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Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

I've got that Q2 entry in now, with today's final read-through complete. I have a sense of when my revisions mean I'm starting to get pedantic, which is generally speaking my stopping point -- I reached that today.

And thanks to being pushed aside, I already have my second draft for Q3 ready -- all that remains is to finalise it, which I am blessed with time to do, and then roll onto my Q4.

I've been rethinking my decision for which story I'll be putting together for Q4, though. My quarters are all jumbled from my initial plan -- my Q2 entry was, in the end, what I'd provisionally intended to work up for Q4 if I had no better ideas (it was good to have it in hand, so I feel fortunate that I thought ahead enough to have something I could pull out last minute). But my intended Q3, which would now possibly become my Q4 entry for the year, is a comic piece -- and I have a more serious alternative competing with it, which is a story that I'm also very keen to write. Once, some years ago, I wrote maybe the first five hundred words of it, then set it aside because I didn't know where to take it from there. I think it's a story I'd love to explore further, though, and might be a good fit for the contest if I did.

So I have a little thinking to do -- but plenty of time to do the thinking, which is a nice luxury to have for a change.

Good to see the challenge working for you, Dr. Jest. And Dave has said he never has enough good comedy for the volumes, so he's always watching for it. This can be a good thing, because you have less competition in that category, and you have a judge with an active eye for good comedic product. Could be your win!

But with so much time ahead, why write only one? Why not push yourself and say I'll write both? Why not pick from the best of your fresh best each quarter? If I do this challenge for the next volume, that's how I would up the game. We are capable of much more than we believe, and must push our boundaries to develop the skills necessary to become pro writers.

That said, well done! Now go write those stories!

All the beast,

~Moon~

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : March 18, 2019 4:41 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

Eleven days before I head out on the trail to Hollywood, the workshop, and the gala. I should share that Dave notified his FB followers he had pneumonia and a heart attack, and likely had a pacemaker installed yesterday...I haven't seen the latest. These are serious health issues, and I know all here will join with me in wishing David Farland a speedy recovery, and the very best of health. Get well, Dave, our dear mentor and wise judge.

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : March 18, 2019 4:48 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

I should share that Dave notified his FB followers he had pneumonia and a heart attack, and likely had a pacemaker installed yesterday...I haven't seen the latest.

Yikes!

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

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Posted : March 18, 2019 4:57 am
Dragonchef
(@dragonchef)
Silver Member
Posts: 274

Eleven days before I head out on the trail to Hollywood, the workshop, and the gala. I should share that Dave notified his FB followers he had pneumonia and a heart attack, and likely had a pacemaker installed yesterday...I haven't seen the latest. These are serious health issues, and I know all here will join with me in wishing David Farland a speedy recovery, and the very best of health. Get well, Dave, our dear mentor and wise judge.

Prayers for you and you health, Dave. We are sad this has happened to you.

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Posted : March 18, 2019 4:58 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

Update from Dave's FB. The surgeon won't install the pacemaker until he gets over the pneumonia. Makes sense. The body must be strong before undergoing any surgery. He does say he is going back to work tomorrow, whatever that may mean. It could mean he has judging to finish up. If so, expect delays as Dave works toward better health and recovery. I am not expecting Dave at the workshop and gala with all of this going on, but no word from Author Services, this is all so sudden. He needs to focus on his health right now. We wish him a good, solid recovery, and many joyous days to come.

~Moon~

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : March 18, 2019 5:13 am
OldDarth
(@olddarth)
Bronze Member
Posts: 77

Yes, healing wishes to Dave and strength to him and his family.

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Posted : March 18, 2019 5:53 am
Scafontaine
(@scafontaine)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 119

Hopefully he feels better soon! Pneumonia is a harsh beast, combined with a heart attack..eish. That's some really bad luck. Sending good thoughts his way!

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Posted : March 18, 2019 8:05 am
AnikeKirsten
(@anikekirsten)
Advanced Member
Posts: 40

Oh, shoot. Hoping Dave has a speedy recovery. That's a horrible combo. Also hope he doesn't work too hard, taking it easy until he's back on the up.

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Posted : March 18, 2019 8:36 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

Oh, shoot. Hoping Dave has a speedy recovery. That's a horrible combo. Also hope he doesn't work too hard, taking it easy until he's back on the up.

His Writing Tips newsletter today says he's planning on being at WotF--whether just for the gala, or for the entire workshop week, it doesn't say. Personally, I think his wife should tell him to stay home and rest, but it's not my call. I do hope he takes extra care and makes certain he's fully recuperated. He'll be a long way from home and his own doctors. Travel is stressful, and can expose you to more illness. The best place to recover is at home in your own bed.

Here's to Dave's good health, and to his good wisdom in deciding what is best.

~Moon~

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : March 18, 2019 11:05 am
JVAshley
(@jvashley)
Silver Member
Posts: 262

Aye, I hope he makes good decisions for his health as well.

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Posted : March 18, 2019 12:37 pm
AnikeKirsten
(@anikekirsten)
Advanced Member
Posts: 40

Personally, I think his wife should tell him to stay home and rest, but it's not my call. I do hope he takes extra care and makes certain he's fully recuperated.

Ditto on this. He knows his limits so I'm sure he won't push it. Just with pneumonia, it's not something to risk travel with, never mind after a heart attack on top of it. But it does show his level of dedication and that I take my hat off to. He's something else to keep going like this.

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Posted : March 18, 2019 8:31 pm
mikewyantjr
(@mikewyantjr)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 177

So... I take it back. I'll be submitting a new story for Q2 after all. Looks like I'm still in this thing!

WotF Results:

R:6
HM:10
sHM:0
SF:1
F:0
Last: HM, Q1 v38

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Posted : March 19, 2019 4:21 am
JVAshley
(@jvashley)
Silver Member
Posts: 262

So... I take it back. I'll be submitting a new story for Q2 after all. Looks like I'm still in this thing!

WOOT!!! wotf010
Good Job

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Posted : March 19, 2019 4:42 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

So... I take it back. I'll be submitting a new story for Q2 after all. Looks like I'm still in this thing!

YAY! You continue to be a CHALLENGE BEAST!

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : March 19, 2019 7:52 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

I posted this on Q1, but we're talking about it here as well, so here it is:

I think Dave is due for some serious lifestyle readjustments. We admire people that push through and carry on, but we don't want them to sacrifice their health to do so. Hopefully he will take it slow and make sure his body has fully recovered and is up to the tasks he once took for granted. I want to see Dave around for a long, LONG time. As we age, that often means recognizing our new limitations, and working within them.

Here's to Dave's good wisdom and good health!

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : March 19, 2019 7:53 am
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Silver Member
Posts: 295

...with so much time ahead, why write only one? Why not push yourself and say I'll write both? Why not pick from the best of your fresh best each quarter? If I do this challenge for the next volume, that's how I would up the game. We are capable of much more than we believe, and must push our boundaries to develop the skills necessary to become pro writers.

I'm intending to do exactly that. One thing that's come from this challenge this year is that I have built up a head of steam, and have more writing energy than I could use on just these projects. So I'm taking a minute to blow through a couple of other things that I just had simmering in my head, which may or may not go anywhere -- just to explore them a bit, and see what they become.

It's a fun year so far. 🙂

R: 0 / HM: 8 / SHM: 3 / SF: 0 / F: 1
Currently in for Q2.V38 and Q3.V38 / Q4.V38 pending selection (3 possibles, all complete)
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle
Revised HM ('The Winds of the Mind') forthcoming at Abyss and Apex, ~October 2023

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Posted : March 19, 2019 3:52 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

...with so much time ahead, why write only one? Why not push yourself and say I'll write both? Why not pick from the best of your fresh best each quarter? If I do this challenge for the next volume, that's how I would up the game. We are capable of much more than we believe, and must push our boundaries to develop the skills necessary to become pro writers.

I'm intending to do exactly that. One thing that's come from this challenge this year is that I have built up a head of steam, and have more writing energy than I could use on just these projects. So I'm taking a minute to blow through a couple of other things that I just had simmering in my head, which may or may not go anywhere -- just to explore them a bit, and see what they become.

It's a fun year so far. 🙂

Great to hear, Dr. Jest! Fortune favor the industrious!

~Beastmaster Moon~

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : March 19, 2019 5:02 pm
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Mike Resnick has also been ill with Pneumonia and other medical issues. Sounds like he too is, nevertheless, trying to work. I hope they both take it easier and let themselves heal.

I'm wrapping up my Q3. Have done several edits and it's time to let it marinate by itself for a while. I do one edit just looking for "to-be" verbs. I hate that edit.

I'm looking forward to reading Moon's Super Secret tips on his editing process!

No inkling of an idea for Q4.

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

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Posted : March 20, 2019 12:04 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 703

Part of me hears y'all, and the other part is pushing through revisions on my novel while suffering from a terrible head cold. Writers gonna write!

I have a Q3 mentally plotted, will start writing in April while my book is out to beta readers. It's going to be a research-heavy one, but I'm excited.

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

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Posted : March 20, 2019 12:14 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

I have a Q3 mentally plotted, will start writing in April while my book is out to beta readers. It's going to be a research-heavy one, but I'm excited.

I love the kind of detail that is research-supported. Bravo!

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

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Posted : March 20, 2019 12:41 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

Mike Resnick has also been ill with Pneumonia and other medical issues. Sounds like he too is, nevertheless, trying to work. I hope they both take it easier and let themselves heal.

I'm wrapping up my Q3. Have done several edits and it's time to let it marinate by itself for a while. I do one edit just looking for "to-be" verbs. I hate that edit.

I'm looking forward to reading Moon's Super Secret tips on his editing process!

No inkling of an idea for Q4.

Yeah, Mike said he woudn't make it to the gala this year. Bummer. He was one of the four that judged my story in the finals, and I wanted to thank him in person. Plus, I hear he's one of the friendliest people in the industry. In an industry known for being friendly and helpful, that's saying something.

No Super Secret on my editing process, Chuck, it's quite simple. When I start my writing session, I go back to my last scene to warm up and refresh on where I left off. As I read--hopefully out loud, but not necessary because of all the podcast narrations I now do--I listen for clunks in the prose metrics, and keep a sharp eye for too much detail or less than clear descriptions. And echoes. Repetitive words are my blind spot.

In my case, my first draft is my final. Oh, I still do a continuity read upon completion, usually the next day when my eyes are fresh again. But this involves watching for my blind spot again, circling words I repeated and finding new. And watching out for words a spellchecker can never catch, like there for their or its for it's.

If I have the luxury of having a writing friend give it a read, I do so. (My wife also gives it a read, but she's not a writer, so it's more a surface check for typos and echoes.) My wise reader is exactly that--one trusted reader that I know has insight into storytelling. Hopefully, a writer that has a proven track record in selling to pro markets. Why? They aren't shooting in the dark. They have knowledge--an understanding of the principles of writing--combined with wisdom--the practical application of that knowledge, to create stories that sell. Thus, their critique will most likely have greater validity, and their comments will hit closer to the bullseye. Unfortunately, writers at this level are incredibly busy with projects and deadlines, and it can be very hard getting critiques back from them in time to make *your* deadlines. But if you can find someone compatible with your style that has pro sales *and* can turn around feedback quickly, you've got a good thing going. Until then, be grateful if you find a like-minded friend, and perhaps the two of you will propel one another into pro sales and you won't need anyone else. Iron sharpens iron. Keep pushing one another to excel, and you'll make your own pro partners to push your limits with.

But beware rewrites, or trying to level up by having many give input on your story. There is a great danger here. I'll talk about it in a Super Secret soon. And I know some will disagree with me, and have had success taking the very route I advise against. Whatever works for you. But this is Moon's SUPER SECRETS, so I'm going to tell you what works for me, and why. Pick a few flowers from my field and make your own bouquet. That's always my advice.

In closing, I will say this. For my own writing, I have never seen success rewriting stories. My stories that sold? No rewrites. No wise reader, either. You know the story on "Super-Duper Moongirl..." Barely time for a spellcheck. And that was my WotF winner. When I write THE END, they are finished stories, with just some basic cleanup. It's because I'm cycling my way through it, so it comes out virtually finished product. Although, with the WotF winner, I didn't even have time for cycling back, that was a straight, flat out run to get to the ending. I doubt I could have done much better with more time ... but I'm certain I could have wrecked it.

Something to think about.

All the beast,

~Moon~

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : March 20, 2019 6:35 am
vsutherland01
(@vsutherland01)
Advanced Member
Posts: 34

I'm about done editing my fresh Q2 story. Hope to make my final decision on the last paragraph and then submit it today.

Honorable Mentions: 4
Rejections: 5

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Posted : March 21, 2019 6:01 am
vsutherland01
(@vsutherland01)
Advanced Member
Posts: 34

Aaand I'm in with a fresh story. 2 down, 2 to go.

Honorable Mentions: 4
Rejections: 5

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Posted : March 21, 2019 6:30 am
mikewyantjr
(@mikewyantjr)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 177

I'm officially in for Q2 with a new story as well.
wotf009

WotF Results:

R:6
HM:10
sHM:0
SF:1
F:0
Last: HM, Q1 v38

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Posted : March 21, 2019 6:46 am
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 92

I am also in with a fresh story.

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Posted : March 21, 2019 9:59 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

I'm about done editing my fresh Q2 story. Hope to make my final decision on the last paragraph and then submit it today.

Make it hit the gut, or touch the heart. Make it a line to remember long after the story is read. If you can go full circle, tie it back into your opening, that's always best. Full circle is most satisfying. We go back to the beginning, but now, everything has changed.

Congrats to all making deadline...WITH FRESH STORIES! That is how you will win.

Trust me on this. Well, you did, didn't you, that's why you're here!

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" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : March 21, 2019 5:12 pm
AnikeKirsten
(@anikekirsten)
Advanced Member
Posts: 40

Finally, after battling time between life, constant power outages, and getting my paintings done, my Q2 entry's edits are done and I just submitted. I'm in with a fresh one for Q2! Not only that, I also have art entered into Illustrators of the Future for Q2. I'm feeling very productive today.

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Posted : March 21, 2019 8:21 pm
vsutherland01
(@vsutherland01)
Advanced Member
Posts: 34

Finally, after battling time between life, constant power outages, and getting my paintings done, my Q2 entry's edits are done and I just submitted. I'm in with a fresh one for Q2! Not only that, I also have art entered into Illustrators of the Future for Q2. I'm feeling very productive today.

Writer and an artist?!!!! The list of things I have heard now contains everything!

Good luck!!! Wouldn't it be cool if you win both and get to draw the art for your own story. Has that ever happened in WOTF history?

Honorable Mentions: 4
Rejections: 5

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Posted : March 22, 2019 3:46 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

Finally, after battling time between life, constant power outages, and getting my paintings done, my Q2 entry's edits are done and I just submitted. I'm in with a fresh one for Q2! Not only that, I also have art entered into Illustrators of the Future for Q2. I'm feeling very productive today.

Kudos to all of you logging your FRESH STORY Q2 subs! Well done! Very big conga rats dancing for you, Anike! My friend Stephen Stanley was the first in the history of the contests to win both WotF and IotF. He was a member of the Wordos workshop that I was in in Eugene, Oregon. So, not only was he in one of the best writing workshops in the country, he also was a professionally trained artist and illustrator--I am sure that helped. : ) Couldn't have happened to a nicer person.

Except, maybe, YOU! wotf007

Best of success,

~Moon~

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : March 22, 2019 5:44 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

And now that our discussion has ended on the topic, with some members weighing in with excellent comments (Well done, youse guys!), let's return to:

Moon's SUPER SECRET #22: THINGS GET WORSE!

Margaret Atwood of THE HANDMAIDEN'S TALE fame said this: "People are always coming up with new theories of the novel, but the main rule is: HOLD. MY. ATTENTION." The same is true of short stories. Plot is the engine that drives your stories through a series of try/fail cycles in your hero's attempt to solve their problem that leads toward the inevitable climax. But how interesting is a story that goes like this: Our hero needs to learn to ride a bicycle. He gets on, wobbles and falls down. He gets back up and tries again. He wobbles and falls down. He gets back up and tries again. He wobbles and falls down. He tries one more time, and this time, he rides the bike and lives happily ever after.

Okay, if that's your kid, that is a very exciting story. But one must admit, if you don't have a parental investment, it's run of the mill. Everyone learns to ride a bike like that. There's nothing new here, and people come to stories to read something fresh, to experience something they haven't experienced or thought about before. They want to be entertained, they want to explore new worlds and new territory, and they've already seen this scenario, many, many times. So, how do you make it a page turner? How do you get them invested in your ride a bicycle story? The best way? Ratchet up the tension. Don't do the same thing over and over. Have your hero try, and fail, and because of the failure THINGS GET WORSE.

How do we ramp up the tension? We put a better, souped-up engine in our bicycle story. We put the boy in Afghanistan in a remote location. His mom is having a baby, and it's not going well, and she cries out to him to get the midwife. Alas, the midwife lives in the village, several miles away. He could try to run there, but he knows he'll tire and lose time walking. He scrambles out the door, sees his mom's bicycle. She has tried to teach him how to ride, but he had a bad fall and said he'd never get on a bicycle again. Yet, there it is, the only way to get to the midwife on time and save his mom's life. With the power of his need, he gets on, grips the handle bars, and pushes off, wobbling like always, and down into the dirt he goes, a failure once again. He fights not to cry, picks up the bike, gets on again and pedals, trying to remember what his mom tried to teach him about balance. Just when he thinks he has it, he falls again, hitting his head on a rock, blood gushing from the gash. This time, he cries. He's going to lose his mother if he can't get to the village. Should he abandon the bike? No, he'll never get there in time, and he fears she will die, and it will all be his fault, because he was too afraid to learn to ride that bicycle. So he wipes that blood away, lifts up the bike and gets back on, determined he will not fail this time. And he finds his balance, but it's a bumpy road, and he knows there are IEDs placed along the sides by the Taliban. One more fall, and it could be his last, for him, and his mother.

Okay, there's an example of THINGS GET WORSE. With every try/fail cycle, you ratchet up the tension a notch, hopefully, toward the inevitable climax where the hero must pit everything he or she has learned against a do or die situation. High stakes, where the price of failure this time is not just THINGS GET WORSE, it's PEOPLE WILL DIE. If you can combine that with the person or people that you love most will die, even more powerful. This is a figurative lesson. The stakes don't have to ramp up to death, they just have to be high. They could be part of a university admissions' scandal and YOU WILL BE EXPELLED FROM COLLEGE. Or how about this one: YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE WORKING FOR A LAW FIRM BUT YOU FIND YOU'RE REALLY WORKING FOR THE MOB. But my favorite THINGS GET WORSE? See if you remember this one: YOU INHERITED A BANKRUPT STRING FACTORY AND A DILAPIDATED MANSION, BUT IT WAS BUILT BY A FAMOUS ARCHITECT, AND IF YOU COULD JUST GET RID OF ONE PESKY MOUSE AND FIX THE PLACE UP A BIT, IT WOULD BE WORTH MILLIONS. That's a great THINGS GET WORSE story lesson. For extra credit, go watch it, and every time you see the script writing in try/fail cycles and then THINGS GET WORSE, call it out, loud and clear. Not only will you get the lesson embedded, you'll be a hit with your significant other watching with you. Or you'll get hit. Either way, you get a good dent in your skull.

Remember, your job as a writer is to hold the reader's attention. With a first reader or judge with almost 2000 stories to get through in this contest each quarter, what do you think will happen if your story makes them yawn? How long will they keep reading? A fail to hold attention ANYWHERE in your story is a contest fail. You might get a shiny certificate, but that won't get you the win. Don't give yourself a pass. Be tough. Make sure your plot is tight by intelligent try/fail cycles with every fail ramping up the stakes as THINGS GET WORSE.

~Beastmaster Moon~

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Topic starter Posted : March 22, 2019 6:40 am
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