Quick links on this page:
Mike Scott Thomson & Chris Fielden, looking devilishly handsome (hmm...) after undertaking the long and arduous journey to Hull
Welcome to Mike's Not-Entirely-Serious Wantonly-Rule-Breaking Adverb Writing Challenge. Like its creator, it's very simple (sorry, Mike...). And fun too.
This is a flash fiction challenge. Here are the rules:
So far, we're received 225 entries. We need 75 more to publish the next anthology.
The first anthology – Adverbially Challenged Volume 1 – was released in November 2016. It contains the first 100 stories submitted to the challenge.
Adverbially Challenged Volume 2 is currently in production and will be released in the spring of 2017.
We will release Volume 3 when we have received 300 stories.
Mike and I would like to thank everyone who has submitted stories for their support – it is very much appreciated :-)
Proceeds generated by anthology sales will be donated to First Story.
First Story supports and inspires creativity, literacy and confidence in UK secondary schools where over 50% of the pupils are considered deprived. The charity helps young people nurture and develop their creative writing skills.
Below is a letter we received from First Story after we made the first donation payment to them in January 2017. I'm sharing it here so that all the writers and readers who have contributed to this project can read it:
Dear Chris and Mike,
I am writing to thank you for your donation of £101 towards First Story’s programme, made following the impressive sale of 101 anthologies. It is incredibly generous of you to donate the proceeds of Adverbially Challenged Volume 1 sales to First Story, and we are delighted to hear that you have already received many entries for Volume 2. Your support will make a significant difference to our work with young people and we are truly grateful.
As you know, First Story aims to bridge the creativity gap by bringing writers into schools serving low-income communities.Through participating in writing residencies and other writing activities, our students are flourishing in confidence and creativity, developing key skills that will underpin their future success.We’re presently running 70 writing residencies, working with 1,500 students in the East Midlands, South West, London, Hull and West Yorkshire.
The impact First Story has on students is truly extraordinary and it can enhance the quality of their lives. Our work simply would not be possible without those, like you, who share our vision and ambition for young people.
Executive Director, First Story
An adverb is a word that is used to describe an adjective, verb or another adverb. They are commonly referred to as 'words ending in ly', although not all of them do.
Adverbs are often overused by amateur fiction writers. Hence, a common writing tip is 'don't overuse adverbs'. For example, Stephen King advises this in his book, On Writing, A Memoir Of The Craft.
I made the mistake of overusing them when I started out in writing and learnt the hard way that editing most of them out of your prose can vastly improve your writing. That said, don't feel you can't use them at all. You can, just don't over do it.
You can learn lots more about adverbs in this very useful resource by Your Dictionary.
Mike and I first met through the To Hull & Back humorous short story competition. Mike won the inaugural contest and travelled to Hull when I made the first winner's video.
Mike & Chris at the To Hull & Back anthology book launch
About a year later, Mike wrote a post for my blog, featuring his short story Me, Robot which was published by The Fiction Desk. Part of the post talks about the 'rules' of best practice for fiction writing, one of which is
you guessed it
don't use too many adverbs. While we were discussing this by email, we thought it might be fun to create a challenge that wantonly breaks this rule. We're such
And so, the Adverb Writing Challenge was conceived and born. Originally, the challenge comprised part of Mike's post.
We decided that if we received 20 entries, we'd create a dedicated page to the challenge. We hit that milestone on 24th June 2016, hence this page exists.
We decided that if we received 1oo entries, we'd release an anthology. We hit that target on 3rd August 2016. The anthology – Adverbially Challenged Volume 1 –was released in November 2016 in print and eBook formats.
We decided that if we received 200 entries, we'd release a second anthology. We hit that target on 26th January 2017.
If we receive another 100 entries, we'll release Adverbially Challenged Volume 3. Again, all the proceeds will go to charity. If we don't receive another 100 entries, it's a bit of fun, you can read all the stories here on the site and you now know about the fabulous First Story charity and might donate to them in the future.
Win, win, win.
Below are all the stories that have been submitted, crammed to exploding point with unnecessary adverbage. They are published in the order in which they were received.
The first 100 stories submitted to the Adverb Challenge were removed from the site on 1st October 2016. They are now available to read in Adverbially Challenged Volume 1.
You can learn how to buy the book and support charity here.
Profits from sales will be donated to the First Story charity every 3 to 6 months, depending on the volume of books sold. You can see how much has been raised by all the challenges run on this website on the main Writing Challenges page.
The second collection of 100 stories submitted to the Adverb Challenge were removed from the site on 1st February 2017. We are currently editing Adverbially Challenged Volume 2. The book will be released during the spring of 2017 (probably during April).
The book will contain stories written by 72 authors who reside all over the planet.
All future anothologies will contain stories by 100 writers as we are now limiting submissions to 1 per person.
For the sake of history, here are the opening notes Mike and I wrote when we opened submissions for the second anthology.
An opening note from Chris Fielden
Sadly, the legendary Allen Ashley regrettably missed out on the deliciously tempting target of submitting story number 100 to the Adverb Challenge. Ironically, his delightfully entitled story 'The Final Word' will open Adverbially Challenged Volume 2. Somehow, I feel this is fitting for this splendidly silly test of tantalisingly titillating adverb usage.
And from Mike Scott Thomson
So, we made it to 100 (and beyond)! Thanks so much to everyone for contributing to this undoubtedly daft, but indubitably satisfying challenge - and I'm sure First Story will be pleased too. Very much looking forward to Adverbially Challenged Vol 1 being released in November, just in time – hopefully – for the filling of stockings (Yulely).
And as for Volume 2, in the spirit of wantonly-rule-breaking, I couldn't think of a more appropriate story to kick things off than one called "The Final Word". Verily, I see great things ahead.
You can read the current submissions for Adverbially Challenged Volume 3 below.
An opening note from Chris Fielden
Splendidly, we've received 200 adverb riddled stories. We're now carefully traversing the cobbly road towards 300 stories. Writers are still generously submitting their imaginatively conceived tales, so undoubtedly we'll acheive our goal. Thanking you all muchly.
And from Mike Scott Thomson
Gratifyingly, I sincerely wish to humbly and rapidly convey my...
Wait, I don't have to do that in this bit. Phew.
I would like to echo Chris's sentiments: a massive thank you to everyone who's submitted to our challenge, and/or bought a copy of Volume 1 so far. It's wonderful to see so many have got involved, and for such a good cause. Stay tuned for Adverbially Challenged Volume 2, coming soon.
Right now, I'm looking forward to seeing what entries we receive for volume 3. We live in interesting times; I doubt there'll be any lack of inspiration on that front. Although if you can't bear to turn on the news right now (and who could blame you), the Official Internet Default Option is also to be very much encouraged: cats. At the time of writing, we already have two feline-related stories out of five. More, please.
Thank you and meow.
by Giselda Donavado
"I've heard some strange things in my time but that was something else," remarked remarkably-still-awake Bertie Beetle to Caramello Koala at the conclusion of the factory floor managers' comatosely-long 14 minute speech at the Chocolate Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Quite predictably, for the third year running, the auspiciously celebrated red letter day for the confectionary industry had been royally boycotted by Kinder Surprise in protest over controversy surrounding its alleged performance-enhancing small toy inclusions.
Unsurprisingly, news of the snub brought a chorus of barely-disguised contemptuous snickers from attendees including Kit Kat, Bounty, Picnic and, most notably and fittingly, Snickers himself.
by Christpher Fielden
"Morning," says Fluffy, sardonically.
I leap up, wakefully. "You didn't just speak," I say, disbelievingly. "You’re a cat."
"I certainly did," says Fluffy, slyly.
Usually, Fluffy lives up to his name, aptly. Today, he's largely bald, surprisingly charred.
"I was struck by a meteor," says Fluffy, matter-of-factly. "Predictably, I died. Unpredictably, I rose."
"Like Jesus?" I ask, incredulously.
"Jesus wasn't a cat," he says, disparagingly. "I'm unimaginably powerful." Idly, he licks his paw, lazily. "Like a god."
"Gods require belief to exist," I say, insidiously.
"You wouldn't," he says, nervously.
"I don't believe in you," I state, meaningfully.
Fluffy disappears, puff-of-smokedly.
In The Room
by Mike Scott Thomson
Abruptly we’re awoken, emphatically: a cataclysmically cacophonous fanfare of trumpeting. Blearily we jolt upright, rigidly.
"What was that?" asks Gloria, frantically.
"Water pipes," I say, untruthfully.
"Liar," she says, irritably.
She reclines horizontally, pulls the duvet over, cosily. Quietly I tiptoe downstairs, submissively. The Maximus Indicus, ears swishing flappingly, tusks glistening dangerously, regards me dolefully, even balefully.
I feed it peanuts, insufficiently. It fills our house, abundantly. I implore, beseechingly: keep quiet, seriously. Inevitably – understandably? – no longer can it be ignored, so intolerably.
Back upstairs, warily, I edge past Gloria’s Borneo Pygmy, automatically, pretending, increasingly futilely, it’s not actually there.
by Michael Nkansah
I stepped hard on the accelerator, longingly yearning for a nice, warm bed. Then there he lay, motionless.
I suddenly screeched to a halt. Thoughtfully musing over what might have happened, I bent caringly over. He was breathing, albeit faintly. Hearing the slightest of sounds, I turned sharply. Two gun-toting men, like apparitions, emerged stealthily from the bush. Promptly, reality dawned. I'd been unabashedly hoodwinked, big time.
Now up, my man ordered imperiously, "Your phone and keys," his arms outstretched expextantly. Obediently, I did his bidding. They zoomed off. Then I began the long, lonely, perilous walk to town.
A Deadly Dawn Chorus
by SL Hardin
Quickly, softly, silently he slunk down the stairs, his feline body wrapping dangerously around my ankles as I tiptoed sleepily through the darkened house. Not your traditional dawn chorus, his mewling cries greedily imploring me to feed, "Me-now."
Suddenly he stopped. Quite accidentally, I didn't.
Then I'm falling, loudly hitting every step as I grab hastily against bare walls, trying desperately to avoid the inevitable crash.
Still he sits, stealthily hidden in darkness, furtively glancing between my broken crumpled body and the upstairs rooms, waiting patiently for another victim to wander unsuspectingly into his path.
We don't own a cat.
See The Wonder
by Binyamin Bashir
He perched breathlessly atop the rock upon the hilltop. Silently, the horizon called and he respectfully welcomed its awe. The moist air soothed him lavishly and its warmth thoroughly enticed him. He gazed admiringly across everything in his scope of sight and wondered appreciatively. His thoughts wandered brightly and delightfully, and he felt appropriately content as he blissfully rested.
There was so much he could eagerly see. Life was a gift he humbly accepted.
Comfortably, he inhaled the magic of the place. The beauty and mystery. There was so much he could cheerfully do. He boldly smiled and leapt up wonderfully.
by Leese Wright
He crept through the house quietly, methodically, not wanting to risk alerting anybody to his late-night escapade. He'd planned it carefully, committing every potential obstacle to his impressively strong memory. Without so much as a creak from a floorboard, he'd crossed the hall and made it to the partially open window.
Within seconds he was descending the surprisingly sturdy drainpipe and spilling out into the dimly lit street below. He quickly glanced around but, as expected, there wasn't a soul in sight. Rarely was anybody from the sparsely populated town outside of their comfortably secure homes after dark.
by Judith Wolfgang
Hopefully, Friday will be a wonderfully, amazing day. A day of kind, compassionate people surrounding us. A perfect day when it comes to good wholesome fun.
A day to embrace the perfect sunrise and linger over our first cup of coffee. Lovingly preparing to spend time with the most loyal friends we have.
Kindly and considerately, we plan how we are going to spend our amazingly free day. Where to begin.
Fly a kite at the park. Visit a museum or two. Lunch with the most famous people we know. The day is quickly over. We can't wait for next time.
by Michael Rumsey
He sat coyly, silently, woodenly, alone on the chair. The man strode purposefully toward him.
"Hello, you're not looking actively sprightly this gloriously charming evening. Allow me to give you a helpful hand."
The Admiral, suddenly animatedly spoke loudly, clearly, boldly.
Ahoy. I am as you know, and fervently wish to remain, dazzlingly handsome, amazingly entertaining and highly articulated."
He rambled on incessantly, wildly exaggerating his fondly held memories as the man sipped continually from a freshly poured glass of bracingly and enticingly attractive sparkling water.
The audience applauded enthusiastically.
Overwhelmingly stimulated the Admiral and ventriloquist bowed deeply.
by Christine Tapper
Eventually Christmas arrives. Consequently you write meaningfully in cards.
If you're called Christine or Christopher, don't lapse even partially while writing Happy Christmas or someone's card might say, 'We wish you a Happy Christine/Christopher.' This usually happens when the brain blindly follows the first five letters Christ with 'ine/opher' instead of 'mas'. We must stay alert.
I once linked the wrong Aunty and Uncle. Aunty bluntly said Harold wasn't her husband. A sense of humour probably would have helped, but she simply wasn't blessed with one. Fancy me omitting Uncle Noel. Noel, Noel... obviously no-one's more Christmassy than him.
by William Chris Sargeant
I sat longingly silently, expectantly waiting for my soundless mobile to ring quietly. The confidently, feisty lady I had suddenly, deeply fallen for had refused my awkwardly phrased offer for lunch before she was forever flown back to her far away country and out of my disrupted life. The loved lady was explainedly busy closing her too large house and packing her sumptuously expensive wardrobe.
I sat quietly, irrationally thinking she would call, realising my hurt.
Had I misread her blue, twinkling eyes and her carefully constructed words of life. I had, obviously, because I sat quietly, drunkenly, staring inanely, waiting insanely. The ring never happened.
Cod Liver Oil
by Lesley Anne Truchet
"Louis, are you OK?"
"No. Order the gang quickly. I've got the most awfully galloping squits."
"Felix," said Blackie forcefully, "you dig holes deeply. Solomon, you fill them in thoroughly. Carlos, look for fresh places, swiftly."
"What about me?" Mickey asked timidly.
"You can gently guide Louis to the empty holes?"
"Me-ow, my stomach hurts," groaned Louis wretchedly.
A voice called plaintively. "I'm sorry, Louis. The vet prescribed a level teaspoon of cod liver oil. Without my hearing aid, I thought he said eleven teaspoons."
"Eleven teaspoons? Oh sh..."
"DON'T say it, Mickey," Blackie said vehemently.
Interestingly Not The Worst Night Of My Life
by Laura-Liisa Klaas
Angrily, we stared at the elderly driver of the lousy Volkswagen. We had enthusiastically hitched an obviously lengthy ride with him and now could go no further, he quietly informed us.
It was easily the most furiously hottest day of this sickeningly humid summer in the South of France.
We found ourselves in the typically tiny rest area in the MIDDLE of the angrily loud highway.
It looked like we certainly would have to spend a rather annoyingly lengthy night in the toilets. With unapologetically loud music gingerly emanating from the speakers and disgustingly harsh lights on, automatically and perpetually.
By The Seaside
by Alan Barker
Fearfully, Tim placed the ball awkwardly on his tee. His opponent, Jack, who did every stroke masterfully, wisely let Tim go first. He swung his club recklessly. The ball bounced insanely against the windmill, shot widely past the tunnel entrance and inevitably settled sadly in the long grass.
Jack, swung his club gracefully and thoughtfully. His ball crossed the green handsomely and dropped into the last hole successfully.
As Tim wandered inconsolably back to the clubhouse. Jack said confidently that Tim had acted very bravely and that one day he might win the Seaside Crazy Golf Challenge superbly.
A Stolen Idea
by Gemma Masey
I looked up at the obnoxiously placed poster that idiotically and incessantly recounted the overwhelmingly good fortunes of a one 'Mr Lennox'. The boldly coloured notice bravely overshadowed the other partially withered sign describing the charity scheme for the immeasurably poor and underprivileged.
I glared harshly at the former and stormed away moodily. That was my idea, my impressively conceived visualisation, not that unbelievably inconsiderate halfwit's.
The wintry environment did nothing to improve my tetchy mood. I slumped onto a precariously creaking bench, staring monotonously and hatefully ahead, wishing the worst on the ridiculous idiot."
Always Generously Tip Your Stylist
by Amber Fernie
Isobel Russel saunters snootily into my hair salon for her usual 4:15 wash and set. She is a notoriously bad tipper.
Today, when she eventually leaves here, she will not ultimately be returning home, though. That's because today, while I skillfully wash and set her hair, her house will be stealthily burgled and abruptly set on fire.
Isobel Russel will angrily collect her insurance money and resentfully move on from this event, while I, the person who faithfully does her usual 4:15 wash and set, will presumably be several thousand dollars richer.
Isobel Russel should definitely have tipped me better.
by Julie Indah
Mike woke up due to the rumbling, deafeningly sounding thunder. He sluggishly moved out of his bed and went to the window slowly.
Then suddenly, a beautifully-dressed fairy, with her slowly yet elegantly flapping wings, scooted over Mike and landed on his shoulder.
"Did you caused that?" he said callously, pointing at the thunder outside his house.
"Everybody's bullying me because I don't have any new clothes," she said resently, pouting.
He sighed. "I'll buy you some. Go fix that first." Then he swifly went back to sleep.
Overjoyed, she said, "OK," coyly.
by Louise Burgess
The sun shone so brightly through the window, it almost certainly could have blinded me.
If I hadn't hurriedly shoved on my glasses I am positively sure I wouldn't of been able to see.
However what a wonderful sight to gaze upon, wide open fields with sheep bleating occasionally.
Normally I wouldn't ever sit so lazily in such an uncomfortable chair staring frequently at those noisy sheep. Then again, I hardly ever get the time.
The Rude Cat
by Mikal Peterson
The clocks tediously slow, droning, ticks annoyingly were echoed throughout the house. The small cat looked angrily at the clock as the hands mechanically moved methodically. Then, the cat gracefully leaped quickly up to the clock. Without hesitation, the cat hastily knocked the clock to the ground. The clock shattered forcefully against the ground and the crash was heard loudly throughout the house. The cat's owner begrudgingly walked into the room and looked at the pieces of the clock. He sighed heftily and began cleaning up the remnants of the clock.
by Andrew Ough-Jones
"I challenge you to a duel," I belligerently cried.
"You can't just say that every time you don't get your own way." My sister tutted and rolled her eyes, exasperatedly.
"To the death," I blasted again, abhorrently staring at my dastardly, wicked foe.
I leapt from the sofa arm, crazedly, launching myself at her, snarling menacingly like a wounded bear. But I started my assault prematurely and my eyes opened widely with fear as I realised my mistake. She caught me, threw me to the ground and sat on me. Uncomfortably.
"Give up?" she asked smugly.
"Yes," I muttered, miserably.
by Sivan Pillai
I entered John's brightly lit room and was baffled to find him sitting on his elaborately carved chair, stroking his cat lovingly. He had always insisted that he disliked cats thoroughly though he had reluctantly bowed to his continually pleading wife.
He welcomed me cheerfully and, clearly observing my hardly concealed confusion, recounted enthusiastically how the cat had cleverly prevented his baby daughter from putting her hand into the hot water tub, irrevocably making him a cat lover.
His wife, hurriedly entering from the slightly closed bedroom, reprimanded him mildly for talking loudly and waking up the just slept baby.
Unbearably White Walls
by Michelle Konov
Rather maddeningly, occasionally I spend however much time simply and actually doing literally nothing, staring listlessly off into the distance, especially at a particularly blank wall. Probably, it's almost daily, some tell me directly. Immediately I refute these heinous claims – to happen so frequently, how unbelievably uncouth.
Moreover, virtually all my time irrevocably spent staring at walls has hilariously lent me a naturally mysterious reputation. So, recently, I have begun to thank you fully, my entirely white walls, for ultimately providing me this completely and unnecessarily creative title.
by Terker Jerbs
Always yesterday, never tomorrow. First everywhere, then down under, entirely last. Then suddenly, now. Inside the underground dimly lit stridently, fiercely pushing upstairs and outside. Rather often, not anywhere near here, but away. Almost too early, but somehow often enough. Between there and somewhere over yonder, we've only today, forever.
On Thoughtful Reflection
by Cathi Radner
Generally, I sit quietly, patiently waiting for something unexpected to happen. Generally, it rarely does and I usually have to wait a ridiculously long time for nothing to occur.
So I was listlessly sitting, languidly rocking my chair, thoughtlessly kicking my left shoe against the carelessly maintained wall of the second best parlor in grandmama's rambling manse.
Dust silently fell to the floor.
A spider surreptitiously peeked in, while a slightly braver mouse peered past then madly dashed across the room. Somewhat amusing, but hardly unexpected.
I yawned noisily. I had inevitably grown weary. Lustily, loudly, emphatically, I screamed, "Enough."
by Kristie Claxton
"If only you had said something before. From the absolute beginning of this conversation, ahead of time, then maybe we could have gotten off on the wrong foot."
"Maybe we wouldn't have gotten off on the wrong foot you must certainly mean." The old man looked at me solemnly, shifting his neverending girth from his left foot to the right. He looked quizzically behind me but I was the only one here. "You certainly have a sharp witted tongue."
I lazily shook my head. "It's the only thing I have that is, without a doubt, mine."