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RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 725

Reporting in just to—as Wulf said— show we’re all in this together. I have sent 8 queries on my YA fantasy novel so far - and I already have a full request! Very exciting. I’ve completed one story that will be my WotF entry for this quarter and am 1k into a second story. My krakens come back and go back out regularly. I’m still waiting to hear back from Deep Magic. Hopefully soon!

Keep at it folks!

I’m available for crits for Q2s if you would like them. I do inline comments as well as a “big picture” review, and have a fairly fast turnaround.

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 : February 17, 2020 10:32 am
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 234

SUPERSTARS SUMMARY

First, I would encourage you all to go to his author website: jonathanmaberry.com
Amongst the links at the top of the page, there is one titled: Free Stuff For Writers. You will find LOTS of cool things.

Thank you Alicia!

2020 Quarters: 1st -- R, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- SHM
2021 Quarters: 1st -- HM, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- Pending
"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 : February 17, 2020 12:31 pm
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 216

Thank you for the info, Alicia! I've never pitched before (not yet, at least) but I can totally imagine myself being someone who accidentally undermines myself by trying to over-plan or by volunteering info on what I see as my book's weak points. I have the hardest time talking about my books when anyone asks; I always feel put on the spot! So I'll keep this info in mind!

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, sometime in 2021!

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Posted : February 17, 2020 12:34 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2186

Thanks Wulf and all for the updates on SuperStars ... sounds like one helluva workshop!
For my update, I have first draft of my first story and 6K in on my story number two (based on the growing impulse prompt 😉
Still waiting on results from both my Q1 baby Krakens out in the wild.
Finished a flametree flash and will post for critique soon.

Ooooo you expanded on the growing impulse one? I’m curious to see where that one went.

That's a good sign when someone like RJK Lee wants to see more. Smile

As you guys workshop flash stories (right now even shorts up to 3k), if you see something that's really special, please do let me know. Well, run it by someone like Becky or Leah or Liz or RJK first and make sure they think it's at pro level. I am an editor at Future Science Fiction Digest. If there's a *consensus* among you that somebody created something special, and you feel it's not long enough or quite right for WotF, I would take a look for our zine. Just don't abuse the privilege. Again, I will only look at shorts from Super Secret members, and only if you followed my instructions.

Membership has its privileges!

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 : February 17, 2020 1:15 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2186

Thank you, Alicia, for that wonderful review of Maberry's The Art of the Pitch. Very detailed and informative! I was there as well, and that guy is amazing. To add to what you alluded to, he called out at the end for somebody to toss him an idea. They said, "Mermaid frozen in an iceberg," and he developed the coolest story out of it on the fly, and then pitched it to us without batting an eye. It was amazing to see his mind work that up so fast, and then relate it to us in a pitch, demonstrating how it's done. He's an excellent instructor, and I believe he's there each year, so you can see him at work again if you guys attend.

Thank you again for sharing this, Alicia! You also attended the special eggs Bennedict event with James Artemis Owen. I went to that last year, and told you that you had to find a way to get in on that, AND YOU DID! This is a special add-on, and it's always wait listed. Would you care sharing the experience with us, Alicia? I'd like to hear your impressions, and I think everyone here would benefit from the message. And hopefully, will find a way to one day experience it for themselves. AT SUPERSTARS! : )

Congratulations again on your earning, along with Becky, the very first WRITERS OF THE FUTURE SUPERSTARS SCHOLARSHIPS! I couldn't be more pleased, and hope to recommend two more from here for next year! It was so wonderful to see you and Becky there! Congratulations again to both of you!

And Alicia? I'll be seeing you (along with Leah) in just a little over a month in HOLLYWOOD!

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 : February 17, 2020 1:38 pm
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 725

They said, "Mermaid frozen in an iceberg," and he developed the coolest story out of it on the fly, and then pitched it to us without batting an eye. It was amazing to see his mind work that up so fast, and then relate it to us in a pitch, demonstrating how it's done. He's an excellent instructor, and I believe he's there each year, so you can see him at work again if you guys attend.

Cheers!

Beastmaster Moon

I was flabbergasted, and I don't use that word lightly. I wanted to read that book right now and it didn't even exist ten minutes before. To me, it really emphasized the importance of practicing our craft--all the elements of craft--and thinking about story in a macro way as well as character driven. He has story down pat, so well he could take an obscure idea and turn it into a full pitch for a novel in minutes. That million words everyone talks about is more than just words- it's the contemplation and growth that goes into those words.

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 : February 17, 2020 2:38 pm
Peter_Glen
(@peter_glen)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143

Ooooo you expanded on the growing impulse one? I’m curious to see where that one went.

Funny thing ... it was one of those ideas that had been bouncing around for a while, the flash brought it out into the light, and it was one of the suggestions in your crit that has given it wings. I would love for you to check it out when done Smile I've been a bit slow getting to your short ... will get there tomorrow.

Thanks Alicia for the summary wotf009

That's a good sign when someone like RJK Lee wants to see more. Smile

Indeed!

Membership has its privileges!

Wowzers! Something to aspire towards!!

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Posted : February 17, 2020 9:08 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 551

Alicia, thank you so much for the write-up! Nicely done! That class was fantastic, and of course it was a privilege to meet your lovely self in person 😉

Moon: that is so sweet of you to offer! Wow! Fellow beasties: I believe the translation of that post is "work harder, produce something really special." Smile
Glad to see these prompts are helping people out! Keep killing your darlings, all!

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

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Posted : February 17, 2020 10:52 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1093

I was the one who said "mermaids frozen in an iceberg"! I was so thrilled by what Jonathan Maberry did with it. wotf007

(For the record, my write-up on Dave's short story class will be coming by the end of the week at the very latest. I've been very busy since I got home, and while I've managed to type up my notes, I still have to figure out how to condense 1300 words of notes into something coherent and legible.)

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 : February 17, 2020 11:52 pm
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Reporting in as well. I have a very nearly completed story that I'm pretty sure will be my WoTF submission. I edit while I write so hoping to have it ready for a swap in about a week if someone is up to somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 words. My 2nd story for submission to a reputable market is . . . bouncing around between 3 different stories at the moment. All of them are fresh but waiting for the one to jump out at me to finish first. Or maybe (like last time) something else will jump in at the last minute!

Frustratingly, I know I have a 4th story I also started fresh last quarter but have misplaced . . . grrrr!

Oh, and I need to release another kracken soon. I've had 4 submissions and rejections thus far this quarter.

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Posted : February 18, 2020 1:27 pm
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Wow! That's awesome that you have a full request. Very exciting!

I am close to finishing a story for a swap. I'll pm you to see if around that time (and length) works for you.

Best, Angela

Reporting in just to—as Wulf said— show we’re all in this together. I have sent 8 queries on my YA fantasy novel so far - and I already have a full request! Very exciting. I’ve completed one story that will be my WotF entry for this quarter and am 1k into a second story. My krakens come back and go back out regularly. I’m still waiting to hear back from Deep Magic. Hopefully soon!

Keep at it folks!

I’m available for crits for Q2s if you would like them. I do inline comments as well as a “big picture” review, and have a fairly fast turnaround.

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Posted : February 18, 2020 1:32 pm
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 173

Reporting in as well. I have a very nearly completed story that I'm pretty sure will be my WoTF submission. I edit while I write so hoping to have it ready for a swap in about a week if someone is up to somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 words. My 2nd story for submission to a reputable market is . . . bouncing around between 3 different stories at the moment. All of them are fresh but waiting for the one to jump out at me to finish first. Or maybe (like last time) something else will jump in at the last minute!

Frustratingly, I know I have a 4th story I also started fresh last quarter but have misplaced . . . grrrr!

Oh, and I need to release another kracken soon. I've had 4 submissions and rejections thus far this quarter.

I can look over your story when it's ready.

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

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Posted : February 18, 2020 1:53 pm
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Reporting in as well. I have a very nearly completed story that I'm pretty sure will be my WoTF submission. I edit while I write so hoping to have it ready for a swap in about a week if someone is up to somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 words. My 2nd story for submission to a reputable market is . . . bouncing around between 3 different stories at the moment. All of them are fresh but waiting for the one to jump out at me to finish first. Or maybe (like last time) something else will jump in at the last minute!

Frustratingly, I know I have a 4th story I also started fresh last quarter but have misplaced . . . grrrr!

Oh, and I need to release another kracken soon. I've had 4 submissions and rejections thus far this quarter.

I can look over your story when it's ready.

Excellent!! Thank you! And this gives me extra incentive to get those last little pieces in . . .

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Posted : February 18, 2020 2:02 pm
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

SUPERSTARS SUMMARY
Hi All,
Long time lurker, first time poster. My name is Alicia for those of you not in the know, and Wulf asked me (as with a few others) to write up a small synopsis on something we learned at Superstars Writing Seminar - Feb 2020 (It was SO much fun ♥)

THE ART OF THE PITCH
As presented by Jonathan Maberry

Hi Alicia,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful summary. Very much appreciated by those of us who could not be there. I have been inspired by your story and others to try for a scholarship next year!

I've been so caught up in actually getting stories on paper that I haven't given a 2nd thought to pitches. But now I can see how important that can be.

Best,
Angela

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Posted : February 18, 2020 2:33 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2186

I've been trying and trying to post a comment that took me an hour to write, but our Sucuri system here keeps blocking. After Martin tried to help me with the problem and that failed, I surrender. Suffice it to say, it commended Liz (disgruntled peony) for her good prompt to Maberry, and said to use what words she needs to relate Dave's workshop on writing the perfect story. It will be a good one for this group to review carefully. Don't forget to tell us the nice things Dave said to you, Liz. It's why I tell people that even in a blind contest like this, you should still try to meet the judge. There are reasons...

Also, I have reasons I set up that weekly prompt for you challenge beasties. It exercises your skills. And I believe one of you is going to create a winning story from it. I also mentioned you should be my Facebook friend if you aren't already. I just posted an interesting interview with Joni Labaqi where she said WotF is looking for stories "3K to 17K." Fits with my Super Secret about not too long, not too short, jussst right.

And if you have one just under 3K, and you got it vetted like I said in a prior post, you know I am on the hunt. Do study the market, and be confident you have written a story at that level. I am only offering this to Super Secret members, and only if you got it vetted first.

All the beast,

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 : February 18, 2020 4:04 pm
BeeW
 BeeW
(@beew)
Advanced Member
Posts: 34

Reading all of the reports from Superstars has me wanting to go next year! It's two weeks before I'd be back for my final year of uni so it is possible, just a matter of seeing if I can get an affordable flight from Australia to the US around that time. Maybe if I'm lucky I can apply for a small grant/loan from my university to help with the travel costs.

When do Scholarship applications open and how long until you find out if you were successful or not?

V37Q1: HM
V37Q2: HM
V37Q3: R
V37Q4: ?

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Posted : February 19, 2020 2:28 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2186

Reading all of the reports from Superstars has me wanting to go next year! It's two weeks before I'd be back for my final year of uni so it is possible, just a matter of seeing if I can get an affordable flight from Australia to the US around that time. Maybe if I'm lucky I can apply for a small grant/loan from my university to help with the travel costs.

When do Scholarship applications open and how long until you find out if you were successful or not?

I forget the exact dates but I'm sure there are four or five people in here that know and will be happy to tell you! Smile

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 : February 19, 2020 3:49 pm
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 725

I applied September 25 last year and found out the first Monday in December I think - but most people were notified the day after Thanksgiving.

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 : February 19, 2020 11:49 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2186

There is another writing seminar that should be on your radar. Fyrecon. Superstars focuses on helping published writers up their game toward becoming bestselling writers. Fyrecon focuses on helping aspiring writers to become published authors. In truth, while I love, love, LOVE Superstars, this con is probably more applicable to many of you. I've been watching them for awhile--David Farland and Eric Flint teach there, and I know the founders. They are a newer con/seminar that is growing rapidly, and they are very affordable--$50 for all four days, and reasonably priced master class add-ons ($75 for 4 hour and $150 for 8 hour master classes). They also offer scholarships to those with financial need! Due to growth (still cozy with around 300 attendees and staff) they have relocated the seminar to Salt Lake City, and it will be held July 16th through the 19th, 2020.

Check it out. https://www.fyrecon.com/

Another reason you might wish to attend? I will be there this year. And I have news...

Stay tuned!

And keep writing!

All the beast,

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 : February 20, 2020 4:20 am
officer
(@officer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 107

Finally, I have a secret program open only to Super Secret members, past or present. Please contact Ari Officer for details, and do not share with others. Thank you.

If you're a SUPER SECRET challenge member (this year or last) and haven't heard from me yet, please send a PM. Thanks!

HM, R, HM, R, R, SHM*, HM, ?
*Finalist, 2021 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award

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Posted : February 20, 2020 5:07 am
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 234

Check it out. https://www.fyrecon.com/

Another reason you might wish to attend? I will be there this year. And I have news...

Stay tuned!

And keep writing!

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon

OMG!!! I am going to attend all 4 days! Thank you Moon! I can't wait to meet you! Do you like scones? I make cranberry orange buttermilk scones to die for. I will bring you some.

2020 Quarters: 1st -- R, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- SHM
2021 Quarters: 1st -- HM, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- Pending
"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 : February 20, 2020 5:37 am
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 234

Dragon Dreams KYD done and submitted to a prof paying publication.

Two short stories written. One for WoTF and the other has been submitted to Analog.

2020 Quarters: 1st -- R, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- SHM
2021 Quarters: 1st -- HM, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- Pending
"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 : February 20, 2020 5:41 am
BeeW
 BeeW
(@beew)
Advanced Member
Posts: 34

I applied September 25 last year and found out the first Monday in December I think - but most people were notified the day after Thanksgiving.

Ah. Thank you! I'll keep my eyes open for it. =)

V37Q1: HM
V37Q2: HM
V37Q3: R
V37Q4: ?

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Posted : February 20, 2020 11:19 am
AlexH
(@alexh)
Silver Member
Posts: 250

I'm behind on the flash prompts, but have finished my story for another market aside from critiques and revisions. I have around 1,000 words written for my WotF story.

35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM SHM | 38: HM HM

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Posted : February 21, 2020 2:06 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1093

Okay, this post is going to be a monstrosity, but here goes.

#

When I was at Superstars, I attended David Farland’s Craft Day class, “How to Write the Perfect Short Story”. Dave announced, right out of the gate, that the title of the course was deceptive. There is no perfect short story, because perfection is subjective. In the end, it’s all a matter of taste--so you want to make your story as tasty as possible.

Simply describing an event isn’t enough to hold a story on its own. It’s important for the story to build and change as it goes along--you need try/fail cycles (three at minimum). The plot of a story is essentially a plot of hormones being released into the body. Humans are performing emotional exercise as they read, so you need that up and down cycle in order to shake things up. If you only exercise by doing arm curls, you’re going to have really strong arms--and not much else.

If you’re aiming for a profound effect on the reader, you’ll need a character, in a setting, with a conflict. The character can be anything (man, woman, sentient humanoid, animal, etcetera)--it’s essentially a surrogate for the reader.

Setting is very important if you want to create a story with a lasting impression. There’s no story that can be told any time, anywhere. Stories change over time, and so do the audiences for them. You don’t have to have just one setting--a typical novel will have between seventy and one hundred of them. The world expands with every scene. (It’s important to think visually about your setting. Think about sound, too.)

Characters grow out of setting, so watch out for anachronisms. Political systems and economies also grow out of settings. (Dave noted that in a lot of stories people with magical powers get looked down on, but in real life they might be considered valuable. It’s all about context.) Your world creates your characters and different characters will hold different values; it’s important to ensure their reactions make sense. It’s also important to consider that characters from different worlds will face very different problems than we do in this day and age.

Lots of things go into the conflict of the story, including character and setting. Feel free to explore new/interesting conflicts that don’t show up in a modern society. Dave specifically looks for a combination of engaging characters, interesting worlds, and unique conflicts. Also, an important point of note: Dave does NOT appreciate unlikeable protagonists such as racists or sexists.

A strong hook is important. You can often tell an award-winning story from the first line. When looking to hook your reader, you want something that will intrigue them and encourage them to read along. You can use hooks of place, hooks of character, or hooks of conflict; an emotional moment can also catch the reader’s interest.

After the hook, you need to transport the reader. You want to make sure your character, setting, and conflict are all clear within the first two pages. Dave rejects a story if these aren’t clear by the end of page four. The reader should know the main problem of the story by the time they get 10% of the way in. (Also, keep in mind that for a short story, prologues and chapter numbers are iffy. While they aren’t an automatic R, Dave definitely considers them a strike against the story.)

The first try/fail cycle is often negotiation. In fiction, that never seems to work. In reality, people are talkers; in fiction, they’re actors.

The second try/fail cycle involves a bigger effort, which doesn’t work as well as expected--and in fact often makes things worse. This is where you can broaden the problem (for example, when introducing the second body in a murder mystery) or deepen the problem (every character has problems that affect them more deeply--inner conflict is important).

The third try/fail cycle is where the character realizes they need to change in order to resolve the problem. This is where the B-line conflict (emotional growth) becomes the solution to the A-line conflict. If the character doesn’t change, they die or descend lower in the arc.

Then you have your resolution. This is where the character succeeds or fails and experiences the repercussions of their actions.

Hooks can be hard to define until after you finish the story, so it’s good to go back through and strengthen those after you finish your initial draft. K/A/V cycles can help with this (emotional grounding, followed by description). A dialogue opening is okay, but visual hooks will usually have a more powerful and varied impact.The hook is usually intellectual--it grabs the attention of the reader and holds their attention for about two pages. At this point, you want your description to engage the reader at a deeper level, instituting an alpha state of consciousness as opposed to the more common beta state. If you’ve done it right, you’ll engage the reader within the first paragraph and get them to psychically invest in the characters, thereby hypnotizing the reader.

Conflict needs to hold consequences. You need to either care about the character or the problem. 85% of stories have life and death conflicts; but Dave likes good stories that DON’T have life or death conflicts, but they’re rare. Dave also likes good comedies, but comedy is particularly hard to write well (again, it comes down to a matter of taste, and taste is subjective).

When you’re looking to raise the stakes with conflict, consider: What is the worst thing that could happen if the character doesn’t resolve this conflict? (Death should NEVER be the worst option.) You don’t have to get to the worst point, but that should be the specter that haunts the character and the reader.

During the first try/fail cycle, the protagonist usually tries to solve the problem on their own. During the second and third cycles, the protagonist’s resources are strapped--they need help to accomplish their goal, which can lead to bigger conflicts. They should try creative solutions--and creative solutions can ALWAYS go wrong. Think of the worst possible complications to their attempted solutions. Make things get worse. Try to outdo yourself--make it surprising. (A lot of stories have a reversal during the third try/fail cycle; it looks like the protagonist will fail, and then you flip it.)

The story will feel shallow if a character has only one problem. Potential extra problems include, but are certainly not limited to: money problems, health problems, and relationship problems. You typically need five to seven conflicts for every viewpoint character you have in order to keep the pace riveting. But be careful--if you pile on TOO MANY problems, it feels artificial.

In most stories, you can’t solve every problem (although you can do it in a comedy). You want to really think about your ending and make sure you show the reader how it ends and why it ends that way. Having a voice of authority state something can drive the point home, although it’s important for this to seem sincere. It’s the authority figure that changes their mind about your character. Not all stories have to have a validation; horror stories, for example, often INVALIDATE.

Your story needs to be whatever length it needs to be; a story structured in this format is often at least sixteen to thirty pages. You can’t write a story that’s just like another story and get published--you need to do something different and surprising. Dave wants us to impress and surprise him (in his words, “I only take geniuses”).

The person who comes up with the most emotionally charged ending wins. K.D. Wentworth liked the tragic and beautiful ending. The problem is, if you tried that with every story, it wouldn’t work. Dave prefers complex endings. You may have multiple endings to deal with; if you try to make each of them complex, it creates a cascading waterfall effect that brings out more and more tears. Look at the story as an emotional symphony--it’s bigger than the words you put into it. The right emotional impact will haunt the reader.

It’s important to write the best short story you can. You don’t make a lot of money off short stories, so you can’t do it for a living. The real value of writing a short story is that it gives you exposure and the chance for awards, which expands your readership. (It should also be noted that each novel you write will probably be either a short story in form or a series of interlocking short stories. This means it’s important as a career tool to learn how to write a great short story.)

#

Now, I’m not gonna lie--a big part of the reason I decided to take this course is because I got 4th place in Q4 of Volume 36 and I was trying to figure out if there was something I was missing as a writer that might propel me just that little bit further. (This was my second time making finalist, and it can be kind of hard to deal with emotionally when you come that close only to miss the mark on multiple occasions.)

After the end of Dave’s lecture (of which I took six pages of handwritten notes, because good god, there was a lot of information--I’ve skipped a lot of the more specific examples and workshopping exercises in the interest of brevity), I went up with some friends to ask Dave to sign some books. I worked up my courage and said, “I was the person who sent in Old Man Coyote Meets Mother Torment. Is there anything you can think of that might have pushed it just that bit higher?”

Dave’s response floored me. He not only remembered my story--he remembered that I’d written other stories with those same characters in the past. He said he thought I was already there, and that I just needed to keep focusing original characters in interesting settings with surprising spec elements, because at that point it’s all a matter of the judges’ taste. He said that with different judges, I might have gotten higher.

Now, I’d heard a lot of this in bits and pieces from other people already, but to hear it all at the same time from Dave made it hit home in a different way--he is, after all, the coordinating judge, so if anyone would know, it’s him.

Dave struck me as very sweet, considerate, and thoughtful, by the way. I had a couple other interactions with him later on during the seminars, and each of them left me feeling better for having had it.

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 : February 22, 2020 8:37 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 216

Okay, this post is going to be a monstrosity, but here goes.

Wow. Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to write all of that and to share what you learned! That was extremely helpful.

And Dave's comments to you are amazing! You are so, so close and that's awesome... I'm excited to see you on the winner's list in the near future, because I'm sure you will be!

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, sometime in 2021!

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Posted : February 22, 2020 8:53 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2186

Liz, Thank you for that detailed review of Dave's Craft Day class on short story. Excellent work! So many great points. I especially enjoyed the point that you can often tell a great story by the opening line. And that you need to master the short story, even if you're going to write novels. The skills in mastering a short story are vital in writing masterful novels, and you build your fanbase in short fiction, and they'll be the ones to buy your novels first. But the best thing that happened was you got to ask Dave about your finalist, and he not only remembered it, he remembered your others as well. I was hoping that would happen. Congratulations on hearing him say those things about your writing--they should fuel your spirit for a long time to come!

There's a Secret in here I told the scholarship winners to do, and Liz and others employed it. When you go to a panel and you want to talk to the instructor after, maybe get some nice words of advice or even a few extra minutes, here's what you do: bring one or two of their books to sign! EVERY author loves meeting a fan (especially fans that buy hardcovers) and they love signing their books for them. Think about it. Instead of them viewing you as taking up their time, you are showing them that you've invested in their career. They will love you for that, and will naturally want to help you with a few words of wisdom in thanks for supporting them. It is the best way to get a few moments with a famous author at the end of a workshop or panel, and it puts you on wonderful ground with them. If you hope to get a few words in, always bring one of their books for them to sign.

Thanks again, Liz! Wonderful points here!

Be sure to study this, challenge beasties. Liz recorded the words of your contest coordinator, the guy that decides if you are a finalist or not. In fact, he's often on that final four that judges the finalists, so no one has more power to get you in than Dave! Write to please that man. Be the genius writer he selects! And he just told you how to do it.

All the beast!

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 : February 22, 2020 9:08 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 148

it can be kind of hard to deal with emotionally when you come that close only to miss the mark on multiple occasions.

Thanks for the excellent report Liz. Very helpful. Many of Moon’s secrets in Dave’s own words. Thanks again.

And I’d just like to say I read “A Matter of Interpretation” (in fact the book is sitting right here next to me). To echo what Dave told you, you’re there. As someone in the trenches of authorial despair with you, I hope you’re able to hold on to that confidence.

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Posted : February 22, 2020 9:43 am
Peter_Glen
(@peter_glen)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143

Thanks for sharing Liz! My fingers are crossed for your 37s!!

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Posted : February 22, 2020 12:32 pm
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Okay, this post is going to be a monstrosity

Liz, Thank you for that magnificent summary and the special story regarding your meeting with Dave. I often wondered if, after a while, Dave starts to recognize certain voices even if he doesn't have a name attached to them. Sounds likes yours definitely did!

I put your notes in a Word document so that I can study it again . . . and again while I write.

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Posted : February 22, 2020 1:12 pm
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