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babooher
(@babooher)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 137

Is there a discussion topic in the forum that focuses specifically on the techniques and characteristics of the stories that get into the book? A kind of WotF book club for writers. More than just a place to say which stories we liked or disliked, but a place to analyze them like is often suggested.

2012 Q4: R
2016 Q3: SHM
2019 Q2: HM, Q3: HM
2020 Q2: HM, Q4: SHM
2021 Q1: HM, Q2: SF, Q3: SHM, Q4: Waiting
2022 Q1: WIP

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Topic starter Posted : November 8, 2021 4:40 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1181

I haven't seen one for Volume 37 yet, but we could talk about it it here! (We could talk about any of them here, arguably.)

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
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain
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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4th and Starlight Kickstarter -- active through December 10th! (55% funded last I checked.)

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Posted : November 8, 2021 9:23 am
AliciaCay liked
AlexH
(@alexh)
Silver Member
Posts: 261

There have been comments/discussions on individual stories here and there, but the advice from Wulf in his Super Secrets thread applies to many stories in recent volumes, especially Wulf's story! There are great insights in that thread from other forum members too, including other winners of the contest like Andy Dibble, Brittany Rainsdon, Leah Ning, Preston Dennett and M. Elizabeth Ticknor. It's basically a goldmine in there.

I think it'd be great to have a thread that picks out what we think made a story a winner, with a focus on the positive.

35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM SHM | 38: HM HM HM

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Posted : November 8, 2021 9:59 am
babooher
(@babooher)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 137

The Widow's Might (And remember, here there be spoilers!)

I was reading some in the latest WotF volume, trying to see what made the stories winning stories. I'm not trying to be snarky or negative, but The Widow's Might stumps me. Setting is interesting, prose is good, but the structure reads to me like a series of try/succeed cycles. Try/succeed cycles can work if their success brings further complications, but these don't. At least, not that I'm seeing. What am I missing?

2012 Q4: R
2016 Q3: SHM
2019 Q2: HM, Q3: HM
2020 Q2: HM, Q4: SHM
2021 Q1: HM, Q2: SF, Q3: SHM, Q4: Waiting
2022 Q1: WIP

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Topic starter Posted : November 20, 2021 8:33 am
scribblesatdusk
(@scribblesatdusk)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 140

@babooher So for me I interpreted the story almost as a horror. Instead of try/fail cycles it's really about MC's character arc as she goes from being a helpless widow, one who doesn't want to hurt others too severely, to becoming an executer of vigilante justice. The reason I say horror is because sure right now she's somewhat in the right, but it's scary to think what may be viewed as worthy of punishment in the future and in general what would happen if their group becomes corrupt. 

At every step MC had the opportunity not to exact revenge, to try to change the process, and each time you see her veer further and further away from empathy and from who she once was.

In real life, there are often debates about the prison system-- if it should serve merely as a tool for punishment or for rehabilitation. If we don't agree with the justice system can we enact our own and where do we draw the line? Very political and timely questions given cases in the USA like the Rittenhouse trial and shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. At least that was how I interpreted this story. It was interesting to read such a potentially dark story in a wotf volume. 

A side detail I really liked was about pockets , I'm still peeved at how hard it is to find skirts/dresses with pockets  

V36:Q3 HM
V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM
V38: R,HM, ?

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Posted : November 23, 2021 11:07 am
NVHaskell liked
babooher
(@babooher)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 137

@scribblesatdusk Awesome. And thanks for the perspective. I kept thinking I know this is a winner, so what am I not seeing? Your comment really helped.

2012 Q4: R
2016 Q3: SHM
2019 Q2: HM, Q3: HM
2020 Q2: HM, Q4: SHM
2021 Q1: HM, Q2: SF, Q3: SHM, Q4: Waiting
2022 Q1: WIP

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Topic starter Posted : November 23, 2021 12:22 pm
scribblesatdusk
(@scribblesatdusk)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 140

@babooher I'll just counter to say I'm not sure that was the intent of the author. I think you're supposed to root for the MC, who's really more an antagonist/antihero (? I'm not really sure) than a hero, and those part of the tea club. It's also steampunk, which I'm not sure how much of that I've seen in wotf, and displayed a good deal of dry humor too. 

V36:Q3 HM
V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM
V38: R,HM, ?

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Posted : November 23, 2021 12:40 pm
Preston Dennett
(@prestondennett)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 525

I like this idea. Here's my two cents. I've made a few posts similar to this before, but here it is again.

Most winning stories have these elements.

1. Polished Prose. Accessible readable writing. A few mis-spelled words are not a problem, but you must be able to write creatively and correctly.

2. Unique, original, creative, high concept trope. Please make your story interesting! Perhaps the most important element of all.

3. Strong hook. The judges can tell in the first few pages (or even the first paragraph) whether it's going to be a good story. En media res! Start with the action! Get right to the conflict asap.

4. Satisfying ending. So important! Tie up those loose endings. You must stick the landing. 

5. Interesting, vivid, settings with colors, smells, textures.

6. Well-drawn complex realistic characters who have a catharsis and change by the end of the story. WOTF also loves unique characters, a phoenix, a dryad, an AI -- a character off the beaten path. 

7. A good plot with suspense and action and try/fail cycles and unexpected and surprising twists and turns. (This is not always present though...some are perhaps better described as adventure stories with a series of events, or mood pieces, and can be very entertaining without the traditional try/fail suspense structure.)

8. Emotion! Make your reader cry. Make them laugh. Make them gasp with wonder. Nothing is more boring than a dry parched story without emotion.

9. Family (or friends.) Look at the stories and you will see how prominent relationships are. 

10. Dialogue. Good, snappy repartee!

 

 

These are I think the main ingredients to any successful story. Pick any story in any volume, and I wager that you will see at least 7 or 8 of these prominently displayed.  Some might not be terribly original, but they are so well done, they win. Some might be a bit clunky in execution but the trope was incredibly creative. Also, try to keep your story short. WOTF favors shorter stories. The latest volume doesn't have a single novelette or novella in it. ALL were 25 pages or less. It's harder, I think, to win with a longer story. It can be done, but it has to be darn good! If you are earning HMs or higher, you are already there. You made the second round. Don't give up. If you aren't placing in the contest (HM, SHM, SF, F), chances are your stories are missing some of the above elements. Just don't give up. That's the most important ingredient of all. Persist! You can win this contest. 

 

 

Preston Dennett
HM x 12
F x 1
Winner, 2nd place, Q1, Volume 35
39 stories published! (and counting!)

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Posted : November 23, 2021 1:40 pm
Wulf Moon, NVHaskell, JVAshley and 5 people liked
dommichaels
(@dommichaels)
Advanced Member
Posts: 36

What struck me about Vol 37 is that over half the winning stories are in first person. That's consistent with publishing industry trends, but puts to rest that particular concern which I've seen pop up many times on the forum.

V37 Q3 - HM, V37 Q4 - HM, V38 Q1 - HM, V38 Q2 - HM, V38 Q3 - HM

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Posted : November 23, 2021 2:19 pm
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