I recently accepted Susanna Leonard Hill’s challenge to write a Children’s Halloween story. You might be thinking that writing a story for Halloween doesn’t sound like a challenge. It’s simple really. All you have to do is:
- Decide upon the main character. (Could be a typical kid, or any number of spooky spooks like a ghost, mummy, goblin, or black cat.)
- Then decide what the main character wants. (Maybe Max wants to grow the biggest pumpkin for a contest. Perhaps Gina wants to win a prize for the best costume at the school party. Maybe Carl wishes to learn a few spells from the witch down the block.)
- Then, think up an inciting incident to challenge the main character or keep him from attaining his goal. (What if… on the morning of the contest, a squirrel has eaten through Max’s prized pumpkin? What if Gina discovers that three of her best friends bought the same costume she did? What if Carl hears that the witch eats all children who enter her cottage?)
- From here, our main character must try and fail at overcoming obstacles in his/her path, fall into a dark, hopeless moment, get a brilliant idea, try again with renewed spirit, arrive at the grand story climax where resolution comes followed by the perfect denouement.
Normally this would not be a problem if the contest allowed writers 500 words (typical for picture books) to tell their story, but that isn’t the case. These are the instructions:
The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words costume, dark, and haunt. Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)
So, I grabbed a cup of tea, sat at my computer, and started writing. By the time I had created a setting for my story to take place in, introduced my main character, and revealed his problem, I was already into the story by 88 words. Great! 12 more words to go. Delete, delete, delete. I started again and again, slimming and trimming, tightening and selecting the best words. And on the 26th of October, I will post my 100-word Halloween story here for you to read.