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Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

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Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Discussed earlier, now codified into a Super Secret after careful thought. I am right about this. The most important element of a story shouldn't be an addendum. It needs to be in the main equation. And it's not.

Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET #41: Heart's Desire. It's Really the 8 Point Plot!
Copyright 2020 by Wulf Moon

"The EIGHT points of story structure??? I've always heard it's SEVEN! Just who do you think you are?"

Well, I'm Wulf Moon. And yes, I've taken several Seven Point Plot classes. It's important stuff, one of the most important writing lessons I've ever learned. There's just one problem with it. It's missing something. And it just happens to be the most important ingredient in a story. Miss this EIGHTH point, and your story will have a fatal flaw. It's like a mad scientist creating the perfect baby kraken to take on the Seven Seas...and forgetting to build within that kraken a beating heart.

First, what is the renowned 7 Point Plot? It's the elements that make up the structure of a successful story. Here it is. Drumroll, please:

1. A CHARACTER
2. In a SETTING
3. With a PROBLEM.
4. They TRY to solve their problem,
5. FAIL, (and things get worse).
6. Try/Fails come to a head in a CLIMAX.
7. Story concludes with DENOUEMENT (Resolution)

Simple, right? Everybody knows this, every expert teaches this. But I'm telling you, The Seven Point Plot has a fatal flaw! It only teaches external story arc, the engine that drives the external story. The seven points neglect the most important element in any story: What is my protagonist's heart's desire? Nothing is more important, because it's Why. We. Care. If a story fails to tell us what the protagonist desires, we fail to see their inner motivation, and it's those inner motivations that make us hope for them, cry for them, hold our breath for them as they seek the thing most desired.

To fix the problem, some teachers will draw up two diagrams. 1. The external story arc, which is the 7 Point Plot. 2. The internal story arc, which is what the protagonist desires. There are other names for these, but external/internal story arcs are the common ones. But what does this tell us? It tells us that the 7 Point Plot diagram is missing something--otherwise, why draw up an additional reference? In fact, it's missing the most important aspect every story must have to be truly satisfying, to be a winning story that people will remember. The heart's desire of your protagonist. A story must have emotional appeal to be meaningful. Well, this is how you get it.

Orson Scott Card said a story is about a person wanting something, and they have a hard time getting it. That thing they want? I call it Heart's Desire. It must be present in every story. The truth is, without it, you don't have a story, not a good one

What is heart's desire? It's a deep desire of the hero of the story, something precious to them that they hope to gain that they do not yet have, or something precious to them that they have and don't want to lose. When the problem is introduced into the story, the problem's ugly boot usually drops directly onto the path the hero's heart's desire. Now, everything about obtaining or protecting that desire is put in jeopardy. Our hero must go on a quest to get rid of that giant obstacle to obtain their heart's desire, or to get back the thing lost.

Often, a protagonist's Heart's Desire at the opening will change by the end of the story. Not always, but often. This is because one of the requirements for meaningful stories is that the protagonist must change by the end of the story. They need to learn some valuable personal lesson by the end, otherwise, their quest appears meaningless even though they might have saved the world. Sometimes, they learn the thing they most desired was not the best thing to have desired. Sometimes, they find something more important to claim for their heart's desire. Sometimes they get their desire, but it's not at all what they had thought it would be. Sometimes, they sacrifice their deepest desire in order to save others. Sometimes--and romance stories revolve around this one--they get exactly what they desired, and live happily ever after. There are many ways to play this, but strong short stories open with your protagonist's heart's desire, and if you can sneak it into the first two pages, you're going to have a much more potent story. We will know what your protagonist cares about, what they hope and long for, and if you can make us care about your hero and his desire, we're going to be troubled when you come in as the writer and dash the hero's chance at happiness all to hell.

Think about Star Wars. Young Luke cares about only one thing--getting off that sand trap of a planet. He'll do anything to get off Tatooine, even join the Imperial Academy, which would likely have turned him into a stormtrooper! So his surface heart's desire is to join the Academy, but it's a naïve young man's dream. Deep down inside, what he really wants is to get off that god-forsaken planet and see more of the universe. Still young person stuff, but it is his deepest heart's desire, and we can identify with it, because we were all young once.

Then the Empire kills his aunt and uncle while searching for his 'droid. Luke immediately recognizes his desire to join the Academy was misplaced. The battles going on in the galaxy are not so far away after all. A deeper fire now burns within his heart. He is consumed with the need to fight back. His heart's desire changes, and he expresses it to Obi-Wan. "I want to learn the ways of the force and become a Jedi like my father." See? His heart's desire changed to one vastly more important, because he grew up in a hurry. Death does that. And for the rest of the tale, which spans three episodes (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) it is ever uncertain whether Luke will obtain his heart's desire, even in the last episode, Return of the Jedi, when he has become a Jedi. Why? Because his heart's desire has deepened again. Now, he's willing to sacrifice all if it means saving his father, Darth Vader, from the dark side. He puts everything on the line--his friends' lives, the rebellion and all it stands for, even his own life as a Jedi--if it means he might find a way to redeem his father. He comes within a hairbreadth of losing it all, but we discover that's what it often takes when the stakes to obtain your heart's desire are so high.

Here's another one, a great romance adventure tale, Romancing the Stone. Again and again we are told our heroine--romance writer Joan Wilder--is lonely and would love to have a daring Jack Colton in her life. Alas, she's not the kind of person that would ever attract a Jack Colton, so she writes about her heart's desire instead. But by the end of the crisis that was thrust upon her, she has grown. She has now become a woman that can face off with criminals and killers, throw a switchblade, even roll the evil colonel off her and watch him tumble down into that crocodile pit. Jack Colton stares at her admiringly. "You're gonna be all right, Joan Wilder." She has earned his respect because she has grown through her trials, and in the end, she gets her heart's desire--that emotional need she longed for at the beginning of her story.

You can find lots of other examples. Go look for them in your favorite short stories, your favorite books, your favorite movies. Heart's desire might be to reclaim one's honor, to find love, to just live a quiet life inside your Hobbit hole, but it's going to be there, and in good stories, you'll see it glowing in the heart of the protagonist early on. It won't be a mystery.

So there you have it. It's not The 7 Point Plot. It should be The 8 Point Plot. A story should open with 1. A Character. 2. In a Setting. 3. With their Heart's Desire. 4. With a Problem (often the inciting incident that's keeping them from obtaining their heart's desire). 5. They must Try. 6. They must Fail (and things get worse) 7. Trials must come to a Climax. 8. Concluded by Denouement/Resolution. See? Eight, not seven.

This is why we read many stories that don't grab our hearts, that don't make us care about the protagonist. The story is technically correct, it's got all seven points, but it has no heart. It's missing the emotional element, and that's wrapped up inside the protagonist, and the writer must show us what motivates their protagonist to go on the quest. The writer must give us a reason to care.

Why do I have you write 1000-word flash stories, cut them down to 500, and then stop? So that you can look inside your tale and find the beating heart. This should be the thing your protagonist most desires (whether or not it's really good for them), and the rest of your story should focus on their attempt to attain that desired thing. When you continue down the rabbit hole by writing your 250s, if done right, these become vignettes all about that beating heart, that thing most desired by your protagonist. Go back to my example in the Kill Your Darlings exercise section, "Last Words." Study why that story is strong. You will find it opens with the great need of the protagonist to get the approval of his father--the thing most desired. Powerful internal need drives the story. Everything is focused on the "beating emotional heart" and whether or not he will get the thing desired by the end. The clock is ticking. Dad is dying. Our hero has sacrificed his heart's desire his whole life, and this is his last chance. Will he get his heart's desire? THAT is why you read the story.

Now ask yourself: Do I state in the opening of my story what my protagonist's heart's desire is? It may change as the story unfolds, but do you have a statement of desire, of what they long for that motivates their very being? If you fail to do this, your story will fail to reach its fullest potential. Because you are missing the most important element...of the EIGHT point plot.

In light of this, ask yourself these questions before you submit your next story:

1. Do my first two pages reveal what my protagonist's heart's desire is?
2. Does everything that follows in the story stay completely focused on this?
3. Does my protagonist get the thing desired by the end?
4. Or do they come to realize the thing desired may not have been the proper desire?
5. Do they get the thing desired, but it destroys them?

All of these things make for very real, and very human, stories. They make us reflect on our own motivations and choices we have made to gain our own heart's desire. Strong internal story arcs make the strongest stories.

So put Heart's Desire into the primary equation for writing a story. Don't make it a secondary thing. It's the most important aspect of any story. It's what makes a story moving. Memorable. Strong.

And strong stories that touch the heart win.

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 : May 11, 2020 12:29 pm
Peter_Glen
(@peter_glen)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143

Thanks Wulf! I especially liked the Luke reference. My new story will be sure to include a 'Heart's desire'.

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Posted : May 11, 2020 11:42 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

To StarReacher: Glad you enjoyed my blog article at Writersofthefuture.com about the Forum. We truly are like a guild in here, sharing knowledge to help the guild members produce innovative product that will win blue ribbons at the international craft fair. When one of our members succeed, we all rejoice. We are all working together on this project, especially in here. The results prove our guild is on the right track.

Keep up the good work! Many wonderful rewards await those who buckle down and devote themselves to their craft.

And I do hope all of you get a chance to read that article on the WotF Blog.

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 : May 12, 2020 6:10 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Thanks Wulf! I especially liked the Luke reference. My new story will be sure to include a 'Heart's desire'.

You're welcome, Peter. In my Yoda voice: "Mind what you have learned! Save you, it can."

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 : May 12, 2020 6:12 am
Retropianoplayer
(@retropianoplayer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 231

I finished the Writers Online Course. Although I knew a lot of these theorems and postulates, I found the material interesting and presented in a fun way. I absorbed all of it. My ears perked up as I heard their early backgrounds and bios, and I learned a great deal about them from listening intently.

What struck me the most was THE MANUSCRIPT FACTORY. This essay by Hubbard really struck me to the core, and resonated with everything Wulf Moon has continuously spoken of – this creative field is crowded; in order to succeed, your work can't be "good," or "very good," – it needs to be excellent, the best of the best. It was true in Hubbard's day; it's true today.

It struck home with me. A lightbulb moment. Wulf told us we're competing against pros, and since this contest is the gold standard of contests, the Judges will only award three of the best each quarter. My subtext in all this: Before you click 'Submit,' your story has to be magnificent.

A 21-gun salute goes out to all who've gotten to Finalist and/or won.

That is all.

Best,
Retro wotf009

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Posted : May 12, 2020 9:45 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

Moon,

I’ve been meaning to ask about Fyrecon. To your knowledge, is that continuing as planned?

Figured I’d post the question here so the public can see the answer too.

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Posted : May 12, 2020 11:18 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

What struck me the most was THE MANUSCRIPT FACTORY. This essay by Hubbard really struck me to the core, and resonated with everything Wulf Moon has continuously spoken of – this creative field is crowded; in order to succeed, your work can't be "good," or "very good," – it needs to be excellent, the best of the best. It was true in Hubbard's day; it's true today.

It struck home with me. A lightbulb moment. Wulf told us we're competing against pros, and since this contest is the gold standard of contests, the Judges will only award three of the best each quarter. My subtext in all this: Before you click 'Submit,' your story has to be magnificent.

I'm glad you brought this article up, Retro. Great, succinct insights, as always.

Every writer is a manuscript factory. Our products are the stories we produce. One can write for the sake of writing and say (to adulterate Descsartes), "I write. Therefore I am writer." Of course, anyone with a bit of education can write, and with a bit more, can write stories. But that's not what makes a professional writer. Anyone spinning a lump of clay on a potter's wheel can claim to be a potter--until they take that misshapen bowl to market and find out no one but their mother is willing to pay for it. We must master our craft if we hope to have someone pay for our product and put it on display. Our product must reach professional level in order for it to sell in professional markets, or to win a global contest like Writers of the Future where aspiring writers have leveled up their skills to create professional product.

It is very hard for new writers to realize this fact. Our work quite often isn't selling because we haven't mastered our craft yet, and that includes mastering original ideas that resonate with humanity. Our first million words is where we apprentice, our factory churning out wonky products in the early years as we work on design flaws, striving to create a better product on the next run. And the next. And the next. Eventually, if we've kept at it (and haven't lost our voice that makes our product unique), we will produce a sterling product someone is willing to pay money for. Once that happens, we can duplicate that process, and even improve it further. Our product will have passed a threshold where it can stand next to other professional products and give those factories a run for their money.

A few notes I took from this section:

"Terrific supply. Microscopic demand." Still true today. Our product must SHINE against the multitude of other professional stories in order to sell to professional markets. It's why new writers must strive to write their breakout story. It can't be equal to the product on the market. For a new writer, it has to be better. Dean Wesley Smith will tell you this is an ugly truth about professional markets. Good can be good enough for a famous Hugo or Nebula winner. For a new writer to break in, it must be SUPERIOR.

"Reputation is everything." It's why I talk about making sure the markets we sell to ADD to our reputation, not detract. Your name is your brand. Successful companies know this, and they do everything in their power to protect and enhance their branding. And this next quote is the reason why.

"Your name is your trademark. The better known, the better the sales."

True, this is a blind contest. Your story must win WotF on merit alone. Superior product. But outside of here, your brand, your name, is going to become just as important as the work you produce. Maybe even more important. If "our company" gets a reputation for bad practices and inferior product, no one is going to buy our product. There are lots and lots of nice manuscript factories producing equivalent work.

So keep up your production lines! And keep going back to the drawing board to improve the product you produce.

No wonky product! You must become the best...if you hope for your product to sell to today's discriminating buyers.

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 : May 12, 2020 11:46 am
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Thanks Wulf. I totally agree and can attest to the necessity and benefits of having "heart's desire" in my stories. Learning this has helped boost my stories.

(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 : May 12, 2020 9:16 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Thanks, Henckel, glad the "Heart's Desire" Secret is helping you create stronger stories!

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM FOR AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:

Our own Leah Ning will be interviewed on Chatting with Sherri at Blogtalk Radio tomorrow! This will undoubtedly include how she wrote her winner for Writers of the Future! Come tune into the mind of our ninja writer on Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 1 pm Pacific, 4 pm Eastern time! Support your challenge beastie and post a comment here on something you enjoyed!

https://www.blogtalkradio.com/rithebard ... -leah-ning

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 : May 13, 2020 8:27 am
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

Oh, I'm very tempted to watch the interview, but I think it would be 5 am for me. Will try. Also, I don't think I mentioned this before, but I'm very interested in your story as it reminds me of a time travel related HM that I wrote in 2016. Yellow & Pink got me thinking more deeply about what my HM may have been missing. I think it had the pacing but, though it tried, it didn't dig into that pain and emotion of the relationship at the great depth your story did. Heart's Desire!

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 : May 13, 2020 7:08 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Oh, I'm very tempted to watch the interview, but I think it would be 5 am for me. Will try. Also, I don't think I mentioned this before, but I'm very interested in your story as it reminds me of a time travel related HM that I wrote in 2016. Yellow & Pink got me thinking more deeply about what my HM may have been missing. I think it had the pacing but, though it tried, it didn't dig into that pain and emotion of the relationship at the great depth your story did. Heart's Desire!

No worries, it's pre-recorded, so it's available to watch whenever Smile
Might be worth looking at that one to see if you can find out what it needs in order to have that heart's desire, if that's what you believe it's missing. Could be a fun exercise. Go forth and crush souls!

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

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Posted : May 13, 2020 11:30 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

My interview with Sherri is up at the link Moon posted above (thanks again for putting it up, Moon)! Hope those who have the time and gumption to listen enjoy my ramblings. Smile

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

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Posted : May 14, 2020 8:08 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

My interview with Sherri is up at the link Moon posted above (thanks again for putting it up, Moon)! Hope those who have the time and gumption to listen enjoy my ramblings. Smile

I'm listening to it now!

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 : May 14, 2020 8:13 am
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Just listened to the interview with Leah.

What an awesome story about how you won the story! I think it is great, Leah, that you got accepted your 2nd time out of the gate.

Something that resonated with me is that after your first submission, you worked hard to prepare for that next one. You studied all of the Super Secrets and then went out and read all the recommended books. Meaning you didn't just knock out another story and feel satisfied. You acknowledged that maybe you were missing something. You didn't just trust that you already knew the best techniques. You were willing to put in a massive amount of research and study to find out what works for this contest. Good for you!! That humility wound up saving you a ton of time in the long run.

Also, I need to go out and find the book you talk about: The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maas.

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Posted : May 14, 2020 8:41 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Just listened to the interview with Leah.

What an awesome story about how you won the story! I think it is great, Leah, that you got accepted your 2nd time out of the gate.

Something that resonated with me is that after your first submission, you worked hard to prepare for that next one. You studied all of the Super Secrets and then went out and read all the recommended books. Meaning you didn't just knock out another story and feel satisfied. You acknowledged that maybe you were missing something. You didn't just trust that you already knew the best techniques. You were willing to put in a massive amount of research and study to find out what works for this contest. Good for you!! That humility wound up saving you a ton of time in the long run.

Also, I need to go out and find the book you talk about: The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maas.

StarReacher, you hit the nail on the head, the secret to Leah's success. For many aspiring writers, it takes a long time to realize that their story isn't winning or selling because it's got something wrong with it. And until they can admit that, they will never be able to improve it. When you listen to Leah's interview, she humbly admitted the first thing she wrote wasn't good enough to win, and she knew it when it got a straight R. So what did she do? She did everything in her power to figure out how to make her next story better. She studied the Secrets, she read the books I recommended, and she applied everything she learned to improve her craft. That's what we all need to do. And it takes humility to recognize that, and the courage to do something about it.

I recommended The Emotional Craft of Fiction because Don Maass--who has been my agent--wrote the book on Writing the Breakout Novel. It was excellent. But as the years went on, Don recognized that the equation to writing the breakout novel that Zuckerman first constructed had one flaw. You can have all the exotic locations in the world, the most unique premise and flawed but lovable characters, but if you don't touch deep human emotions and get your readers to CARE, it's not going to be a story that changes people, a story that they hold in their heart forever. Don calls it The Emotional Craft of Fiction. This is what I call Heart's Desire. Leah had it in her story that won. I had it in mine. You must make sure you have it in yours...if you hope to win.

I hope each of you will listen to Leah's interview, it's recorded. Leah actually shared her secret on how she won. StarReacher just keyed in on it.

Great job, Leah! You handled the interview like the pro you are. Don't forget to ask Sherri for how many live listens and downloads. It will likely be around 45,000.

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 : May 14, 2020 9:01 am
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 96

Congrats on the interview Leah!

Studying is definitely important, and I think sometimes we forget how much, since you don't have to go to school to be a writer! If you think about it though, to get a degree you are studying and learning for four years, although you shaved a lot of that off by finding the best resources. I find that very challenging as a writer, finding the right advice, and knowing when a piece of advice is right for you. It is even more challenging to know what you need to work on, but judge if you have actually followed through with that advice, in other words, looking at your writing objectively.

I also wish that more editors provided feedback to really let you know how you're doing. It is so valuable and encouraging when someone gives you a personal, or has tiered rejections, so you can try to figure out how close you are. I really like that Cosmic Roots and Eldrich Shores gives their first reader's feedback as well, I like to know why my story got rejected so I can consider making those changes.

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Posted : May 14, 2020 9:28 am
Retropianoplayer
(@retropianoplayer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 231

Congratulations on a well-done interview with Chatting With Sherri, Swift Potato. You were concise, your laughter showed a sparkling personality, and the fact you were able to gain a trophy on your second attempt speaks volumes as to your writing style. Sherri succeeded in making you feel comfortable as an excellent interviewer usually does by demonstrating how her early writing attempts mirrored yours to some extent. It's easily discernible that the interviewer enjoys what she does, has great people skills, and makes the interviewee (you, Swift Potato) feel at ease.

Interesting musical selection at the end of the interview "Ain't She Sweet" – a song from 1927 by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen – tells me Sherri enjoys some of the nostalgia from yesteryear, as well as her fondness for her father who told her expect 100 rejections before you get an acceptance.

Again, best of luck with your book signings, Swift Potato. You nailed it!

Best,

Retro wotf010

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Posted : May 14, 2020 11:33 am
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

Just listened to the interview with Leah.

Also, I need to go out and find the book you talk about: The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maas.

That is one of the best writing books there is IMO. Though hard to implement, otherwise we'd have more winners 😉 It does describe in more detail this idea of the Heart's Desire.

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 : May 14, 2020 1:53 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Thanks, guys! So glad you enjoyed the interview! Sherri is an absolute sweetheart, so easy to talk to. She's good at what she does!

For those of you who haven't read the Maass book yet, it's invaluable. Especially with relation to our recent discussions about writing stories about soul-crushing situations. When I wrote Yellow and Pink, I took the tertiary emotion exercise from the book and went through my story with it, scene by scene, to identify what emotions I should really be describing. When your character is sad, that's not the only emotion they're feeling. It's not enough to tell me that they're crying. Give me moar! *grabby hands*

Anyway, glad y'all enjoyed! And thank you for listening!! Smile

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

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Posted : May 14, 2020 2:58 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

We just passed the halfway marker for Q3. This means you should have completed one new story of 3000 words or more, and are now working on your next. Flash challenge members have additional requirements. All those that have kept up meeting the requirements each Q will get a line-by-line critique from me on a story in this contest year. Those of you that I've contacted for this quarter need to get those to me by June 1st.

The clock is ticking! Get me your best soul-crushing, heart-rending story!

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 : May 16, 2020 7:09 am
guthington
(@guthington)
Advanced Member
Posts: 26

I've been a silent lurker for a while. So far I've only had rejected stories of those I've submitted to wotf contest. I've only entered about three times and those times are far apart. I'm hoping to enter in Quarter 3 and 4 since it is summer and I'm a professor and am smart enough to NOT teach summer school. Anyway, I've been working on the WOTF free online course (about halfway now) and I've been intrigued by some of the stuff I've seen here in Moon's super secret workshop and challenge. I also took in an Uncle Orson Scott Card workshop about five years ago (just did the first two days, didn't find out about it soon enough to attempt to compete for his more exclusive workshop that tagged the course I sat through. He started off with his 1,001 story creation ideas, very similar to the video on the course). I'm working on a trapped in a box theme story and have picked the worst thing I can think of that could happen to a character and am going from there. I have a rough idea of what a satisfying ending that would make me cry could be. I thank all of you for the inspirational commentary. I'm super impressed at those who have managed to win, especially those who have been trying for years and years like Wulf Moon. The last two years have been crazy for me having to teach two professor's worth of upper level classes (and having to take this past semester online was just...). But, things are looking up on my end. We hired a new person in my department and I should be able to focus on writing this summer. Good luck to all of you! I've been getting into the habit of reading the WOTF magazine (has to be print for me). Recently finished reading Dave Farland's book about writing wonder. I love all of his books so far. Anyway... happy Sunday!

Amy "Guthington"

So far I've been collecting rejections... Hoping that will change!

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Posted : May 17, 2020 8:13 am
Retropianoplayer
(@retropianoplayer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 231

Welcome aboard, Guthington.

Swift Potato, your strong recommendation both intrigued and inspired me to order The Emotional Craft Of Fiction by Donald Maase. So I have. Your intuition is spot on and I trust it.

Best,

Retro

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Posted : May 17, 2020 10:20 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Retro, I hope it's helpful to you. Enjoy the read - it's an excellent book!

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

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Posted : May 17, 2020 1:25 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Good morning, beasties! Happy Monday! Today's Monday prompt is: FORGIVE AND FORGET.

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

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Posted : May 18, 2020 12:11 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 419

Discussed earlier, now codified into a Super Secret after careful thought. I am right about this. The most important element of a story shouldn't be an addendum. It needs to be in the main equation. And it's not.

Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET #41: Heart's Desire. It's Really the 8 Point Plot!
Copyright 2020 by Wulf Moon

The seven points neglect the most important element in any story: What is my protagonist's heart's desire? Nothing is more important, because it's Why. We. Care. If a story fails to tell us what the protagonist desires, we fail to see their inner motivation, and it's those inner motivations that make us hope for them, cry for them, hold our breath for them as they seek the thing most desired.

Love this post. Thanks Wulf.

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

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Posted : May 18, 2020 2:30 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Thanks, Chuck!

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 : May 18, 2020 10:19 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

I've been a silent lurker for a while. So far I've only had rejected stories of those I've submitted to wotf contest. I've only entered about three times and those times are far apart. I'm hoping to enter in Quarter 3 and 4 since it is summer and I'm a professor and am smart enough to NOT teach summer school. Anyway, I've been working on the WOTF free online course (about halfway now) and I've been intrigued by some of the stuff I've seen here in Moon's super secret workshop and challenge. I also took in an Uncle Orson Scott Card workshop about five years ago (just did the first two days, didn't find out about it soon enough to attempt to compete for his more exclusive workshop that tagged the course I sat through. He started off with his 1,001 story creation ideas, very similar to the video on the course). I'm working on a trapped in a box theme story and have picked the worst thing I can think of that could happen to a character and am going from there. I have a rough idea of what a satisfying ending that would make me cry could be. I thank all of you for the inspirational commentary. I'm super impressed at those who have managed to win, especially those who have been trying for years and years like Wulf Moon. The last two years have been crazy for me having to teach two professor's worth of upper level classes (and having to take this past semester online was just...). But, things are looking up on my end. We hired a new person in my department and I should be able to focus on writing this summer. Good luck to all of you! I've been getting into the habit of reading the WOTF magazine (has to be print for me). Recently finished reading Dave Farland's book about writing wonder. I love all of his books so far. Anyway... happy Sunday!

Guthington: I'm glad you've been enjoying my Super Secrets! And the WotF Online Workshop! You've got some great tools there to help you write a story that can win this contest, or sell to other professional markets. And it's good to know the formulas, but be sure what you write is close to your heart, if you wish to move the hearts of others. I wish you much success with your writing!

I am actually seeking blurb recommendations for my Super Secrets' book, and would love a reference by a professor if you were so inclined. You can send via the Forum's messaging system or ask any questions to me in a PM. Also, like I tell everyone, I do most of my social media through Facebook. Please friend me at wulf.moon.94. If you don't post a lot of politically divisive stuff, I'll be happy to add you to my friends! And that offer goes to all of you that read here. Smile

Thank you for letting us know you've been reading along! Class is in session here, as you know, but we appreciate it when someone takes a moment to let us know they like what we do and cheer us on! We wish you much success in your writing!

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" 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 : May 18, 2020 10:49 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET #42: HIDDEN SUPER SECRET. Hey, I've got to keep a few of these close to the vest or you'll have no reason to get the upcoming book!

This Super Secret is really important. It will keep you in it to win it. And you can only get it in the book, so don't message me saying pretty please. I'M NOT BENDING.  giggle

Don't worry, the next one is to be shared with all, and comes with a fun exercise to retool your brain.

As for the Super Secrets, many have asked if I'm going to make a book on them; I've finally decided to listen. I'll likely do a Kickstarter to launch it. Stay tuned!

While I'm here, I watched ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL last night (more violence than I like, but you know, CYBORGS!) If any of you watch that, look for how she finally triumphs, and then read my "magic sword" Super Secret again. Or read it before, and then go watch it. It's pretty obvious, and you won't forget the lesson.

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 : May 18, 2020 11:13 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Moon,

I’ve been meaning to ask about Fyrecon. To your knowledge, is that continuing as planned?

Figured I’d post the question here so the public can see the answer too.

Zeet, sorry I couldn't answer your question when you asked, but I was told I had to wait for the official announcement. And now that they have announced their plans, I can tell you. Fyrecon will move to an online event this November. I will still be teaching my SUPER SECRETS Master Class, it will just be live from my office! I'll be sad not to meet those of you that already signed up in person, but c'est la vie. The fun part is I have some cool things in my office that I can now use for props! And friends and challenge beasties from around the world can now attend for minimal expense. My Super Secrets writing book should be released by then. We adapt and thrive! I hope many more of you will now be able to join us! It's really inexpensive, and now, no hotel and travel expense!

See you online! I'm going to be asking for live testimony from several of you for the benefit of the class!

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 : May 19, 2020 9:03 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

I know I promised you an exercise, but I haven't had time to write the Super Secret for it yet. But I want to review a Super Secret and give you an assignment in the meantime. It's SUPER SECRET #29: Help your subconscious to ENGAGE.

I think it's safe to name the project I was working on--I see bestselling author Jeff Wheeler, publisher of Deep Magic posting publicly about it now, and it's been launched on Audible. I produced his audiobook for Audible, YOUR FIRST MILLION WORDS. It's his memoir on how he got to be a bestselling author for Amazon's publishing company, 47 North. In it, he talks about how many times he failed. Yes, Jeff fell flat on his face many, many times while trying to find his path. I found it fascinating how many times those failures put him in the exact place he needed to be to ride the next wave in the changes in publishing. Without those wipe outs, he would never have been in the right spot to catch that perfect wave that came up behind it. That info alone makes it worth the price of admission.

But there was another topic he spoke on many times. Flow state. Entering that stream of consciousness state where your subconscious mind takes over your writing, and the real magic happens. How do we engage that flow state to start working for us, like it does for bestselling authors? We train it. We nurture it. We give it the environment it needs to thrive and drive.

https://medium.com/personal-growth-lab/ ... 3aa28dc3e5

And then I want you to make a brief post about 1) what flow state is, 2) what triggers can help activate it, 3) what can steal it from us, 4) and how you plan to personally enhance your working environment and mental state to usher in more flow state writing.

Engage!

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 : May 21, 2020 6:46 am
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