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CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 207

Crystal - I can't tell you if it's the case here or not, of course, since I'm not Dave, but I have heard before that he'll give a story SHM instead of SF or higher because he wants to see it again with some revision. I don't know if that makes sense, but all I'm trying to say is, the fact that the story's placement didn't change doesn't mean that you didn't make it any better with your effort. I know it might be disappointing to see that placement not change, so I hope that helps Smile

Thank you! I'm hoping that's the case... Because yeah, It is disappointing that it didn't seem to improve with my effort. Not sure if I should try again to revise and submit this one at some point, or just send it out elsewhere and go back to only subbing fresh stories to the contest. I might try to get some more eyes on it this quarter just to see what else it needs. Meanwhile... Time to write my next story, right? 😉 Thank you for the encouragement, Leah!!

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the upcoming Leyward Stones series. http://ccrawfordwriting.com
I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, sometime in 2021!

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Posted : November 3, 2020 10:47 pm
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 703

silverhm

Congratulations to everyone!

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

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Posted : November 3, 2020 10:48 pm
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

HM for me.

Congrats Crystal and Becky on your SHM's (and anyone else I don't know about yet).

Fingers crossed for anyone still waiting for results . . .

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Posted : November 3, 2020 11:05 pm
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 145

Welp, I was hoping for more than an HM on this one. Alas, no such luck.

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Posted : November 3, 2020 11:06 pm
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Me too, Zeet!

Allowing myself five minutes of disappointment . . .then dusting myself back off and getting back to work . . .

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Posted : November 3, 2020 11:09 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 549

Good going, all. Smile No matter your results, you've still got stories to tell and folks who want to hear them. Keep it up!

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : November 3, 2020 11:27 pm
cabarrett
(@cabarrett)
Bronze Member
Posts: 55

HM. This story's concept wasn't fully on target for wotf, so I'm very happy. I'd been biting my nails now that I'm under the scrutiny of Commander Moon's mirrored sunglasses.

Vol36 - HM
Vol 37 - Finalist, HM
Vol38 - Q1 SHM, Q2 pending, Q3 scribbling...

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Posted : November 4, 2020 12:14 am
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 92

I got an Honorable Mention

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Posted : November 4, 2020 2:35 am
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 212

silverhm

(My husband is naming me Rookie of the Year. Lol He is very proud of me.)

Congratulations to all!

2020 Quarters: 1st -- R, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- SHM
2021 Quarters: 1st -- HM, 2nd -- Pending
"The Last Dance" to be published Feb. 2022 in the LTUE Anthology, Parliament of Wizards
"Never give up. Never surrender." - Galaxy Quest

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Posted : November 4, 2020 3:07 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

I got a SHM again!

This was a revision of my previous SHM, but I did some deep changes to the story before resubmitting, including changing the opening, clarifying the heart's desire, changing the climax, and adding two whole scenes. My revised version was actually double the length of the original (first version I'd submitted was only just over 3k words). I resubmitted this one instead of one of the new ones I wrote last quarter because I thought it was my strongest story after revising. But still got the same result... So at least I didn't make it worse, I guess?

I've heard some great results for this quarter from others who haven't posted here yet... Congratulations to everyone!!

Well done, Crystal! Dave hands you a Silver HM often hoping he will see it again. It could well be in a different Q it would have ranked higher. Q4 is toughest to win in, and Dave also has a good idea what he’s already got in the antho by now. Could be he had too much on that theme or genre already, but is asking you to try again. He has said up to three times he’s willing to keep looking at a story—after that, he says it doesn’t improve enough to budge it. However, I do know one that kept reworking and resending every Q for two years and finally won with it, so there are exceptions to every rule. As always, I advise caution on the aspiring writer rut of reworking a story over and over. Fresh is best! But you must do what you feel is right, of course. Let me know what you decide and I can help.

Very well done! SHM is top 50 or so in the world!  salute

But we have even more amazing news to come from this small but mighty workshop!

Stay tuned! This is Wulf Moon's Super Secrets Workshop’s best quarter EVAH! The Wulf Pack RULES! We shall have a HOWLING! Gather round, all you challenge beasties that have put your blood oath on these walls!

You see a wulfish grin ...

“Ahrooooooooo!“

Commander “Beastmaster” Moon

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" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" 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!

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Topic starter Posted : November 4, 2020 3:36 am
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 402

Hi all my fantastic forum friends. Congratulations again on your amazing results!

As for mine, I've held my tongue as long as my tongue could be held.
finalist
I should know next week if I'm a winner.

A special thank you for my fantastic crit partners and to Wulf Moon for his amazing Super Secrets!!!!

(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 – tba

Publications
2019 Writing Bloc Cooperative – Escape Anthology
2020 Sci-Fi Lampoon – Winter 2020 Issue

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Posted : November 4, 2020 5:27 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Hi all my fantastic forum friends. Congratulations again on your amazing results!

As for mine, I've held my tongue as long as my tongue could be held.
finalist
I should know next week if I'm a winner.

A special thank you for my fantastic crit partners and to Wulf Moon for his amazing Super Secrets!!!!

Woot woot! Fingers crossed.

WHen did you get the call?

36: R, R, R, SHM
37: R, HM, R, HM
38 ?

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Posted : November 4, 2020 5:28 am
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 402

Thanks chucky. Joni called Tuesday afternoon for me. So, later Monday evening for those in the USA.

(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 – tba

Publications
2019 Writing Bloc Cooperative – Escape Anthology
2020 Sci-Fi Lampoon – Winter 2020 Issue

ReplyQuote
Posted : November 4, 2020 5:35 am
Thegirlintheglasses
(@thegirlintheglasses)
Bronze Star Member Contributor
Posts: 171

finalist

Guys, here’s to hoping third time’s a charm  winking

Congratulations Chris! I’m so so happy you made finalist too!!! Gahhh!!! It’s a good one!

Big thank you to Mr. Wulf Moon for the super secrets and his critique help on this story. Absolutely spot on! You rock!

Special shoutout to both Chris and Becky who actually reached out to ME just before the end of the quarter (And by just before the end I mean there was like a day or two left and they wanted to help because they knew I was struggling). Guys, this meant so much. I’ve felt really down with my writing progress this year and was just going to kinda let it go as best I could on my own. I’m so glad they reached out. Their comments were invaluable and I know this story wouldn’t have done as well without them—THANK YOU!!!! And guys, it meant far more than just the critique, truly.

I ALSO wanted to say that this quarter’s experience reminded me of what we are. A team. A pack. That you people are good and kind and thoughtful and there is no other place quite like this one. We lift each other and as we do, we all rise. Look around. There’s so much success happening in this group. We’re getting closer, even if sometimes we fall back a bit. Much love to you all and may there be many, many more successes to come!

Brittany Rainsdon
R-SHM-HM-R-HM-R-F-F-HM-HM-SHM-HM-HM-SF-PF-2nd place!
Published Finalist Volume 37 Quarter 4
Second Place Volume 38 Quarter 1

First publication was "Perfectly Painted Lies" published in Deep Magic Spring 2021 and reprinted in the anthology, Best of Deep Magic Volume 2.
Learn more about me at rainsdonwrites.com

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Posted : November 4, 2020 5:47 am
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 402

Thank you Brittany!!!! And congratulations to you as well! fistinair ....Now lets see if we can hold our breath for the rest of the week until Joni calls.
Ready. Set. go.

(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 – tba

Publications
2019 Writing Bloc Cooperative – Escape Anthology
2020 Sci-Fi Lampoon – Winter 2020 Issue

ReplyQuote
Posted : November 4, 2020 5:55 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 207

Hi all my fantastic forum friends. Congratulations again on your amazing results!

As for mine, I've held my tongue as long as my tongue could be held.
finalist
I should know next week if I'm a winner.

A special thank you for my fantastic crit partners and to Wulf Moon for his amazing Super Secrets!!!!

I'm so, so excited for you!!! And awfully proud that my crit partner made FINALIST. I had nothing to do with that success, that was all you, but having read your story I feel personally invested... I'm SO hoping you win!!!

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the upcoming Leyward Stones series. http://ccrawfordwriting.com
I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, sometime in 2021!

ReplyQuote
Posted : November 4, 2020 5:58 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 207

wotf058

Guys, here’s to hoping third time’s a charm  winking

Congratulations Chris! I’m so so happy you made finalist too!!! Gahhh!!! It’s a good one!

Big thank you to Mr. Wulf Moon for the super secrets and his critique help on this story. Absolutely spot on! You rock!

Special shoutout to both Chris and Becky who actually reached out to ME just before the end of the quarter (And by just before the end I mean there was like a day or two left and they wanted to help because they knew I was struggling). Guys, this meant so much. I’ve felt really down with my writing progress this year and was just going to kinda let it go as best I could on my own. I’m so glad they reached out. Their comments were invaluable and I know this story wouldn’t have done as well without them—THANK YOU!!!! And guys, it meant far more than just the critique, truly.

I ALSO wanted to say that this quarter’s experience reminded me of what we are. A team. A pack. That you people are good and kind and thoughtful and there is no other place quite like this one. We lift each other and as we do, we all rise. Look around. There’s so much success happening in this group. We’re getting closer, even if sometimes we fall back a bit. Much love to you all and may there be many, many more successes to come!

Congratulations!!! That is so, so awesome! You did this even among everything you faced the past year... that is truly incredible. I'm so excited for you!

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the upcoming Leyward Stones series. http://ccrawfordwriting.com
I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, sometime in 2021!

ReplyQuote
Posted : November 4, 2020 6:00 am
Dragonchef
(@dragonchef)
Silver Member
Posts: 274

A tremendous WOOP! WOOP! to Chris and Brittany. So dang cool you two. Fingers, eyes, and whatever else could be are crossed for you guys to head for the winners circle. So proud . . .
. . . and yet so green. But hey, what kills us makes us stronger, and I have died many times in this contest.
Love you guys. Lighting a candle. And the prayers are going up.

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Posted : November 4, 2020 7:08 am
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Awesome job Chris and Brittany!! So happy for both of you!

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Posted : November 4, 2020 7:27 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 703

clapper clapper clapper

YES! Get it DONE y’all!

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

ReplyQuote
Posted : November 4, 2020 7:51 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 549

Chris AND Brittany! That's FANTASTIC! Congratulations, you guys, and best of luck! All the fingers crossed for you over here! Would love to see you at workshop week!!!

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : November 4, 2020 8:09 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 145

Congrats to Chris and Brittany and all the amazing results from challenge members current and former!

Moon’s really onto something here, eh?

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Posted : November 4, 2020 9:18 am
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 212

clapper  Mega congratulations to Brittany and Christopher! Fingers crossed!

2020 Quarters: 1st -- R, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- SHM
2021 Quarters: 1st -- HM, 2nd -- Pending
"The Last Dance" to be published Feb. 2022 in the LTUE Anthology, Parliament of Wizards
"Never give up. Never surrender." - Galaxy Quest

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Posted : November 4, 2020 9:46 am
officer
(@officer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 106

Congratulations, Brittany and Chris! We're all rooting for you!

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Posted : November 4, 2020 9:46 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

  finalist

Guys, here’s to hoping third time’s a charm  winking

Congratulations Chris! I’m so so happy you made finalist too!!! Gahhh!!! It’s a good one!

Big thank you to Mr. Wulf Moon for the super secrets and his critique help on this story. Absolutely spot on! You rock!

Special shoutout to both Chris and Becky who actually reached out to ME just before the end of the quarter (And by just before the end I mean there was like a day or two left and they wanted to help because they knew I was struggling). Guys, this meant so much. I’ve felt really down with my writing progress this year and was just going to kinda let it go as best I could on my own. I’m so glad they reached out. Their comments were invaluable and I know this story wouldn’t have done as well without them—THANK YOU!!!! And guys, it meant far more than just the critique, truly.

I ALSO wanted to say that this quarter’s experience reminded me of what we are. A team. A pack. That you people are good and kind and thoughtful and there is no other place quite like this one. We lift each other and as we do, we all rise. Look around. There’s so much success happening in this group. We’re getting closer, even if sometimes we fall back a bit. Much love to you all and may there be many, many more successes to come!

OMG! I sure hope it happens for both you and Henckel. We are very proud of both of you.

36: R, R, R, SHM
37: R, HM, R, HM
38 ?

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Posted : November 5, 2020 6:49 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

THE SUPER SECRETS PHENOMENON

This Super Secrets Workshop has done the miraculous. We have around twenty active members. That's a writing group. I’ve been in some famous writing groups. One was this same size, and every member that qualified entered WotF. We might get a winner every three to five years. I earned a semifinalist while in the group. We had our odds and ends HMs each year. But NEVER did virtually everyone in the group get honors. Many quarters, members got nothing in this contest, and they were having their submissions critiqued by Hugo, Nebula, and Stoker winners! You guys are sweeping the boards! HMs are a great honor, and yet getting HMs are commonplace for challenge beasties from this workshop. And this quarter, AlexH and Candice got their first silver HMs! Becky got her second silver! Liz got a semifinalist (and a prior 4th Place from an expanded workshop exercise!). To top it all off, in this latest Q4, Volume 37, Chris Henckel and Brittany Rainsdon both just earned FINALIST and are in the judging right now for the win!

No writing group entering the Contest has ever accomplished such a thing before. I have never heard its like. We’ve only been running for two years, and we already have two winners from this workshop: Kate Julicher from year one, and Leah Ning from year two. Very soon, we may hear the announcement of more. And that makes me rejoice. It’s why I created this workshop--to shine a light on the path so writers don’t have to stumble in the dark.

I am extremely proud of all of you. Do you know why? TOGETHER, we are making miracles happen. These past two quarters have been nothing short of miraculous. Look at your results tallies in those signatures before you entered this workshop. Look at your results after joining. The Secrets work.

Keep running with the Pack. We rise together. We help one another with whatever power we have.

This is the way.

WELL DONE, SUPER SECRETS CHALLENGE BEASTIES!

Now, we have entered year three. Alas, this is the first time I did not do open enrollment. I had to limit the size of the workshop participants this year. For the most part, I let Q3 results determine who could partake. Leah Ning (SwiftPotato), is doing the same challenge requirements as you, even though she’s already won the Contest. That’s one of the many things I appreciate about Leah--she’s always up to a challenge, and she’s always there to lend a hand.

We are working up the new Wall of Fame. In the meantime in this TOP GUN year, just look at the honors you aces have achieved. It’s obvious you were meant to be here. You are all to be commended. Every one of you placed. And that’s extraordinary.

It’s going to be an exciting year! I can’t wait to see all that you will accomplish! Congratulations to each and every one of you. That’s some fancy flying.

Commander “Beastmaster” Moon

The Super Secrets TOP GUN Year Members
Current Results as of October 2020

Leah Ning (Winner, Volume 37)

1. Henckel (Q3 Silver Honorable Mention, Q4 Finalist)
2. RSchibler (Q3 Silver Honorable Mention, Q4 Silver Honorable Mention)
3. CCrawford (Q3 Honorable Mention, Q4 Silver Honorable Mention)
4. Candice (Q3 Honorable Mention, Q4 Silver Honorable Mention)
5. StarReacher (Q3 Silver Honorable Mention, Q4 Honorable Mention)
6. GlibWizard (Q3 Finalist, Q4 Honorable Mention)
7. AjZach (Q3 Semi-Finalist, Q4 Honorable Mention)
8. zeeteebeez (Q3 Honorable Mention, Q4 Honorable Mention)

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" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" 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!

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : November 6, 2020 3:36 pm
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 172

Hey fellow beasties and Top Gun super flyers, I’ve been wanting to say something but my workload has increased and just feel swamped, but hi! Most of you I still chat with on Pack Chat, sometimes Super Secrets Chat, or elsewhere, but I wanted to congratulate all of you in the official public eye. Amazing to see all of you moving forward, keeping up solid HM quality or above. I hit HM myself, so almost made it back in but not quite. I’ll still be making regular updates to the deadlines list on my little blog and I’ve added my input to the official Super Secrets Market List that we’ll be updating. And trying to keep pace as well with new KYDs, short stories, and novel chapters.

Anyway, way to go everyone. Lots of success. Fingers crossed for both Brittany and Chris!

~oishisushi911

R.J.K. Lee
WotF 2015-present: HMx6 SHMx1
My blog has monthly lists of upcoming deadlines and submission windows; let them motivate you to be more productive: https://figmentsdiehard.blogspot.com/
Give a listen to my creepy reading of my original flash fiction piece on the December 2020 episode of the Weird Christmas Podcast at the 22:10 mark: https://weirdchristmas.com/2020/12/23/weird-xmas-flash-fiction-2020-contest-results/. May Stosh persevere.

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Posted : November 6, 2020 5:50 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

SUPER SECRET #46: The Three-Act Structure
Copyright 2020 by Wulf Moon. All Rights Reserved.

Aristotle. We know him as a famous Greek philosopher, but just like us, he enjoyed a good flick. In fact, you can discern from his writings that he did his good share of binge watching. If Aristotle got GoT, he probably would have thrown many grapes at the players for their moral turpitude. Aristotle was the first to discuss the three-act structure in Ancient Greek drama, thus making him one of the earliest dramatic critics.

Shakespeare tended to thumb his nose at this structure in his plays, proving that all rules and dramatic systems are meant to be broken. But Hollywood screenwriters eventually revived and embraced this storytelling system, and so have many novelists. It’s a writing theory that’s stood the test of time, so it’s worth a look at the three-act structure to see if we can gain knowledge from it.

First, why has this storytelling structure been around for so long? Because it’s a simple framework, easy to see, easy to understand. Think about it. Every story has 1) a beginning, 2) a middle, and 3) an end. One, two, three. That sums up the three-act structure in a nutshell. Only, in the three-act structure, it’s called 1) Setup, 2) Confrontation, and 3) Resolution. Same thing. Simple, right?

There are many writing teachers that like to complicate this beautifully simple structure with all kinds of complex terms and systems. I have sat through some of these classes, and was not happy when these instructors resurrected suppressed memories from my youthful days of mind-boggling trigonometry. So let’s keep it simple. Simple tools are easy to remember, easy to use.

The Three-Act Structure

Act 1--The Beginning

In a story, Act 1 is your beginning. It’s the Setup. What must every story start with? A character in a setting with a problem. I add in just a little more, but the point is, Act 1 is SET YOUR STAGE. Yeah, that’s a Super Secret. When the curtain rises, there are things your audience expects to be there. You need a setting for a backdrop, you need a hero on your stage, you need to tell us their heart’s desire, and you need to drop a combat boot down that will crush that desire if they don’t something about it. Now! That’s your opening. That’s Act 1.

When does Act 1 end? Before Act 2 starts! Since Act 2 is the Confrontation--you’re off to see the Wizard, follow the yellow brick road--the end of Act 1 is when your protagonist faces that Nazi combat boot or Wicked Witch of the West and says, “I’m going to do something about this!” That’s the point where your opening scene--Act 1--ends.
Movies usually do this in the first ten minutes. Novels? In the first fifty to one hundred pages (unless you’re Patrick Rothfuss). Short stories? Your hero better be wrapping up with their “I’m going to do something about this!” by page five. That’s all David Farland will give you, and it’s an excellent rule of thumb for most short stories.

Ready? Are we off to see the Wizard? You’ve got this, Dorothy!

Act 2--The Middle

The second act is the Middle of your story. It begins when your hero leaves their cozy world and steps into their adventure. It’s called the Confrontation in this act, and here’s why. Your hero is going to TRY to defeat the Problem, but the Problem is always bigger and stronger than they are, and they’re going to FAIL. Okay, there are exceptions to this rule, so even if they succeed, it’s always going to MAKE THINGS WORSE. I call this escalating tension. Tension makes readers turn pages. You need to make the problem your hero is fighting a challenging one. In a strong story, it’s soul crushing.

How many times should your protagonist Try and Fail? Three times total in a short story is the rule--third time’s the charm!--but one of those tries is your Climax. So, here’s an easy rule to remember. Your middle, Act 2, needs two, count them, two Try/Fail cycles.

And when does Act 2 end? Wait for it ... Wait for it ... When Act 3 starts! Since Act 3 is your grand finale--your hero’s last do or die attempt to defeat the problem or antagonist--Act 2 must end just before Custer’s Last Stand. It must look like the end for our hero, his forces divided, his might decimated, and in his darkest hour, he gathers his remaining forty men around him for one ... last ... stand.

Cut! That’s a wrap. It’s getting really dark. We’ll shoot Act 3 tomorrow.

Act 3--The End

The third act is your ending. It includes your Climax, and your Resolution, or let’s get really fancy and call it your Denouement. Parlez vous francais?

Act 3 is your hero’s last stand. It should look like all is lost. But your hero has tried to defeat the enemy a couple times now, and even though they’re battered and bruised, they’ve learned a few things from the exchange. This time, they are not so naive. This time, they see their enemy’s Achilles heal. They have gathered power through the journey to defeat the enemy that they’ve never had before.

Or not. And that would be a Tragedy. Aristotle would like that. Because he was Greek! They loved their tragic heroes. Sometimes, the hero does have to pay the ultimate price, and those can be very moving stories. More often in Western tales, the hero triumphs. And that’s satisfying, too. However you call it, heads or tails, the hero must face off against THAT WHICH KEEPS THEM FROM THEIR HEART’S DESIRE. This is their third TRY. They either succeed in this attempt (which the Greeks called Comedy) or fail in this attempt (which the Greeks called Tragedy). In Dorothy’s quest to go home, her attempt to kill the Wicked Witch of the West succeeded. Comedy. In Custer’s Last Stand, a real-life story, his last stand atop a hill to defeat the Sioux failed. Tragedy.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Stories need Resolution. They need that fancy Denouement. You can’t just fade to black with your hero raising their fist over their enemy. For one thing, that was an awesome fight scene, and we were holding our breath that whole time and we need a moment to breathe again! Or what if the hero just died? Give us a moment for pity’s sake! Help walk us through our feelings and have someone tell us there was a point to all of this bloodshed. Denouements are your moment to tell your readers your hero didn’t die in vain, or to celebrate their victory as they return home with their heart’s desire and live happily ever after. THE END.

Aristotle just rolled over in his grave.

So there you have it. The three-act structure. Beginning. Middle. End. Act One, Act Two, Act Three. Keep it simple. If you like, use it as a method to organize the structure and scenes of your stories. Want me to make it simpler? I can’t. But Gary Kurtz, the Star Wars producer, can. I conclude with his words in the LA Times:

"I took a master class with Billy Wilder once and he said that in the first act of a story you put your character up in a tree and the second act you set the tree on fire and then in the third you get him down."

ASSIGNMENT:

Each year at the start of the next Super Secrets Workshop, I ask members to review the list of Super Secrets. Why? Because, like vitamins, they make writing minds and bodies strong! You can find them by going to the TOC on the very first post on this thread. To make it more fun, this year we’re reviewing them by analyzing one of my published stories, “Muzik Man.” Why? Because I wrote this story using the Super Secrets! I can show you exactly where I played them! But that would be no fun. Instead, I’m sending YOU on an Easter egg hunt. Read the story and gather up these hidden eggs! Just like in Aliens, there’s lots of them, just waiting to be found!

1. Read “Muzik Man” once through as you would normally read. You can find it in DEEP MAGIC, Fall 2020. If you don’t have a copy, it’s not expensive, you can get one here: https://amzn.to/313KGJf

2. Print out the TOC of the Super Secrets so you have their titles for easy reference. Review a few while your at it. Smile
3. Read “Muzik Man” again, this time analyzing it for places you see the Super Secrets in action. Jot down notes or quotes where you see them deployed.

4. Write up one page of your findings, breaking it down under headings. Like this:

Act One: The Beginning

Act Two: The Middle

Act Three: The Ending

Summary: What points or methods did I discover in this analysis that I can use to strengthen my own work?

That’s it! Have fun with this assignment. There are no wrong answers, but there are right ones! Since I’m busy next week teaching master classes and panels at Fyrecon Online ( https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ ), I’m giving you anytime within the next ten days to complete and post this assignment.

See some of you at Fyrecon! As the Greeks would say, it’s going to be EPIC!

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" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" 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!

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Topic starter Posted : November 7, 2020 1:18 pm
empressed
(@empressed)
Bronze Member
Posts: 89

  silverhm

Congratulations to everyone!

And to you!  grinning

Victoria Dixon
Author of Mourn Their Courage
a 2010 Sandy Writing Contest Finalist
A Tribble Ate My Lunch: a Star Trek Cookbook (unpublished)
R=22
HM= 6
SHM=1

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Posted : November 8, 2020 5:55 am
cabarrett
(@cabarrett)
Bronze Member
Posts: 55

Act Zero: The Title. "Muzik Man" functions as our first reader hook (#3). Before reading, we know from that spelling that something's up. It's a name both familiar and new (#44).

Act One: The Beginning

MUZIK STEPPED IN a clump of flowers that resembled daisies, growing on a distant hillside overlooking the capital city of planet Fendor.

The very first line starts with our protagonist (#9) and tells us that he's on a different planet than Earth, and he's unfamiliar with the plants so it's new to him (speculative element up front, #12).

We immediately get more details about Fendor, a physical description of Muzik (#45, setting the stage), and he clearly states his goal of spreading music (#15, a character, in a setting, with a problem) and his heart's desire, of leveling up (I'm a gamer too, Muzik, I get it).

For me, the exposition that he'd gained sentience and emotional intelligence through music was the promise (#5) that this was going to be more than a robot adventure, and had something to say.

We didn't drive to the story (#2), even though Muzik did, and I'm sure he stood around staring out windows at stars and thinking these same thoughts.

“This time I won’t screw up!”

I felt emotionally invested in Muzik at this line because I relate to that feeling of failure to live up to some external measure. For me, this was a major emotion and the story was balm for it. And we know he's failed before, so I'm calling this the first #22 Things Get Worse! because this knowledge makes it clear that his goal is actually a problem. Then the cultural study has failed (T.G.W.!) and we learn he could be demoted (T.G.W.!)

Muzik starts his quest right away (#18) and heads into town at the end of the first scene.

Act Two: The Middle

Muzik TRIES to spread his music, FAILS (to win over Darna, to avoid jail, to talk his way out of the charges at trial), and reaches a CLIMAX with lethal stakes. (Tracking #20's 7-point-model.) Things get worse and worse!

In the middle section we see Wulf Moon's voice as an author on display clearly, with a lot of comedy and imagination and words that patter along in a happy cadence. In fact, this story is basically Super Secret #9 in story form!

My favorite example of smart dialog (#43) is here in the middle...

Hoagley shrugged. “They must”—Clang—“have overlooked”—Clang—“something.” Clang—“I always thought”—Clang—“the seventy-third”—Clang—“ended sort of”—Clang—“abruptly.”

That's an Olympic-level punctuation performance, and not only did breaking this line up with literal beats make me laugh, it emphasized an important piece of foreshadowing.

At the climax Muzik faces a choice: be silent, or sing? He chooses to be himself.

His stoning is a sudden flip of the comedic tone, which is a super-duper secret here, and a concept that I've heard Helen Marshall call "emotional oscillation." Ha, ha, wham!

I believe that Muzik's magic sword (#32) is the music. He lifts it against the sultan-senate, and it fails, because he wasn't yet worthy, but...

Act Three: The Ending

...in his conversation with Zephrinna, Muzik has the realization that makes him worthy to wield it, and shares his music with Zephrinna. He's succeeded in planting the seed of the Maestro's music, his original goal, and gets his heart's desire, becoming a 3000.

In the denouncement, we come full circle to the virtual reality mansion and the scents of lavender and clove. We get explicit validation of Muzik from the Maestro, and he's returned to his tribe (either literally or spiritually) a hero.

Summary: What points or methods did I discover in this analysis that I can use to strengthen my own work?

I was struck by the way that every scene used the super secrets that open a story in order to orient the reader. I need to pay more attention to my first lines after a scene break. (...and in my KYD 250s.)

This story is filled with auditory details, and made me realize that's a sense that I neglect while writing.

One of the pov characters in the novel I'm working on didn't have a clear heart's desire. The other didn't put hers in words early enough. Recognizing that I need to put those on paper as part of introducing the character and not later forced me to clarify what both really want, and I saw an overlap that articulates the theme my subconscious was giving me. That's been chiropractic in straightening the narrative out.

(My little baby 'shroom's woken up! I may edit this later!)

Vol36 - HM
Vol 37 - Finalist, HM
Vol38 - Q1 SHM, Q2 pending, Q3 scribbling...

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Posted : November 8, 2020 2:13 pm
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