Home Forums Gauntleteers 2018 Final Challenge

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    Steven Lugo

    [sound check]
    [deep breaths]
    [letting it go]
    [letting it fly]

    Final Challenge: “The Phantom Word”

    In your final Gauntlet story ‘the word’ cannot exist. It must not be found. The concept, on the other hand, should ring as clearly as a bell. It should be fully understood. This word, this concept, in question is entirely up to you.

    Your Final Challenge is to write a speculative fiction short story within the next two weeks. We want this story to center upon a concept which you never quite articulate. Remember, they didn’t say the word ‘zombie’ in The Walking Dead.

    We are giving you lots of room to be creative in this round. It is as close as we are likely to come to saying, ‘Write a freestyle story.’ Your story may revolve around a horror trope, like zombies or vampires, but it doesn’t have to. It could be something like a computer virus, or world war, or unicorns, just to give some examples. We want a concept, no matter how particular or broad. And we don’t want you to pin a trope-ish noun to it. Some of the best writing advice we’ve ever received said, ‘Tell the story without telling the story.’ That’s what the Phantom Word is all about.

    Let’s load some bullets:

    * You have two weeks to complete this Final Challenge. As ever, there is no word limit, and no restrictions against graphic content.

    * Make your story speculative, and make it about something. A clear concept is important.

    * Make us understand the concept without telling us what it is.

    * Be at your most awesome. Because this is the main event.

    We will of course entertain any and all questions in this forum, so long as answering them doesn’t make the challenge boring!

    Deadline: Friday, Oct 19 @10 PM EST

    The end is nigh,


    Chy Burch

    Man, time flies when you’re having fun. I realize you finalists probably don’t want the next two weeks to fly by, but I do, because I’m eager to read your stories. Every round has been better than the previous and so has every year. Entries that would have won the Gauntlet in its early years sometimes don’t even get their Gauntleteers to the finals in more recent years. We see it progress every year; “Damn, this is a great round. It’s a shame some of these great entries won’t make it through.”

    The competition is that steep. The Gauntlet is grueling, in its back-and-forth between writing and reviewing. We do know that, Gauntleteers. And we love you all for rising to the challenge, round after round. We’ve had to lose some fantastic contenders in the previous rounds, and now it’s time to see who takes the laurels this year. There are so many of you not in the finals that I hope to see in future years, but these next two weeks are about our 2018 finalists. It’s a glorious time to be a Gauntlet judge.

    To add to what Steven already so much more eloquently said, give us stories about a thing, without using the word for that thing in the story. We have high hopes, based on what we’ve seen you do this year already. I’d say, “No pressure!” but I’d be lying.

    Love you, Gauntleteers!


    Gale Peterson

    We’re waiting! I’m sure you are going to write about— Well, you know. But I can’t say. Ha!
    Best of—


    Steven Lugo

    Can you believe that 4 days remain? How are your stories coming, Gauntleteers?!



    My first draft is almost done!

    I do have a procedural question. Obviously, you don’t want to know what the word/concept is while you’re reading the story, but do you want it included in the document after the end of the story? Something like:

    *last line of story*
    *”The End”*
    *”My word was antidisestablishmentarianism.”*

    Or not?


    Steven Lugo

    Totally up to you. Personally, I think if you’ve met the challenge then the word/concept should be pretty clear anyhow.



    Thanks for the info, Steven.

    My entry’s in. Good luck to my fellow finalists!

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