Manhattan College Gets Spooky with Scary Story Contest

by Nicole Rodriguez & Nicole FitzsimmonsAsst. Production Editor & Staff Writer

Following the success of last year’s contest, a second scary story contest is being held this October. The contest, sponsored by Manhattan Magazine and the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, encourages all Manhattan College students to participate and get in the Halloween spirit.

The idea of a scary story contest was first proposed last year by English professor Ashley Cross, Ph.D., to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein which itself was an entry to British Romantic poet Lord Byron’s scary story contest. Just as Lord Byron’s scary story contest gave a name to Shelley, Manhattan College’s scary story contest gives recognition to its winner by having their work published in Manhattan Magazine.

This year’s contest is judged by Cross along with English professors Adam Koehler, Ph.D., and Dominika Wrozynski, Ph.D.

Koehler, who also serves as the Director of the college’s Writing Program, explained the contest’s judging process as a whole and how its judging criteria leaves enough room for student creativity without the fear of being disqualified.

“Three faculty read blind, so we don’t know who we’re reading. Then we rank. Then we have a conversation about the rankings. Then through those conversations, we select the winner. So it’s fair, but it also I think leaves enough room for people to do really experimental things and not get disqualified because they are doing something experimental,” said Koehler.

Last year’s winning piece written by senior English major Chloe Burns exemplified how experimental contestants can get with their submissions. Burns impressed the judges by converting her version of a “Date Night” into a horror story. Her ghostly and eerie tone met with a suspenseful mood paired perfectly to end the story with a perplexing twist.

Co-President of Sigma Tau Delta and Editor-in-Chief of Manhattan Magazine Teresa Ramoni shared her opinion on Burns’ story and her eagerness to read this year’s winning piece.

“I’m very excited to read our winning piece. I’m currently taking Dr. Toth’s horror films class, and it’s fascinating to see the ways in which the horror genre becomes a means for social commentary—a means of examining the particular fears of an era. I think last year’s winning story, written by Chloe Burns, was a perfect example of that,” said Ramoni.

A scary story writing workshop is set to be hosted by Koehler on Wednesday, Oct. 9, in Jasper Lounge at 6 p.m. The goal of this workshop is to help students connect with themselves and one another intellectually through their writing during the Halloween season. He encourages anyone interested in participating in the contest to attend this workshop to help develop ideas and stories, no matter what level of writing they believe they are.

“[Students] who think they know what they want to do but haven’t quite decided, or are on the fence, or kind of questioning their own abilities as a writer or really want to talk to other people about their work, wherever you are on the range or the spectrum of things, we have a series of invention exercises that we do to get you started on your writing. It’s enough before the deadline so that you can kind of like take that and run with it, and then turn in a draft,” said Koehler.

The deadline for submitting entries for the scary story contest is Oct. 25. All entries should be submitted to Adam Koehler, Ph.D., through e-mail. Winners will be announced, fittingly, on Halloween.