Notifications
Clear all

Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Page 91 / 134
 
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Magic Swords:

I've been analyzing the stories in vol. 36 for different items in Challenge Secrets so that I can learn from them and strengthen my own writing. A few days ago I posed a question about whether the book/poem could be a magic sword in "Molting Season." Tim Boiteau responded and was gracious enough to give me permission to share his thoughts.

Before posting this, I checked with Moon because it would be easy for us to wander off topic. Since the author confirmed the relevance in this specific story and gave me permission to use his thoughts, I verified it was okay to post.

"Regarding the Magic Sword, I think it is fair to regard the book in general as an item of power, as it liberated the male skyylls from their reproductive cycle (and death). However, I think it is also important not to neglect the fact that the author of the book was a female skyyll, so in essence the males were liberated by the females via this magic sword. In keeping with this story's theme about cycles and repetition, a human female (the girl on the couch) liberates a male (the protagonist) from his own self-destructive path through the use of the same device, perhaps not necessarily the book on its own but with her own story given at the end, which parallels what happened on the skyyll planet before the aliens crossed over to Earth."- Tim Boiteau, email excerpt, April 18th, 2020

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 18, 2020 10:15 am
officer
(@officer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 110

In addition to learning what our faults are so we can improve, I think it's also valuable to discover our strengths--and perfect them. Ultimately, we will sell stories on what stands out, so long as the weaknesses don't hold us back. And just like our shortcomings, most of us are blind to our strengths until wise readers point them out to us. Just look at all the imposter syndrome among pro writers.

So pay attention to recurring comments across your crits, both good and bad!

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

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 18, 2020 10:31 am
Peter_Glen
(@peter_glen)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143

Comments?

Reaching the pro level in the craft is my key objective right now. I'm confident that this will be possible thanks to the wisdom shared here by Beastmaster and beasties. I'm also deferring editing work on novel projects because I don't want to waste time (a lot of) writing for that higher-tiered market when my skills aren't there yet. The success/failure cycle is much faster with the short story exercise, so focusing on achieving wins there.

Wulf, thank you for your posts!! Smile

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 18, 2020 2:42 pm
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

Moon, your post is a particularly meaningful one for me. I have a good handful of HM’s under my belt now, but nothing more (hopefully that changes on Tuesday, ha!). I’ve realized there were holes in my writing and I just didn’t realize where they were yet. This is exactly why I was eager to be in the challenge this year.

I think this goes hand in hand with another topic we’ve covered here. As Moon has said, you can toil away at your one million words and start to figure some things out for yourself, or you can get the advice of someone who’s already arrived, and speed up your progress.

I’ve had the chance recently to take advantage of some excellent, truly priceless, feedback from a pro. It was eye opening and I think it really sped up my progression. I’m excited to keep writing and practicing the advice I’ve been given. I don’t know if I’m at “win” level yet, but I’d be thrilled with a SHM to show some progress. Even without that, I can feel that I’ve made progress and will plan to continue seeking feedback.

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 18, 2020 5:36 pm
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 96

I too have only achieved HM's at this point. I know there are still problems with my writing. For quarter two I got an excellent critique, (thanks Dustin!) and I also took that story to the writer in residence at our library. Between the two, I got some idea of what was lacking or could be changed in this story, hopefully allowing it to be the best I can make it at this time, and I have some things to watch out for in my writing in the future.

It is very helpful to hear what you are doing well, and what things you can improve on from someone with more writing expertise or someone that is published and has won awards.

I'll have to wait until Q2 results to see what this story has achieved since I got some guidance of what my weak points are and got a chance to remedy them before my story went to Dave.

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 19, 2020 4:05 am
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

In addition to learning what our faults are so we can improve, I think it's also valuable to discover our strengths--and perfect them. Ultimately, we will sell stories on what stands out, so long as the weaknesses don't hold us back. And just like our shortcomings, most of us are blind to our strengths until wise readers point them out to us. Just look at all the imposter syndrome among pro writers.

So pay attention to recurring comments across your crits, both good and bad!

This is so true. Having lots of critiques again recently helped remind me of both strengths to keep in mind and weaknesses to work on. I sort've went, "Oh, that's working for some people? I guess I can still write decently, at least in part." Same thing with the personal rejection from Escape Pod (though I wonder if personal rejections are just the norm with Escape Pod?). I noticed recurring positive and negative. Helps to know where to focus.

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.

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 19, 2020 6:15 am
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

Magic Swords:

I've been analyzing the stories in vol. 36 for different items in Challenge Secrets so that I can learn from them and strengthen my own writing. A few days ago I posed a question about whether the book/poem could be a magic sword in "Molting Season." Tim Boiteau responded and was gracious enough to give me permission to share his thoughts.

Before posting this, I checked with Moon because it would be easy for us to wander off topic. Since the author confirmed the relevance in this specific story and gave me permission to use his thoughts, I verified it was okay to post.

"Regarding the Magic Sword, I think it is fair to regard the book in general as an item of power, as it liberated the male skyylls from their reproductive cycle (and death). However, I think it is also important not to neglect the fact that the author of the book was a female skyyll, so in essence the males were liberated by the females via this magic sword. In keeping with this story's theme about cycles and repetition, a human female (the girl on the couch) liberates a male (the protagonist) from his own self-destructive path through the use of the same device, perhaps not necessarily the book on its own but with her own story given at the end, which parallels what happened on the skyyll planet before the aliens crossed over to Earth."- Tim Boiteau, email excerpt, April 18th, 2020

For me, this was a big deal to read and understand what the writer was doing with this element of the story. It was part of what really worked for me in the story, even if I didn't grasp how it was being done in full. Thanks so much for sharing this information, and for getting in touch with the writer himself as well! I think it especially linked with me, because I often find myself wanting to insert little poems, songs, speeches, and such, that I believe will help develop the setting or character relationships, though I often think I need to just delete them and forget about that creative urge in the name of a smoother story, which may have been a good decision for some of them. But this analysis of the skyyll poetry book was a great way to see how it could be done effectively. Magic Swords!

In addition, it was interesting to see how the writer was using the magic sword to reflect back on and parallel the protagonist and his actions in the world's setting, not to mention the key speculative element of the story: the skyylls. This really got me thinking more about this particular secret than I had before. Certainly all of the stories in the volume deserve this kind of analysis, since they all contain what the judges are seeking and, hence, the secrets we're focusing on here.

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.

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 19, 2020 6:33 am
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

You may have to ask your writing partner and wise reader to level with you. If you've met the challenge req's, you're going to get a crit from me as well. Pay close attention to recurring comments. Those are your weaknesses. Work on them. Okay, here's the section I think is especially worth considering:

"If you're getting HMs and haven't gotten higher certificates yet in this contest, while you still could be writing some stories at pro level and even sell an HM to a pro market (yes, I know it's been done), chances are you still need to develop some skills yet before you'll be able to successfully connect with higher-tiered markets. By all means, keep trying, but we're talking here about choosing a secondary market that you might be able to sell a story at today, at your present skill level. It will do you a world of good to sell a story and see your name in print. Becoming a *published* writer will do great things for your psyche, and help you keep running in the races. Getting your first Sixth Place ribbon in a big race lets you know you've got the legs that, with more training, could get you the gold medal in the future. It's encouraging knowledge. It's knowledge that will keep you in the race, and make you strive even harder because your mind realizes your labors were not for naught."

Comments?

I certainly agree that getting a story read and published would encourage me to keep going. I had HMs then after returning about a year later nothing but rejections. I don't actually feel like I was doing much different, though perhaps my view of the world has changed a great deal due to personal experience. So I mainly just run on the motivation received from learning from all these secrets, seeing the motivation in this group, and getting good critiques, and what I've called the "curse of writing". I think getting a personal rejection was nice motivation, too, but being a first reader, I recognize that sometimes personal rejections may not necessarily mean a huge amount. Sort of like how HMs are nice, but they also mean you still have a lot to work on. But getting an award or publication, and knowing others will read and enjoy your story, that's real satisfaction. It can be scary in its own way actually, but still great.

I definitely will be submitting some of my stories to non-SFWA publications that are still decent as I continue working on my skills. Specifically the publication I noted as my main secondary one to aim for.

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.

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 19, 2020 6:49 am
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 96

I thought, since I did speak to a published writer this past quarter that I should share what he said so all can benefit. Of course, this is specific to my writing, so you'll have to take what resonates with you.

Really check over your grammar and formatting. You don't want an editor hung up by small mistakes.

More description of setting. I tend to gloss over a bit on my descriptions. Really describe the flowers outside the house, what colour are they? What do they smell like? How does the earth between her fingers feel? This is where you put all those sensory details that Dave wants!

Describe how your characters are moving through a setting. How can he give her a piece of gum when the reader thought he was still down the street? Or how can she see what is happening out on the street if she is sitting on the couch? You have to give your reader more details. She has to get up from the couch to see out the window. It usually only takes a sentence or two to catch your readers up on the movement your characters are doing in your world, otherwise they will get disconnected and confused.

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 19, 2020 8:08 am
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Comments?

I see tow sides to your post. The first deal with continuous improvement. The second deals with self validation.

As to continuous improvement, I couldn't agree more. Personally I have a multi layered approach to improving my writing skills. I address my blind spots (the most difficult part is identifying them), building on my strengths, honing on on random subjects between (setting, characterization, inciting incidents, midpoints), and expand my learning to other mediums (writing literary fiction and screenplays).

As to self validation, I also agree that seeing your story in print is quite motivating. That's why, once I've exhausted paying markets to submit my stories to, I wont hesitate to send them to a non paying market. Because, while I may not get money for my story, I get a boost to my confidence which is also valuable

(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 – Semi-finalist
(2021) V38 Q2 – SHM
(2021) V38 Q3 – tba

Coolest Achievements
(2019) Published in Escape Anthology
(2020) Published in Sci-Fi Lampoon
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2020) Dream Foundry - Shortlisted
(2021) Mike Resnick Memorial Award - 3rd Place winner!!! (to be published)

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 19, 2020 11:18 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

Quick check-in (don't want to interrupt the flow of the great conversation happening here but also don't want to forget!) -- I finished my flash KYD exercise for this month, based on the "Emotional Clockwork" prompt. I might expand on it for one of my stories this quarter.

Wulf, about your post... I have a hard time identifying where my skill-level fits. I'm still trying to identify which paying markets are good targets for my current level versus those that might be better saved for future targets once I've grown a bit. Maybe I'm not ready for any of the ones I've tried, yet? I'm not sure. So far I'm getting all rejections, but I have also seen some improvement in the tiers of my rejections from F&SF and also in "wise reader" feedback to my stories. The best I've done in WotF so far is an HM, and that was on my first try and I seem to have gotten worse after that! Lol. But that was before the Super Secrets, and I was kind of just firing into the dark. My Q1 and Q2 stories this time were much more intentional, and I'm hoping to see improved results from those... I really hope. I'd be really encouraged just to see a clear sign that I'm moving in the right direction.

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

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 19, 2020 1:59 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Good morning, beasties! Another week passes, and another Monday prompt surfaces: CONFESSION'S PRICE.

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

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 20, 2020 12:07 am
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

. . . Leah's taekwondo instructor's counsel about challenging our weak spots until they are no longer weak is good advice. You may have to ask your writing partner and wise reader to level with you. If you've met the challenge req's, you're going to get a crit from me as well. Pay close attention to recurring comments. Those are your weaknesses. Work on them. . . If you're getting HMs and haven't gotten higher certificates yet in this contest, while you still could be writing some stories at pro level and even sell an HM to a pro market (yes, I know it's been done), chances are you still need to develop some skills yet before you'll be able to successfully connect with higher-tiered markets. By all means, keep trying, but we're talking here about choosing a secondary market that you might be able to sell a story at today, at your present skill level.

Comments?

I started out getting rejections in the contest because I was just blindly putting together stories. Then I discovered that there was a method to the madness and I studied like crazy. My first HM resulted from that. I studied more. Eventually got my first SHM. Studied more. Another SHM and HM. Now I finally know enough to start getting downright brutal with my drafts. Super Secrets are not just things you sprinkle in like a dash of pepper at the end of a recipe. They make the list because they are essential to winning stories. I don't think it is a coincidence that my story that earned a personal rejection from a pro magazine also happened to be a story that earned a SHM.

Moving forward, I am depending on my writing partners to help shine a light on my weaknesses and point out my strengths. Because of this thread, I know that most of my rejected stories were missing "heart's desire" and/or had structural issues with try/fail cycles. I had some great description (my strength) but the structure fell apart. Having a writing partner turned a weak story last quarter into what I think is one of my better stories. Had I not allowed myself to be vulnerable, I would have missed that opportunity because I was ready to give up on the story.

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 20, 2020 6:50 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Hey, challenge beasties! I see results are starting to roll out for Q1. May the odds be ever in your favor! For those of you rostered in the challenge, don't forget to post 'em here so we can cheer you on!

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

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 7:05 am
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 96

Reporting in with a HM

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 7:13 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 743

HM

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

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 7:46 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

R

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 7:47 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

Silver HM!

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

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 7:52 am
officer
(@officer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 110

Congrats, guys! wotf010

R for me...and I wrote about a viral pandemic! Back in October. Proof that I am better at writing non-fiction wotf001

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

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 8:04 am
Dragonchef
(@dragonchef)
Silver Member
Posts: 279

Congrats, guys! wotf010

R for me...and I wrote about a viral pandemic! Back in October. Proof that I am better at writing non-fiction wotf001

Not proof at all, mon ami. Just bad timing.

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 8:15 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Nicely done, all! wotf010 keep 'em coming!

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

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 8:17 am
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

HM for me.

Congrats to everyone getting certificates and best of luck to those still waiting.

And for those getting an R, keep writing and submitting. I just noticed that CCrawford just had a comeback from four "R's" in a row and got a SHM this quarter!!

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 8:36 am
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Silver HM!

wotf010

Your efforts remind us all what happens when we keep trying. You must be ecstatic!! Way to go!!

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 8:38 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

Hard not to be disappointed in an R, but pushing the emotion aside I know logically that the reason for an R could range from having some identifying information left on my submission to something about the opening just not working.

Planning to give it a quick once-over and get it submitted to another market right away.

To any others frustrated with an R, try to think about it unemotionally and realize you’re better now than you were when you submitted for q1. Likewise for any out there who feel like an HM or SHM is stagnation.

And congrats to those who’ve made some progress!

Personally, there’s nothing like WotF results to motivate me. Bring it on, Moon! We’ve got some improving to do!

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 8:49 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

HM for me.

Congrats to everyone getting certificates and best of luck to those still waiting.

And for those getting an R, keep writing and submitting. I just noticed that CCrawford just had a comeback from four "R's" in a row and got a SHM this quarter!!

Thank you so much!! Yes... I'm so excited and RELIEVED! I somehow got an HM on my first-ever time submitting, but then four rejections in a row even though I felt my stories were improving. BUT... I was taking shots in the dark, honestly. My Q1 (this Silver HM) was the first story I wrote after joining this challenge, and I intentionally applied Super Secrets while writing it... And I am soooooo relieved to see clear results that I'm moving in the right direction! I finally broke my string of R's! I'm so happy!!

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

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 8:53 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2286

Nice to see your results, Wulf Pack, and I will be commenting and commending soon (I see you, Crystal!). But there's no time to lick your wounds, you are on a mission and the Pack is on the track!

ASSIGNMENT

Take the WRITERS OF THE FUTURE ONLINE WRITING COURSE by going to Writers of the Future.com.

When done, come back here and share something you learned that you feel will help you, and maybe even your challenge beasties! Keep an eye out for the term "technical expertise" and tell me why it is vital to achieve and what it can produce.

Don't just stand there! Don't you know WE'RE AT WAR?

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" in Deep Magic Fall 2020 wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss the Super Secret "Character Agency: I Need a Hero!" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon. Click HERE to get yours!
MY NEXT MASTER CLASSES ARE AT FYRECON ONLINE, NOV. 18-21ST. UPDATE: 50% FULL. Click HERE before they are sold out once again!

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : April 21, 2020 9:34 am
Peter_Glen
(@peter_glen)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143

Reporting in with an 'R' ... have started Q3 story and it will be very different from Q1 or 2, so maybe a chance there.

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 10:30 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

Nice to see your results, Wulf Pack, and I will be commenting and commending soon (I see you, Crystal!). But there's no time to lick your wounds, you are on a mission and the Pack is on the track!

ASSIGNMENT

Take the WRITERS OF THE FUTURE ONLINE WRITING COURSE by going to Writers of the Future.com.

When done, come back here and share something you learned that you feel will help you, and maybe even your challenge beasties! Keep an eye out for the term "technical expertise" and tell me why it is vital to achieve and what it can produce.

Don't just stand there! Don't you know WE'RE AT WAR?

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon

I completed the course already, and enjoyed it! (Some of the information was very similar to Super Secrets! wotf008 ) There was also a lot of good information coming from a slightly different angle than I'd thought of before, or said in a new way that made me see it a different light. The review of the 7-point plot was helpful, because some of the commentary expanded on things in a different way than I'd seen it before... Here are some of the things I found most helpful (I took notes!):

    "Until you have a person and a struggle, you don't have a story" -- Orson Scott Card. A story is "an orderly presentation of causally related events" driven by character motives.

    The idea of finding things from my own experience I could use in writing a story (I made a list)

    On the opposite side of that, the idea that research IS necessary -- tiny details that emerge during research could make the difference between a vivid, believable story world or not. Tim Powers says he doesn't even decide on his plot before researching, because interesting things jump out at him during the research process; he lets the research lead the story.

    Characterization only begins when there is a second character -- then the reader begins to see who your character is through those interactions.

    The idea of writing "while the idea is hot," yet not starting too soon -- a concept is not the same as a story idea; you need characters and a plot to have a full idea. (Orson Scott Card had the battle room from Ender's Game long before he had characters or a plot)

    Four basic types of stories: The "Why" story; the "Mileu" story; the "Event" story; the "Character" story -- know what is most interesting about your story and emphasize it.

    The 7-point plot, with some additional notes from the course:
    1. Character
    2. Setting
    3. Conflict
    (These three points make up the "beginning" of your story, and you must deliver on whatever you promise to readers there)
    4. Struggle to resolve conflict (usually this is the first thing the character thinks of to try, and they fail)
    5. Second Try/Fail cycle (after the failed first attempt; this second attempt makes things even worse)
    6. Climax (otherwise called the third attempt; character should risk everything or at least pay a great price to solve the problem)
    7. Validation (the conflict unwinds, and a trusted character confirms the main character's heroism) -- But in fact, validation happens throughout the story in more subtle ways, by having characters speak things with authority, and by leaving no room for ambiguity.

    Hook with the title (a tip from David Farland!), then think about how to hook for the rest of the story. Intrigue, rather than explain. You can have a setting hook, a character hook, or a conflict hook -- again, think about what is most interesting about your story and put it up front. Weave in more hooks as the story goes on, any place the story slows. [/list2ou8i5j4]

    For the "Technical Expertise" question... this was also something that was said in a new way, or that struck me in a way I hadn't considered before -- Hubbard's essay says that while those who are experts in an art form will be analyzing every technical detail, the casual audience is looking at things differently. And in order to produce something considered "art," Hubbard says you need "TECHNICAL EXPERTISE ITSELF ADEQUATE TO PRODUCE AN EMOTIONAL IMPACT." Technical Expertise is essential. You must have it in order to even reach that threshold of producing an emotional impact -- without it, the message/art cannot be communicated. But the interesting part is that the technical expertise does not need to be perfect (this is very encouraging to me, as an innate perfectionist) -- but it DOES need to meet that threshold of adequacy to produce an emotional impact. In fact, technical quality alone can produce an emotional impact, when it hits this threshold. This is also encouraging -- because, to me at least, it means that by practicing and improving my technique, I automatically elevate my stories and increase my opportunity for emotional impact... which is the whole point, really, right?

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

    ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 12:09 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2286

Wonderful review, Crystal! Great rundown on technical expertise and its importance as well.

As for your title being your first hook, that is also a Super Secret, but I believe it's a hidden one. Smile The thing is, you will hear lots of echoes in the online workshop and what you've been hearing here in Super Secrets. That's because these points are universal to professional stories.

Your job, challenge beasties, is to be aware of them, and to implement them in your own writing. Technical expertise means knowing a thing and being adept at employing it. It's that "one kick, practiced one thousand times." It's your million words, or your half-a-million words, practiced smartly.

Congratulations on your Silver HM, Crystal. You just got that sign I talked about that says your writing is hovering in the professional range throughout, and not just in the well-crafted opening. Choose good writing targets for your work, and only send to respectable markets.

Well done, challenge beastie!

Beastmaster Moon

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" in Deep Magic Fall 2020 wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss the Super Secret "Character Agency: I Need a Hero!" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon. Click HERE to get yours!
MY NEXT MASTER CLASSES ARE AT FYRECON ONLINE, NOV. 18-21ST. UPDATE: 50% FULL. Click HERE before they are sold out once again!

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : April 21, 2020 12:36 pm
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

Got another R. I figure it was due to dialogue, after what Card said about it in his lecture. If Q2 has the same result, I’ll know for sure, since that story went through critiques and I kept the dialogue since it was an essential part of the story’s voice IMO. Can’t say I agree with either the dialogue tags nor the lack of dialect (my thoughts are more in line with say, Langston Hughes, and originality) but I’ll adjust by dropping those interests to aim for a win and communication over perfection as Hubbard describes it. It would be a fairly big change for me as I come from writing in university where my thesis was basically using Japanese in English fiction and poetry, and snagged an award for it. But different market here. As you can see, I took the new course and will report on it below.

I felt the new course was a great refresher on the basics to nail down for a writing career. The lectures are direct from the judges linked to Hubbard essays, so this is clear description of what one needs to do to win the contest. It did have a few issues of how practicals linked to the overall course that I could see some having trouble with—I provided feedback via their questionnaire and hopefully they work that out in the future. But it’s still very motivating in its present shape, if you go in ready to work. I took 26 pages of notes and worked through two story drafts. Not quite finished but they have clear structure and plot and are ready to finish this week. Plot is a weakness of mine I believe, so it’s always good to get reminders, and the course also showed me a few points that may not be a weakness but a matter of personal taste and approach that I will have to change to advance in my writing pursuit of this contest and short story submissions.

Card stated that dialogue is easy to do. While I agree with that, just speak how that particular character would speak and speak with that individual character's needs and intentions in mind, I disagreed with two other points about dialogue. He said to never use any dialogue tags but "said" and sometimes "replied". Obviously. But then he said that we should use the "said" dialogue tags everywhere possible as it is invisible to the reader and ensures clarity. I don’t agree and that differs from my approach—I believe too many said tags will distract and that you can easily show who is speaking through the action and description of the character. But I will humbly adjust to the view of the judge and insert more dialogue tags for my 3rd Quarter submission.

Card also said that dialect should be avoided. No misspelling of words and odd punctuation. If one wants to show that characters are speaking differently than other characters then use different word choices. This was another point I disagreed with, and I have used dialect in my stories before with different spellings, and found it an essential part of the characters and their interactions, but I’ll also plan to drop that from future contest stories. It feels essential, but I'll adjust my approach.

I did completely agree with what Card said in regards to narration. Show don’t tell is nonsense, as he says. Recognize that narration is vital and that show don’t tell is specific to the scenes where you will slow down the story, but there needs to be a lot of narration in your stories in order to direct the readers. Choose your scenes carefully so that showing doesn’t waste our time. Lean heavily on the side of telling to move reader through a story quickly and help them understand why they’re being moved.

This post is getting a bit long, so I'll just run over some pointers about openings I liked: First 10% of story should introduce character, setting, and major conflict. Nail this or get rejected. Introduce most engaging element first. Make character likeable by putting them in pain (lost someone, criticized, toothache, etc.), have them “petting the dog” (taking care of someone or something), or making them interesting (mysterious background, powers). First or second paragraph need that conflict (technically, Farland said in the first three pages, but he did say introduce as soon as possible, even within the first or second paragraph).

Reminders on suspense were decent: “Keep your reader wondering which of two things will happen.”
“Fights, at best, are gap fillers,” so provide for more than sake of action and use suspense to hold them back from the fight and make them work for it.
“Give your reader a chance to wonder for a while about the final outcome.”
Be careful about using foreshadowing; it can backfire and turn off readers if it doesn’t fulfill its promises.
“Make sure that the reader is sitting there tensely wondering which of two or three momentous things is going to happen first. If you can do that, adroitly, to some of those manuscripts which have come bouncing back, they may be made to stay put.”

As for the essay on art and expertise and perfection and communication, I took away a different consideration. Since I’m often interested in matters that judges would scoff at (dialogue and poetry being two of them), I view that as my own desire for perfection of ART itself, which drags down communication for readers (editors/judges), so I will have to adjust my formula and increase COMMUNICATION levels and shift what I’ve viewed as quality of the art to serve that communication.

But it is said that great artists establish their technical expertise while managing to keep their original fire. Expertise itself creates good art, so it is vital to achieve the basics and then pair your message/originality to it.

Reminder for all of us, especially those who have been writing too long and not winning: “Technique is not habit, but a constant set of rules to be frequently refreshed in your mind. And so, in the scurry of getting a manuscript in the mail, it is not unusual to overlook some trifling factor which will mean the difference between sale and rejection.”

Good show on the HMs! And that SHM, Crystal! Right on! Best of luck all moving forward. Some deadlines coming up soon I think others will be submitting work to.

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.

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 21, 2020 1:36 pm
Page 91 / 134
Share: