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fox
 fox
(@foxed)
Active Member
Posts: 24

I'm liking my story thus far for q4 (I think I'm improving upon a lot of the weak points of my first) and I'm pretty stoked that the first ?k words I'm happy with without seeing the need to edit it too much (which is rare for me)

but I am hitting my...mid-story lull, as it were. I always have an idea of where the story is going but I can't help but feel my pacing always slips around the halfway point, despite doing my best to maintain tension. This is something I will have to clean up, I think, after I finish, but it takes the wind out of my sails a bit. still, I reckon Rome wasn't built in a day, or something....onward...

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Posted : July 6, 2021 4:37 pm
earthkeeper
(@earthkeeper78)
Advanced Member
Posts: 29

I think I've settled on which story to submit for Q4, though there's another story I've got on the back burner that shows some promise. I might just save that for next year's Q1 though. Give me some extra time to finish and polish it up.

"Trust is like a shop. Difficult to build, but surprisingly easy to ruin. But when it is strong and true, there are few things in this world that make you feel stronger."
V37: HM
V38: X,R,P

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Posted : July 7, 2021 3:27 pm
storysinger
(@storysinger)
Gold Member
Posts: 880

I'm working on a story approaching 10k without an ending in sight. Due to content I'm sure it's not WotF worthy but I must see where it leads me.

Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality-D.R.Sweeney
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
HM-V38/Q1

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Posted : July 8, 2021 10:16 am
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Active Member
Posts: 5
Posted by: @foxed

I am hitting my...mid-story lull, as it were. I always have an idea of where the story is going but I can't help but feel my pacing always slips around the halfway point-

I'd be interested to know if you -or anyone here- has ever tried writing the first and third "acts" and then working out all the story problems that have to be solved to make up the middle? 

journalist

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Posted : July 8, 2021 12:28 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277
Posted by: @foxed

I'm liking my story thus far for q4 (I think I'm improving upon a lot of the weak points of my first) and I'm pretty stoked that the first ?k words I'm happy with without seeing the need to edit it too much (which is rare for me)

but I am hitting my...mid-story lull, as it were. I always have an idea of where the story is going but I can't help but feel my pacing always slips around the halfway point, despite doing my best to maintain tension. This is something I will have to clean up, I think, after I finish, but it takes the wind out of my sails a bit. still, I reckon Rome wasn't built in a day, or something....onward...

A great model that can help is the Seven Point Plot, foxed. Understanding the elements necessary to make a satisfying story can really help with that sagging middle. Charting your scenes against the plot model can help you see what needs to be done next. 

Most of this comes with experience, but understanding the model can really help you move forward. I did write a Super Secret on it, but Algis Budrys wrote the book on it. WRITING TO THE POINT. He was the first coordinating judge of this contest. The book is out of print, but many have gotten it on loan through library systems, or bought copies from private individuals online.

Best of success!

Moon

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Posted : July 8, 2021 12:34 pm
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Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2277
Posted by: @angelslayah
Posted by: @foxed

I am hitting my...mid-story lull, as it were. I always have an idea of where the story is going but I can't help but feel my pacing always slips around the halfway point-

I'd be interested to know if you -or anyone here- has ever tried writing the first and third "acts" and then working out all the story problems that have to be solved to make up the middle? 

Interesting that you brought the three-act structure up, angelslayah. I just had an article published on it in the latest issue of DreamForge Anvil magazine. Here's the link. I hope it helps! 

DreamForge (mywebportal.app)

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" in Deep Magic Fall 2020 wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss the Super Secret "Character Agency: I Need a Hero!" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon. Click HERE to get yours!
NEXT MASTER CLASSES AT FYRECON ONLINE, NOV. 18-21ST. Click HERE before they are sold out once again!

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Posted : July 8, 2021 12:39 pm
fox liked
pdblake
(@pdblake)
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Posts: 129
Posted by: @angelslayah
Posted by: @foxed

I am hitting my...mid-story lull, as it were. I always have an idea of where the story is going but I can't help but feel my pacing always slips around the halfway point-

I'd be interested to know if you -or anyone here- has ever tried writing the first and third "acts" and then working out all the story problems that have to be solved to make up the middle? 

No but it sounds like a fun thing to try.

www.pdblake.co.uk

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Posted : July 8, 2021 1:09 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1113
Posted by: @angelslayah
Posted by: @foxed

I am hitting my...mid-story lull, as it were. I always have an idea of where the story is going but I can't help but feel my pacing always slips around the halfway point-

I'd be interested to know if you -or anyone here- has ever tried writing the first and third "acts" and then working out all the story problems that have to be solved to make up the middle? 

I have a short in progress that I'm... kind of writing this way? Not on purpose so much as because I wrote the opening scene, then part of the ending because I couldn't figure out what came next, and now I'm hopping back and forth as I think of things.

I don't write like this all the time--but, honestly, I rarely write a first draft the same way twice. My main goal the first time through is just to get it to a point where it's finished enough that I can tame the beast in editing.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : July 8, 2021 3:57 pm
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 140
Posted by: @angelslayah
Posted by: @foxed

I am hitting my...mid-story lull, as it were. I always have an idea of where the story is going but I can't help but feel my pacing always slips around the halfway point-

I'd be interested to know if you -or anyone here- has ever tried writing the first and third "acts" and then working out all the story problems that have to be solved to make up the middle? 

I tried this last week and it worked to show me that my planned ending didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. Disappointing, but at least I figured that out before I’d build the second act to support a weak finish!

V38 Q2: HM
V38 Q3: Submitted
V38 Q4: Submitted

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Posted : July 8, 2021 4:16 pm
fox
 fox
(@foxed)
Active Member
Posts: 24

@angelslayah I've not done that but sounds like a great exercise. I'll be trying this tonight. Thank you for the suggestion!

@wulfmoon Ah, timely advice; I began researching the seven-point plot more thoroughly over the last few days. I've managed to finagle my story (or, outline, rather, as the story isn't finished yet) to better hit the seven points and it was definitely helpful, only had to make some minor tweaks. That three part story article you wrote is also great so thanks.

Just a general addendum, for anyone who might be curious or perhaps experiences something similar:  I find that my "midway lull" moreso comes with feeling uncertain about the direction the story is going in (even if I have an ending in mind), thoughts such as: am I making the right choices (for the story), this feels contrived, etc. Just general doubt, if that makes sense. Probably some underlying imposter syndrome/confidence issues coming to surface. Hopefully it’s something I learn to better endure the more I write.

All that said, I think just focusing on maintaining tension and hitting those try/fail cycles and seven points will help with these feelings of general plotting inadequacy, as well as doing my best to have engaging and relatable characters. Thanks for letting me get in a quick vent and for the helpful suggestions everyone. 

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Posted : July 8, 2021 4:51 pm
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 158
Posted by: @angelslayah
Posted by: @foxed

I am hitting my...mid-story lull, as it were. I always have an idea of where the story is going but I can't help but feel my pacing always slips around the halfway point-

I'd be interested to know if you -or anyone here- has ever tried writing the first and third "acts" and then working out all the story problems that have to be solved to make up the middle? 

I don't go ahead and write the whole acts, myself. But I do like to plot out the ending and a number of the steps along the way. It's nice to be surprised on the journey, but I usually have the final destination locked (if not fully written).

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, P

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Posted : July 23, 2021 7:20 am
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Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 158

Wasn't sure where else to post this, so I'll stick it here. I've finished my draft for the story I'll possibly enter for Q4. Been working on a different one, shorter than I'd usually write (I'm probably gonna release this little Kraken at DreamForge if I'm happy with the end result). But wow-I spent over an hour yesterday just thinking about the plot and trying to come up with a believable ending (I originally had an ending in mind but decided it lacked). The planning doesn't normally take me that long without any progress. Today, I spent almost another hour thinking about the structure and how things should fit, especially in regards to the ending. I haven't been this stuck with plot for ages!! grrrrr grrrrr

I ended up just writing down something. I got rid of the first few hundred words of that, but it was enough to boost my into the rest of the story. Still needs a hard look over and a solid word cull, but the draft is almost done.

Take that, structure blocks.  sniper  

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, P

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Posted : July 23, 2021 7:27 am
fox, NVHaskell, David Hankins and 1 people liked
NVHaskell
(@nvhaskell)
Bronze Member
Posts: 50

@angelslayah I do this more with my longer works, but also did this with my planned Q4 submission too. I often start at the beginning, then write the ending. Then I "Plantser" my way through, with the security of knowing how it ends. Usually, during the editing process, I rarely change anything in Acts I and III, but will rewrite huge sections of Act II.

‘If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.’ ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs
'The War Within' Deep Magic Volume 73 https://deepmagic.co
'A Straw in the Wind' in A Hero's Journey Anthology coming in 2022
V37- R, HM, SHM, HM
V38- HM, SHM, P

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Posted : July 23, 2021 3:04 pm
Henckel and Morgan liked
Corbin.Maxwell
(@corbin-maxwell)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 232

I'm going to tell you right now that if I start posting again and making friends on here there will certainly be, over time, those friends winning and moving on and then I begin again. It's been going that way for me since about 2005. So, as I scan the names of you forum-posters I will try to lock them in my mind so that when you win I'll remember you as I've done for all my other forum friends. 

 

R.I.P. my one-time mentor and writer friend Jeff Carlson. 

I ain't cut out to be no Jesse James.

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Posted : July 25, 2021 4:38 pm
Corbin.Maxwell
(@corbin-maxwell)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 232

@foxed Drag your character through hell. That's what happens next. Dig down into the darkness of your soul and pull from it your pain and your secrets and with these darklight things paint your storyworld and your characters and the challenges they must face to survive or die in the service of friendship. 

 

Or, probably better to study Wulf's writing and his points of advice and read whatever articles he's published on writing.

 

  salute  

I ain't cut out to be no Jesse James.

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Posted : July 25, 2021 4:52 pm
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Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 158

@corbin-maxwell 

That's always possible of course. Still, I myself find encouragement from people who entered this contest over 30-40 times, in several cases spread out over decades, before they won or pro'd out.

Keep submitting, Corbin. You never know what's just around the corner. 

Best of luck!

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, P

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Posted : July 25, 2021 8:09 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

@corbin-maxwell Dragging your protagonist through hell is good advice. For highest tension, the problem of the story should be soul-crushing. What is soul-crushing to one may not be soul-crushing to another, so perspective must be set up in the opening, often revealing a protagonist’s greatest fear or weakness. Then, your story tests your protagonist by taking them to the worst challenge they could ever face, exposing that fear or weakness as they fight to overcome the opposing force. Through the journey, they come to terms with that internal weakness, and in positive ending stories, grow in character as a result.

Deep stories not only have a plot arc, they have an internal arc as well. The more expansive that arc in terms of that character’s weakness, the more satisfying the ending often proves to be.

 

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" in Deep Magic Fall 2020 wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss the Super Secret "Character Agency: I Need a Hero!" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon. Click HERE to get yours!
NEXT MASTER CLASSES AT FYRECON ONLINE, NOV. 18-21ST. Click HERE before they are sold out once again!

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Posted : July 26, 2021 10:43 am
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

@phantomhill 

 

Hi Joshua. Always nice to see a fellow West Virginian on the forum.

Best of luck to you in the next quarter. 

(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 – Semi-finalist
(2021) V38 Q2 – SHM
(2021) V38 Q3 – tba

Coolest Achievements
(2019) Published in Escape Anthology
(2020) Published in Sci-Fi Lampoon
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2020) Dream Foundry - Shortlisted
(2021) Mike Resnick Memorial Award - 3rd Place winner!!! (to be published)

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Posted : July 26, 2021 2:54 pm
AliciaCay
(@aliciacay)
Bronze Member
Posts: 65
Posted by: @disgruntledpeony

Not sure what I'll be sending yet, but I've got options. Odds are good I won't be writing fresh, because I have too much going on this year, but I do have a story I finished a few weeks ago that would make a good option if/when I get it back from Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I also have a number of stories that have seen revisions since their last entry into this contest, so I could potentially resub.

ahh, Liz! Just saw this post ... wow.

No more worrying about the next quarter. I can't imagine how good that must feel. ♥

V32: HM (Q4)
V33: HM, HM, SHM, HM
V34: R, R, HM, HM
V35: HM, HM, R, HM
V36: R, R, SHM, R
V37: SHM, FINALIST, HM, SHM
V38: SF, X, tbd
Ten story publications! (including Air and Nothingness Press, Third_Flatiron, and three with WordFire Press ♥)
https://aliciacay.com

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Posted : July 26, 2021 9:19 pm
Morgan
(@morgan-broadhead)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 129
Posted by: @crlisle

@lost_bard I write a story completely then toss it and start over. I have found that doing this helps me understand my MC. Who they are and their motivations. Weird, but I have done this for my past couple of WoTF stories. shrug  

Personally, I find this is exactly what the first draft is all about. Sometimes I work from an outline, sometimes I don't. Either way, it's not until I've written through that first draft that I really know what the story—and characters—are all about. For me, first drafts are about exploration. Everything after that is just refining.

 

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King
Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

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Posted : July 28, 2021 8:26 am
Morgan
(@morgan-broadhead)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 129
Posted by: @disgruntledpeony
Posted by: @lost_bard

I keep getting false starts on my stories. Great opener, interesting premise, then halfway through I realize that a key aspect isn’t working, a character goes in a direction I didn’t expect, or the ending kind of fizzles. 

I’m sure this is part of the process for learning how to write better, but it’s frustrating to rewrite 50% of my story multiple times.

 

This happens to me all the time. My current finalist took me two years to write because I kept getting stuck on plot points, so I'd set it down for awhile and work on other projects until I figured out how to fix a thing. Some stories flow easier than others, but most of mine require some level of revision. I have written exactly one easy story out of 20+ (I don't keep an exact count), and it was magic, and I never expect that to happen again.

I'm SO GLAD you said this! It's taken me 1 1/2 years to actually write my current story! The original version went pretty quickly. But then I had it critiqued and also sent it out for a content edit, and after that I just ... couldn't. The feedback was all great. Everyone loved the story, just not as it was currently written. I felt totally overwhelmed and suddenly all the writing advice and books and workshops and lessons I ever had came crashing down and I found I didn't even know how to write anymore. I had to take some major time off from writing just to cope and settle back into it. So here I am, a year and a half later, and things are back to great again. Pivotal life moment, I guess.

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King
Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

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Posted : July 28, 2021 8:38 am
Morgan
(@morgan-broadhead)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 129
Posted by: @angelslayah
Posted by: @foxed

I am hitting my...mid-story lull, as it were. I always have an idea of where the story is going but I can't help but feel my pacing always slips around the halfway point-

I'd be interested to know if you -or anyone here- has ever tried writing the first and third "acts" and then working out all the story problems that have to be solved to make up the middle? 

This is the first story I started "blocking" before even writing a first draft. I usually start by filling in the key points using Dan Wells's 7 Point Plot Structure. (Dan also reviews each point in detail in a series of YouTube videos.) Once I know the key plot points, I expand each into a paragraph or two, identifying the major goals, conflicts, and disasters for each scene. These paragraphs comprise my "zero draft"—the skeleton I build on as I work through the first draft and subsequent rewrites/revisions. When blocking out my scenes, I also try to keep in mind some advice I once heard from Brandon Sanderson: "When in doubt [about a character or plot decision] always err on the side of what's awesome."

Like I said, this is the first time I used "story blocking" to decide everything ahead of time. I'm past the zero draft and am still writing the first draft, but every plot point feels exciting to me and I can't wait to write it, even all the middle stuff. So maybe this could be a helpful strategy to try.

Good luck!

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King
Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

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Posted : July 28, 2021 9:05 am
Morgan
(@morgan-broadhead)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 129
Posted by: @czing
Posted by: @lost_bard

@czing, I get the trouble with focusing on writing when the day-job gets crazy. I’ve discovered that my brain comes up with all sorts of cool ideas on the long drive to work, then I’m frantically trying to write them down in the parking lot before I go inside and face real life. 

Good luck on Q4!

Yeah as much as I appreciate working at home and prefer not having all the going to work hassle of work clothes and doing my hair etc - I do miss that time I'd spend waiting at the bus stop with my notebook in hand and furiously scribbling things down.

If only they knew how many of my "meeting notes" were actually just brain-dumps! 🤣 

 

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King
Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

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Posted : July 28, 2021 9:21 am
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 140

@morgan-broadhead

Ha! No kidding. Anyone reading my notebook from work (still use good old paper and pen for our mind-numbing meetings) would find 80% doodles and story ideas and 20% actual work. We have a lot of meetings, so I get a lot of time to mentally rehash my stories.

V38 Q2: HM
V38 Q3: Submitted
V38 Q4: Submitted

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Posted : July 29, 2021 5:44 am
sleeplessinschnitzel
(@sleeplessinschnitzel)
New Member
Posts: 4

@scott_m_sands I feel your pain. I'm 3/4 through my Q4 submission, and I cannot figure out how to end it for the life of me. The original ending simply doesn't work for the character I've created, I could probably shoehorn it in if I needed to, but it would take rewriting the protagonist to make it believable. I might pitch the idea to some friends, ask how they would get out of the situation I've put my protagonist in to get some inspiration. Hope yours is going better!

HM, ?

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Posted : July 31, 2021 8:02 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277
Posted by: @sleeplessinschnitzel

@scott_m_sands I feel your pain. I'm 3/4 through my Q4 submission, and I cannot figure out how to end it for the life of me. The original ending simply doesn't work for the character I've created, I could probably shoehorn it in if I needed to, but it would take rewriting the protagonist to make it believable. I might pitch the idea to some friends, ask how they would get out of the situation I've put my protagonist in to get some inspiration. Hope yours is going better!

The answer to a problem like this is always in the beginning. You made a promise there to the reader on what you would deliver in this story by the end. Your ending should mirror that promise, but validate that you delivered on it. Full circle.

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" in Deep Magic Fall 2020 wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss the Super Secret "Character Agency: I Need a Hero!" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon. Click HERE to get yours!
NEXT MASTER CLASSES AT FYRECON ONLINE, NOV. 18-21ST. Click HERE before they are sold out once again!

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Posted : July 31, 2021 8:25 am
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 158

@sleeplessinschnitzel 

Thanks. It has progressed, yes. I'm relatively happy with the ending (in the very least it's believable, I think) and the rest just needs a few tweaks. 

May inspiration for yours flow swiftly!

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, P

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Posted : July 31, 2021 8:12 pm
fox
 fox
(@foxed)
Active Member
Posts: 24

pleased to announce i have finished my first draft of my q4 submission Smile i think all you folks' industriousness is rubbing off on me. i hope to shorten it by atleast 2k words by the end. will need to revamp some interactions as well. i know i'll be doubting myself as the deadline approaches but for now, i feel good!

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Posted : August 1, 2021 7:23 am
PenMark
(@penmark)
Bronze Member
Posts: 53

Nice job, @foxed! I actually came here to say the same thing. I like this feeling of having two months to revise much better than waiting until the last second--what a shock, lol. I'm glad to see that you picked up on that sooner than I did! laughing

V37 Q3: R
V37 Q4: SHM
V38 Q1: R
V38 Q2: SHM
V38 Q3: Submitted
V38 Q4: Revising

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Posted : August 1, 2021 7:46 am
Wulf Moon and fox liked
fox
 fox
(@foxed)
Active Member
Posts: 24

@penmark huzzah! congrats my friend. aye, it feels good to allow some breathing room, lol; here's hoping i don't go into over-edit mode as i'm wont to do. best of luck on your revisions

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Posted : August 1, 2021 8:24 am
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