alien being in the garden... 

Toby pulled the curtains back closed, his hands shaking now.  “Go get the number of the pub in the village and we will ring mum and our Aunt to come back,” Toby commanded his voice not too steady now either, “….quickly before this thing finds a way into the house”.  Reluctantly the girls still holding each other tight took toby’s mobile and shuffled their way into the kitchen not knowing where they were going in the dim light of the mobile phone.  Just as they reached the fridge door with the numbers on it, the electricity was restored in the house lighting up all the rooms again and the sound of laughter came once more from the TV.

As the girls grabbed the post it pads, they looked puzzled at each other as they realised that the laughter was from Toby not the TV.  “Quickly girls” he gushed, “come see”.  The girls rushed back into the living room and stared out in amazement. Waving frantically at them from the middle of the garden was Mr Pritchard, a white bed sheet at his feet. “Sorry kids, I seem to have got myself into a bit of a muddle.  I lost my keys and while looking for them I lost my glasses and I seem to have walked into the washing line on my way over.  I was hoping I could shelter in your house until I got myself sorted.  Sorry about that, Hope I didn’t give you a fright...”

In unison the three of them all chorused “no, no of course not Mr Pritchard, we weren’t frightened at all! While secretly all three of them were relived that Toby and not Amy had been right...

(c) Valerie Healy - September 2011


  1. Sounds great Valerie :) I also want to write and have tried very often but never gotten past chapter 3 or 4, writers block I guess. Hopefully I'll whip the laptop out soon and get working! You're quite the motivation :) Okay now I'll challenge you :D
    Genre: Fantasy Fiction
    Emotional setting: Tension and suspense/fear
    Location: Pirate ship around the 1700's
    Someone to include: A kidnapped maiden with a dark secret ;)

  2. love it Lauren.. very exciting, cant wait to get thinking about this.. and yeah just write is my advise, dont worry about it too much, thats what makes us stop.. just get stuck in and enjoy it and before you know it, you will have finished the book.

  3. That was really good Valerie! I found myself nearly skipping words to try to get to the end and find out what the out come definitely got my attention and drew me in..looking forward to the challenge :)

  4. Thanks Nancy.. Yeah im excited to try and write in all sorts of genres.. hope I will be saying that next week when I try to write the next one but im sure it will be fine.. dont forget to leave me the four elements you would like the next time too..

  5. Great idea Val - following you now:)