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crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 243

Here is my 250, also based on the prompt "Promised You Heaven, Sent You to Hell":

Albert’s Angel

Albert waited and rocked left to right, hands in pockets.

At 1:00 p.m., every Tuesday, a rift between Heaven and Earth opened for two hours.

Ella, his daughter, strode towards him through the mist, her shoes clicking on the pavement. Her blue dress matched her eyes. Ella’s blonde curls waved at him as she ran into his arms.

“Daddy!”

Albert sighed and held his angel tight.

At a nearby diner, they shared a hot fudge sundae.

“How was your last day at school?”

“Fine.” Ella giggled as he wiped a dot of whipped cream off her nose.

Two o’clock came much too soon. Ella had to catch the train.

She looked so grown up sitting there with her hands folded. Albert wanted to pull her off the seat, but his arms were frozen in time. Instead, he leaned down and kissed her warm cheek. The scent of honeysuckle rose from her hair and tickled his nose.

“Have fun at grandma’s. Be good.”

“I will. Bye, Daddy.”

As the train pulled out of the station, it disappeared from Albert’s tear-blurred sight. Steam billowed around his feet. He heard Ella’s screams through the train’s whistle as it crashed and the rift closed.

Albert didn’t understand. All he knew was that Heaven brought Ella to him every Tuesday afternoon. His heart hurt. He crossed his arms, trying to protect it. He rocked left to right and put his hands in his pockets. Albert knew what Hell felt like because it came every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m.

END

2020 Quarters: 1st -- R, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- SHM
2021 Quarters: 1st -- HM, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- Pending, 4th -- Pending
"Invasion" to be published in Daily Science Fiction
"The Last Dance" to be published Feb. 2022 in the LTUE Anthology, Parliament of Wizards
"My Ten Cents" published in Sci Fi Lampoon, vol. 2, Dec. 2020
"Never give up. Never surrender." - Galaxy Quest

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Posted : July 20, 2021 5:09 pm
fox, ZeeTeeBeeZ, rjklee and 7 people liked
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Here is my 250, also based on the prompt "Promised You Heaven, Sent You to Hell"

Heaven or Bust

Purgatory was nothing more than an airport lounge with excellent lighting. Heaven’s Pearly Gates occupied the first terminal, flanked by St. Peter. The other terminal dead-ended in a port-a-loo style pit. I’ve never been one for ecclesiastic woo-ha, but this was a no-brainer. Heaven or bust, baby. Heaven or bust.

I made my way to the celestial self-service kiosk and pulled up the ten commandments. Had I spoken the Lord’s name in vain, coveted my neighbor’s wife, failed to keep the sabbath holy, worshiped other Gods, bore false witness, or committed adultery? Geeze, there wasn’t any middle ground with these guys.

I selected no to all.

A pop-up appeared, and I read it aloud. “You’ve disclosed ten sins. Please review and confirm.”

I jerked my hand back, half a heartbeat from a coronary fit. I took a deep breath, then carefully selected the edit button.

The pop-up disappeared, and the screen changed: your confessions have been recorded. A roaming attendant will escort you to your final destination. The kiosk spit out a bag tag with Hell printed on it. At the same time, the crowd parted, and a Dark Angel made his way toward me.

Yikes! Not what I had in mind.

In the opposite direction, I glimpsed St. Peter standing beside the Pearly Gates. He had the build of a NFL linebacker, but I reckoned I could take him. So, I tucked my chin and charged, dropping anyone in my path.

Heaven or bust, baby. Heaven or bust.

 

The End

(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 20, 2021 6:22 pm
ZeeTeeBeeZ, rjklee, David Hankins and 7 people liked
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

Here's my 250, also (also also, Lol) based on "Promised You Heaven, Sent You to Hell":

 

Dark Promises

Jeyna pressed palms to eyes, heart fluttering. 

Damon clasped her elbows. “I’ll guide you.”

Her boots thumped soft ground, stirring scents of damp earth. “Are we still in the Veil?”

Veil-travel was a rare gifting, one only Jeyna knew he possessed. Trespassing the Faeside-Earth boundary risked the White Queen’s dungeons—or worse. Dangerous things inhabited the Veil. But today Damon promised something amazing to show Jeyna. Something she’d never forget.

Damon’s breath against her cheek eased Jeyna’s fears. She trusted him.

She loved him. 

His voice carried a smirk. “You’ll know soon.” He tugged her further.

Warmth spilled over Jeyna’s face and fingers.  Sugarblossom scent flooded the air.

Damon kissed the back of Jeyna’s neck. “Look.” 

A being towered over them, sun-gold and tall as a pearwood. Her dress hung in streams of light. Beams of hair spilled over her shoulders. Her eyes shimmered black onyx. “Hello, child.” All else was darkness.

“An angel,” Jeyna whispered.

The being smiled, rose gold over diamond teeth. “No angel.”

Jeyna reached behind. “Damon?”

He squeezed her hand. “It’s alright, promise.”

Darkness spilled from the being’s eyes, swallowing curves of face and dress. The being stepped forward, face flickering shadows.

Her crow-eyes glinted at Damon. “She’s young.”

Damon’s breath tickled Jeyna’s ear. “Seventeen.” 

Do you love her?”

Yes.”

Pleasure and fear raced through Jeyna, equal parts. He’d never said—why now?

The being nodded. “Your debt is paid.”

Jeyna stepped backward. Her hands found air.

“Innocent as promised.” The dark mouth grinned. “A perfect sacrifice.”

END

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, HM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the in-progress Leyward Stones series--including my serial, Macchiatos, Faerie Princes, and Other Things That Happen at Midnight, currently available on the new Kindle Vella platform. The Vella story is also available through my Patreon, along with side stories, behind the scenes content, and in-progress drafts of other books from my Leyward Stones world.
Website: http://ccrawfordwriting.com. I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, October 2021 issue!

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Posted : July 23, 2021 9:05 am
Wulf Moon, ZeeTeeBeeZ, empressed and 9 people liked
AliciaCay
(@aliciacay)
Bronze Member
Posts: 65

@ccrawford 

This one gave me chills! Gorgeous! ♥

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 23, 2021 12:26 pm
Disgruntled Peony, Henckel, crlisle and 2 people liked
AliciaCay
(@aliciacay)
Bronze Member
Posts: 65

@henckel 

I enjoyed the playfulness of this one. Nice!

All of these are so good, you guys. Everyone is so creative. Wow!

Love reading all of these ♥

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 23, 2021 12:30 pm
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

@aliciacay thank you!

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, HM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the in-progress Leyward Stones series--including my serial, Macchiatos, Faerie Princes, and Other Things That Happen at Midnight, currently available on the new Kindle Vella platform. The Vella story is also available through my Patreon, along with side stories, behind the scenes content, and in-progress drafts of other books from my Leyward Stones world.
Website: http://ccrawfordwriting.com. I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, October 2021 issue!

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Posted : July 23, 2021 1:00 pm
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

Here is my 250 written from the prompt “promised you Heaven, sent you to hell”

 

Heaven Without Sky

 

When I was a young boy, we looked out our spaceship porthole into the star-specked blackness, holding hands. The sickness hadn’t touched me yet. “Father, where is Heaven if there is no sky?”

 

“Heaven is simply being together.”

 

But now I’m dead. Together isn’t possible. I need to move beyond. Why won’t you let me?

 

As I drift closer to the stillness of beyond, you chant something from old-earth recordings. I’m pulled back to the metallic furnishings of our cabin. But not completely. Light is distorted by a smoke-like barrier. Sound passes as if through water.

 

Don’t you understand? If Heaven is being together, what’s this? Close enough to sense Heaven, but never able to touch it. It’s Hell. Just let me go.

 

I drift again, but not far.

 

Please stop. I’m tired. What if I’m stuck here forever? Through the smoke, I see you burning incense and reading from old paper books by candlelight. I boil with rage. I don’t have a voice, but I scream anyway.

 

The barrier thins. The ship shakes. Your eyes widen and you fall to the floor, scrambling away.

 

Your eyes. So tired. So red. Empty.

 

I understand. Heaven is being together. You’re in Hell too.

 

“I’ll stay with you as long as you need,” I say.

 

That’s all it takes. A hint of a spark brightens your eyes as a tear runs along your nose. We look out the porthole together as your pull releases, savoring our last moment of Heaven. 

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Posted : July 24, 2021 7:37 pm
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

Here's my 250 KYD written with the prompt of "Promised You Heaven, Sent You to Hell":

A Bite of Chocolate Chip Soul Cookie

Jess stepped onto Dandelion River Bridge and zipped up her aura-shielded leather jacket. She peered through ghost vision goggles. Shadows of rope dangled from the metal beams where Auntie April hung herself a month ago.

As president of the fledgling Ghost Hunters Association, Jess had promised to transcend the walls between the living and the afterlife. First step: prove GHA product functionality by capturing a ghost. Perfect excuse to save April from limbo.

Jess dipped a hand into her shoulder bag and raised a GHA cookie. Fall winds spread the scent of cinnamon spice soul shavings, a temptation for any wayward ghost craving heaven. Devices embedded in the chocolate chips transferred the victim’s spirit to the containment cube in Jess’s bag.

Dandelions trembled at the end of the bridge. White pappi fluff burst forth, a flurry of ghost fingers. A hundred tiny gray pigeon beaks, ghost teeth, raked Jess’s jacket. April’s blue eyes glimmered above the teeth along her faded nose.

Jess jammed the cookie into April's frigid maw. “Got you.”

April spit crumbs and bit Jess’s hand. Chocolate-stained teeth pierced through to bone and soul.

Jess screamed but shoved more cookies in April. Then she reached for the cube and powered it up.

The chocolate chip devices rang from April’s mouth and buzzed in Jess’s shredded hand. The cube dragged them into containment, mashing and blending their souls.

Walls transcended. Product a success.

Last step: signal headquarters for extraction before they completely lost themselves to their new prison.

END

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 : July 25, 2021 1:16 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ, empressed, Henckel and 2 people liked
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417
Posted by: @aliciacay

@henckel 

I enjoyed the playfulness of this one. Nice!

All of these are so good, you guys. Everyone is so creative. Wow!

Love reading all of these ♥

Thank you 😍 

(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 25, 2021 10:16 pm
AliciaCay liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277
image

Since we've had a couple of adjustments to our membership this year, I thought it wise to post the roster again so we remember who is officially registered in this workshop. This is our final quarter for the Volume 38 year.

The Super Secrets TOP GUN Year Roster
Final Quarter Q4 Volume 38 

Leah Ning: Keeper of Records 

1. Henckel 
2. RSchibler 
3. CCrawford
4. crlisle
5. AjZach 
6. ZeeTeeBeeZ 
7. rjklee
8. empressed

This year, I've reduced the manuscript edit reward (stories around 5000 words) to two per quarter, and contest placement for the last quarter results determines who gets them. Congratulations to empressed and Henckel! Please send me your manuscript no later than August 31st, 2021.

Special commendation to challenge beastie rjklee for earning his FIRST RESPECTABLE SALE in the Cryptids anthology! A respectable six cents a word, and his story will be in a print anthology! In addition to this workshop's requirements, he set a goal of getting 100 rejections last year, and he exceeded it! We've all been rooting for him and I'm happy to say all that hard work has paid off! Well done, Ryland!

Ryland did post as to where this story came from: a Kill Your Darlings exercise done in this very workshop! Here's his words: "What is of especial interest for this group is that the story started off as my KYD entry to join Super Secrets Bonus Challenge Vol 37 in October 2019. We had to share a KYD in its 500-word and 250-word stages in order to be considered for that challenge group, and I believe those KYD also received feedback from Moon on the forum. After revision, I started subbing it around."

Congratulations, Ryland! We salute your noble efforts, your grit, and your first respectable sale! May there be many more! 

Speaking of KYD exercises, I see the Top Gun class has completed their latest missions. Let's analyze their flight recordings over the course of this week, shall we? I think you'll see why these naval aviators have what's called The Right Stuff.

 

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" 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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Topic starter Posted : July 25, 2021 11:25 pm
Henckel, CCrawford, rjklee and 2 people liked
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Hey, folks! Happy Monday! Today's Monday prompt is: HUSH MONEY.

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

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Posted : July 26, 2021 6:40 am
CCrawford liked
empressed
(@empressed)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 125

@ccrawford I was a little confused at the opening as far as POV, but man, this packs a punch!

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
Finalist=1

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 26, 2021 7:44 am
empressed
(@empressed)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 125

@zeeteebeez Holy smokes. This could be gut-wrenching! 

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
Finalist=1

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 26, 2021 7:46 am
empressed
(@empressed)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 125

@rjklee NEAT concept! 

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
Finalist=1

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 26, 2021 7:49 am
empressed
(@empressed)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 125

@crlisle I love this, Candice! So much opportunity for pain. 😀 

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
Finalist=1

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 26, 2021 7:52 am
empressed
(@empressed)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 125

@rschibler How many times can I say "like?" Wow!

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
Finalist=1

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 26, 2021 7:56 am
empressed
(@empressed)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 125

Ok, I wanted to read everyone's before posting and I think I did, but now I'm terrified. These were amazing. Here goes:

 

The Space Jinn and the Pirate

 

Armin stared at the approaching spaceship and pondered escape. After thousands of millenia as a jinn, he hated masters, but didn't want freedom because it meant losing the universe and eternity. Still, although he'd promised himself heaven when he turned his home into a spaceship, solitude became hell.

Hope for company defeated his fear of abuse. Armin helped the captain out of her airlock onto his metal deck.

"Thanks," she said. "Nice to meet someone out here."

She had dark skin and grey-streaked chestnut hair tied into a bun that smelled like poppies.

Her eyes bulged at his conjured decaliter; enough water to keep her wealthy for years. "I can't take that. Not for towing a working ship."

Armin blinked.

"I've got enough salvage. What I want as payment for 'rescuing' you is—"

Please don't say it.

"I wish you'd tell me what you're doing out here."

Armin told her his name and species of jinn, and why he fled Earth. "I want friendship with an equal. What is your next command, my mistress?"

"I'd like to be as fit as I was fifteen years ago and to stay that way until the partner I need tires of me or my appearance. He'll need experience with people. We'll be equals in our company and I will never tell him what to do but will always seek his opinion. If he'll accept my offer."

Even the heavens could be hell without a friend.

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
Finalist=1

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Posted : July 26, 2021 7:58 am
AliciaCay, crlisle, Henckel and 1 people liked
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

@empressed Thanks! And yeah, I see how the opening is a bit confusing. I'll note that for the future. Smile

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, HM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the in-progress Leyward Stones series--including my serial, Macchiatos, Faerie Princes, and Other Things That Happen at Midnight, currently available on the new Kindle Vella platform. The Vella story is also available through my Patreon, along with side stories, behind the scenes content, and in-progress drafts of other books from my Leyward Stones world.
Website: http://ccrawfordwriting.com. I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, October 2021 issue!

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Posted : July 26, 2021 8:35 am
Henckel liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277
image

Don’t miss my latest Super Secrets of Writing article at DreamForge Anvil magazine. “The Three-Act Structure, a’ la Moon.” Free to read! I discuss this ancient Greek story template, and why it has stood the test of time. As the Greeks would say, this simple system is 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" 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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Topic starter Posted : July 26, 2021 10:53 am
CCrawford liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Kill Your Darlings Exercise:  250s for the Q4 Super Secrets Top Gunners

I’m about to offer constructive comments on the 250-word vignettes you see posted here. These are called KYDs. A note to all about how my Kill Your Darlings Exercise works: You write a 1,000-word stream-of-consciousness flash story based on a prompt—for this one, I assigned these Top Gun members Promised You Heaven OR Sent You to Hell OR combine the two for Promised You Heaven, Sent You to Hell. Lots of range that way.

THEN you streamline the piece by cutting it down to 500 words. This teaches editing skills, how to cut the fluff without cutting out the story. But you’re also searching for less descriptive words, replacing them with stirring word choices that say more with less. At this level, your original story is likely still intact, and you figured out how to say the same thing with half the words. This is a critical skill to learn.

FINAL PHASE: You study that 500-word piece, searching for the beating heart. What’s that? The emotional theme of the piece, something that will resonate strongly in the story, and in the hearts of your readers. You seek, not to tell a story, but to tell a vignette, capturing a powerful emotional moment for your characters in a tiny but vivid scene. Often, the beating heart is thumping loudest at the climax, but you may see another scene that captures an emotional moment you wish to focus on. Make it powerful, make it beautiful, and compress it into 250 words. You cannot cheat, it must be 250 words or less, which forces you to make tough choices, casting out everything that doesn’t focus on the heart of this vignette. If you try to tell the same story you told in the 1000-word piece, or the 500-word piece, you lose. This part of the exercise is about capturing the emotional essence of your story in one powerful scene. Learning how to do that within the words allotted will make you a powerful writer over time.

Finally, I ask workshop members to let these rest for awhile when done. They become story seeds, powerful with the energy compressed within them. They will call out to you. At some point, you will be compelled to answer that call. You’ll turn the vignette into a story. Although that tale will be longer now, the 250 will be embedded in the heart of it. They will be strong stories because you took the time to write a potent, heartfelt scene that made you discover what the true emotional meaning is within this tale.

I designed this exercise to win a major international flash fiction contest, the first of its kind, and I won week after week with my entries. 25,000 to 30,000 250-word vignettes were submitted over the course of the year from writers all over the world. At the end they had fifty-two first place winners, one from each week. Twelve industry professionals judged these for the grand prize. Two of mine placed in the top ten, one of them earning the grand prize where I was also awarded the title of Writer of the Year.

I taught my KYD exercise to this workshop’s members. It’s a challenging exercise, but I commend them for doing the work. This year, they’ve been doing one KYD a month based on a weekly writing prompt. 

What have been the total results for those that have done this exercise in the Super Secrets Workshop? Too many to count, but I'll share a few. Brittany Rainsdon turned her KYD into a tale that became her first respectably published story in Deep Magic magazine. That story was so strong, it also went on to be selected for Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two. Liz Ticknor took her KYD from the exercise she did in the workshop, turned it into a story, and earned fourth place for the quarter in Writers of the Future. You don’t get to go to Hollywood with that, but it shows you how strong her finalist story was based on a KYD. RJK Lee just sold his story to a respectable anthology that was based off the KYD 250 he did in this workshop. And there are many other wonderful results for workshop members that did this training exercise. The point is, KYD is a great tool to help you become a better writer.

The Top Gun workshop members have been at KYD all year. Let’s see how well they’ve done. And if you want to really see the difference, go back to their submissions when I first introduced the exercise--some of them were in the workshop then. Night and day difference. But that’s what practice—smart practice—does for a writer.

It makes us better.

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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Topic starter Posted : July 26, 2021 7:01 pm
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Woo Hoo!!! Thanks @wulfmoon 

(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 27, 2021 2:33 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

@henckel I'm loving your updated signature. Smile So exciting to see your progress!

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, HM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the in-progress Leyward Stones series--including my serial, Macchiatos, Faerie Princes, and Other Things That Happen at Midnight, currently available on the new Kindle Vella platform. The Vella story is also available through my Patreon, along with side stories, behind the scenes content, and in-progress drafts of other books from my Leyward Stones world.
Website: http://ccrawfordwriting.com. I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, October 2021 issue!

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Posted : July 27, 2021 9:14 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277
Posted by: @ccrawford

@henckel I'm loving your updated signature. Smile So exciting to see your progress!

Yeah, I love it, too. @henckel, for a post here if you wish, would you mind sharing that signature chart again, and mark when you began the Super Secrets Workshop? It's been fascinating to watch all our challenge beasties' results from before, during, and after the workshop. Those signature lines really do say it all. At the end of this year, I think I'll have everyone that's ever been in this workshop do the same thing if they wish. Thanks! Nice work!

While I'm here, and since we're showing KYD progress in this last quarter of the Top Gun Super Secrets' year, I'd like to share Crystal Crawford's recent success that she posted to my Discord Wulf Pack Chat. With her permission:

"The story I sold to DreamForge was one of the tightest stories I've ever written. It was a big story, big world with lots of history, some necessary to make the current situation make sense. My first draft had exposition dumps but I applied what I've been learning in KYD to it and the end result came out tight and quick--first time I've felt my pacing click quite like that."

Well done on leveling up with your first respectable sale, Crystal! I know you have several published indie novels, but having a publication like DreamForge Anvil buy your story is a different kind of validation. A respected SF editor chose your story out of over 500 in that open call period! Scot Noel paid you money for your words, will publish it in both e-zine and later in a multiple issue print copy, AND create an illustration for your first published short story! AWESOME!

An important takeaway I see here is that the Kill Your Darlings exercise taught Crystal how to see a major issue and fix it before she sent it to this market. Note that putting into practice what she had learned in the micro trained her to see what to do in the macro. And what does it mean when you say for the first time, your pacing clicked? It means as she applied the lessons learned through KYD practice, the story flowed. She didn't struggle--it came together swiftly and naturally. That's what the system does after you practice it for awhile--it reroutes your neural pathways, so you're growing your stories in plowed and tilled fields that are ready to nourish and sprout those story seeds, instead of having to force your way through unworked gray matter that fights your plow.

Crystal did the work. Smart work, that transforms how you write. She said more with less, focused on the emotional heart of her story (a required element of KYD), and made her first sale. 

Well done, naval aviator! I'll be smiling ear to ear when your story comes out in DreamForge Anvil! 

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" 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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Topic starter Posted : July 27, 2021 1:06 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277
Posted by: @rschibler

Here is my 250, based on the prompt "promised me heaven, sent me to hell".

Once, Ever After

Once, upon a time, I got lost at the library. I fell between thin pages pressing against goose-prick flesh, musky dusty carpet and creaky towering shelves muffled by what I could only imagine.

For minutes and months I wandered. Story, promised heaven, flooded every sense. Meadow's dew, hot breath at the nape of my neck, voices calling from faded black holes of ink stretching me thinner and thinner until I disappeared and words were all that remained.

The journey came to an end, as journeys are wont to do. The hero triumphed, transformed, and I with them. The villain defeated, defiant, and determined to rise again, and I did not dare to breathe.

The moment passed and I tried to inhale, but nothing came. Unaware and unconscious, I'd been sent to hell in a paperback. The smooth paper between my fingertips crept along my arms until pressed pulp was all that remained. I tried to scream but the book stole my voice.

Hush, this is a library.

The book closed. I remained between the silent pages on the shelf, somewhere between magazines with dogeared quizzes and books none read for pleasure.

I am lost in the library.

Save me.

Open the pages, read me from this prison of ink and glue, cardboard and dust. Take my place until a fresh fingertip drifts down the title page, unaware their skin thins, words crawling into ears and eyes, until they are the story and the story is them.

Happily.

Ever after.

END

Our first catch of the day! Thanks for being brave and posting your KYD 250 first, R Schibbler (Becky).

 

Here’s a few items I judge KYD 250s by:

 

  1. Title reflects theme

 

  1. Protagonist named and described immediately

 

  1. Genre cue in in the beginning

 

  1. Clarity of heart’s desire in the opening, fulfillment (or loss) of heart’s desire in the end.

 

  1. Vivid setting

 

  1. Significant, compelling problem

 

  1. Evocative prose

 

  1. Pro dialogue (natural speech and flow, tags only as necessary, no saidisms)

 

  1. Last line sticks the landing, often tying back to the opening promise with a mighty gut punch, weighty significance, surprising twist, or poignant wrap-up.

 

  1. I am emotionally involved from beginning to end.

 

So let’s have a look both at what’s working, and what might be improved in this 249-word KYD.

First, the strengths:

It’s filled with vibrant, evocative prose with word choices like meadow’s dew, faded black holes of ink, and words crawling into ears and eyes. These code up vivid pictures in the reader’s mind because they are not generic terms. The prose whispers of poetry, but keeps within the bounds of a vignette. I am sure Becky will be pleased these evoked comparisons in my mind to elements of Ray Bradbury’s prose.

The protagonist is not named, which makes this an allegory instead of a vignette about an individual. If this is the case, then the generic book reader in the library represents anyone that gets wrapped up in the pages of a book, and the lack of a name keeps this in the allegory.

Once, upon a time, is a genre cue. Many fantasy stories began this way, and still do. So genre is identified up front with a bright and shiny pennant. This is a good thing. And it didn’t deliver a different genre by the end. The vignette stayed true to its genre cue: this is fantasy, through and through.

Heart’s desire is clear. This person wants to get lost in the library, which appears to be heaven. But they also get captured by the tales in the books, long after the covers are closed. This becomes the problem--taken to hell, because they cannot set their mind free of the story. Lost in the library is repeated, but it now means something different from the line in the opening. They are trapped between the pages because the story won’t let them go. Nice!

Last line sticks the landing by tying back into the opening. Stories that open with “once upon a time” often end with happily ever after. Full circle endings are very satisfying because they tie a neat bow around the story, often validating that the opening promise has been fulfilled.

 

Now for some constructive comments:

Goose-prick flesh is not a common usage, so it bounced me out of your spell by being odd. Goose bumps or goose-bumped flesh is commonly used, and would have kept me in. In this small a piece, you cannot afford even one pothole.

“Hush, this is a library” is a great line. But what comes before it seems to have left the allegory and taken on the literal. The protagonist does appear to be trapped and wants to scream and cannot because the book stole the protagonist’s voice. If this is allegory, which it appears to be, the library stole the protagonist’s voice, because you cannot scream in a library. Which is proven by the next line, “Hush, this is a library.”

I am unsure how the protagonist is freed by someone reading the book and taking their place. I don’t think you’re ever freed from the spell of a good book. It haunts you forever. Instead, I’d rework this to have the reader join the protagonist, trapped just as they have been, each in their separate cells, but under the same life sentence.

Finally, the problem is compelling, and one many readers can identify with. We do get lost in books, and sometimes we wish we could never leave. I have met people that cannot cope with the real world, and are consumed by the artificial world within books. Famous writers know them well. They’re called stalkers. Smile

Very nice job on this KYD, Becky. It’s deep and has power. If you expand it back out, I’d make sure by your coding it stays clearly in the allegory. Or you can make it about a literal person, but I’d advise against that. There are many movies, novels, and stories written about people literally falling into the world within a book. It is dangerous to write within a trope, because it’s hard to create something new within the old. Fresh, original ideas are what capture the imagination of editors, and of many readers. The original thing here is the allegory, where you capture the emotional essence of what it’s like to be trapped within the pages of a book.

It can be a happily. Ever after.

Commendations to your writing. 

 

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" 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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Topic starter Posted : July 27, 2021 4:13 pm
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

@wulfmoon Thank you! I'm super excited about this first story sale. Smile Time to go write and sell another one! 😉 

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, HM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the in-progress Leyward Stones series--including my serial, Macchiatos, Faerie Princes, and Other Things That Happen at Midnight, currently available on the new Kindle Vella platform. The Vella story is also available through my Patreon, along with side stories, behind the scenes content, and in-progress drafts of other books from my Leyward Stones world.
Website: http://ccrawfordwriting.com. I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, October 2021 issue!

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Posted : July 27, 2021 5:47 pm
Henckel and Wulf Moon liked
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 745

@wulfmoon thank you! Much appreciated. It’s a fine line between poetic and unfamiliar/confusing. Thanks for all your hard work and energy to help us along and make our writing stronger. It’s deeply appreciated. 

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

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Posted : July 27, 2021 6:08 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277
Posted by: @ccrawford

@wulfmoon Thank you! I'm super excited about this first story sale. Smile Time to go write and sell another one! 😉 

image

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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Topic starter Posted : July 27, 2021 6:48 pm
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 96

Exciting to read these as they are coming in!

Here's my KYD exercise, also on the Promised you heaven, sent you to hell prompt:

 

Afterlife of the Slayer

 

The dragon was an easy kill. Old and withered it baked its black body on a rock, not fearing his approach. The golden eye of the beast watched the man who would be king, warning him. He hesitated over that pleading eye, yet plunged.

 

It was sixty years since the words had slipped from the wise woman’s stained lips. “The one who slays the dragon will be marked into eternity.” He could not climb that mountain now, nor sink a knife into a beast’s heart. Even if he wished to.

 

On his deathbed, the king’s thoughts turned to the eternity of glory he was promised. He need not fear dark and death, he had killed the black dragon.

 

His breaths grew shallower, but then he awoke. Cold, damp, dark. His footsteps rang as he walked on slimy stones. He struggled, falling to his aching knees. He was old still.

 

He found a great door in the dark. He pushed it forward.

 

It opened to a room that blinded him with orange light and hot steam on his face. Great islands rested between the lava flows, cracked and dry from the baking heat. Down below, lay a great black form.

 

Breathless and aching, he approached the beast, stumbling over dark stones. It turned its head, cracked a golden eye and smiled, showing its white fangs. It unraveled around him and stretched like a cat. It was now sleek, its scales shimmering in the orange light.

 

“We meet again. Welcome to eternity.”

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Posted : July 28, 2021 1:07 pm
CeciBlack, Henckel, ZeeTeeBeeZ and 2 people liked
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417
Posted by: @wulfmoon
Posted by: @ccrawford

@henckel I'm loving your updated signature. Smile So exciting to see your progress!

Yeah, I love it, too. @henckel, for a post here if you wish, would you mind sharing that signature chart again, and mark when you began the Super Secrets Workshop?  

Thanks @ccrawford and @wulfmoon.

Here’s my chart, including genre and submission wordcount.

 

(2014) V31 Q1 – R (2,100-word fantasy)

(2018) V35 Q3 – HM (13,700-word science fiction)

(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (7,800-word fantasy)

---I think this is the about the time I joined Wulf Moon’s Super-Secret Workshop---

(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM (13,400-word science fiction)

(2020) V37 Q1 – R (4,200-word science fiction) … this is what happens when you have 2 spelling mistakes in the first paragraph!

(2020) V37 Q2 – HM (6,500-word science fiction)

(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM (???-word science fiction)

(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist (???-word science fiction)

(2021) V38 Q1 – Semi-finalist (6,400-word word fantasy)

(2021) V38 Q2 – SHM (8,500-word science fiction)

(2021) V38 Q3 – tba (5,300-word fantasy)

 

Other stats

(2020) - Dream Foundry - Shortlisted

(2021) - Mike Resnick Memorial Award - Finalist

 

Observations and other semi-weird facts:

  • As of my Q3 submission, I’ve entered 11 times.
  • The last 9 of those have been back-to-back submissions.
  • My target wordcount is about 6k.
  • Wulf Moon’s KYD has been the single most beneficial lesson I’ve learned in years! It tells you how to find the heart of your story (We say this a lot on the forum, but Moon may want to elaborate as to what this means and why it is essential to a viable story) and trains you to get as much target meaning from as few words as possible (Again, Moon may want to elaborate on why fewer words is important).  
  • My stories are all character stories. I focus 100% on character arc THEN plot external events that are (1) realistic within the context of the story and (2) enable realistic progression of the arc. Hence, arc comes first.
  • My stories tend to take place on farms, in the old west, or have strong primitive element. NYC will never feature in any of my stories. Ever.
  • I’ve been published three times (one of which is in the same anthology as @crlisle!!!)
  • In the 12 years I’ve been writing, I’ve not made a single cent from my stories. And if you’d tell me I won’t make a cent for another 12 years, I’d still keep writing.
  • I LOVE finding my writing blind spots. It’s like candy because I get to learn something new.
  • Humor is my crutch.
  • I can’t spell worth a dim!

(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 28, 2021 7:01 pm
fox, CeciBlack, storysinger and 2 people liked
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 158
Posted by: @henckel

I can’t spell worth a dim!

laughing laughing laughing  

Classic, henckel! Makes the point above that one wring true.

Encouraging points, by the way.

"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 28, 2021 8:51 pm
storysinger, CCrawford, Wulf Moon and 1 people liked
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