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Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2277

@henckel 

Great chart there, Christopher. It's very revealing. At the end of this quarter, I'll make that a last assignment for all. Thanks for sharing, and for the bonus details!

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 28, 2021 10:51 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2277

Meeting some deadlines, including my next Super Secrets article for DreamForge Anvil magazine. I’ll get back to commentary on your KYD 250s next week. In the meantime, brainstorm your big idea with your writing partners for your Q4s. You’re all excellent writers, but to win, you have to show the judges something they’ve never seen before. Unique done with precision and emotional punch wins. Keep them under 8k.

Go all out. Last chance for this year’s contest. This is the ultimate prize for aspiring perspiring writers. We recently had three finalists from the Super Secrets. Let’s do that again!

You have your orders.

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 31, 2021 8:34 am
crlisle, empressed, Henckel and 2 people liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Top Gun Assignment:

Each of you must read this article on “The Shiver Test” by David Farland. 

https://mystorydoctor.com/david-farlands-writing-tip-the-shiver-test/

When done, post a brief paragraph or two on what makes a story give you the shivers. Why is this so important? Don’t share your Q4 idea here, but ask yourself, Is this idea fresh enough and exciting enough to give Dave the shivers? Then, share it with your writing partner and see if THEY get the shivers. If not, brainstorm like hell until you’ve got something.

You have your orders. Dismissed.

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 : August 3, 2021 1:24 pm
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

@wulfmoon I had to stop and think about this, because I know I've gotten the "shivers" before when discussing story ideas, coming up with story ideas, and of course while reading, but the causes all seemed so specific, I had to take a minute to try to figure out if there were underlying commonalities.

So for me, I think it's usually a really interesting twist on something I've seen before, but never in that way -- so that I'm surprised in the best of ways. This can happen for me at a concept level (when hearing a logline or elevator pitch) or in the actual details of a story (plot twists, sure, but also in worldbuilding details). The other thing that usually creates "shivers" for me is a powerful personal sacrifice of some kind -- especially when it's transformative for either that character or for another character.  And also when characters have really big secrets and/or something they don't yet know (even if the reader does) that creates very high personal stakes and/or shocking reveals.

So most of this comes down to (1) the unexpected, and (2) stakes with a deep personal impact on the character (and therefore the reader).

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 : August 3, 2021 6:26 pm
crlisle and Wulf Moon liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2277

Nice response to the exercise, Crystal.

I just noticed we need our MONDAY WRITING PROMPT!

So here's something to wet your writing whistle!

 

DAMNED IF I DO, DAMNED IF I DON'T, SO I CHOOSE  DAMNED IF I DO.

 

This prompt has to do with character agency, my next SUPER SECRETS of Writing article coming up in DreamForge Anvil magazine, Issue #4 on August 15th! Don't miss it! Passive protagonists are a major issue in aspiring writer stories, but you can easily avoid the problem. This prompt will help you practice! Remember, the protagonist must make the choice! 

Cheers!

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 : August 3, 2021 6:38 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Sorry for the prompt not going up yesterday, all - was in the middle of an eight hour drive and totally passed out when I got home (in the "went to sleep practically involuntarily" way, not in the "frightening and had to get medical attention" way). And thanks, Moon, for putting one up today. Appreciate you!

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

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Posted : August 3, 2021 7:53 pm
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Hi @wulfmoon, my shivers come from the perfect combination of ideas. A unique character perspective is compelling, but I only get the shivers when that character faces insurmountable odds for which they have no reasonable control over. I like characters who want something so bad that they can taste it and are willing to fight for it despite the consequences. Then I get the shivers seeing their frantic desperation to achieve their goals—the lengths their willing to go to and what lines they’re willing to cross. I also love those moments when MC teeters on the cusp of achieving his goals then he’s blindsides with an unexpected price (losing something he’s had all along and taken for granted). Now he has to choose. In short, I get the shivers when the emotions cut very, very deep.

But there’s a BIG danger here. It’s really easy for writers to slip into melodrama. As a reader, I have to first be invested in the story and characters before either will touch me. But I will 100% switch off if I feel like a writer is “telling me” I should feel sorry for a character. (E.g. Once upon a time there was deft, dumb, blind, homeless, quadriplegic, cross-eyed, one-legged, puppy-less, asthmatic, intellectually impaired, abused, suicidal robot who wants nothing more than to feel love.)

(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 : August 3, 2021 9:21 pm
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

For me, the scenarios that give me the most shivers are when a character faces something monumental on a personal level that is relatable to me. Pixar’s Inside Out comes to mind as I shivered with Joy and Sadness’s relationship, Riley’s emotional struggles, and the parent’s struggles trying to help their child. 

So I try to find ways to challenge my character’s relationships and give them difficult moral dilemmas. I think my best stories have succeeded in this sort of shiver test, whereas the ones that haven’t worked as well don’t.

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Posted : August 4, 2021 6:43 am
crlisle, Henckel, Wulf Moon and 1 people liked
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 243

Stories give me the shivers when they seem real. The more I am pulled into the story, the more shivers I get. Even true stories don't seem all that real at times. For example, the scene in the Lost In Space movie, Penny's bracelet is hanging from a grave marker and her voice, over and over, is listing the things she will miss most about Earth. This totally gives me the shivers because she is listing things that I love too and would miss if gone. 

David Farland says that a story idea will give you the shivers if it generates a "combined sense of wonder and excitement..." He continues to say that this idea should be fresh, which is what you, Wulf Moon, keep trying to insert in our heads. To me, what really stood out was when David said your idea will cause others to think about possibilities. They get excited! To me, this means my idea would generate ideas from those I share it with. Then I will know that "this is the way".

 

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 : August 4, 2021 12:07 pm
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Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2277
Posted by: @crlisle

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

Candice, 

Great work here--clear, concise writing. You opened with your protagonist in the first line, so we know who the story is about immediately. Readers need to know who is the protagonist, and you didn't keep them in the dark. You also created the Reader/Hero bond, because it's easy to identify with a father that just wants to be with his daughter that died. We feel for him.

You also made it seem real by giving a specific time the event occurred, like clockwork. A simple statement also coded up an immense idea without getting bogged down in details: At 1:00 p.m., every Tuesday, a rift between Heaven and Earth opened for two hours. It takes a lot of skill to toss an event like that out there and make us buy into it without explaining the details. You pull an ace out of the air, play it, and dare anyone to ask where it came from in this poker game. And we don't. You played it like the ace was always there, and the most natural thing in the world to occur. We buy into the premise without a struggle.

The play on the theme is wonderful. This is heaven to be with his daughter again, but as we read on, it's really exposed as hell. Great twist at the end, revealing this: Albert knew what Hell felt like because it came every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. Full circle, but now the mirror of the opening  reveals something entirely different in the ending. And it's got that emotional gut punch I look for. It clobbers you at the end. Nicely done!

Some constructive comments:

Add "train station" to that first line. Setting is not established without it. In a longer piece, you can do some description of the station, setting mood. This station is not what it seems. If you want it to seem like hell, key up that it's an unbearably hot day, there's smokers around him, and use fire red colors, like the cushions on the chairs. Subtle, so mood is set without giving away the ending. But it's also fine as is.

I think Ella should ask why he's always working, why does she always get sent to grandma's. Show some guilt on his part, like his lady friend wouldn't like seeing a kid around, or that he's a workaholic. Then, this story is about the price he paid for neglecting her needs. He's trying to make up for it in this scene, but he never can, she's gone. He is getting payback. This is his own private hell.

If you make this into a bigger piece, you could certainly build up the mystery, and the Reader/Hero bond. Each try/fail cycle would be his doing something for her to make up for his mistakes, trying to keep her there, but she never stays, she always gets back on that train. It would be a freaky story, and your last line is perfect.

Excellent work, and great great GREAT use of the twisty prompt, Candice! Well done!

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 : August 4, 2021 1:56 pm
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 243

@wulfmoon Thank you so much for your very kind words. Your training shows in my work. These KYD exercises are golden!! I knew you would "ding" me on setting. I realized this after I had written and posted, so it was too late. I absolutely love your ideas for expanding this story!!! Thank you!!! You are generous as well as helpful. 

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 : August 4, 2021 2:23 pm
Henckel and Wulf Moon liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

@crlisle Happy to help. I saw your first KYD 250 when you followed along as an onlurker two years ago and turned in your assignments privately to me. This is a night and day difference. It's obvious you've been doing *smart practice.* Congrats as well ON YOUR FIRST PRO SALE! From a KYD 250, no less! I'll be sure to shoot off some fireworks here after you've signed the contract and are able to announce.

Carry on, naval aviator. Dismissed.

salute

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 : August 4, 2021 3:08 pm
empressed
(@empressed)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 125

My "shivers" vary in depth and meaning. I have the "That sounds like so much fun!" shiver that Candice's idea gave me earlier and yes, it did encourage me to suggest pathways for her. There's the "Oh my God, I will never voluntarily read that because it will set the PTSD off" shiver, which is probably not what the author intended. My personal favorite shivers are either fresh idea with character that grabs me and will not let go until it has dragged me into its kraken cave and consumed me, OR a story setting with fresh idea that has the same effect. I'm still waiting to find all three waving at me from the bus stop.  

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 : August 4, 2021 7:21 pm
CeciBlack, crlisle, Wulf Moon and 1 people liked
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 96

For me, "Shivers" is just an idea that is too cool that you just can't stop thinking about it. It is a story idea or twist that people feel they haven't seen before and just brings a story to another level. When you're brainstorming ideas, the "shiver" is that feeling of "I want to write that" or "I want to read that" or perhaps even, "I wish I wrote that!"

I think there is an element of individuality here too. What is fresh and exciting to one reader or editor, might not be to another. But I am sure there are ways to make a story give a wide audience that "shiver."

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Posted : August 4, 2021 7:55 pm
CeciBlack, crlisle, Henckel and 2 people liked
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 745

I love this post from Dave Farland. The "shiver test" applies to my mentality when I'm reading slush, too! If a story doesn't pass this test, I won't pass it up to the editors.

For me, these shivers are important because we want to hook our readers not just with our prose, but with the ideas in our story. The classic example of Star Wars matching the Campbell cycle, for instance, could sound like four dozen other stories - farm boy bored with his life goes off on adventure and defeats evil empire. Yawn. But throw in those unique twists - water farmer (ooh what's that?) is orphaned by an evil space wizard in a black cloak with his faceless minions--all wearing mysterious masks (love a mask!)--and joins forces with a space monk, a space cowboy, a giant crossbow-wielding teddy bear, and a sassy princess (you know I'm right), to blow up a planet-killing space station. Chills! Execution matters (first cut, anyone?) but it's the unique spark that really gets a reader's (or audience's) attention.

For me, I knew my Q4 idea was solid when I shared the idea with my writing group and got a chorus of OH WOWs and HECK YEAHs. Like Star Wars, it may not be a totally unique idea, but the twists that my brain threw into the mix passed the shiver test with my writing group. Hopefully, with Kary, Dave, and judges, too!

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 : August 5, 2021 9:00 am
CeciBlack, crlisle, Henckel and 1 people liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277
Posted by: @henckel

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.

We continue on with the final phase of my KYD Exercise assignment--the 250 word vignettes. This one is Christopher's. Here, too, I remember your early work, Chris, when I first introduced this exercise two years ago. May I say, "You've come a long way, baby." Smile You write clear scenes now, with sharp setting, characters, and sharp detail as to what is happening. It's not murky and confusing because you NAIL YOUR OPENING, have an orderly progression of events, and we see clearly what the stated objective is, which is HEART'S DESIRE. All of this makes your vignette work nicely.

Everyone should review his clear setting. Minimal potent words for maximum effect. SUPER SECRET "Hint at the Grand Vista of Your World." Nailed your scene's setting vividly in three sentences, and these were big concepts to distill. Well done!

Heaven or bust, baby. Heaven or bust. This is my SUPER SECRET on Heart's Desire. I teach you can't be vague about what your protagonist wants, that you need a statement of Heart's Desire, much like a startup company needs a mission statement. You've got to tell your readers what this story is going to be about. This vignette states it clearly. We know the protagonist is going to TRY and give it his best to get his heart's desire. We expect this bell to be rung again at the end, because we've been put on notice what our hero is going for. Clear statement. You've been listening. Kudos, Chris.

Inciting incident. Protagonist must answer some tough life questions before he can go through the pearly gates. Come out with the truth and be damned, or fudge the facts and hope no one has noticed? That's the choice, and he gives it his best shot.

I might add this also works with the prompt I just did: "Damned if I do, damned if I don't, so I *choose* damned if I do." This is called Character Agency, and this protagonist has it in spades. Give yourself a pat on the back when you read my Super Secrets article on this subject in DreamForge Anvil #4 coming out August 15th. Well done, Christopher!

Loved the description of St. Peter: He had the build of an [grammar error there, because although N is a consonant, it is pronounced "en," so use the indefinite article *an* before vowel sounds] NFL linebacker ...  This is the training from many KYDs. They force you to choose words that create big word pictures with minimal coding. This one creates a powerful image with two words. Excellent.

Full circle endings. You know I teach these are best. Why? They mirror the opening promise, and prove whether or not you delivered on it. This guy is not going to win, but he's going to die trying. Well, be damned trying. Smile And that's satisfying because he never gave up. I love it when writers restate the opening promise, but it changes by the end, or takes on added meaning from the journey. Good job!

 

Some constructive comments:

“You’ve disclosed ten sins. Please review and confirm.” This line doesn't follow the actions he took of checking NO to all. He did not disclose his sins. Instead, I think it should read: "You've omitted ten sins. Please review and confirm." BOOM. Gotchya. Now what's a guy to do? Smile

Instead of coronary fit, just say coronary. That's how we say it in the States. Less is more.

That's really it. It's a funny piece, title is true to what the story is all about, and you have a committed, proactive protagonist that wants to get his heart's desire, no matter the cost. All elements of any good story, and this one is no exception.

Well done, Christopher!

salute

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 : August 5, 2021 11:25 am
CeciBlack, Scott_M_Sands, crlisle and 1 people liked
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Thanks @wulfmoon!  I really appreciate that. 

This one was simply fun to write too 🙂

(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 : August 5, 2021 7:28 pm
Wulf Moon liked
CeciBlack
(@ceciblack)
Active Member
Posts: 21

The Shivers Test

 

For me, "shivers" come whenever there's something that creates familiarity, paired with deep meaning, and wrapped in a fresh package. Story is the air I breathe (true for all of us here, I'm certain), so naturally I want something immersive if I'm going to dive in. There is something deep and truthful about Dave's shiver test. I like that he sets regulations for himself--he has to have some outside confirmation to allow himself to write the idea. That's smart.

When I think of "shivers" from recent reads, I think immediately of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. On the surface, it's a girl born in the 18th century rural France who doesn't want to be married off and die too young birthing babies and not living her own life. You could take such a story a million different ways. I'm sure Ken Follett would spend three years creating a masterpiece exploring every nook and cranny of 18th century France in a sweeping story that would be quite different from the urban fantasy V.E. Schwab comes up with. But spread that girl's life over three centuries because she never ages, no one remembers her and she'll be damned if she's going to go out unremembered, and you've got serious shivers. For me at least. It's the heart's desire coupled with unexpected lenses through which we are allowed to look at life through another's eyes that makes that magic happen.

This post was modified 2 months ago by CeciBlack

Ceci Black
Writer, Musician
Free Album: Captains of Industry (vocals, lyrics, keys & occasional bass)
Composer: Will & Whit The Musical based on Laura Lee Gulledge’s young adult graphic novel, Will & Whit.
v38: HM (Q1)

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Posted : August 6, 2021 7:38 am
Henckel and Wulf Moon liked
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 158

@henckel 

Read your KYD again, Henckel. I love how easily I can picture the protagonist and the airport (and St Peter!). I don't always enjoy such short pieces, but I really liked how fun and gutsy this one is. And yeah, swinging back to that tag with 'heaven or bust, baby' was terrific. A great read.
Well done!  clapper clapper  

"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 : August 8, 2021 6:20 am
fox, Henckel, CeciBlack and 1 people liked
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 158

@ccrawford 

Crystal, a few have said it already but-such chills!! I really felt the connection/hope of love between Jeyna and Damon was tangible. That held the story for me until the end, which finished with a strong, if unholy, purpose. His name Damon also made my head jump to 'Demon' in parts, which added to the intrigue.
Nicely done!  clapper clapper  

"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 : August 8, 2021 6:26 am
Wulf Moon liked
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Thanks @scott_m_sands!!!

The voice was a lot of fun with this story.   

(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 : August 8, 2021 2:52 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277
Posted by: @ccrawford

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

And we have Crystal's final phase of the Kill Your Darlings Exercise, a KYD 250. Let's see what she did to capture the essence of her tale within 250 words or less.

Crystal has shared with us a vignette about innocent Jeyna and her love interest, Damon. This story is a tragedy, although Jeyna does not know or she would never have gone along with Damon. Crystal does some subtle cues to let the reader know, which is required when you're writing a tragedy. First, she chooses the name Damon, which sounds similar to demon. Second, his voice carries a smirk, indicating he's up to something no good. And it builds and builds in suspense from there. Love and innocence, we find, has been betrayed. A good theme. And the ending nails it.

This is a suspenseful piece. Crystal has done her job right. The reader knows something bad is going to happen, but Jeyna doesn't realize it until it is too late, she's blinded by love and trust. Damon takes advantage of it. It's another perfect way to play on the prompt: Promised you heaven, sent you to hell.

I'll tell you a secret about this prompt. Think of the scale of emotion involved in this prompt, and the level of stakes. The prompt provides a HUGE fall because of its dimensions, and big stakes create big tension. Crystal tapped into that fact to wonderful effect. She is also one of the most descriptive writers of this group, creating luscious scenes. Here's a great example: 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. Potent and beautiful. Well done, Crystal!

 

Some constructive comments:

Our strengths can also be our weaknesses. This is because too much of a good thing can make our writing imbalanced, beautiful though it may be. Perfection is in the balance, not in the excess, not in the lack. So Crystal knows I've had her work on excessive description, which is something I've had to work on myself. In fact, Dave Farland told me in a semifinalist critique that I needed to "kill my darlings." You will note it's the name of this exercise. When Dave said that phrase, I realized I had a system I used years ago that helped me win a major international flash contest that I could use to help me eliminate some of the fluff in my writing. What worked in the micro should work just as well in the macro. I applied it to that story, and it sold to Deep Magic. I've used the knowledge from that exercise ever since to good effect in my larger works.

When I started teaching this workshop, I saw this same excessive description and unnecessary detail imbalance in almost every story I critiqued for Super Secrets Workshop members. Ken Rand's 10% Solution book was wonderful (cut 10%), but ineffective for aspiring writers, I discovered. They needed the 50% Solution! For writers starting out, it's hard for them to see you can tell the same story with half the words and it can actually be a stronger tale. Novels have lots of space to create a rich tapestry of words describing a scene. They have lots of space to wander a bit off the beaten plot path and get away with it if it's an interesting sidebar. But in short stories, you don't have that luxury. They are different animals entirely, and it takes a lot of practice and training (and teaching!) to learn that when you're starting out. 

So, I set my pit bull, KYD, upon this group of writers. It helped me figure it out, and I had a good idea it would help the challenge beasties here as well. They moaned, they groaned, but they did the work. When I upped the challenge to doing one a month, they moaned again, but they did the work. What's been so interesting is to see the night and day difference from when you all began doing these. What would have likely taken years and even decades to figure out what was necessary, you learned in a year or two max. Amazing results!

Your example here is no exception, Crystal. Through smart practice, you've scaled your gift back, and made the beauty of it shine because it's not being blocked out by a plethora of darlings. You took my counsel to stop stuffing an oak tree into the space of a bonsai, and look what you've accomplished. The beauty can shine now. It's not blocked out and hidden by a thick canopy of beautiful images all clamoring for attention. You have been forced to choose. Making those wise word choices, descriptive choices, scene choices, heart's desire choices--that's what great short stories are all about. Congratulations on learning what it takes to make a beautiful bonsai. This is a good one, because it's the essence of a bigger tale. 

However, there's always room for a little improvement. Like here: Jeyna pressed palms to eyes ... There's a simpler way to say that, even though it takes a couple more words to do so. Jeyna put her hands over her eyes ...  Readers know that one. When you get fancy, describing the method she puts her hands over her eyes, we wonder if it has some special significance. We find out it does not. So it's a miscue in the first line of this excellent scene.

Sugarblossom scent flooded the air. Sensory details are vital to rich, evocative writing, and the sense of smell evokes powerful scent memories in readers that can entrance them. Problem is, if they don't know what a sugarblossom smells like, no payoff. So we have to use scent words that will code up scent memories in a majority of readers. Otherwise, you're evocative scent is not evoking anything. Smile

Next, you split these lines below into two paragraphs. They all should have been in one. It's all part of the same action, and by splitting out "Her crow-eyes ..." the reader wonders who "her" is for a second because you stood the sentence alone. Even a second's pause to figure things out can pull your reader out of the trance. If you'd kept it in the paragraph, we'd know it was the ongoing actions of the dark angel. Watch:

Yours: 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.”

Edited:

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.”

See how much clearer that is by keeping it together in one paragraph? 

Again, this is very well done, and like others here, you cover a lot of ground in minimal space. To get that spooky feeling of innocence betrayed takes skill, and it does so because you created the Reader/Hero bond by focusing your vignette on an innocent girl and a not-so-innocent boyfriend. Great job!

Finally, I commend you for using KYD in your own work to prune excessive darlings. You mentioned it's how you had the knowledge to trim down and focus the story you submitted to DreamForge Anvil magazine, and that it was a major factor in helping you obtain your first sale. Well done! I look forward to reading your story in the October issue! 

Carry on, Top Gunner! This was excellent. You've definitely earned your wings!

salute

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 : August 8, 2021 4:26 pm
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Great work, @ccrawford!

(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 : August 8, 2021 5:11 pm
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

@wulfmoon Thank you so much, Moon, for both your encouragement and your constructive criticism.  I really appreciate the extensive comments toward improvement!

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 : August 8, 2021 5:32 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Cray Dimensional
(@craydimensional)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 152

@ccrawford Awesome. I loved you kdy.

Small steps add up to miles.
V38: R, R, P

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Posted : August 8, 2021 5:44 pm
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

@scott_m_sands 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 : August 8, 2021 8:31 pm
Wulf Moon liked
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

@craydimensional 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 : August 8, 2021 8:31 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277
image

DreamForge Anvil Issue 4 releases this Sunday, August 15th! FREE TO READ (but please do support them so they can use the money to buy more stories from YOU!)

Here's where you can get a preview of what's coming. https://dreamforgemagazine.com/dreamforge-anvilcover-reveal/

And since the SUPER SECRETS of Writing originated right here to help you dedicated WotF Forum members, I thought you might enjoy the editor's comments, a heads up on the latest Super Secret! If you're trying to win Writers of the Future, you won't be able to without getting this Secret right! There's still time to fix this common beginning writer error in time to make your story soar in Q4! Don't miss this article!

Here's the editor's preview:

ON WRITING

Wulf Moon’s SUPER SECRETS: Character Agency—I Need a Hero!, by Wulf Moon

This Super Secret is on proactive vs. passive heroes. In many submissions from beginners, the protagonist is swept along by circumstance, passively reacting to events instead of exercising their will over events to change their circumstances. It’s a big problem among hopeful writers, often creating a weak internal character arc and failing to engage the reader!

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 : August 9, 2021 2:35 pm
Scott_M_Sands and fox liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Happy Monday, you challenge beasties and onlurkers! Your Monday writing prompt is:

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE.

I won't be your POLICE, but may this prompt STING you into writing a great KYD 250, and maybe even a winner in this contest!

Cheers!

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 : August 9, 2021 4:24 pm
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 243

@wulfmoon I am guilty as charged. My MCs are always passive.

I have also been told that my female characters are always saved by a man. I was raised on fairy tales, so that is what I am used to.

I am trying hard to change my stories. If I want to write like Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey, my MC MUST be proactive.

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 : August 9, 2021 4:45 pm
Wulf Moon liked
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