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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: The Story Bites Back
By Joshua Janoski
~3rd Place


He stood on the pavement of the quiet city street. Clouds poured out a torrential rain that pounded into the asphalt like a bag of marbles being scattered on the floor. Carl Windsor’s sopping white undershirt stuck to his chest, and his legs shivered inside his water soaked pajama bottoms. Lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled. A man stepped from a dark alleyway between two dilapidated buildings.

Carl stood frozen as the figure, dressed in a beige overcoat with matching bowler hat, approached him. He extended his hand, and Carl hesitantly shook it.

“Good afternoon, Carl. It’s nice to meet my maker. Enjoying the rain?”

Carl shook his head in disapproval.

“Don’t like it, huh? Well this was your doing. Remember the novel you finished last night? The one you want to self publish? You started chapter one with the line ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ That’s quite the clichéd beginning if you ask me.”

The mysterious man pulled out a business card from his wallet and handed it to the confused Carl.

“I apologize. Please, allow me to introduce myself. The name’s Mac…Mac Benjamin. I’m a private investigator.“

Carl stumbled backwards in shock. “You…you’re the main character of my book!”

“Yes I am, and in case you wondered, you are dreaming. Follow me over to 23rd Street and I’ll explain more.”

Carl trailed Mac through the alley and over to the connecting street. As Mac stepped from the alley, he vanished.

“Hey there, sugar!”

Carl turned around. “Whoa, you scared me! Who are you? And where’s Mac?”

“Silly, Carl. Don’t you recognize Louisa Rose - hairdresser extraordinaire?”

“Louisa? The hair dresser in my book? I’m so confused!”

“And so are your readers! Mac Benjamin is the main character that drives your book, but every time you switch point-of-views to another character you stick your readers into a new mindset making it difficult for them to relate to Mac and immerse themselves in his story. One moment they are puffing smoke and solving crimes in Mac’s office and the next moment they are sniffing perm chemicals and gossiping with the girls in my shop.“

Louisa rubbed her eye. “This rain is making my mascara run, so I gotta skedaddle. Bye, darling!”

Carl walked to the barbershop across the street and rested outside. His watch had shifted forward twenty-four hours. Mac stepped out the barbershop door.

“Thanks for the trim, Guido!”

“What are you doing?” Carl snapped.

“Remember in chapter four when I was in the middle of solving that murder case, and you decided to skip forward a whole day without letting the readers know what happened during that 24 hours? They had no idea what I was doing during that time and the plot halted. So, I used that time to go to the barber shop and get a haircut. I may grab some food at Joe’s Grill too since wasting a day while knee deep in an urgent case seems like a logical thing to do.”

“Hahahahaha!” A naked man covered in tattoos laughed maniacally as he zipped past Mac and Carl.

“Whoa! Is that Ben the killer? I don’t remember writing him to look like that.”

“That’s Crazy Lars. You introduced him at the very beginning of the book before introducing me. You confused your readers as to who the protagonist of the story was. And the really sad part is that Lars wasn’t even a main character and only lasted a few pages. What do you say we go to my office and further discuss this there?”


Inside Mac’s office, Carl noticed an open file on the desk. His picture was in it along with a list of every major writing mistake in his book.

“I understand this dream now.” Carl said with regret. “You were hired to reel in my bad writing.”

Mac placed a hand on Carl’s shoulder. “I was hired to help you improve your skill and knowledge of the craft. Revise your novel and learn from other writers. Don’t give up, and you’ll be amazed how much things change in this town the next time you visit.”

Light penetrated the office. Carl walked over to the window and peeked down at the street below.

“Wow! Look outside! There are unicorns, butterflies, and rainbows! The rain has turned to gumdrops and the sun is out! Children are singing in the streets! How did this happen, Mac?”

“You used the cliché ending ‘and they all lived happily ever after.'”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Benjamin Graber04/29/10
This is hilarious! Great job bringing important writing tips to life...
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/29/10
This is wonderful. I chuckled all the way.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/30/10
Clever, unique and creative...but also a bit mind-boggling and confusing. The first pragraph, for instance, reads - "The street was quiet and still"...but then goes on to say "Rumbling thunder, rain hitting pavement like marbles and lightning flshing" (not so quiet after all, right?)

Anyhoo...it was a welcome relief from some "Ho Hum, Non-Action" type storis that put me to sleep with boredom. So I give you a high mark even though I was lost somewhere out in left field, plus some Kudos! (*.*)
AnneRene' Capp04/30/10
Really enjoyed this and loved the ending.

Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us beginner writers also!
Eliza Evans 05/02/10
Awesome creativity! I am amazed. Very, very fun.
Benjamin Graber05/06/10
Josh, I just wanted to stop back in and offer my congratulations on your EC!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/06/10
Who said try to avoid cliches? Of course you did such a marvelous tongue in cheek rendition it's no wonder you received the well-earned EC. Congratulations.
Bryan Rudolph05/06/10
. . . Joshua, please . . . please . . . turn this into a book. Just tell me where to send my money for one . . . my, it was over, far too quickly: darn word limit!

Congratulations, Joshua, on your 1st Place Win.

Loren T. Lowery05/06/10
Smiling ear-to-ear (a cliche
but appropriate) so happy for you, Joshuah. Congratulations - so well deserved.
Connie Dixon05/06/10
Josh is back!!! Congratulations. I'm confused but that's the point, right? Good job!
Patricia Turner05/06/10
Oooh Josh! Way to go - welcome back! I loved this show and not tell approach and a very enjoyable read to boot. Congratulations!!!
Gerald Shuler 05/06/10
No wonder I didn't get an Editor's Choice this week. What a wonderful story plot!Congratulations on a well deserved win.

And, Josh, welcome to Masters. You finally landed where you have always belonged.
Chely Roach05/06/10
Huge congrats, Josh. Very, very funny!
stanley Bednarz05/06/10
Congrates. Heading to Master's? So relieved. It's hard to imagine two polish christian writer's on the same level. if I'm wrong forgive me from where-ever you land.
Beth LaBuff 05/06/10
Josh... this story is AMAZING!! ...and I LOVE the title! I was SO EXCITED to see you 1st place--Advanced AND 3rd place EDITOR'S CHOICE... Masters Level will be "richer" with you there! Super congrats friend! ...(and just think, I had my picture taken with you way back --before you were famous-- at the FW conference...) :)
Rachel Phelps05/06/10
Congratulations, Joshua! This was truly amazing. So excited to see you in Master's next week. I think I'll save a copy of this one to keep myself from using cliches.
AnneRene' Capp05/06/10
Congrats Josh...you earned it!
Leah Nichols 05/06/10
YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This story was AWESOME! You so deserve that EC! Now move on up here to Masters with the rest of us. :)
Marita Thelander 05/06/10
For some reason I have the urge to hear you read this with all the voices exaggerated for our amusement. great job and slide on up to Masters. Try not to have a panic attack when you hit submit on your first Masters entry. Of course I'm not speaking from experience at all on this one. :)
Coleene VanTilburg 05/06/10
Congratulations Josh! So,--- so Creative and on topic. I know you will do as well in Masters.
I look forward to many more entries. Yes, our dreams can reveal a lot!
mick dawson05/06/10
Well done Josh, glad you decided to write again.
harvestgal Ndaguba05/06/10
This is great, so creative, funny and also giving awesome writing tips. What a joy to read.
Lyn Churchyard05/07/10
WAY TO GO JOSH!!! Super congratulations, this is awesome.
Sharon Eastman05/11/10
I loved this story. Please write more!
Marlene Austin05/15/10
Wow, great writing, Josh! I was just checking things out from my lengthy absence and this was a delight to see. Congratulations on your success. You are an inspired writer and a great blessing to others. :)