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Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

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CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

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

Thank you!!! After our chat, I'm seriously very excited about this result... I was feeling discouraged the past few months and brain-fried, but I told myself to just keep at it, believing (hoping!) that the work I was putting in would eventually show progress in some way. Now I have a fresh batch of motivation to keep moving forward!

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

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Posted : April 21, 2020 1:47 pm
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

Oishisushi, my story was also heavy in dialogue, a first for me. And heavy in dialect, also a first for me. I was trying something new, and I guess it just didn’t work. Which is a shame because it was my favorite story I had written until my q2 submission, with my strongest ending.

Maybe I’ll try editing out the dialect and filling in a little more context up front. Commiserations on the R, my friend.

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Posted : April 22, 2020 12:38 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2278

RJK Lee, great review of the course, but especially of teachings that challenged items of craft within your present work. That humble admission of what was revealed that you need to work on will serve you well. I am glad to see you trust the instructors--they know what they are talking about, and have the legacy careers to prove it!

One point I should make: Scott Card was not saying to tag every bit of dialogue with "said." What he was saying is to make clear who is speaking. When you have to use a tag, use "said" and not "growled Jack" and "screamed Joni" and "Moon repeated with annoyance." Those tags and modifiers are not invisible. Said is. "Asked" can be invisible as well, used sparingly. But other tags are not like punctuation, they are different from the blase' "said" that can hide invisible in crowds like the gray man. Those other tags wear pink polka dots and purple velvet suits with feathered pimp hats. They draw the eye, and you don't want the reader's eyes going to your tags instead of your important dialogue. What is more, they will mark you as an amateur. You can do everything else right, but be spotted a mile away as a new writer because of clunky, awkward dialogue. It is one of the hardest technical aspects for an aspiring writer to get right. Even advanced writers. I cannot count how many novels I've pulled from the bookshelf and flipped through the pages to find out how the author writes dialogue, sighed sadly, and then had to put the book back on the shelf. I will not read a novel if the author sets up their dialogue with inferior methods that slow the pace and muck up what the characters are saying. I expect this aspect to be mastered BEFORE their novel sells to a publisher and ends up on a bookstore's shelves. I don't believe that's too much to ask, and yet apparently, it is.

Shakespeare said it best: "To tag, or not to tag, that is the question." I've actually been planning a Super Secret and a special exercise for many months now on dialogue. Now sounds like the right time. I'll give everyone a week to complete the current assignment and get their comments posted here, and we shall address this important issue. I have seen the problem again and again in everyone's manuscripts. It's a lesson we need to cover, and a lesson each of you in this challenge need to master.

Ryland, you are with Deep Magic. Go look at how I opened "Weep No More for the Willow" in the Deep Magic, Fall 2019 issue. There are three characters in that opening, and they all have dialogue. Note the ways I tag, and also where I don't have tags. You either lead in to the dialogue with exposition that clearly shows who is speaking, or you use "said." You always set up your players before they speak. Aye-yi-yi, I can't believe how many writers have talking heads, or invisible men suddenly show up in dialogue with no context. They appear to materialize from the Starship Enterprise's transporter! Don't be that guy. Like Shakespeare, set up your players, tell us who they are and why they are here, and THEN have them speak. There are also special methods to have dialogue ping pong back and forth without ever using tags because IT'S OBVIOUS WHO IS SPEAKING. And that's the key. Remember this. If it's obvious, you don't need a tag. If it's vague who is speaking, you must tag again. There are still very smart methods of tagging without using "said." In a week, will shall begin this Secret and exercise. But you and others can get a head start by studying my opening in "Weep No More for the Willow."

Remember, and this I say to all. You can have technically mastered almost everything in writing, and just one thing like dialogue being off will detract significantly from your work and cause it to be turned down. You must master every technical aspect in a story to such a degree, it stands out as pro on the basis of craft alone. Only then will you be able to create true art. Professional art. Because all the wonky wobbly stuff will be gone. Judges, editors, and ultimately, readers, will realize they are in the hands of a master. Only then will you be able to transmit your crystalline vision, because the signal is now static free.

Keep writing, Wulf Pack. Keep analyzing your work against the Secrets. You will hear echo after echo in the WotF Online Writing Workshop from what you've already learned in these Super Secrets (somebody please quote what Scott Card said about fiddling!). That's because they are truths that professional writers know. They have mastered them. And they are trying to help you do the same. I am trying to help you do the same. Sometimes I hear counters to the Secrets, such as the Secret to stop rewriting your work, or to only submit to respectable markets. Tim Powers teaches that very same counsel at the WotF writing workshop. Would you raise your hand every time Tim Powers mentions the topic and proudly tell the class you don't do that? I doubt it very much. There are reasons behind all of these Secrets. I feel I have adequately explained those reasons so that anyone that wishes to help themselves might see the logic in them and dig themselves out of the beginner's hole faster than they would have done with no one to guide them. You now have adequate proof that what I'm saying in this workshop is true. Plenty of people in this challenge and without have said they applied the Secrets, and saw tremendous results--even winning the contest, becoming finalists, or achieving their first professional sales. That's because they were willing to cast aside preconceived notions and habits and start fresh. They were willing to say, "I'm not sure about this, but I see there is logic behind it" and went to work on it in spite of how they did things in the past. Old habits are hard to change. But change we must if we wish to grow...and if we wish to become professionally published writers.

So I share with all the advice Brad Torgersen gave me. "If you aren't winning, it's because someone else wrote a better story than you." Yeah, that stings. You thought you sent in your best. Well, you did. But someone else sent in their best, and it was better. They stopped kicking against the goads. They listened to their mentors, learned from their mistakes, applied accurate knowledge, wrote harder and smarter than anyone else, and surpassed all the other writers around the world that entered that quarter by crafting a technically skilled story with a thought-provoking theme combined with emotional impact. They won.

You have the power to do the same. But it will happen faster if you listen to wisdom and make application instead of excuses and work at it harder than anyone else. And yes, that probably stings. Truth often does. But you've already seen in this very group what recognizing the truth, making necessary changes, and doing the work can accomplish. You can become a professional. As L. Ron Hubbard said, "Unless the professional form is there first, the message will not transmit."

Humbly look at what your succession of certificates is telling you. Humbly look at your rejections from editors. Or, hopefully in your case, where you connected and sold your work. They will give you a good indication of where your writing is presently at. Some might even give you clues as to what you need to work on. For instance, a rejection in WotF absolutely means something was seriously off in your first two pages. Get someone that knows what they are doing to tell you what it was. Fix it before you write your next.

"Unless the professional form is there first, the message will not transmit."

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!
NEXT MASTER CLASSES AT FYRECON ONLINE, NOV. 18-21ST. Click HERE before they are sold out once again!

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Topic starter Posted : April 22, 2020 5:55 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 743

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 did the course on Sunday. It took me almost 9 hours, including writing a short story that (according to crit group) is decent and taking a few breaks for food and children. I learned a lot and had a few "A-HA" moments throughout. I highly recommend taking the time to work through it (no need to do it in one day like I did!)

My takeaways:

From Orson Scott Card:

- Imagine an impossible situation, then work from there. Something unlikely, but this is to be used as springboard. "Don't try to hold onto it after the story starts taking hold." It exists to hook the writer into the story.

- Why Questions are the basis of story. There are two kinds of why: mechanical (dominoes), like a machine, and intention/motive. There are always mechanical forces, but they don't make good fiction. Assigning a mechanical cause is to destroy them as a character. Instead, dig into the motive. It's INTERESTING. Human motivation. That is the story.

-You the writer must care about the character.

- On Dialogue: We're all masters of this as long as we don't think about it. If we think about it, it stinks.

- Everyone speaks with natural flow and rhythm, don't be insufferably pedantic. (He was discussing the habit of droppin' the g and addin' funny spellin's donchano)

- Tempting to make characters say what you need them to say. That's not how dialogue really works. Shared experiences are frequent, relationship is on debate. Strangers talk politely, people who know one another interrupt and talk over and refer back- shows intimacy and familiarity. Adds mass to dialogue, but avoids far worse sin of dialogue that is to the point every moment.

- On Narration (show v tell): Most of the story is narration or implication. Or "tell". The memorable moments are in the scenes. Which are slow, so you spend more time on them.

From Tim Powers:

- Never approach a story with plot and characters in mind, but the research comes first and suggests plot and characters. So many things that are too cool not to use.

- Always calculate where your camera is. You want the reader to vicariously inhabit the scene. So you must first occupy it.

- Start with a broad focus, go on a bit longer than you think is necessary. Focus down: which is to say, give a broad landscape view and then narrow down to one aspect, further narrow to tight focus, finally to one thing. This is valuable because the camera is moving, something is happening, it's not static.

- Know what can and can't be seen, what is the light source (!) what things are visible and lost in shadow, makes it more real. Think reflections, echoes, textures, smells, air temperature.

-Every scene serves two purposes: further the plot, AND enhancing character, revealing character.

- Act two ends with a BIG BAD EVENT.

- Cannot have coincidence be an element of your story, if it HELPS the character. It works if it hinders the protagonist.

From Dave Farland:

-The title should be your first hook. (now where have I heard that before?)

-Working up to inciting incident: Want to start at the last moment you can go into the story. In media res.

- Half-hearted attempt is the first try fail cycle. (Or the first "obvious" solution)

From L. Ron Hubbard:

- "Keep your reader wondering which of two things will happen and you get his interest"

- Action suspense is easy to handle, but you have to know when to quit and you have to evaluate your drama and ladle it out accordingly.

- Technique should not rise above the level of workability for the purpose of communication
Perfection cannot be obtained at the expense of communication.

- What makes art good? "Technical expertise itself adequate to produce an emotional impact" (This was a theory heavy section of the course but really important and relevant I think, especially in light of what Wulf is trying to do for us. Until we're good enough at the craft, our imaginations and worlds and brilliant characters won't do us any good. Other side of that coin, once the technical ability is mastered, the rest of our abilities will start to shine through. Those basic techniques are critical. That being said, the point is communication. We have to communicate clearly to tell our stories.)

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 : April 22, 2020 6:20 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2278

Repetition is the mother of retention. Love how everyone is boiling down the sauce and giving us the nectar. Great review, Becky! I found that point Tim Powers made about where the light is coming from fascinating as well. As he said it, it brought up what I do with my paintings. I always mark an arrow in pencil on the paper I can later erase out that shows direction of light. This allows me to create accurate shadows, which create depth and three dimensional illusion within a painting. I never thought of creating a mental arrow for my lighting in a written scene before! Fascinating thought, but it's details like this that explain why Tim Powers' work is so rich. Thanks for pointing that out.

And yes, title is your first hook. My HIdden Secret revealed! Smile Make it interesting. Your story will jump out at Kary and Dave as soon as they pick it up if you execute your title properly.

Finally, you said this, and it's the reason I asked everyone to give an answer to this section. Repetition is the mother of retention. Let's repeat your worthy comment:

"What makes art good? "Technical expertise itself adequate to produce an emotional impact" (This was a theory heavy section of the course but really important and relevant I think, especially in light of what Wulf is trying to do for us. Until we're good enough at the craft, our imaginations and worlds and brilliant characters won't do us any good. Other side of that coin, once the technical ability is mastered, the rest of our abilities will start to shine through. Those basic techniques are critical. That being said, the point is communication. We have to communicate clearly to tell our stories.)"

Nailed it!

Beastmaster Moon

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

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Topic starter Posted : April 22, 2020 6:48 am
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

My notes on the Workshop will be forthcoming in the next day or so. . . .

In the meantime, I wanted to report that after seeing Moon's reminder, I scampered right over to Amazon and purchased the Fall 2019 issue of Deep Magic to read "Weep No More for the Willows."

Impressions? Wow! Just wow! I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I grinned when I saw a kraken in there.

As I read, I mentally checked off all the things Moon managed to do brilliantly. The setting is so vivid I felt like was right there in the middle of the action. Theme and emotion are part of the story from beginning to end. Not just tacked on as a casual after thought. I've already shot off a note to my writing partner so we can discuss further.

I'm kicking myself for not reading this sooner. The $2.99 I paid for the whole issue has already been well-spent even though I have yet to read another story.

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Posted : April 22, 2020 8:02 am
Retropianoplayer
(@retropianoplayer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 231

Started the Writers On Line Course.

Am going slowly through the material like a Debate Judge listening to debaters on stage, absorbing all verbiage. I don't intend to rush through; I will work at my own Quarantine Pace (this might be the only time to get a workshop for FREE).

I've already seen comments from other Pack members and I don't intend to be a Greek Chorus or provide word-flow charts for all the speakers/presenters/authors. The Pack members get it, and so do I.

Decades ago, I read PILLARS OF THE EARTH. Magnificent. I never wanted it to end, so I only read EIGHT PAGES a day on the train to and from work. I won't reveal how much time it took me to finish the novel.

I'm taking my time with this. I've got plenty and then some to spare.

Best,

Retro wotf015

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Posted : April 22, 2020 11:47 am
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

BTW everyone: Deep Magic - Third Collection is the one you might want to grab for a read of the Summer 2019 issue. It includes 4 issues instead of just the one and makes for a better deal to read up on the market in depth.

And thanks for that, Wulf! Such wonderful points! And your story, being directed to analyze it, really helps me see how you touch upon the dialect and language, but not let it overwhelm the story. Such balance! I'll be analyzing this and another my writing partner pointed out for a few writing interests that challenge me. I may have another key question to pose soon. Looking forward to the assignment next week!

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 : April 22, 2020 1:30 pm
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

I stared last night. Will report back when finished.

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

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

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Posted : April 22, 2020 1:57 pm
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 96

I have started the workshop as well. I'm trying to go through it slowly, making careful notes and making sure I get as much out of it as I can. I will be working through it steadily in the coming days.

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Posted : April 22, 2020 2:07 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2278

Enjoy the WotF Online Workshop! Don't rush it--it's actually designed to help you create a new story. Do post some highlights that spoke to you when you are through. It helps the entire Pack.

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

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Topic starter Posted : April 22, 2020 6:24 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

I, too, have started the WotF workshop. Smile I'm going to try to use it to write the story I started last night! And, speaking of, I finished and submitted my first short for the quarter a couple days ago. It's Charlie, so I expect my rejection in 3...2...1....

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

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Posted : April 22, 2020 11:36 pm
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Although I am still "working" through the workshop by completing a story, I have seen all the videos and read all the essays. Because I have over 15 pages of notes, I thought I would drop a few tidbits here and there that stuck out to me. So for today:

What a Story Is: A Guide by Algis Budrys

- “Nothing on the paper is sacred”

- “Everything on the hard copy should contribute toward [story], nothing in the hard copy should be superfluous, nothing should confuse it. Work on the manuscript until it cleanly conveys your story, and then stop.”

- “Remove every word that would allow the reader to mistakenly construct some other story. You can do whatever you like to get through the first draft; just be sure all of your story is in there somewhere. Then cut away as if you had to pay the publisher by the word.”

The above advice really hit home for me. It can be very tempting, even as an intermediate writer, to resist taking out precious words bled onto the page. But as Budrys states, you have to be open to getting rid of anything that doesn't make your story laser focused. One thing I've learned to do (for my sanity) is to save sections of what I feel is beautiful, albeit misplaced, prose in a "misfit" file. Sometimes those snippets lead to an entirely new story. But the most important thing is to motivate myself to use sharp blades when editing my rough drafts. Putting it onto the page does not make it sacred.

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Posted : April 23, 2020 1:41 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

I finished the workshop. What an excellent tool, especially for writers that haven’t stumbled across the super secrets thread.

Some takeaways for me personally:

- OSC’s discussion about starting a story was great. Having an interesting idea is great, but it’s not a story until you really know who your character is, what they want, and how they’re going to struggle to get it. His MICE quotient is always a good tool. I also really loved what he said about expanding on short stories to make novels. As someone who’s writing brain thinks more in novels, I found this interesting as I think it works the other way around too. You can boil down the novel in your head to a short story. The climax should be the same. I’m going to start examining all of my ideas I’ve been holding onto for longer form stories to see how I can turn them into shorts. Lastly from OSC, I loved his comments on dialogue. I think my use of dialect killed me in q1, and I think his comments make sense as to why. But specifically, I liked his comments about letting dialogue go where it wants to go. You maybe don’t have to be as precise with dialogue as you have to be with the rest of the story. Dialogue is a window into your characters and their relationships, let the dialogue flow and see where it goes.

- Dave always has some brilliant insights into the art of story. I’ve read many of his books and taken some online workshops from him, so I had heard a lot of what he said before. I thought his comments on the 7 point plot was a good refresher. The big takeaway for me from Dave is to write every day and to PLAN to write, so your subconscious can work on it for you. I joined this challenge to push myself because I knew I could write more than I had been writing. But, I haven’t ever been able to write every single day. Weekends are good for me, but weekdays are tough. I think though from what Dave said about planning to write, part of my problem is my brain isn’t ready to write, so that makes sitting down every day more difficult. If I have a plan to write something every day, I can sit down and at least have a starting point for what I’m going to write. I wish I could commit to several hours a day to get into the writers trance he talks about. Alas, that is an impossibility for me on 5 days of the week.

- Tim Powers was great. Of those three, I was least familiar with Tim. His comments about research and description were excellent. I plan to incorporate much more of my research into my stories. I read quite a lot of nonfiction, but as I eluded to before, I tend to save some of those ideas for novels I will write “later.” I can see the folly in that, and plan to really incorporate things I know and am passionate about, as well as detailed research, for each of my short stories moving forward. I think there’s a confidence and passion that shines through your work when you’re writing about something you know and love. Whether that’s a hobby, a job, a place, a problem, etc. His tips about starting description broadly and narrowing down was great as well.

- I’m always surprised (I don’t know why) by how great Mr. Hubbard’s essays on writing are. I always feel like I’m walking away with something knew, even though I’d read most of those before. The comments about the need to develop technical expertise really hit home for me. I’ve recently realized that I’ve spent about 5 years pointedly studying story and storytelling, but not as much on the technical aspects of WRITING. If I’m being honest, I feel like I’ve got a good foundation of knowledge on which to build stories from. However, I have skills I need to build on the writing front. A very wise person recently gave me some tips on a story that were very helpful. Those included providing a little bit of context when dropping into a new scene. Make it clear what’s happening. Also, every time you introduce a new character, give a brief description of them. While these are things I knew, I wasn’t recognizing where I wasn’t doing them. That comes with practice and feedback.

Now to get working on a story.

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Posted : April 23, 2020 2:30 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2278

StarReacher, thank you for the nice words on my story "Weep No More for the Willow" published in DEEP MAGIC Fall, 2019. I was not fishing for compliments, but one is always glad when readers express appreciation for your work. Thanks having now been said, I cited it for three purposes: 1. How to do dialogue with minimal tagging, 2. How to lead with character description and action so it is obvious who is speaking, and 3. How to create a lean and mean opening that accomplishes what professional openings need to do. Yes, the latter is a different topic, but as long as we're already standing in the ball park, let's throw a few curve balls and see what connects. This is important.

StarReacher, I also appreciate your comments on AJ's essay. Algis Budrys is the founding judge of this contest, and there's a reason L Ron Hubbard chose him. He knew writing craft better than anyone, and had the respect of all of his peers. He is absolutely right that you cannot view everything on the page as sacred words, and taught that you must code effectively to spark the images within your reader's mind without distracting the reader with unnecessary details. The story does not happen on the page. It happens in the reader's head. We have to make sure every word we use funnels the sheep into the gate we have opened at the end of the path. Fail, and they will wander off into the wrong pastures and may never be found again...

Zeet, you're on the right path with the application of Hubbard's essay on art. Becoming technically proficient in something takes knowing a thing, and knowing how to use a thing. One is knowledge. One is wisdom. Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge. It takes lots and lots of practice--that million words in the field of writing--to become a master. Keep figuring out how to apply the knowledge you learn and have learned. You will be rewarded in the end for your labors.

I will close by giving you all something to really key in on with your two stories for this quarter (or one if you've already got one in the hopper). This is a SUGGESTED ASSIGNMENT, meaning try it if you aren't cooking up something at present that you feel is stronger. Ready? Great! Rob Sawyer, a WotF judge, recently said the best stories focus on what it means to be human in certain types of soul-destroying situations. I want you all to think about what kind of situation would really crush your own soul and be virtually unbearable for you to cope with. Then, extrapolate into a technical soul-destroyer that would create that environment for SF, or a magical soul destroyer that would create that environment for fantasy or soft horror. Use some of the prompts we've provided for ideas if that helps--many are designed with soul destroyer themes. In fact, I'm going to have SwiftPotato comb our list for soul destroyer prompts this quarter to help you out! Remember: it must be something that would really eat you up inside. You must become an emotional exhibitionist in this exercise, baring your soul to the world, holding nothing back. Yes, your protagonist should be some kind of spawn that reflects YOU, at least, some aspect of the you within. Put your passion on the page.

Got it? Good. Through your protagonist--which will really be an extension of YOU--explore your most soul-crushing fear in a speculative environment. Make sure you do this with all the technical skills necessary to write a professional story in the end, but don't get bound up in those details when you start. It may help to do a flash on the subject, written in free state, and then use the KYD exercise to really boil down to the heart of the story. Really try to focus on the worst kind of soul destroyer you could face, and ultimately, how you would attempt to triumph over it. Try to see your ending. Then, visualize at what point that soul destroyer first stomps its ugly boot into your protagonist's life. Where that boot comes down, that's where your story should begin.

Got it? Good. You have a couple months to work on this. Make it count. Put emotional fire in your pages or put your pages in the fire!

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!
NEXT MASTER CLASSES AT FYRECON ONLINE, NOV. 18-21ST. Click HERE before they are sold out once again!

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Topic starter Posted : April 23, 2020 5:03 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

Oh! I forgot to quote OSC (maybe someone did this already). “Fiddling is the death of dialogue.”

I think he said fiddling is the death of one or two other things too.

So, fiddling is death. Don’t fiddle.

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Posted : April 23, 2020 7:12 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

In fact, I'm going to have SwiftPotato comb our list for soul destroyer prompts this quarter to help you out! Remember: it must be something that would really eat you up inside.

I hear you, Moon! Will message you some possible soul-destroying prompts today. I like this exercise. Smile
On that note, something I've found really effective for destroying souls is taking an object and imbuing it with meaning before clobbering the reader in the face with it at the end. Y'all who read my WotF story should know which object I chose. I also recently ruined clementines for a couple challenge beasties. Sorry not sorry.

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

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Posted : April 23, 2020 8:28 am
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

Oh! I forgot to quote OSC (maybe someone did this already). “Fiddling is the death of dialogue.”

I think he said fiddling is the death of one or two other things too.

So, fiddling is death. Don’t fiddle.

Fiddling is Death almost sounds like a writing prompt. Heh. Or Fiddle Death, a metal band?

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 : April 23, 2020 1:28 pm
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

I want you all to think about what kind of situation would really crush your own soul and be virtually unbearable for you to cope with. Then, extrapolate into a technical soul-destroyer that would create that environment for SF, or a magical soul destroyer that would create that environment for fantasy or soft horror. ...Remember: it must be something that would really eat you up inside. You must become an emotional exhibitionist in this exercise, baring your soul to the world, holding nothing back. Yes, your protagonist should be some kind of spawn that reflects YOU, at least, some aspect of the you within. Put your passion on the page.

Got it? Good. Through your protagonist--which will really be an extension of YOU--explore your most soul-crushing fear in a speculative environment.

I started working on this today, and it is terrifying... in a good way! (I think. Lol) I have a burgeoning idea for my Q3 story based on this "Suggested Assignment" and I hope it's going to turn out. Onward to crush my soul (and hopefully other people's too...???) wotf019

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

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Posted : April 23, 2020 4:43 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Okay, in light of our latest assignment, Moon's asked me to share a bit of what was behind Yellow and Pink.

At the time, one of the most soul-crushing things I could think of (not that it's not still soul-crushing) was losing my husband. He is of course alive and well and healthy, and we're pretty young, so not to worry! But I thought, if he died, and there was a way I could save him, I'd go to the end of the earth to do it. So I wrote a story about a guy who did. It started out as a sort of wish-fulfillment story until I had to think about how real people would react to the level of absolute crazy that Nathan went to. After that it became a story about something else. Won't spoil it for anyone reading this who hasn't read the story yet, but it became a much more real exploration of how to deal with that situation.

So yes - that's the story of how I wrote something out of a situation that, for me, was soul-destroying. Smile

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

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Posted : April 24, 2020 7:39 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

Okay, in light of our latest assignment, Moon's asked me to share a bit of what was behind Yellow and Pink.

At the time, one of the most soul-crushing things I could think of (not that it's not still soul-crushing) was losing my husband. He is of course alive and well and healthy, and we're pretty young, so not to worry! But I thought, if he died, and there was a way I could save him, I'd go to the end of the earth to do it. So I wrote a story about a guy who did. It started out as a sort of wish-fulfillment story until I had to think about how real people would react to the level of absolute crazy that Nathan went to. After that it became a story about something else. Won't spoil it for anyone reading this who hasn't read the story yet, but it became a much more real exploration of how to deal with that situation.

So yes - that's the story of how I wrote something out of a situation that, for me, was soul-destroying. Smile

Thank you for sharing this, Leah! I could definitely feel the depth of emotion you poured into your story.

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

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Posted : April 24, 2020 7:57 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Thanks, Crystal! Now go forth, and crush the souls of others. Smile

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

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Posted : April 24, 2020 9:03 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2278

Okay, in light of our latest assignment, Moon's asked me to share a bit of what was behind Yellow and Pink.

At the time, one of the most soul-crushing things I could think of (not that it's not still soul-crushing) was losing my husband. He is of course alive and well and healthy, and we're pretty young, so not to worry! But I thought, if he died, and there was a way I could save him, I'd go to the end of the earth to do it. So I wrote a story about a guy who did. It started out as a sort of wish-fulfillment story until I had to think about how real people would react to the level of absolute crazy that Nathan went to. After that it became a story about something else. Won't spoil it for anyone reading this who hasn't read the story yet, but it became a much more real exploration of how to deal with that situation.

So yes - that's the story of how I wrote something out of a situation that, for me, was soul-destroying. Smile

Thank you for sharing this, Leah.

As mentioned for the assignment, Rob Sawyer said the best stories focus on what it means to be human in certain types of soul-destroying situations. When he said this, I thought, 'Well, that's what Leah did, and she won the contest with it.'

So now I've had Leah tell you the same. Now you know where her story came from. She did this very exercise, and she bared her soul and wrote her story (and triple-checked it against every Secret) and won the contest with it.

If you can get the raw emotion on the page from your soul crusher, and do it with technical proficiency, you can create your winner this quarter. It's why I have given you this assignment.

Go forth and CRUSH IT!

Beastmaster Moon

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

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Topic starter Posted : April 24, 2020 10:57 am
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

Okay, in light of our latest assignment, Moon's asked me to share a bit of what was behind Yellow and Pink.

At the time, one of the most soul-crushing things I could think of (not that it's not still soul-crushing) was losing my husband. He is of course alive and well and healthy, and we're pretty young, so not to worry! But I thought, if he died, and there was a way I could save him, I'd go to the end of the earth to do it. So I wrote a story about a guy who did. It started out as a sort of wish-fulfillment story until I had to think about how real people would react to the level of absolute crazy that Nathan went to. After that it became a story about something else. Won't spoil it for anyone reading this who hasn't read the story yet, but it became a much more real exploration of how to deal with that situation.

So yes - that's the story of how I wrote something out of a situation that, for me, was soul-destroying. Smile

Thanks, Leah! That kind of answers a question I was toying with posting here after reading Wulf's suggested assignment. I like the thought of tackling what is personally soul-crushing, but when I do, I sometimes notice an issue with losing sight of the main soul-crushing feature, or skirting around it, perhaps because it hits so close to home. Sometimes it's just impossible to write about clearly because it's so heavy on the heart and glaring in the eyes. I think that's why I'm still not comfortable claiming my 3rd story written in Q1 is ready to submit, because I still can't quite reach absolute clarity in the main character's climactic battle with the soul-crushing focus. I think your description of story development, wish-fulfillment to how did real people react, will help push me to wrap up suitably when I return to that story.

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 : April 24, 2020 1:44 pm
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

Oh, update on my flash: I completed my April flash with The Ill-Fated Experiment. After KYD, revision, and feedback, I finalized and submitted it to Flame Tree. Yay!

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 : April 24, 2020 1:57 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Okay, in light of our latest assignment, Moon's asked me to share a bit of what was behind Yellow and Pink.

At the time, one of the most soul-crushing things I could think of (not that it's not still soul-crushing) was losing my husband. He is of course alive and well and healthy, and we're pretty young, so not to worry! But I thought, if he died, and there was a way I could save him, I'd go to the end of the earth to do it. So I wrote a story about a guy who did. It started out as a sort of wish-fulfillment story until I had to think about how real people would react to the level of absolute crazy that Nathan went to. After that it became a story about something else. Won't spoil it for anyone reading this who hasn't read the story yet, but it became a much more real exploration of how to deal with that situation.

So yes - that's the story of how I wrote something out of a situation that, for me, was soul-destroying. Smile

Thanks, Leah! That kind of answers a question I was toying with posting here after reading Wulf's suggested assignment. I like the thought of tackling what is personally soul-crushing, but when I do, I sometimes notice an issue with losing sight of the main soul-crushing feature, or skirting around it, perhaps because it hits so close to home. Sometimes it's just impossible to write about clearly because it's so heavy on the heart and glaring in the eyes. I think that's why I'm still not comfortable claiming my 3rd story written in Q1 is ready to submit, because I still can't quite reach absolute clarity in the main character's climactic battle with the soul-crushing focus. I think your description of story development, wish-fulfillment to how did real people react, will help push me to wrap up suitably when I return to that story.

Glad to help! Another thing that helped me was to think less about big picture emotions and more about the little things. In keeping with the theme of soul-destruction, imagine a scene in which you are saying goodbye to someone for the last time, and they give you a hug. While you're inside of that moment, the things that make you cry aren't necessarily thoughts like "I'll never see this person again." The things that make you cry are the small things: craving the smell of their shampoo, the warmth of their hands on your shoulderblades, the sound of their voice when they say "see you around, kiddo," and the hole you see at the collar of their shirt, the one you've offered to sew a million times and now you'll never get the chance to. You want to crush your reader? Appeal to the senses strongly. Appeal to the memories your character has with that friend they'll never see again. Turn those happy memories bittersweet by having your character yearn to have those golden days back. In other words: don't be afraid to bare your soul. The reader will know, and they will feel with you. Smile

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

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Posted : April 24, 2020 3:16 pm
officer
(@officer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 110

I wrote this down from the WotF course, attributed to Tim Powers: "Suspense requires a ticking clock with a desperately hard choice." I first learned this from RSchibler's crit of my KYD entry story. After hearing Tim Powers say it during the course, it helped me focus part of my new story. While I'm not yet done with the first draft of the story, I really like where it's headed. I would not have written it without the course's guidance in brainstorming (as well as the motivational push). This might end up being my Q3 entry!

My last two submissions dealt with what I personally felt would be the worst things that could happen to me, so I'm going to skip the optional assignment for now (though my new story is pretty horrific--just a more general fear than specific to me). I'll continue to think about the worst things that could happen to my characters!

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

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Posted : April 26, 2020 6:54 am
AlexH
(@alexh)
Silver Member
Posts: 254

Latecomer checking in with a Q1 HM and checking out of this challenge for a while (I can still do critiques, and I WILL be submitting to WotF this quarter).

Congrats to the fellow HM-people and especially to CCrawford. That's another lesson to us all to keep trying. Preston Dennett's WotF contest experience is always worth remembering. If we stop submitting/trying/studying/working hard, we'll never know how close we were!

Wulf's latest assignment is interesting, as that's what I did for my Q2 entry. Though the detail in the assignment has made me realise I could have mined my own emotions much more. A lesson for next time.

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

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Posted : April 26, 2020 8:42 am
Peter_Glen
(@peter_glen)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143

Touching base ... am going through the course, but will take me while. Two draft revision projects and my Q3 write underway Smile

Grats Alex on the HM Smile

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Posted : April 26, 2020 9:56 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Good morning, folks! Today, we start with the first prompt that, should you choose to accept the optional assignment, you can use to crush the souls of your readers. Today's Monday prompt is: DECOMMISSIONED.

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

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Posted : April 27, 2020 12:02 am
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