The "WHAT THE DICKENS?" Game
"The whole horrible ideality of the Mysteries of Udolpho, condensed into the pithy effect of a ten-line paragraph, could not possibly have so affected the narrator’s auditory. Silence, the purest and most noble of all kinds of applause, bore ample testimony to the barbarity of the baker, as well as to Bolton’s knack of narration; and it was only broken after some minutes had elapsed by interjectional expressions of the intense indignation of every man present”
- Charles Dickens, “Mr. Robert Bolton: The Gentleman Connected with the Press” The Challenge: Astonish your friends with the whole horrible ideality of your favorite lurid novel. Summarize the basic plot in a ten-line paragraph and send it to your friends without mentioning the title or the names of characters. See if they can guess what novel you're writing about! Example: While her father becomes increasingly senile, a young, bored heiress who has rejected marriage for herself tries to marry off every single person already in her small hometown or arriving for an innocent family visit. Naively believing love conquers all, she makes friends with a poor illegitimate girl and influences her to break off a romance with a kind local tenant farmer and set her cap for the local curate, who instead falls for the heiress. Unmoored from the reality of her uncertain social position, the illegitimate girl comes to believe that several gentlemen with property and fortune are in love with her. Meanwhile, after publicly flirting with a gentleman she briefly fancied, the heiress realizes she loves her much-older brother-in-law, who the illegitimate girl currently adores. Thankfully and conveniently, the farmer manages to woo back the illegitimate girl just before tragedy strikes, and marriages occur within appropriate social classes.