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chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 419

Poop! Sorry Moon. I'm liking this story and seems clear to me now that you guys are correct-since the public can view the forum posts, it would be publication and I'd like to try submitting it to the flash market (not to WotF). But I do thank you for posting the exercise challenge. It was a great motivator and I think I ticked off almost every Moon secret! I am a little concerned I might have an "as you know Bob." Maybe I can just put up that part, with a little surrounding context, and that would be okay?

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

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Posted : June 4, 2019 2:29 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Poop! Sorry Moon. I'm liking this story and seems clear to me now that you guys are correct-since the public can view the forum posts, it would be publication and I'd like to try submitting it to the flash market (not to WotF). But I do thank you for posting the exercise challenge. It was a great motivator and I think I ticked off almost every Moon secret! I am a little concerned I might have an "as you know Bob." Maybe I can just put up that part, with a little surrounding context, and that would be okay?

Well, doing the 999-word Flash or less is only Phase One of the exercise, whether you share or not. If you like what you've created and want to send it out, don't post it. This is a public forum, even though we do have to join to comment. But I don't believe posting a portion of what you want us to look at could be defined as "first publication." Just be careful it's not your WotF entry and has some very specific details that might stick in, say, the mind of first reader Kary if she comes in here and browses.

But those who enrolled for the challenge are invited to complete the exercise by Friday. I've read the work of around half of you now. I am doing this to help you.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
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Topic starter Posted : June 4, 2019 4:30 am
Helge Mahrt
(@helge-mahrt)
Bronze Member
Posts: 69

I was late to the challenge, but I like the idea and will still try to do the Flash. wotf007 Got about half of the story down tonight, but I'm out of time now and need to continue tomorrow. wotf012

R, HM, R
http://www.helgemahrt.com
Sky High, my YA/SciFi novel

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Posted : June 4, 2019 9:55 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 419

So here is part of my story--the part that may contain an "as you know Bob." Maybe other problems as well.

They were many lightyears from their destination and at a dead stop.

The nearest comms panel barked to life. “Lee! What the hell happened?” Allison called.

“Allison,” Lee paused. “We’ve dropped out. Where are you?”

“I’m at the Nomura tank. You'd better get down here.”

It took Lee only a few moments to maneuver down one deck and aft. Odyssey was a small vessel: two decks, thirty meters over all, and with eighteen meters of beam.

When he arrived, Allison, the only other crew member, was keying commands into a panel. A screen inside the tank responded by flashing shapes and colors to the Nomura. The animal didn’t seem to be listening. Black swaths of color swirled about its body. It looked like it had goosebumps, except they roiled in waves across its skin.

“What is that? Anger? Confusion,” Lee asked.

“I haven’t seen this. Bits of both I would guess. The communicator doesn’t know how to interpret it.”

The Nomura began flashing other emphatic colors: orange, red, and yellow. Its skin vibrated in prickled bubbles that rose and then quickly fell. Lee recognized “Herd.” He knew this referred to the Nomura’s own extended family group or, in this particular Nomura’s case, to a pod of fellow training animals. The wild Nomura herds plied the great oceans of Lee’s adopted world of New Ceres. The colonists were astounded when they discovered that the Nomura created their own hydrogen and used it to rise into the upper atmosphere. However, that astonishment was nothing compared to their shock upon learning the Nomura then manipulated spacetime to travel to breeding grounds on the second planet in the system. Eventually, Lee’s people developed the communications, navigation, and training protocols necessary to harness the Nomura to move ships. But the incredible discovery would be of little use, he thought, if it ended in disaster every time a long trip was attempted.

Allison worked the panel, her panic raising a sweat.

Lee interrupted, “Perhaps let’s give it some time?”

“You know as well as I do we’re dead stinking meat if we don’t get this Nomura cooperating again. What do we have? Maybe a few weeks of food and water if we stretch things? . . . Why the hell would it stop!”

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

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Posted : June 4, 2019 12:44 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Oooh, Chuck gave us a pretty big sample. This will be good. Thanks, Chuck! This is an interesting piece, definite SF and interesting creatures and worlds as well!

Before I pull out the bone saws <evil grin> I'm going to ask you to do two things and then post your results.

First, get rid of "saidisms." What's a saidism? "Lee paused." "Lee interrupted." "Allison called." Don't feel bad--this is a comm new writer mistake, and I'll make a SUPER SECRET for it (I'm surprised I haven't yet). Instead of all these modifiers of said, just say said. Said is invisible. He ejaculated is not. You can get away with *he asked* after a question mark--it's kinda' sorta' invisible, but that's it. So go fix all of those, and some punctuation errors if you see them.

Second, read this piece out loud. Listen for anything that clunks, long sentences, anything that makes you stop and reread. Fix it. Reread again, all the way through, until it sounds smooth.

I look forward to seeing your revision!

Thanks for taking the plunge into our hot tub! Come on in! The lava is fine!

Beastmaster Moon

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Topic starter Posted : June 4, 2019 1:58 pm
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 419

Thanks Wulf. Ugh! I knew about dialog tags. Hard for a noob to keep all this stuff in his little head: dialog tags, "ly" words, repetition of words and structure, to-be verbs . . . "Ack!" the writer exclaimed forcibly. wotf001

I decided to go back a little further and give you the beginning of the story.

Dr. Mann Chiu Lee felt it several seconds before he understood what it was. The warp bubble had ceased its warbling hum. With his gut already in knots, he moved to the nearest port. The stars should be blurry streaks. Instead, they twinkled back as individually fixed points of light. “Gods,” he whispered.

Lee pushed off the bulkhead and coasted to the nav station. Maybe they somehow already arrived? Something unexpected was bound to happen on this first long-distance test flight. That something didn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Lee slammed a fist against the console. It didn’t have to be a good thing either, he thought. The news on the screen stared back at him. They were many lightyears from their destination, and at a dead stop.

The nearest comms station barked to life. “Lee! What the hell happened?”

“Allison . . . We’ve dropped out. Where are you?”

“I’m at the Nomura tank. You better come down here.”

It took Lee only a few moments to maneuver down one deck and aft. Odyssey was a small vessel.

When he arrived, he saw Allison, the only other crew member, keying commands into a panel. A screen inside the tank responded by flashing shapes and colors to the Nomura. The animal didn’t seem to be listening. Black swaths of color swirled about its body. It looked like it had goosebumps, except they roiled in waves across its outer skin.

“What is it showing? Anger? Confusion?” Lee asked.

“I haven’t seen this. Bits of both I would guess. The communicator doesn’t know how to interpret it.”

The Nomura began flashing other emphatic colors: orange, red, and yellow. Its skin vibrated in patches of prickly bubbles that rose and fell. Lee recognized one pattern. It meant herd. He knew this referred to the Nomura’s own family group or, in this particular Nomura’s case, a pod of fellow training animals. The wild Nomura plied the greater oceans of Lee’s adopted world of New Ceres. The colonists were astounded when they discovered that the Nomura created their own hydrogen and used it to rise into the upper atmosphere. However, that was nothing compared to their shock upon learning the Nomura then manipulated spacetime to travel to breeding grounds on the second planet in the system. Eventually, Lee’s people developed the technology and training needed to harness the Nomura to move ships. But the incredible discovery would be of little use, he thought, if it ended in disaster every time they attempted a long trip.

Despite the coolness in the room, Allison was sweating. Lee knew she was flashing colors and shapes to the Nomura too quickly.

He touched her on the shoulder. “Perhaps let’s give it some time?” Lee hoped his gesture might have a calming effect.

“You know as well as I do we’re dead stinking meat if we don’t get this Nomura working again. What do we have? Maybe a few weeks of food if we stretch things? . . . Why the hell would it stop!”

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

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Posted : June 4, 2019 11:55 pm
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Gold Member
Posts: 750

Here is my very brief flash story. Chuck, I'll dig into your excerpt in a moment.

Dying of the Light

It was not a grand death.
In fact, it was almost mundane. Movement slowed, lightness faded. Mass once vibrant seeped into thin wisps of vapor and finally into nothingness.
"Well," said the old man. "That just will not do."
He used his cane to step over a prone figure, almost catching the toe of his blue slipper on the outstretched hand. They should not have tried to stop him. Their lack of understanding did not make him wrong, after all. For something as grand as a star, a quiet end would be a universal injustice. He would make it right.
He settled onto the stiff work stool with habit's groan. The calculations had been checked and double checked. It was time.
"Grandfather," said a small voice behind him. "Is it time?"
"Yes." He turned and smiled at Dorah. Six years old, and she alone seemed to understand. "Would you like to push the button?"
She nodded eagerly and clamored over the bodies to reach him. "What will happen first?"
He chuckled and pulled her onto his lap. "First, the long streak of light, whoosh. Then a long silence. Then," he leaned into her ear, "BOOM!"
She giggled and bounced. Yes, she understood. Something so beautiful should not fade away. It should rage, expand, transform. He lifted the clear cover and typed in the final command. Dorah's tiny fist curled, determination incarnate, and slammed onto the shiny red button.
Whoosh.
Silence.
BOOM.
Dorah gasped. The bright white in the distance had flickered for a moment and then seemed to take a deep breath. The outpost station shuddered around them as waves of protest screamed into the emptiness. Dorah cheered and clapped. He grinned, triumphal tears weaving down his many wrinkles and dripping into her hair. The white burst outward, expanding to absorb orbits one by one.
"So fast," Dorah whispered. "Will it reach us?"
"No," he patted her hand. "We're far away." But as the nova spread, he began to wonder. Had he miscalculated? No, he could not have. Dorah cringed away from the stunning brilliance, light obscuring all else. Her frame felt insubstantial against his chest and he put his arms around her. He had not wanted her to be afraid.
They began to feel the heat, the inexorable press of matter and light raging toward them. He set Dorah aside, though she cried now, and pulled up his calculations. Had he missed a step? Slipped a decimal somewhere? They should have been far enough away, and there was no one left to move them back. He had seen to that.
Dorah began to whimper. The temperature had climbed past tolerance. He turned to her, tears of a different sort boiling away before they could drop. He had forgotten, in his focus. The grandness and fury befit a star, but she should not have died in such a way.
He fell to his knees before her and held his arms out. She toppled into them and together they fell to the floor.
Whoosh.
He whispered into her hair. "Rage, rage, against the dying..."
Silence.
BOOM.
End

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 : June 5, 2019 1:40 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Gold Member
Posts: 750

Dr. Mann Chiu Lee felt it several seconds before he understood what it was. "It", to me, is not a hook. Maybe more specific? The warp bubble had ceased its warbling hum. With his gut already in knots, he moved to the nearest port. The stars should be blurry streaks. Instead, they twinkled back as individually fixed points of light. “Gods,” he whispered.

Lee pushed off the bulkhead and coasted to the nav station. Maybe they somehow already arrived? Something unexpected was bound to happen on this first long-distance test flight. That something didn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Lee slammed a fist against the console. It didn’t have to be a good thing either, he thought. The news on the screen stared back at him. They were many lightyears from their destination, and at a dead stop.

The nearest comms station barked to life. “Lee! What the hell happened?”

“Allison . . . We’ve dropped out. Where are you?”

“I’m at the Nomura tank. You better come down here.”

It took Lee only a few moments to maneuver down one deck and aft. Odyssey was a small vessel. Is this second sentence needed? I feel like this info is implied by the first sentence.

When he arrived, he saw Allison, the only other crew member, keying commands into a panel. A screen inside the tank responded by flashing shapes and colors to the Nomura. The animal didn’t seem to be listening. Black swaths of color swirled about its body. It looked like it had goosebumps, except they roiled in waves across its outer skin.

“What is it showing? Anger? Confusion?” Lee asked.

“I haven’t seen this. Bits of both I would guess. The communicator doesn’t know how to interpret it.”

The Nomura began flashing other emphatic colors: orange, red, and yellow. Its skin vibrated in patches of prickly bubbles that rose and fell. Lee recognized one pattern. It meant herd. He knew this referred to the Nomura’s own family group or, in this particular Nomura’s case, a pod of fellow training animals. The wild Nomura plied the greater oceans of Lee’s adopted world of New Ceres. The colonists were astounded when they discovered that the Nomura created their own hydrogen and used it to rise into the upper atmosphere. However, that was nothing compared to their shock upon learning the Nomura then manipulated spacetime to travel to breeding grounds on the second planet in the system. Eventually, Lee’s people developed the technology and training needed to harness the Nomura to move ships. But the incredible discovery would be of little use, he thought, if it ended in disaster every time they attempted a long trip. This fascinates me but it's a lot of world-building exposition for a flash. How much is this is really critical for the reader?

Despite the coolness in the room, Allison was sweating. Lee knew she was flashing colors and shapes to the Nomura too quickly.

He touched her on the shoulder. “Perhaps let’s give it some time?” Lee hoped his gesture might have a calming effect.

“You know as well as I do we’re dead stinking meat if we don’t get this Nomura working again. What do we have? Maybe a few weeks of food if we stretch things? . . . Why the hell would it stop!”

Chuck, I really like this premise. It reminds me a bit of the Uplift Wars and surrounding universe. As far as Wulf's secrets: I'm not feeling a major emotion yet, and I think the hook could be a little punchier. The rest seems pretty good to me! The exposition is interesting to me, but I'm wondering if it could be delivered in either a smaller package or in a more active way. Best of luck with this!

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 : June 5, 2019 1:49 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Ooooh, fresh meat! I mean, fresh Flash! And before Friday's deadline even! Kudos to you both. Great pieces, and I'm happy to see Rebecca checking Chuck's against the Secrets. If one isn't placing frequently in this contest, it's likely the reason is covered somewhere in the SUPER SECRETS. Of course, there are more to come, so it might be in something ahead. But it's likely it's in the ones already posted--some of those are very common problems in new writers' works.

Much better on the saidisms, Chuck! I hope the lesson didn't sting too much--just enough to remember the pain and wince every time you sit down to your keyboard. That's all I ask. : )

Both of Becky's highlighted points are quite valid. You don't have "as you know, Bobs" but you do have an info dump. You can get away with this in a short story, but beware in a Flash. It's much better to work the details in piece by piece than in one big dump. Such as toward your opening. The mission objective should be stated up front as smartly and succinctly as possible. Since the Flash centers on the Nomura, get some reference to them up at the start. And the drop from hyperspace? That's the inciting incident. Still, you have characters in motion, and the story definitely starts at the inciting incident. It's a good way to open. : )

You have a good thing going here, Chuck. I'd refrain from exposing much more, because you have the seeds of a good story here and you don't want to have its first publication rights squandered. I will remind you of another thing: you need a title. And what did I share about titles in the SUPER SUPER SECRETS?

And I wouldn't slam a fist against a console. That stuff inside is delicate. Maybe slap a console, but not slam a fist against it. : )

Becky, you're next. Do you own a bullet proof vest? No reason. Just wondering. : )

Oh, how did you get the bold highlight? Did you do it in your word processor and then paste in here?

All the beast,

~Moon~

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2019 5:13 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Gold Member
Posts: 750

Wulf, if you go to the full editor and preview screen there’s bold underline and italics options at the top of the text entry box.

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 : June 5, 2019 5:37 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1121

I managed to make some progress on my Q3 yesterday, and I've potentially got some extra hours opening up today, so I may be able to write a flash piece after all. No promises, but it's definitely something I want to try if I can.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : June 5, 2019 6:32 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 419

Y'all are great. Just tough enough. Get too gentle with me and I'll miss the point. wotf004 Okay-glad it's not a "as you know Bob," but I agree. Too much at once. I held back the title just to make it less "out there" and also because I'm not quite sure about what I have so far. I'm grabbin around for a SD Moon Girl but can't quite catch one.

Becky-I'll leave it to others to make big picture comments. It seems a good story to me. GRRM wrote a book a long time ago called "Dying of the Light." Does that matter? It was good but he was in his phase of mooning over, writing about, lost love(s). His Taylor Swift era. wotf001 There was also a Nicholas Cage movie of the same name which was decidedly not good.

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

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Posted : June 5, 2019 6:50 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Gold Member
Posts: 750

It's from a very famous poem by Dylan Thomas. We're all riffing on the same theme, but the real genius wrote the poem in 1947.

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 : June 5, 2019 7:04 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Wulf, if you go to the full editor and preview screen there’s bold underline and italics options at the top of the text entry box.

Thanks! I had fallen into the bad habit of using the quick box, and forgot about the full editor. Doh!

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2019 8:05 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Dying of the Light

It was not a grand death. [This is good for a number of reasons. It sets the theme. It is a double entendre. It would appear to be about the star. In fact, it foreshadows the ending. Since the story is a tragedy, Western readers need to be told the protagonist is going to die up front--they feel cheated if you don't. You've accomplished a nice trick, in that you've told us, without it being blatantly obvious. Well done![/i]]
In fact, it was almost mundane. Movement slowed, lightness faded. Mass once vibrant seeped into thin wisps of vapor and finally into nothingness.
"Well," said the old man[Where is he? Character, in a setting, with a problem. We are missing an element. Even saying *said the old man on Galileo XI* would help. .] "That just will not do."
He used his cane [give us some indication he had a weapon and did this slaughter. Perhaps the cane is also a weapon, and you could hint that he'd just finished discharging it ] to step over a prone figure, almost catching the toe of his blue slipper on the outstretched hand. They should not have tried to stop him. Their lack of understanding did not make him wrong, after all. For something as grand as a star, a quiet end would be a universal injustice. He would make it right. [Still unclear as to why he would do this. Is he a madman? Had he escaped from the brig? You can say he's a madman with a twitching eye, all you need. You could say a crazed convict with striped pajamas. We need some motivation behind the madness, even if it's madness, you have to hint at it.]
He settled onto the stiff work stool with habit's groan. The calculations had been checked and double checked. It was time.
"Grandfather," said a small voice behind him. "Is it time?"

Okay, creepy girl that doesn't seem bothered by the slaughter is good. It's unexpected. Still, we need a reason why. Are they part of a religious order? Is she mad? Is he mad? In Flash, you have little space to explore these things, but you still have to leave us a clue, some bread crumbs, or it's just senseless violence. I have one easy fix below.

Yes." He turned and smiled at Dorah. Six years old, and she alone seemed to understand.[Which is why they kept her locked up as well, of course. But he had fixed that. He would fix it all.] "Would you like to push the button?" [Again, this is creepy, having the girl do it, like asking if she'd like to ring a doorbell.Very good.
She nodded eagerly and clamored over the bodies to reach him [See, this makes no sense without some hint above. No normal child would carelessly skip over bodies.]. "What will happen first?"
He chuckled and pulled her onto his lap. "First, the long streak of light, whoosh. [End light with a period. Then italicize and capitalize whoosh.] Then a long silence. Then," he leaned into her ear, "BOOM!" [I'd have him whisper this into her ear. All caps is a shout, and leaning into her ear would hurt her doing this. He does care about her.]

,Okay, below I added "he could see." Why? Because the entire story has been told in the POV of the old man. Yes *she understood* followed "She giggled and bounced." So, as written, it appears to be a thought inside *her* head, that she has an epiphany. But this isn't her story, you started us with the old man and she follows later. So be careful to keep us in 3rd Person, past tense, close POV. Again, good, freaky reference about the girl. Make sure you give us indication of why she's as excited as the old man, even though dead bodies are everywhere, and she probably just watched them all get killed. You can have madness, or compelling religious belief, or whatever else you choose to help explain the why's. We just need some stepping stones to the madness.

She giggled and bounced. Yes, [he could see] she understood. Something so beautiful should not fade away. It should rage, expand, transform. He lifted the clear cover and typed in the final command. Dorah's tiny fist curled, determination incarnate [again, why is a six year old so determined? It's fine, it's creepy, but we need the stepping stones to believe...], and slammed onto the shiny red button.
Whoosh.
Silence.
BOOM. [Having a problem here because of course there's no sound in space until energy strikes the station, shakes it, and it's air molecules project this sound. Your sequence following doesn't seem to have the station shuddering until a few more steps. Which is when they would hear a BOOM. I'm not sure if you mean a bloom of light, or a boom of sound above. I may just be too critical, but I suggest fresh eyes on it to see if they wonder the same.]
Dorah gasped. The bright white in the distance had flickered for a moment and then seemed to take a deep breath. The outpost station shuddered around them as waves of protest screamed into the emptiness. Dorah cheered and clapped. He [I am wishing he had a name or a designation right here. Dorah has one, and yet the old man is the protagonist] grinned, triumphal tears weaving down his many wrinkles and dripping into her hair. The [bloom or sphere of] white burst outward, expanding to absorb orbits [orbits can't be seen, so this is confusing] one by one.
"So fast," Dorah whispered. "Will it reach us?"
"No," he patted her hand. "We're far away." But as the nova spread, he began to wonder. Had he miscalculated? No, he could not have. Dorah cringed away from the stunning brilliance, light obscuring all else. Her frame felt insubstantial against his chest and he put his arms around her. [In his moment of triumph...] He had not wanted her to be afraid.
They began to feel the heat, the inexorable press of matter and light raging toward them. [On closer inspection, this feels like one of those Hollywood slow motion explosions that the actors can run away from. It's an *explosion.* How to fix? Some kind of magnetic shielding dropping in power as more and more energy rushes past its field? Needs a fix.] He set Dorah aside, [I'd set off the following *though she cried now* with em dashes, not commas] though she cried now, and pulled up his calculations. Had he missed a step? Slipped a decimal somewhere? They should have been far enough away, and there was no one left to move them back [pilot them to safer distance]. He had seen to that.
Dorah began to whimper. The temperature had climbed past tolerance. He turned to her, tears of a different sort boiling away before they could drop. He had forgotten, in his focus. The grandness and fury befit a star, but she should not have died in such a way.
He fell to his knees before her and held his arms out. She toppled into them and together they fell to the floor.
Whoosh.
He whispered into her hair. "Rage, rage, against the dying..."
Silence.
BOOM.
End

Okay, I understand the Dylan Thomas reference for him, he's an old man and the poem is about the aged not surrendering easily unto death. But why whisper this to a little girl? I can see him saying this to himself, but not her. The only way it would make sense to me is if from the very beginning I believed this was not just about giving a dying star a proper sendoff, but also about a suicide mission, and the old man had taught her the poem. Then, they both understood going onto that bridge what they were doing, and the poem was their call to battle, so to speak. Just a thought as to how I might fix this. For you, it might be just fine.

As is always the case, we each know our stories and what we are trying to get across. Critiques are other people's opinioins, and they have little time invested in the thoughts behind the construction. But they are valid in finding out how a reader might react to our code. Sometimes, we really are missing a piece of code, and it's placing the wrong signal in our reader's minds. It's a fine line. You must trust your reader. But your code must also be specific enough to ignite the correct vision in your reader's mind.

In conclusion, this is a nice example of a Flash piece happening in medias res. It's got tricky hooks--the oddity of the situation makes you want to find out what is going on, who is this man in slippers, why does the girl not care about the slaughter? All of this makes you wonder who they are and why they are here. And perhaps that's my one complaint. By the end, I still don't know.

Thank you very much for sharing, Rebeccah! More of the exercise to come!

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2019 9:24 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Gold Member
Posts: 750

Issues addressed. Thank you for taking the time to do this! I admit I had a very challenging day today in my personal life, and pounded this out this morning without a lot of reflection because I wanted to get it done before Friday. I'd done some research a few days ago, but the story and characters toppled out without much thought.

Re: the name. I sometimes find it difficult, especially in short short stories, to have a close POV character name themselves. I don't go around thinking of myself as "Becky" so I struggled to find a place to name the character (I think his name is Sal). I poked around, but everywhere I inserted it, I felt it either disrupted the prose or felt very forced and artificial. I'll keep working at it, but anyone have thoughts on that?

Hope more than just Chuck and I weigh in on this! Great challenge. I find writing short much more difficult than writing long.

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, SHM, P, P
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Posted : June 5, 2019 12:16 pm
Dragonchef
(@dragonchef)
Silver Member
Posts: 279

Wulfy's LTE 999 exorcise:

Johnny . . . Word Count: 366

“I wouldn’t have married if I had known. I swear. I wouldn’t have done that to you, made you suffer.

“I need you, Johnny. I need us again. “

“Sorry?” Johnny pushed his dreadlocks back and removed his earbuds, letting them dangle over Bob Marley’s face on his t-shirt. “Did you say something?”

“Come home, Johnny,” she pleaded. Tears trailed down Morgan’s cheeks. She grabbed Johnny’s arm. “Please come home. I’ll change. I won’t . . . do those things anymore. I promise. Just please come home.”

“Hey! Get off me!” Johnny snarled, and tried to pry Morgan’s fingers from his arm.

Morgan tightened her grip. “Don’t push me away again, Johnny. They won’t like it. They’ll make me do things.”

“Do what you want, bitch! Just get off me!” Johnny tried to back away from her.

Morgan refused to let go. Her tears stopped. She became angry, feral. Blood seeped from where her untended fingernails dug into Johnny’s flesh.

“You can’t leave, Johnny! They won’t let you. You know how they get when you try. Remember when you left the last time? What they did? You didn’t like it then . . . you’ll like it less now.”

“You freakin crazy bitch!” Johnny finally got free of her and ran down the street.

Morgan reached out after him. The tears began to flow again. She fell to her knees.

Pedestrians walked past her. They didn’t even look at her, as if she wasn’t there. She placed her face in her hands and cried.

Minutes passed, as did the crowd in the street. It was long that she knelt there crying into her hands when a gentle touch broke the hurt. Morgan looked up.

“Johnny?”

Johnny looked down at her with his perfect smile. His blue silk tie gently brushed her face.

He came back.

Morgan wiped away her tears and held up a hand to him.

He came back.

Johnny placed his briefcase on the sidewalk and helped her stand.

“Sorry, ma’am. Are you okay? Do you need me to call someone? Get some help?”

Morgan smiled at him and straightened his tie.

“Oh, Johnny! I wouldn’t have married if I had known. I swear.”

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Posted : June 5, 2019 1:52 pm
vsutherland01
(@vsutherland01)
Advanced Member
Posts: 34

This one's for you Wulf, written and submitted within 24hrs. I tried not to edit it toooooooo much, that was one of your tips. Thanks again for gifting us so much of your time.

Farewell, Scrag

When Jada heard her boy sobbing, her aching limp vanished and she darted through the cabin to the front room. She found Ora kneeling next to where their coywolf, Scrag, lay on the rug by the fireplace.

“Please get up.” Ora said as he buried his face in Scrag’s rusty fur.

Jada knelt and pried her son’s hands from Scrag’s coat, they were battered and bloody. “What did you do to your hands?”

Snot streamed down the boy’s face, “I pounded the front step for making Scrag fall”

Jada pulled him close, and stared down at the old weary coywolf. Scrag’s ribs pressed through thinning fur at the rise and fall of each shallow breath.

He looked up and caught Jada’s gaze, eyes gilded by wisdom. Tell the boy, his eyes seemed to say.

Jada looked away, to where her father’s portrait hung above the cedar mantle. Scrag had been there for her all those years ago when she learned what death was. She shook her head, vision misty. Was Ora ready to learn?

“Scrag won’t tell me why he’s leaving, Mom.”

Jada combed gentle fingers through her son’s auburn locks, “I told you, Scrag can’t talk anymore.”

“Then how do you know he has to go?”

Jada glanced at her father’s portrait and made her choice.

She wiped a tear from Ora’s face. “Didn’t you listen to any of my stories? Scrag ain’t a normal coywolf. Deep down he’s still a spirit of the wind and the wild. He belongs to his goddess, the blooming Desert Flower.”

Ora reached up and pointed at the crimson scars laced across Jada’ right arm. “But I’m not ready for him to leave. Reach up and pull down the lightning again, so Scrag saves you and stays, just like when you were a kid.”

Jada lay down beside Scrag, with her son snuggled between. “I hope I never wield that power again. Scrag wouldn’t be able to save me this time, ya can't sacrifice immortality twice.”

Scrag lifted his head and licked Ora, then rested back into the rug. His eyelids drooped. Outside the window, a cloud-laden sun sank low over the sagoro desert.

“It’s been a day, why don’t you get some rest-”

Ora shook his head, “I want to stay a bit longer.”

“Alright, what if I tell you a story, one of my old adventures with Scrag?”

“It’s ok, mom. I don’t need a story.” Ora wiped at his damp eyes, “Could you sing the song Scrag used to sing for you, the sad one about the Flower he lost.”

Jada’s heart caught in her throat. She reached over to Scrag and began to hum a bittersweet lullaby. Scrag shifted beneath her touch and though he did not wake he began to sing as well. Too weak to howl his voice came in soft growls as he followed Jada through the melody, his melody.

A tear slipped across her nose as she stopped singing. She looked down, Ora was asleep. She let more tears come as she caressed Scrag’s fur, “I’m sorry, old friend. I wish I could repay you for choosing me over her. You deserve better.”

When fiery sunset gave way to twinkling night Jada rose and carried her son to his bed. She kissed his head then left him to sleep.
As Jada shut the door to Ora’s room a gust of wind teased her loose hair, passing like shifting dunes across her face. Whispers of the past swirled through the breeze. Jada scooped her hand through the air as grains of shimmering dust filled her palm. Behind her, the front door creaked.

“Scrag?” Jada whirled around in time to spot a hint of russet fur slip over the threshold and into the night. Pain seared through old wounds as Jada sprinted after.

The moon hung high, casting the sandstone flats in pale brilliance. Scrag limped on ahead. The shining wind brushed past Jada. It swept up beside Scrag and bore his body like a river bears autumn leaves. Scrag lifted then began to run. Jada grinned through tears and gave chase. All pain forgotten, she was a wild girl again with Scrag there beside her, nimble and blazing with starlight.

Jada raced through the wilderness, bewitched by memory of adventures long past. She wished it to never end, but a canyon edge drew near. Scrag did not slow. He ran on through the air, born of spirit, borne by wind. Regaining her senses, Jada caught the branch of a juniper and yanked herself back before she could fall, though the echo of the girl she had been continued to follow.

Jada caught her breath, blinking in awestruck wonder. Across the vast canyon, a gleaming woman stood wearing a crown of opuntia petals and a moonbeam gown. It was the Desert Flower, returned to call back her beloved. The Lady held her arms wide as Scrag raced to meet her.

A happy sob escaped Jada, “Farewell, scrag.”

Scrag paused in midair, as if hearing Jada’s voice. He turned then lifted his head and howled one last song. Jada knew the tune well. It was the tale of their bond, of all they had shared, through the triumphs and sorrows on the path they once led. Jada filled her lungs, and threw back her head. She howled to the night, to the stars, to her friend.

Honorable Mentions: 4
Rejections: 5

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Posted : June 5, 2019 6:21 pm
TimE
 TimE
(@time)
Silver Member
Posts: 338

Hope more than just Chuck and I weigh in on this!

Takes me a week to write my name. My Q3 entry 1st draft is probably half done. I'm afraid I don't do writing fast.

Good to see others having a decent go.

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Posted : June 5, 2019 7:34 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Issues addressed. Thank you for taking the time to do this! I admit I had a very challenging day today in my personal life, and pounded this out this morning without a lot of reflection because I wanted to get it done before Friday. I'd done some research a few days ago, but the story and characters toppled out without much thought.

Re: the name. I sometimes find it difficult, especially in short short stories, to have a close POV character name themselves. I don't go around thinking of myself as "Becky" so I struggled to find a place to name the character (I think his name is Sal). I poked around, but everywhere I inserted it, I felt it either disrupted the prose or felt very forced and artificial. I'll keep working at it, but anyone have thoughts on that?

Hope more than just Chuck and I weigh in on this! Great challenge. I find writing short much more difficult than writing long.

Becky, I know a little about your challenging day. I am sorry. That you did this in the morning is impressive. You will note I didn't cite you on any of the Super Secrets written to date. Well done. It shows me you not only understand them, they are second nature to you. That's how it gets the more we write.

As for naming the elderly man, like I said, I didn't have a problem until the spot I cited. At that point, I wanted to have some tag for him. You can probably create it from his granddaughter's lips the first time she addresses him. Or not. It's your call. He could even be Pappy.

The thing to always consider after roughing something out is how will a savvy reader think when they read this? When we reread what came out, we have to turn a critical eye on our work and not shrug off any logic issues. We will excuse gray areas or unresolved critical questions. A reader will not. A judge will not. It's where having a writing partner that's at least equal or ahead of you in skills comes in handy.

Again, well done. Flash can pull some incredible things out of the air, because it's fast and furious. They make great foundations for larger stories, too. My semifinalist Dave said on the level of world building alone was better than all the other finalists that quarter? That began as a micro flash I won a contest with. I expanded it out for WotF. And after Dave's critique, killed many of my darlings that had sprouted out of the expansion. Because I was able to cut the fluff, I have now sold it to Deep Magic. Shhh. Don't tell anyone. I haven't announced it yet.

On Friday, I'll give everyone Phase Two of this exercise. Stay tuned. But go ahead and fix this one up as you see fit.

All the beast,

Moon

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2019 7:36 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Oh, and Becky? Short writing is more difficult than writing long. Because you have less space to do the same job--to tell us a story. And a story needs a character, in a setting, with a problem, and an attempt to solve it, a climax, and a denouement. At 999 words, that gets hard. BUT WAIT! It's going to get harder.

I call this exercise: AN ECONOMY OF WORDS.

Master it, and you'll start selling. If you've got the seven point plot down. And if you're not messing up on the Super Secrets.

Cheers!

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2019 7:44 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Hope more than just Chuck and I weigh in on this!

Takes me a week to write my name. My Q3 entry 1st draft is probably half done. I'm afraid I don't do writing fast.

Good to see others having a decent go.

No worries. This is for extra credit. Getting your Q3 done comes first. Although, you never know. This might generate ideas for a better Q3. : )

The thing is, the more we write, the more we get out of the way of our writing, and the faster the process becomes.

Cheers!

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2019 7:49 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Okay, Dragon's and Sutherland's next. Could each of you edit in your word counts? It helps me see the whole picture.

And for the other members of the Super Secret Challenge, if you want in on the exercise, you have until Friday to post. On Friday eve, we begin Phase 2.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2019 7:55 pm
TimE
 TimE
(@time)
Silver Member
Posts: 338

Hope more than just Chuck and I weigh in on this!

Takes me a week to write my name. My Q3 entry 1st draft is probably half done. I'm afraid I don't do writing fast.

Good to see others having a decent go.

The thing is, the more we write, the more we get out of the way of our writing.

Cheers!

Getting out of the way of our writing - this regularly applies to me.

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Posted : June 5, 2019 8:36 pm
Dragonchef
(@dragonchef)
Silver Member
Posts: 279

Okay, Dragon's and Sutherland's next. Could each of you edit in your word counts? It helps me see the whole picture.

And for the other members of the Super Secret Challenge, if you want in on the exercise, you have until Friday to post. On Friday eve, we begin Phase 2.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon

Word count edited in, Wulfy. As requested.

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Posted : June 5, 2019 11:03 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Okay, let's look at Dragonchef's "Johnny." Thanks for submitting!

Good dialogue and energy. The voice is strong and it flows.

My first comment is the title. Johnny tells us nothing, except that this will be a story about Johnny. You know what I've said about titles in the SUPER SUPER SECRET. So fix that. In fact, the right title could tell me what is really going on in this story. Otherwise, I don't have a clue.

What is happening between Johnny and Morgan? And who are the *they* that will do something to Johnny when he leaves? And what is he leaving from? Why does he not recognize Morgan? And why does he come back a different man? I am sure you know, Michael, you wrote the story. But without giving us clues, we have no way of saying, "The butler did it!" This happens because we have the story in our head, we know it better than anyone. And in writing it, we think we put on the paper the code that will tell everyone else the vision that's in our head. But we haven't. We failed to leave enough breadcrumbs to get our readers out of the forest. They go in, they look around, no guide is there, no breadcrumbs, just lots of crazy trees. So they get totally lost. As they circle around for tracks, blaze marks, breadcrumbs, ANYTHING, they realize the guide took them in and just left them there. And then they get mad.

New writers don't do this intentionally. They see their story. They see it so well, they think they are putting it on the page, when in fact, they are not.

A big clue that things are missing: word count. I gave everyone the space of 999 words to tell their tale. You used about a third of that. You had room to get the details in, to flesh this out a bit so we could understand, but you didn't use the space. This is not an economy of words, this is an unfinished story. My opinion, as always. Everyone's got opinions. This one is mine. : )

Another issue is the opening. A story begins with a character, in a setting, with a problem. The problem can wait for a bit--the character in a setting cannot. Sometimes you can get away with opening a story with dialog--if we jump to the who what where immediately after. Instead, we open with talking heads dialogue. We don't have a clue who these people really are, where they are at, what world we are in, what time period we are in, and, in spec fic, are they human (okay, dreadlocks say yes, human. That last part was for teaching purposes). Scene setting can be simple, but without it, we have bobbleheads floating in empty space. Set the stage. Give us a stage. Don't let our thespians become vacuous voices coming out of thin air. Like a play, paint us a quick backdrop, plop in a couple cardboard Victorian homes and a freestanding gaslamp, raise the curtain, and BEHOLD, actors on a stage getting it on with dialogue! Our imaginations can run with that.

You're the director. Set your stage for your story. Talking heads is not a set stage.

To sum up, fix the title, set the stage, and give us some idea of what's going on here. Use some of that empty space I gave you. And share it again. It's got good energy, just give us a payoff by the end.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Topic starter Posted : June 6, 2019 5:04 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Before I get to Sutherland's Flash piece, I recently posted another SUPER SECRET. It was on word count. Why, when I said not too much not too little, am I having everyone work on Flash? Flash will likely be too small to win this contest (not always, but either fringe of the spectrum gets very hazy). So why give you an exercise to write a full story in such a small space? Comments?

(And, Sutherland, your title is accurate, and foreshadows your story. That is good. But could you come up with one that would intrigue from the git go? That would be a better title. Think along the lines of "What Comes Down, Must Go Up." Something that will make us say, "Hmm. This sounds interesting. Maybe I'll read this.")

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Topic starter Posted : June 6, 2019 5:12 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Gold Member
Posts: 750

Before I get to Sutherland's Flash piece, I recently posted another SUPER SECRET. It was on word count. Why, when I said not too much not too little, am I having everyone work on Flash? Flash will likely be too small to win this contest (not always, but either fringe of the spectrum gets very hazy). So why give you an exercise to write a full story in such a small space? Comments?

It's like you said, if you can get in, get it done, and get out in 999 words, imagine what you can do with ten times that many! If we can learn to make every word count for more than it should, all our writing will improve. It's a good exercise.

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 : June 6, 2019 5:47 am
Lytspeed
(@lytspeed)
New Member
Posts: 4

You had me at "flash" ... I'll see what I can come up with by tomorrow, just for the fun of it.

Is there a post listing all the Super Secrets in one place, Moon? If there isn't, should there be?

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Posted : June 6, 2019 9:26 am
Helge Mahrt
(@helge-mahrt)
Bronze Member
Posts: 69

I scrapped my 532 words from the other day and started anew. I now got a 998 words flash I'm quite happy with. I think I'll be shopping it around, though, so I'm not going to post it here because of first publication rights. Which is a shame, because I would've loved getting your feedback, Wulf. wotf001

R, HM, R
http://www.helgemahrt.com
Sky High, my YA/SciFi novel

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Posted : June 6, 2019 10:09 am
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