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Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

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Don Coyote
(@don-coyote)
Active Member
Posts: 8

Folks, whatever I post on this forum, feel free to critique. Because I'm getting too old to work on aircraft, I need to sharpen my writing skills (and quick) and can't do that in a vacuum or an echo chamber. I can stab at the keyboard and make words appear on the screen, but beyond that, I don't know what I don't know about this business. I still haven't a clue how to get paid.

I'll take all the help I can get.

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Posted : November 20, 2020 4:18 am
Don Coyote
(@don-coyote)
Active Member
Posts: 8

If I may be permitted, here's the re-write of my dialogue. Critiques welcome.

Eager, the characters aren't just upset with each other. They hate each other. There's a story why Trolls and Elves hate each other, but that's for another time.

The rookie Warden stormed into the office, slamming the door. “I get it, Lieutenant. I’m an Elf. You're a mud-skinned Troll. We hate each other. But the Commander put me on your squad and we have to work together.”

“I’m only half Troll, Warden. By misfortune, the rest is…Elf. Now, Lieutenants out-rank pointy-eared woodrat Wardens and you are insubordinate. Get out, before I have you locked up.”

“No, sir! Not until I have my say. I know being the only Elf to wear the badge of the Wardens is a far cry from the Quorum allowing my kind a seat. But, if there's going to be a chance for it to happen, I must be allowed to do my job.”

“Cry me a river! This whole thing is a bad idea. Just... be happy polishing brass and fetching tea. The Quorum is too stiff-necked to give in and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of a city founded by Elves.”

“What?!? Listen you- you- the other kinds chafe under Elven rule, especially Humans. If there's an uprising, it’ll be as bad as when you mud-skins turned against us woodrats. Don’t stop me from doing my duty. I’ll go right through you if I must. I know how to deal with Trolls.”

“Right, then. Report to me at dusk in full kit for patrol. Make no mistake- Step out of line again and I’ll have more than your badge. I know how to deal with Elves.”

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Posted : November 22, 2020 4:43 pm
Eagerink
(@eagerink)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 118

If I may be permitted, here's the re-write of my dialogue. Critiques welcome.

Eager, the characters aren't just upset with each other. They hate each other. There's a story why Trolls and Elves hate each other, but that's for another time.

The rookie Warden stormed into the office, slamming the door. “I get it, Lieutenant. I’m an Elf. You're a mud-skinned Troll. We hate each other. But the Commander put me on your squad and we have to work together.”

“I’m only half Troll, Warden. By misfortune, the rest is…Elf. Now, Lieutenants out-rank pointy-eared woodrat Wardens and you are insubordinate. Get out, before I have you locked up.”

“No, sir! Not until I have my say. I know being the only Elf to wear the badge of the Wardens is a far cry from the Quorum allowing my kind a seat. But, if there's going to be a chance for it to happen, I must be allowed to do my job.”

“Cry me a river! This whole thing is a bad idea. Just... be happy polishing brass and fetching tea. The Quorum is too stiff-necked to give in and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of a city founded by Elves.”

“What?!? Listen you- you- the other kinds chafe under Elven rule, especially Humans. If there's an uprising, it’ll be as bad as when you mud-skins turned against us woodrats. Don’t stop me from doing my duty. I’ll go right through you if I must. I know how to deal with Trolls.”

“Right, then. Report to me at dusk in full kit for patrol. Make no mistake- Step out of line again and I’ll have more than your badge. I know how to deal with Elves.”

The end is much clearer now! Smile

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Posted : November 23, 2020 9:21 am
Don Coyote
(@don-coyote)
Active Member
Posts: 8

The second half of the assignment. Turn the dialogue into a vignette with 250 words or less-

The Warden stormed into the office, slamming the door. “I get it, Lieutenant. You're a mud-skinned Troll and hate me for being an Elf. Good! I hate you too. But the Commander put me on your squad and we have to work together.”

The Lieutenant stopped writing and looked up from his desk. His eyes narrowed at the tall, whipcord lean figure before him. “I’m only half Troll, rookie. By misfortune, the rest is Elf.” He spat the last as a curse. “Let me point out that not only are you a mere Warden- and therefore beneath notice- but also an insubordinate pointy-eared woodrat who barged into my office without knocking.” He pointed at the door with his quill. “Get out.”

“No, sir. Not until I have my say. I am the first, and only Elf-“

“Get out, Woodrat-”

Elf to wear the badge of the Wardens. I know it’s a far cry from the Quorum granting Elves a seat, but it’s a start. For that seat to become a reality, I must be allowed to do my job.”

“Turn in your badge. The Quorum won’t compromise their position and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of the city. Now-” He waved his quill dismissively. “Take your pointy little ears along with that toad sticker you call a sword and leave. Go back to guarding your daddy’s caravans.”

The Warden slammed hard fists on the desktop. “Humans and Orcs chafe under Elven rule. If there’s an uprising, it will tear this city apart.” The Elf leaned in, face hard with anger. “Get in my way and by the Crystal, I’ll go right through you. I know how to deal with Trolls.”

The Lieutenant rose from his chair, his face tight. He was stocky for a Troll or Elf, with thick, ropy muscles and his sudden movement forced the Warden to straighten and take a step back. “Very well. Report to me at dusk in full patrol kit. You’ll beg to go back to fetching tea before I’m through with you. But make no mistake- Step out of line and I’ll have more than your badge. I know how to deal with Elves.”

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Posted : November 28, 2020 6:54 am
Reuben
(@reuben)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 216

The second half of the assignment. Turn the dialogue into a vignette with 250 words or less-

The Warden stormed into the office, slamming the door. “I get it, Lieutenant. You're a mud-skinned Troll and hate me for being an Elf. Good! I hate you too. But the Commander put me on your squad and we have to work together.”

The Lieutenant stopped writing and looked up from his desk. His eyes narrowed at the tall, whipcord lean figure before him. “I’m only half Troll, rookie. By misfortune, the rest is Elf.” He spat the last as a curse. “Let me point out that not only are you a mere Warden- and therefore beneath notice- but also an insubordinate pointy-eared woodrat who barged into my office without knocking.” He pointed at the door with his quill. “Get out.”

“No, sir. Not until I have my say. I am the first, and only Elf-“

“Get out, Woodrat-”

Elf to wear the badge of the Wardens. I know it’s a far cry from the Quorum granting Elves a seat, but it’s a start. For that seat to become a reality, I must be allowed to do my job.”

“Turn in your badge. The Quorum won’t compromise their position and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of the city. Now-” He waved his quill dismissively. “Take your pointy little ears along with that toad sticker you call a sword and leave. Go back to guarding your daddy’s caravans.”

The Warden slammed hard fists on the desktop. “Humans and Orcs chafe under Elven rule. If there’s an uprising, it will tear this city apart.” The Elf leaned in, face hard with anger. “Get in my way and by the Crystal, I’ll go right through you. I know how to deal with Trolls.”

The Lieutenant rose from his chair, his face tight. He was stocky for a Troll or Elf, with thick, ropy muscles and his sudden movement forced the Warden to straighten and take a step back. “Very well. Report to me at dusk in full patrol kit. You’ll beg to go back to fetching tea before I’m through with you. But make no mistake- Step out of line and I’ll have more than your badge. I know how to deal with Elves.”

Good work. The motion definitely added to the scene.

Criticism? Well firstly when you want to cut someone off--
you do two dashes, not one, that makes it into an em dash. Also, you have ““Turn in your badge. The Quorum won’t compromise their position and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of the city. Now-” He waved his quill dismissively. “Take your pointy little ears along with that toad sticker you call a sword and leave. Go back to guarding your daddy’s caravans.”” Wulf will want me to tell you that if you interrupt him--with a beat, using an em dash--you can’t put a period afterwards; you have to close the em dash.

More importantly, you have: “The Warden slammed hard fists on the desktop. “Humans and Orcs chafe under Elven rule. If there’s an uprising, it will tear this city apart.” The Elf leaned in, face hard with anger. “Get in my way and by the Crystal, I’ll go right through you. I know how to deal with Trolls.’” You call him elf one sentence and warden the next. This is not good. It’s confusing at the best of times; better to simply take one title and stick with it (even if in dialog he’s called something else).

I would put the last ‘elves’ in italics as well.

Good Luck!

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm ~ Winston Churchill
V37: R, R, R, HM
V38: SHM

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Posted : December 1, 2020 12:59 pm
Don Coyote
(@don-coyote)
Active Member
Posts: 8

Thanks, Reuben. Here it is again, with corrections-

The rookie Warden stormed into the office, slamming the door. “I get it, Lieutenant. You're a mud-skinned Troll and hate me for being an Elf. Good! I hate you too. But the Commander put me on your squad and we have to work together.”

The Lieutenant stopped writing and looked up from his desk. His eyes narrowed at the tall, whipcord lean figure before him. “I’m only half Troll, rookie. By misfortune, the rest is Elf.” He spat the last as a curse. “Let me point out that not only are you a mere Warden- and therefore beneath notice- but also an insubordinate pointy-eared woodrat who barged into my office without knocking.” He pointed at the door with his quill. “Get out.”

“No, sir. Not until I have my say. I am the first and only Elf--“

“Get out, Woodrat--”

Elf to wear the badge of the Wardens. I know it’s a far cry from the Quorum granting Elves a seat, but it’s a start. For that seat to become a reality, I must be allowed to do my job.”

“The Quorum won’t compromise their position and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of the city. Now--” He waved his quill dismissively-- “turn in your badge, take your pointy little ears along with that toad sticker you call a sword and leave. Go back to guarding your daddy’s caravans.”

The Warden slammed hard fists on the desktop. “Humans and Orcs chafe under Elven rule. If there’s an uprising, it will tear this city apart.” The Warden leaned in, face edged with anger. “Get in my way and by the Crystal, I’ll go right through you. I know how to deal with Trolls.”

The Lieutenant rose from his chair, his face tight. He was stocky for a Troll or Elf, with thick, ropy muscles and the movement forced the Warden to straighten and take a step back. “Very well. Report to me at dusk in full patrol kit. You’ll beg to go back to fetching tea before I’m through with you. But make no mistake- Step out of line and I’ll have more than your badge. I know how to deal with Elves."

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Posted : December 2, 2020 4:51 am
scribblesatdusk
(@scribblesatdusk)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 106

Hope it's ok for me to pop in here with a different assignment. I decided to do the assignment Wulf posted in his secrets thread a little while ago, as I could use a reminder of all the secrets, and wanted to show support for his work. So here is my go at Muzik Man. I didn’t look too much at what others in that thread posted about it, since I hadn’t read the story yet, so there could be a lot of repetition. I am not sure how to hide spoilers on here so be forewarned: SPOILERS!!!

SPOILERS!

SUPER SECRET #2: DON'T drive to the story! - p.2 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=30#p88408
The story starts with Muzik on a new planet ready to set out and complete his mission. No toothbrushing scenes here! There is some adjusting his bagpipes, so to speak, which may be the same for an android but it was great fun to read.

SUPER SECRET #3: Set the hook! - p.2 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=30#p88417

I think for some the hook may have started here: “ Muzik took a deep breath, filling accordion bellows within as he savored the aromatics without,” because of the accordion bellow. Possible some were hooked earlier with Muzik apologizing to the flower.

For me the real hook was this: “He might be clunky metal on the outside, but his array of senses were hard won, and Muzik had vowed he would never take sentience and the gifts that came with it for granted,” because it made me interested in Muzik and his mission. He’s a machine that things didn’t come easy for and I’m a lover of the underdogs, those who struggler in life to make it (and those who never make it there too).

SUPER SECRET #4: Pick a major emotion and make your reader FEEL it down to their core! - p.2 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=30#p88428

This emotion is shown earlier on but is echoed later also.

For me the big emotion early didn’t come when Muzik was crying in the beginning, because I didn’t care enough about him yet, it came here:
“‘Buh-bye!’ he hooted through his polymer lips. “See you in ten years!” And then, as an afterthought he trumpeted, “This time I won’t screw up!”” This is because it gave me that insight to his past. I can relate to struggle and screwing up and wanting to learn and do better. It also goes onto set up all the hope that is encompassed in that next attempt, in that wish maybe this one will be the success. I felt it all here.

There is the scene in the climax that is emotional also, which I’ll discuss later but without knowing how Muzik struggled earlier it wouldn’t have mattered as much. The big emotion? Hope for a better world through what have you. Disappointment at not achieving it (yet).

This part earlier:
“Tears welled in her eyes as she swayed to melodies stirred within her. Muzik knew that look on any world— teenagers were the most fertile fields for minstrel operatives. He gave her a knowing flash of the ivories. Seed planted. The roots would run deep in this one.

Later joined with:
“What must it be like to grow up in a world with so many restrictions? ...screwing bolts to blenders?”
Really packed a punch. The big question he asks gets at the core of who we are as people and what is our purpose in the world. What bigger questions are there?

This part together with all the rest drives the point home: “ “What is Empathy? Simply this. Your pain . . . in my heart.” “ Humans are social animals and yet the Earth has been soaked with blood and tears time and again because of our malice but if we could feel eachothers pain in our hearts? What a world it would be! And what a time to write a story that addresses this given the pandemic. The civil unrest in many countries, etc.

SUPER SECRET #5: A story is a PROMISE. - p.3 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=60#p88441

We know earlier Muzik said he won’t screw up and then we get this line:

“Not all invasions took place with armies— the most effective could be the injection into a culture of a word, a concept, a belief, or even . . . a song.” So we are promised that music is going to play a huge role in the story and its role is to change peoples.

SUPER SECRET #6: Hint in your opening the grand vista of your world. - p.3 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=60#p88453

There is so much of this throughout the story and none of it distracts from the main elements either. Which is masterful. So many times when I read novels or stories they bring in aspects of the world that interest me more than the story itself. Not here! It all just improves the story.

Lots of references to a bigger universe. Muzik just got off a ship and remarks about the fresh smell of the air.

The world has a past. “He stroked his chin. “Hmmm. Reminds me of the Cycanthlopan Mosques. Man-o-man, did those cats have rhythm.””

The master for Muzik isn’t even the only one. Others have had their say in how to culture worlds.
“The Maestro wasn’t the only seed planter in the galaxy. Which was why Muzik was here, of course.”

There are rules in place with how to contact others suggesting this has happened many places elsewhere and enough times to try to organize a proper system for it: “...Golden Directives: to the extent possible, show respect for alien customs (even when they are eye-pokingly stupid)...”

The rules are important, not just a minor detail and play a big role in the climax““don’t you think it would have been written in one of the seventy-three tomes of Ascension?””

SUPER SECRET #8: Kill "as you know, Bobs" in your story! - p.3 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=60#p88466
“One of the sultans stood up. Must be their leader, a prime. Muzik had to admit he looked imperious in that tall pointy hat. His staff, too, was different from the others, ending in a wicked-looking spear tip.” The story doesn’t go into excess about the leadership roles. Muzik notes social cues and makes assumptions. Great way not to info dump.

SUPER SECRET #9: Open your story with your protagonist. - p.3 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=60#p88472
We're introduced to the protagonist right away.

SUPER SECRET #12: MAGIC UP FRONT! - p.3 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=60#p88504

There are allusions to Muzik’s musical abilities as well as his VR world that show this magic in the beginning. Also the allusion to the ship he came from.

SUPER SECRET #14: Do not overthink your story! - p.4 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=90#p88542

What’s really unique about this story? The central plot? The music? No. It’s all about what is purpose, how to achieve it, how to be our true selves. What makes it unique is how Wulf chose to tell it but I don’t think he overthought trying to weave in complex situations. His story gets at the essence of so many philosophical works through the centuries and it works because we have a shared human interest in that. Or maybe I’m leaping the gun on this one.

SUPER SECRET #15: Open your short story with 1. A CHARACTER, 2. in a SETTING, 3. with a PROBLEM. - p.5 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=120#p88663

Early on we have Muzik on Fendor. There are a few problems set up, first the lock with the maestro and then with convincing/teaching the inhabitants (and then senate) about the worth of music.

SUPER SECRET #18: Start your #%$@#%!& hero’s quest! We’re on the clock! - p.7
http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=180#p88763
Very early the story introduces Muzik has a plan and he sets out to accomplish it. He lands on the planet and doesn’t waste time. Muzik needs to get to civilization so he starts walking: “Muzik had just the bait. He clinked his fingers together, added percussion to the melody of his gait, and raised a few valves in his neck, playing the sweet enticements of a trihorn. As he crossed into the next block, a door in one of the domiciles cracked open. Muzik stopped. Faced the door. Flashed his piano-key smile. “Why, hello there!” “

SUPER SECRET #20: Employ the 7 Point Plot model. - p.9 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=240#p88943

1. A character – Muzik. The rest of these get expanded throughout here but I wanted to say something more about Muzik as a character. After the beginning and as the story went on I felt a bit annoyed with Muzik. Why isn’t he taking the senate seriously? Doesn’t he understand how much danger he’s in? And then the big bomb drops. Even though he’s been at this for some hundreds of years or so, he never expected the aliens not to follow the directive or go so loose with their interpretations of the law. He was not being a fool, he was naïve. After all, he is only Muzik Man 1000, not even 2000. When he realizes his mistake he isn’t even allowed much character growth given what happened after the verdict of the trial but then with Zephrinna he grows. Not being as naïve as he once was, he understands how much can be lost by going against the rules. How much Zephrinna is risking. He deserves the reward at the end. It feels deserved.

2. In a setting -Fander
3. With a problem – needs to convert people to love music so he can get past maestro’s lock
4. Character must try to solve problem – tries to get converts by teaching about music to inhabitants
5. Must fail (repeat try/fails three times) -alludes to previous failures of not getting enough number, hence his new plan. Fails to convert Hoagley’s wife. Fails to avoid arrest. Fails to convince senate.
6. Must reach a do or die CLIMAX where character succeeds (comedy) or fails (tragedy) -Reaches this with the senate where he fails.
7. And life goes on with validation scene, also known as denouement.- Zephrinna has her own heart’s desire that brings her together with Muzik. Her rebellious nature and skill with electronics brings Muzik back to life and makes him realize his real purpose was not just to bring music and converts and numbers but to connect with others on a deeper level. Resolution is his advancement to 3000.

SUPER SECRET #21: KISS. - p.10 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=270#p88972

“And this time, he had a bold new plan. He called it Big Splash.”
And the story doesn’t keep us hanging for 500 pages to find out what that plan is. Readers very quickly are shown the big splash is to take big chances in trying to teach others music.

Another thing I wanted to note was the language used such as this here: “Muzik saluted with a clang. “Roger, that. Over and out.””

There are more examples of such speech. This seems to be set in a future world so there was no need to write like this and use so many euphemisms readers would be familiar with but in keeping it simple instead of making up random nonsensical futuristic mumbo jumbos (there are some of those) it’s kept simple. I appreciated reading it, smiled at some of the phrases even.

SUPER-DUPER SECRET #1: Take your reader on a *deep* emotional journey. - p.11 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=300#p89055

I mentioned some of the emotional bits before, I in particular was hit most with the emotional trip by the end with Zephrinno but this can’t go unmentioned: “Maestro,” he cried, weaving the tones into a dark requiem... fading into nothingness.”

Muzik is not a spring chicken. He’s been around the block and yet he was so naïve to believe he had justice on his side. Seeing this failure, and it’s a big one, before he is able to complete his mission and just at the cusp at rounding out his character hit deep.

SUPER SECRET #22: THINGS GET WORSE! - p.12 and p.14 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=390#p89357

Previous failings are alluded to.

“A dark feeling wormed through his consciousness...failure of his to open the lock.

He fails with Hoagley’s wife to convert her heart to love music.
Then he fails with the constable. And then the big failure of course.

SUPER SECRET #30: Experience life, don't just read about other people's experiences. - p.22 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=630#p90519
So these are my interpretations having read the story but I think it draws inspiration from Footloose, which may have been a very impactful to Wulf in the 80s (?). For me it also drew inspiration from Anthem, given Zephrinna’s interest but the counsils demands of her.

I think there were also many elements drawn from around the world and politics: “On most worlds, those in the fields tended toward conservativism, and those in the cities tended toward progressivism.”

Basic common decency but man, what a great way to spin it for this story: “Rule 337 in the Galactic Minstrel Operative’s Database: Reflect your audience. When they see themselves in you, their soil softens.”

Not to mention what happens with the verdict. Who doesn't know a religious group around the world that doesn't play loose with interpretation to punish the sinner and avoid helping the widow and orphaned?

SUPER SECRET #31: Not too long, not too short. Your story needs to be jusssst right. - p.23 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=660#p90576
Very linear progression with the story. It didn’t feel bogged down with things that didn’t matter to it while still having many layers of complexity (see world building).

After he teaches the 1st inhabitant what music is and all that with the conversation, the next time when he encounters the other character to teach music to, the scene is shorter. Not so much moosik and all that. Not so much changes in different sounds. Because the story doesn’t need it, as a reader I already encountered all that in the 1st exchange with Hoagley. I saw the story was 11,000 words and thought ok, hunker down. But when I looked at the % bar it said 50% and the climax had just happened. I got so confused, and then realized the bar was for the whole anthology, not just his story. Reading it flew by and I think it’s because in the hands of a professional nearly every word in the story has earned its spot there. I’m not suffering through pages and pages of angst for me to build a connection with the MC. I was honestly very surprised at how well paced this story was.

SUPER SECRET #32: Deploy your MAGIC SWORD. - p.30 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=870#p91088

All his musical abilities, his mission and it almost gets turned on its head: “Friends. Not marks. Not converts. Not stepping-stones to his own ambitions and goals. Friends. He had had it all wrong, all along. He was here for them . . . not they here for him.”

SUPER SECRET #33: KILL YOUR DARLINGS: The Economy of Words Flash Exercise - p.33 for summary and tip; p.22-28 for exercise and critiques http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=960#p92258

For an 11,000 word story it read incredibly quickly. There are not too many extraneous characters who get a spotlight. The early inhabitants he runs into (with Hoagley) could have gone on for much longer with more attention to other neighbors but it’s cut down. We see a little bit with the teenager but then later she’s brought back, an important spotlight on her early on. The senate could have had each leader sharing their thoughts. It could have shown us the scene with them deliberating the verdict. But it didn’t. Maybe in some earlier drafts.

SUPER SECRET #34: A Climax Goes Big Badda Boom - p.34 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=990#p92519

All his dalliance with flouting the laws even after he sees the punishment for just painting in eggshell and it’s no surprise when:

“The prime sultan cleared his throat. “There are only seventy-three tomes of Ascension.”

“With all due respect, sir, I beg to differ. If I could just be given a moment, I would be happy to project images of the original obsidian tablets held on Archalon Primus, which will clearly prove…”

And then despite his great attempts, his last song like a magnum opus stones are hurled at him until the music dies.

SUPER SECRET #35: "Who was that masked man?" - p.36 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=1050#p92708

“YES, MUZIK... “OoooWaah!””

SUPER SECRET #39: Protect your voice - p.63 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=1860#p94237

Having read Wulf’s WotF win and heard his collecting monster’s story this has a lot of the same kind of humor and easy-going dialogue I’ve seen in his other works. It sounds very Wulf.
Just look here: “Schmutz! Budget cuts!”

For a story that packs a lot of somber emotion there is so much humor in it through Muzik’s character.

“Muzik chuckled softly. “Voice?” He flashed a gap-toothed smile. “Baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.””

SUPER SECRET #41: Heart's Desire. It's Really the 8 Point Plot! - p.94 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=2790#p96696

There are Muzik’s heart’s desires, Zephrinna’s, and also the councils.

Here are what we’re told Muzik’s heart desires are:
“But if he succeeded...practiced this maze over and over on the flight in.”

“Muzik had been working on the lock for decades with no success.”

“Surely this was the way to advance in the Maestro’s labyrinthine system of android development.”

I want to argue that despite this being what he wants, what he really needed was to grow up and see that getting through the system and bringing music to others wasn’t enough. Seeing the cost there is in being true to oneself. Caring not only for your purpose but in helping others achieve their own purpose, that is what his heart’s desire becomes in the end.

“Zephrinna didn’t want to be a seamstress— …What she loved was electronics, but the district fathers would hear nothing of a female working in an exclusively male guild...“ Zephrinna is a mushroom alien thing that just wants to be herself but she also appreciates other things/beings for their wants and desires. Her desire? I think besides just wanting to work with electronics is to let aliens/androids have their purpose, whatever it may be.

What does the council desire? U-N-i-T-Y but only as they understand it

SUPER SECRET #43: "Write smart dialogue!" Moon exclaimed emphatically. - p.96 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=2850#p96931

Many examples of this. ““What’s mu-isic?” the Fendorian asked in his croaky voice, trying to pronounce the word correctly. “Magic, my boy. Pure magic!””

My favorite: “ “You crazy? I would have been capped for that, not even a trial.” “Capped?” Muzik had no translation for their slang. Beez drew a finger across his neck. Oh. Muzik understood that sign.”

Again with the color humor: “I’m going to teach you the blues.” Beez held up his hands. “I don’t want no trouble, man. I’m in it deep enough as it is just dipping my brush in the off-whites.” Muzik snorted through his trihorn.”

I could say more about how much world building and character development is accomplished through the dialogue but I think these examples will have to do.

“‘Peace rests in silence.’” “So does death.” The prime sultan tugged the wattles of his throat. “Indeed.”

SUPER SECRET #44: A Rose by Any Other Name Is Not Just as Sweet. - p.106 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=3150#p98227

Muzik turned up the reverb. “A Muzik Man makes music, music, music . . .”

Zeprhinna- zephyr, breeze, not sure how important her name is but these were the first things I thought of.

Shabababa- the weekend Muzik disrupts sounds A LOT like Shabbat. I wonder if this was intentional? I think it must be. It was interesting for me to read this as an observant Jew because we really can’t listen or play musical instruments on Shabbat so like any good off-planet story, it’s roots are back on Earth.

SUPER SECRET #45: SET. YOUR. STAGE. - p.108 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=3210#p98409

There is a lot of setting in the story to ground it and not make it feel like it’s happening with a bunch of talking heads. “Muzik stared at the mushroom domes of the distant city. A faint veil of smog hovered over buildings gilded with amber sunlight.”

Time and place: “The sun now hung overhead as Muzik approached the capital’s suburbs...adorning ancient temples.”

“The domiciles along each side of the street were white domes, uniform in size and shape, resembling rows of mushrooms clinging to a tree limb.”

““Eggshell.” Muzik flapped his polymer lips, making the sound of a spent balloon.”

I love the polymer lips and in general constant look at how musical Muzik is built.

“Muzik stood in the center of a domed coliseum on a dais encircled by a stone banister.”

“Each shadowy tier was supported by colonnades ...still as stone.” The stone allusions are important!

Later: She strapped on her tool pack, trotted down dark alleys, and slipped over the recycling center’s fence. And now she was in a dumpster in the back lot.”

I never felt like I didn't know where the characters were, the time of day, or even how crowded they were.

This assignment was super helpful so thanks Wulf for suggesting it! Apologies for formatting and not putting things properly in quotes for easier reading. I first had all this in word and then pasted it over here.

V36:Q3 HM
V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM
V38: R,HM, ?

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Posted : December 7, 2020 1:17 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2277

BlackInk! Wow! You did a super-duper review of the Super Secrets through the “Muzik Man” exercise. This story is in Deep Magic, Fall 2020, for any that might wish to read it first. Anyhow, I am truly impressed, BlackInk! You were able to plumb its depths, and there’s a lot of layers in this one.

I’ll write more later—it’s late—but GREAT job on the assignment!

I will say I used the POV of a frustrated android to explore some of those things that frustrate us as humans. We all screw up from time to time, and hope we won’t again. We all wonder what our purpose is, and why life has to be so hard. And the world would be a much better place if we worked harder at empathy and selflessness, instead of using people to get what we want. It’s all in there, and more. And because it’s a fun story about a naive android, I can talk about these heavy subjects while entertaining you in the process, making you laugh, making you cry. That’s the real magic trick in this story. That’s not easy to do.

Glad you enjoyed! Great analysis of how I used the Super Secrets!

All the beast!

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

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Posted : December 7, 2020 6:43 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2277

Another day, another moment to finish what I was writing back to BlackInk. Smile
BlackInk wrote:

"SUPER SECRET #4: Pick a major emotion and make your reader FEEL it down to their core! - p.2 viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=30#p88428

This emotion is shown earlier on but is echoed later also.

For me the big emotion early didn’t come when Muzik was crying in the beginning, because I didn’t care enough about him yet, it came here:
“‘Buh-bye!’ he hooted through his polymer lips. “See you in ten years!” And then, as an afterthought he trumpeted, “This time I won’t screw up!”” This is because it gave me that insight to his past. I can relate to struggle and screwing up and wanting to learn and do better. It also goes onto set up all the hope that is encompassed in that next attempt, in that wish maybe this one will be the success. I felt it all here.

There is the scene in the climax that is emotional also, which I’ll discuss later but without knowing how Muzik struggled earlier it wouldn’t have mattered as much. The big emotion? Hope for a better world through what have you. Disappointment at not achieving it (yet).

This part earlier:
“Tears welled in her eyes as she swayed to melodies stirred within her. Muzik knew that look on any world— teenagers were the most fertile fields for minstrel operatives. He gave her a knowing flash of the ivories. Seed planted. The roots would run deep in this one.

Later joined with:
“What must it be like to grow up in a world with so many restrictions? ...screwing bolts to blenders?”
Really packed a punch. The big question he asks gets at the core of who we are as people and what is our purpose in the world. What bigger questions are there?

This part together with all the rest drives the point home: “ “What is Empathy? Simply this. Your pain . . . in my heart.” “ Humans are social animals and yet the Earth has been soaked with blood and tears time and again because of our malice but if we could feel eachothers pain in our hearts? What a world it would be! And what a time to write a story that addresses this given the pandemic. The civil unrest in many countries, etc."

__________________________

You hit here one of the most important things I teach in my master classes, BlackInk. Heart's Desire and the Reader/Hero Bond. Note how you don't care that Muzik sheds a tear in the first paragraph, because you don't care about Muzik as a character yet. Until we bond readers to our hero, whatever problem we throw at them won't really matter, because the reader is not emotionally attached. So as writers, we must immediately create emotional connections. This goes way beyond a "save the cat' moment. You do this over and over again throughout the story, binding the reader up in the feelings and hopes and desires your protagonist is experiencing. Your pain in my heart. When you do your job right as a writer, the reader will experience powerful feelings, because they went on an emotional journey with your hero.

We all have many layers and unique experiences that make us who we are. But we have commonalities as well. The more you can tap into and explore some of those deep questions and concerns we all face as humans, the more resonance your story will have, and the more it will stand out as being something beyond a simple adventure story. Nothing wrong with a fast paced adventure story, but if we can engage deeper feelings and thoughts within our readers, they will be moved by our stories, perhaps even looking at the world around them in a new way. People talk about such stories because they touched their hearts. It's a big secret for winning contests as well . . . and for getting your stories noticed by editors and getting them published.

Good stories entertain. Great stories tell us something about our humanity and the world around us. And the best stories?

They do both.

Good eye, BlackInk! I'm impressed!

All the beast!

Wulf 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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Posted : December 8, 2020 9:41 am
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 243

Thank you blackink! You really helped me understand Muzik Man!

2020 Quarters: 1st -- R, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- SHM
2021 Quarters: 1st -- HM, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- Pending, 4th -- Pending
"Invasion" to be published in Daily Science Fiction
"The Last Dance" to be published Feb. 2022 in the LTUE Anthology, Parliament of Wizards
"My Ten Cents" published in Sci Fi Lampoon, vol. 2, Dec. 2020
"Never give up. Never surrender." - Galaxy Quest

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Posted : December 9, 2020 2:33 pm
scribblesatdusk
(@scribblesatdusk)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 106

Thank you for further commentary on it, Wulf! I hope I can one day make readers feel my character's pain in their hearts. It is very hard to do right (for me).

I saw my explanation for the resolution of the story got cut off, must have gotten deleted or something during my pasting/editing process. A few things I thought were interesting in the resolution, besides the MC getting what he wants and needs, was how the story with the mushroom aliens isn't over. The denoument has multiple endings and new beginnings really. For the Farlandians, it seems Muzik man will have access to backup, or some such, to help spread his message. So there is much to think about how their world and culture will change. More directly, there is Zephrinna and her future journey to think about too. Now she has an ally who can help her complete her life's purpose. There is an actual evolution of the android from Muzik man 1000 to 3000 as well as the metaphorical (?) evolution via character arc.

Crlisle, I'm so glad it was helpful to you! Doing this kind of assignment was really helpful to me because it made me think about all the secret rules in a different way. I'm interested in doing it for other stories too, after Q1 though.

V36:Q3 HM
V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM
V38: R,HM, ?

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Posted : December 10, 2020 5:18 am
Wulf Moon liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2277

Thank you for further commentary on it, Wulf! I hope I can one day make readers feel my character's pain in their hearts. It is very hard to do right (for me).

I saw my explanation for the resolution of the story got cut off, must have gotten deleted or something during my pasting/editing process. A few things I thought were interesting in the resolution, besides the MC getting what he wants and needs, was how the story with the mushroom aliens isn't over. The denoument has multiple endings and new beginnings really. For the Farlandians, it seems Muzik man will have access to backup, or some such, to help spread his message. So there is much to think about how their world and culture will change. More directly, there is Zephrinna and her future journey to think about too. Now she has an ally who can help her complete her life's purpose. There is an actual evolution of the android from Muzik man 1000 to 3000 as well as the metaphorical (?) evolution via character arc.

Crlisle, I'm so glad it was helpful to you! Doing this kind of assignment was really helpful to me because it made me think about all the secret rules in a different way. I'm interested in doing it for other stories too, after Q1 though.

Thanks for these thoughts as well, BlackInk. It's nice you are thinking about the ways Muzik changed the Fendorian's world. Muzik is a musical Johnny Appleseed. His job was to inject creativity and culture into a totalitarian society, with the hope that it would sprout. Obviously, it did in Zephrinna, and Muzik sees how to do it right. I'm thinking this time, he won't screw up! Smile
A good ending should make readers think about what will happen to the world the author created after the hero concludes their climactic journey. Hopefully, the reader will reflect on their own world through the lens of the story, taking away lessons learned. And best of all? That the reader wishes the story could go on, because they fell in love with your characters. Sometimes editors wish for that as well, and that's a good place to be in, because they will welcome your sequels.

Again, nice work on this exercise. I better finish up my own in the Super Secrets' thread!

All the beast!

Wulf 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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Posted : December 18, 2020 1:42 pm
scribblesatdusk
(@scribblesatdusk)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 106

So anyone want to do the KYDs parallel to the main thread and critique each other? I've slowly been working my way through the super secret thread (am on page 70 now, having started from page 1) and find the critiques there on the 250s so helpful for improving the craft or at least insight into what doesn't work. I'd really encourage to read Wulf's and Rebecca's critiques on people's 250s to see what I'm talking about. 

So anyone want to do this weeks assignment with me so we can push/motivate each other? Here it is:

I was thinking we can post the 500 and then the shorter 250 too?

By July 29th (two weeks), you must do a full KYD using all the phases on a prompt you've already seen. If you've already used it, this assignment will be easy. If you didn't, it's got enough options that it should be easy to come up with something. Post only the 250-words portion, WITH TITLE, during the next two weeks. I'll comment on each. This is a good way for me to see your progress, and to offer suggestions for improvement. This exercise will count toward your monthly KYD requirement if you wish.

I look forward to seeing what you create. Please review the three phases of the exercise HERE.

Here's the prompt:

Promised You Heaven  OR

Sent You to Hell  OR

Combine the two with a comma and do both in one KYD exercise!

Show me what you've got! Remember: these are vignettes focused on the beating heart of your story. Pluck those heartstrings!

V36:Q3 HM
V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM
V38: R,HM, ?

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Posted : July 16, 2021 8:15 am
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41

Here's mine Promised You Heaven  OR Sent You to Hell  OR Combine the two with a comma and do both in one KYD exercise! Modified after feedback received on discord...

 

Going Home

Three times the angels had come.

After the coroner took the body, Flora looked for Allen. She got in the line that had materialized in the hall. She straightened her shirt and puffed up her hair.

“What are you doing?” It was her youngest, Lila.

“Waiting,” Flora said. The last words that Flora’s husband, Allen, uttered echoed in her mind. I love you and You are beautiful.

Lila’s eyes were puffy red.

Angels appeared to Flora behind Lila. It’s not your time, the angel chorus chanted.

“Where’s Allen?”

 “He died.”

“He’s dead? What am I to do?” Sobs wracked Flora’s body.

The next time the angels came, Flora was with her eldest.

Flora smelled the tempting party food the angels carried on trays. “I want some.”

Ava looked up from her book. “Want what?”

Flora got up. No time for questions. “Wait!” But they had vanished.

Days spread into weeks after that second visit. Smells of cat urine watered her eyes and piles of junk were everywhere. Not my home.

Ava replaced Allen on her daily walks around the church.

 “Time to go home,” Flora said.

But Ava drove to the house that was trashed and smelled of kitty litter. Flora panicked and flew into a rage. She was taken to a hospital and then to rehab. Abandoned. Visitors sang through a window, but the songs only made her cry.

The third time the angels came, Flora was in bed. Allen was among them. It’s time, he said and smiled.

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Posted : July 20, 2021 6:11 am
crlisle liked
scribblesatdusk
(@scribblesatdusk)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 106
Posted by: @physa

Here's mine Promised You Heaven  OR Sent You to Hell  OR Combine the two with a comma and do both in one KYD exercise! Modified after feedback received on discord...

 

Going Home

Three times the angels had come.

After the coroner took the body, Flora looked for Allen. She got in the line that had materialized in the hall. She straightened her shirt and puffed up her hair.

“What are you doing?” It was her youngest, Lila.

“Waiting,” Flora said. The last words that Flora’s husband, Allen, uttered echoed in her mind. I love you and You are beautiful.

Lila’s eyes were puffy red.

Angels appeared to Flora behind Lila. It’s not your time, the angel chorus chanted.

“Where’s Allen?”

 “He died.”

“He’s dead? What am I to do?” Sobs wracked Flora’s body.

The next time the angels came, Flora was with her eldest.

Flora smelled the tempting party food the angels carried on trays. “I want some.”

Ava looked up from her book. “Want what?”

Flora got up. No time for questions. “Wait!” But they had vanished.

Days spread into weeks after that second visit. Smells of cat urine watered her eyes and piles of junk were everywhere. Not my home.

Ava replaced Allen on her daily walks around the church.

 “Time to go home,” Flora said.

But Ava drove to the house that was trashed and smelled of kitty litter. Flora panicked and flew into a rage. She was taken to a hospital and then to rehab. Abandoned. Visitors sang through a window, but the songs only made her cry.

The third time the angels came, Flora was in bed. Allen was among them. It’s time, he said and smiled.

You're fast! I only got done with my initial 1,000 today and need to cut either later today or tomorrow. I also worry my interpretation is too wobbly to the prompt *shrug*

My totally amateur criticisms:

Why did the angels come to Flora specifically? The bit where her eldest daughter, Ava, abandons her seems to come from nowhere and drastically changes the tone of the story but because there was no setup for it, and it came so sudden, the emotional release that should result from that betrayal was missing. I don't have any understanding of why Ava did that to her mom. Does her youngest just fend for herself then or are all her children already grown adults? 

I think the heart of the story/vignette should be more focused on Flora's relationship with Ava and the hell her own flesh and blood puts her through rather than her meeting with the angels.  

V36:Q3 HM
V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM
V38: R,HM, ?

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Posted : July 20, 2021 5:23 pm
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41

@scribblesatdusk thanks for your feedback. I had already done the exercise and decided to post it here to spur others to take advantage of this exercise. It's meant to elicit emotion. You couldn't have known the backstory, but yeah I imagine from Flora's point of view her daughters were cruel. The assignment was to send a character to hell or be promised heaven or both. Flora was in hell between her husband's death and her own. At the end, Allen fetches her to take her to heaven so she can "go home". The particulars are Allen died of a heart attack at an old age. Flora had advanced dementia and Allen had been her anchor. The two daughters are grown and are trying hard to keep Flora happy, but failing miserably. The house Flora says isn't her home IS her home in actuality. Flora's illness is part of the reason why the house isn't tidy. There was just no time to clean when Flora demanded 24/7 attention. And keeping her at home was unsustainable for the 2 grown daughters, hence the whole Flora having to go to the hospital and rehab and memory care room. During the pandemic, there was no way to properly visit with dear loved ones, hence the singing through the window. The angels visit Flora to help reassure her in some way, but Flora having dementia the angels only served to confuse her more. It's based on there being a set time when a person is to die. Flora wants to go home, but what that means to her is to be reconnected with family and friends and Allen who have died. Poor Ava did her best, but it was not enough. It was a lose lose situation. For Ava (and Lila as well) there is a lot of guilt and unresolved anger.

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Posted : July 21, 2021 6:02 am
Wulf Moon and crlisle liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2277
Posted by: @physa

Here's mine Promised You Heaven  OR Sent You to Hell  OR Combine the two with a comma and do both in one KYD exercise! Modified after feedback received on discord...

 

Going Home

Three times the angels had come.

After the coroner took the body, Flora looked for Allen. She got in the line that had materialized in the hall. She straightened her shirt and puffed up her hair.

“What are you doing?” It was her youngest, Lila.

“Waiting,” Flora said. The last words that Flora’s husband, Allen, uttered echoed in her mind. I love you and You are beautiful.

Lila’s eyes were puffy red.

Angels appeared to Flora behind Lila. It’s not your time, the angel chorus chanted.

“Where’s Allen?”

 “He died.”

“He’s dead? What am I to do?” Sobs wracked Flora’s body.

The next time the angels came, Flora was with her eldest.

Flora smelled the tempting party food the angels carried on trays. “I want some.”

Ava looked up from her book. “Want what?”

Flora got up. No time for questions. “Wait!” But they had vanished.

Days spread into weeks after that second visit. Smells of cat urine watered her eyes and piles of junk were everywhere. Not my home.

Ava replaced Allen on her daily walks around the church.

 “Time to go home,” Flora said.

But Ava drove to the house that was trashed and smelled of kitty litter. Flora panicked and flew into a rage. She was taken to a hospital and then to rehab. Abandoned. Visitors sang through a window, but the songs only made her cry.

The third time the angels came, Flora was in bed. Allen was among them. It’s time, he said and smiled.

 

Thank you for doing the Kill Your Darlings Exercise (KYD) based on my prompt in the Super Secrets Workshop here in the forum, Amy. It’s got some interesting elements, and it’s got some creep factor as well, which ups the tension. Let’s see what I can offer in the way of constructive commentary. Oh, and nice job on using every word available in this format. It's exactly 250 words. Smile

 

First, title is your first hook. “Going Home” certainly hits your theme, and summarizes what this piece is all about. That’s important. However, it’s a bit generic, and generic doesn’t hook as well as something like “Vanishing Visitors” or “Voices Singing from the Beyond” or “Heavenly Dishes, Deadly Appetites.” Those are just quick, off the top of my head, but a title should have mystery to it, or intrigue, something that both hints at what lies within, but also casts faerie dust into the eyes of the reader, entrancing them. Title is your sample of the meal to come. Make it tasty, whet the reader’s appetite, and they’ll dig in from the very start with a good taste in their mouth.

 

You have three try/fail cycles in this piece, which is very hard to do in such small word space. 250s lend themselves better as vignettes, focusing on the Heart’s Desire, or beating heart of your story in one poignant scene. When you pack too much in by trying to do a traditional story format, it actually waters the strength of the vignette down. It can even confuse because you don’t have the room to do the necessary action beats or dialogue tags. But I give you kudos for pulling off three try/fail cycles, the third being your climax, where she is taken “home.”

 

One of my favorite parts is the angels walking by with food trays. This is the creepiest part of this piece, as it feels like they are tempting her to cross over from the realm of the flesh into death and the realm of the spirits. For me, that’s the most interesting idea within this 250, and I’d really like to see you make a story that diverts from the real life issues you dealt with as your mother’s mind fell to Alzheimers, and instead focus on this cool fantasy element. When we’re writing about events that really happened, it can be hard to shift them into the necessary elements of a fantasy story. That’s fine for literary pieces, but if you want this to be big fantasy, you would need to make that fantastical break from reality that will make this vignette soar. Angels showing up just to tempt someone to give up on life? That’s a creepy but cool idea, and could expand out into a neat speculative fiction story.

 

Which is another reason we do these KYDs. To explore possibilities. So, I will challenge you, if you wish, to create a new vignette that’s not quite so predictable, where your protagonist must choose her destiny, and either resists the angels tempting her and finds a reason to go on (comedy in the Greek sense), or succumb and fall to their temptation, only to find that they really weren’t angels at all (tragedy). Or they were angels, but she didn’t pass the test, and now she goes down whereas her husband will remain up. Lots of interesting ways to play this.

 

Thank you for sharing, and best of success to your writing!

 

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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Posted : July 22, 2021 2:01 pm
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41

@wulfmoon thanks for the comments and, challenge accepted! I do think there's a connection to be made to some of the Morgen Le Fey myth embedded in King Arthur as well as one of the side stories in C.S. Lewis's Voyage of Dawn Treader. Thanks for the story seed idea. When I have a 250 I'll be sure to post (after following the process and chiseling it down to a vignette with sparkling world related vocab. And who knows? I haven't picked a story for Q4 yet. hearts waveshello  

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Posted : July 22, 2021 3:22 pm
crlisle liked
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41

Challenge met. Here's my new 250 piece not grounded in real life. Thanks for the prompt @Moon. This is just one of many directions I thought of to go with this.

The deadly banquet of fairy

Mushrooms formed a circle.  Insect wings fluttered.  Hallie goose stepped her way to inspect the ring closer, avoiding the slippery, wet grass.

“Don’t step in the middle of the ring.”  Zylle said.

Zylle’s voice came as a distant whisper as Hallie crossed into the ring. The nearest mushroom, red with white spots towered over her, its gills formed a maze of hyphae filled with basidiospores.

A castle appeared. Bees buzzed over a field of poppies as Hallie approached the front door. Trays of food laid out on a long table, a remnant of ancient kings, made her stomach growl and mouth water. An odd assortment of characters sampled the food and a seat at the table opened for her.

Men dressed in overalls, business suits, animal skins, and in all manner of military uniforms. Women along with their children carrying babies in papooses, bonnets covering their head, wearing colorful dress suits and the short skirts of flappers from the roaring twenties.

A young girl with pale blond hair and grey eyes, beckoned to Hallie.  

“Come and eat.”

“No thanks.”

“You’ll change your mind.”

Zylle stormed in. “Don’t! Don’t eat or drink. Or you’ll be enslaved to the end of the world.”

The girl creature’s skin glowed bright and her mouth revealed sharp needle teeth.

In the briefest of seconds, the banquet table was surrounded by bones and decaying flesh and then it snapped back to the original festive crowd. The mushrooms shrank and the girls stepped out of the ring.

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 23, 2021 7:25 am
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 243

@physa WOWSA 

2020 Quarters: 1st -- R, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- SHM
2021 Quarters: 1st -- HM, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- Pending, 4th -- Pending
"Invasion" to be published in Daily Science Fiction
"The Last Dance" to be published Feb. 2022 in the LTUE Anthology, Parliament of Wizards
"My Ten Cents" published in Sci Fi Lampoon, vol. 2, Dec. 2020
"Never give up. Never surrender." - Galaxy Quest

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 23, 2021 11:21 am
scribblesatdusk
(@scribblesatdusk)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 106

This was a super hard prompt for me to do, mainly because I found it so difficult to think "outside the box" for this specific prompt, while being true to my voice. I blame the prompt! I tried different 1000 worded versions, tried the combined prompt, that I cut down again and again and unfortunately my end result does not show any of that effort as it's still not very good. I am still going to post it in case there are others here, who want to do these too but find themselves struggling with certain prompts/exercises, and need encouragement. You're not alone! I'm embarrassed posting. You can be a fool (who's working to get better) with me! For anyone criticizing don't worry, you don't have to be nice about it. Rip it apart! I'm a slush reader, I know a lot that's wrong with it I just don't know how to fix it. 

 

I used the "sent you to hell" prompt.

Interview with a Hardened Criminal

 

A week on CHIP and all of Corizon’s inmates lost the wild look of their mugshots. It had tamed them, the way time spent long enough in solitary used to. 

“Rehabilitation’s hard.” Corizon shifted, his grey suit barely visible against the grey of concrete and steel.  “He’ll soon be fit for vocational training.” 

It hurt hearing Christopher disparage the tech. Hell. Hell was prison life before CHIP, when the air vibrated thick with incessant noise. CHIP gave them the luxury of silence, without suspicion of cruel intent. Ears didn’t lie, even if some mouths did. 

Pain. There were no guards to lay a hand on him. 

“Many stay working in the factory after.” He wouldn’t mention the vacant look in their eyes if she didn’t ask. If she did, vacant was an improvement on menacing. 

“Warden, please!”

Why doesn’t Christopher mention the ten years he got off his sentence for taking the plea? Better to pay for Hell in visions now, than for an eternity later. 

Christopher slumped back on his bunk, covering his snake tattoo until it became a worm trapped under his head.

“CHIP's reactivating. He's getting comfortable for the simulations. Did you finish?”

The reporter inhaled deeply. That would be the smell of innocent bleach-- not covering up any blood or guts. 

Noses didn’t lie. 

There was something about the look of the reporter's eyes. CHIP could fix it. Should. Even then, she wouldn’t thank him.   

 

 

V36:Q3 HM
V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM
V38: R,HM, ?

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 28, 2021 9:30 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Thanks for sharing, Physa and Scribblesatdusk. That takes courage, but we're writers. I will get to these as well, but I have deadlines to meet for my next Super Secrets writing article in DreamForge Anvil, my own personal deadlines, the Super Secrets workshop that turned in assignments, an out of town doctor's appointment, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped! Smile

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
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“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!
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ReplyQuote
Posted : July 28, 2021 11:00 pm
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41

@wulfmoon yikes... no worries and take your time. Thanks for putting us on your schedule.

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 29, 2021 5:32 am
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41

@scribblesatdusk wow! I find the idea of CHIP appropriately creepy. Kind of reminds me of what happened to Alex in A Clockwork Orange. 

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 29, 2021 5:36 am
scribblesatdusk
(@scribblesatdusk)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 106
Posted by: @physa

@scribblesatdusk wow! I find the idea of CHIP appropriately creepy. Kind of reminds me of what happened to Alex in A Clockwork Orange. 

I love A Clockwork Orange, though I haven't read it since HS.

Writing this, I was a bit worried mine would come off as a cheap ripoff.

In my 1,000 word versions the tech is fleshed out more and is significantly different in how it leaves the inmates. With the Ludovico Technique, Alex still felt compelled (since he's a sociopath) to do horrible things but suffered averse reactions when he had evil thoughts or faced other triggers like hearing classical music (at least from what I remember of the book). In my version that doesn't happen. Not that I plan to do anything with this so it doesn't really matter either way. 

 

Edit: I dislike how this site shows how many times a post is edited. Can't a person proofread after hitting save without being judged for it! 🤓 🤫 🤥 

V36:Q3 HM
V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM
V38: R,HM, ?

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 30, 2021 3:04 pm
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @scribblesatdusk
Posted by: @physa

@scribblesatdusk wow! I find the idea of CHIP appropriately creepy. Kind of reminds me of what happened to Alex in A Clockwork Orange. 

I love A Clockwork Orange, though I haven't read it since HS.

Writing this, I was a bit worried mine would come off as a cheap ripoff.

In my 1,000 word versions the tech is fleshed out more and is significantly different in how it leaves the inmates. With the Ludovico Technique, Alex still felt compelled (since he's a sociopath) to do horrible things but suffered averse reactions when he had evil thoughts or faced other triggers like hearing classical music (at least from what I remember of the book). In my version that doesn't happen. Not that I plan to do anything with this so it doesn't really matter either way. 

 

Edit: I dislike how this site shows how many times a post is edited. Can't a person proofread after hitting save without being judged for it! 🤓 🤫 🤥 

You have a stronger stomach than I regarding A Clockwork Orange. When I took modern lit we were made to both read the book and watch the movie. The movie began right at 11:30 am and I had been hungry for lunch, but after the movie I had a tough time regaining my appetite by supper. Both book and movie are masterpieces. But your piece didn't come off as a rip off so much as a struggle with a good idea to make it into a compelling story. My take on how the CHIP works is that it turns the person into a lobotomized version of themselves. Death would seem more desirable in this instance so it's a great job of sending a person to hell re: writing prompt. To me that's a horrifying thought and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. I think the idea has promise. I, too, have lots to learn about these KYD exercises.

As for the notification regarding the number of times a person revises their comments on this space... we ARE writers and I imagine we are all tempted to clarify. I don't think anyone really thinks much about whether a comment is revised and if so, how many times. smash  

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 31, 2021 6:10 am
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143
Posted by: @physa

Challenge met. Here's my new 250 piece not grounded in real life. Thanks for the prompt @Moon. This is just one of many directions I thought of to go with this.

The deadly banquet of fairy

Mushrooms formed a circle.  Insect wings fluttered.  Hallie goose stepped her way to inspect the ring closer, avoiding the slippery, wet grass.

“Don’t step in the middle of the ring.”  Zylle said.

Zylle’s voice came as a distant whisper as Hallie crossed into the ring. The nearest mushroom, red with white spots towered over her, its gills formed a maze of hyphae filled with basidiospores.

A castle appeared. Bees buzzed over a field of poppies as Hallie approached the front door. Trays of food laid out on a long table, a remnant of ancient kings, made her stomach growl and mouth water. An odd assortment of characters sampled the food and a seat at the table opened for her.

Men dressed in overalls, business suits, animal skins, and in all manner of military uniforms. Women along with their children carrying babies in papooses, bonnets covering their head, wearing colorful dress suits and the short skirts of flappers from the roaring twenties.

A young girl with pale blond hair and grey eyes, beckoned to Hallie.  

“Come and eat.”

“No thanks.”

“You’ll change your mind.”

Zylle stormed in. “Don’t! Don’t eat or drink. Or you’ll be enslaved to the end of the world.”

The girl creature’s skin glowed bright and her mouth revealed sharp needle teeth.

In the briefest of seconds, the banquet table was surrounded by bones and decaying flesh and then it snapped back to the original festive crowd. The mushrooms shrank and the girls stepped out of the ring.

First of all, I'd like to thank @scribblesatdusk for reviving this thread. I too have been reading through Wulf's Super Secret thread line-by-line and have only made it to page 33. So much content there! I've been wanting to do the KYD exercises, but kept procrastinating since I didn't have anywhere to post them. So thanks for getting this going! I have no excuse now. I'll have something up soon, but first I'll see if I can provide constructive criticism to the two most recent 250s here. 

@physa, I loved your second take on this 250. Your descriptions were nicely vivid outside of the question of size. I automatically assume that characters are human until told otherwise (maybe not a great assumption around here grinning ), but I wasn't sure how big Zylle and Hallie were, or if perspective changed once they entered the mushroom ring (aka Alice in Wonderland). Looking at your last line, I think they're human and it was a perspective change, but that wasn't clear at the beginning.

Your dialogue between the fairy, Hallie, and then Zylle is well done. You set it up, then didn't need to use dialogue tags to make it tight.

I only saw two minor formatting errors. Your first line cut into the second line (you probably hit enter accidentally when reviewing it), but that made me think that 'The deadly banquet of fairy' was your title that was missing capitalization. What is your title? Second, your first dialogue from Zylle needs a comma before 'Zylle said' instead of a period.

Good story!

V38 Q2: HM
V38 Q3: Submitted
V38 Q4: Submitted

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 31, 2021 11:12 am
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143
Posted by: @scribblesatdusk

This was a super hard prompt for me to do, mainly because I found it so difficult to think "outside the box" for this specific prompt, while being true to my voice. I blame the prompt! I tried different 1000 worded versions, tried the combined prompt, that I cut down again and again and unfortunately my end result does not show any of that effort as it's still not very good. I am still going to post it in case there are others here, who want to do these too but find themselves struggling with certain prompts/exercises, and need encouragement. You're not alone! I'm embarrassed posting. You can be a fool (who's working to get better) with me! For anyone criticizing don't worry, you don't have to be nice about it. Rip it apart! I'm a slush reader, I know a lot that's wrong with it I just don't know how to fix it. 

 

I used the "sent you to hell" prompt.

Interview with a Hardened Criminal

 

A week on CHIP and all of Corizon’s inmates lost the wild look of their mugshots. It had tamed them, the way time spent long enough in solitary used to. 

“Rehabilitation’s hard.” Corizon shifted, his grey suit barely visible against the grey of concrete and steel.  “He’ll soon be fit for vocational training.” 

It hurt hearing Christopher disparage the tech. Hell. Hell was prison life before CHIP, when the air vibrated thick with incessant noise. CHIP gave them the luxury of silence, without suspicion of cruel intent. Ears didn’t lie, even if some mouths did. 

Pain. There were no guards to lay a hand on him. 

“Many stay working in the factory after.” He wouldn’t mention the vacant look in their eyes if she didn’t ask. If she did, vacant was an improvement on menacing. 

“Warden, please!”

Why doesn’t Christopher mention the ten years he got off his sentence for taking the plea? Better to pay for Hell in visions now, than for an eternity later. 

Christopher slumped back on his bunk, covering his snake tattoo until it became a worm trapped under his head.

“CHIP's reactivating. He's getting comfortable for the simulations. Did you finish?”

The reporter inhaled deeply. That would be the smell of innocent bleach-- not covering up any blood or guts. 

Noses didn’t lie. 

There was something about the look of the reporter's eyes. CHIP could fix it. Should. Even then, she wouldn’t thank him.   

 

 

It may have been hard, but you did it! I liked the despair you put into this piece. Gave me chills. You said to have at it, so here goes.

In your first line, I mistook 'Corizon' as the name of the prison instead of the character. I think simply adding the word 'fellow' before 'inmates' would make this clear. MS Word tells me that you have 239 words, so there's a touch of room to play with.

Second paragraph, and throughout. If Corizon isn't the one talking, shouldn't his reaction to what's said be its own paragraph? If so (and I'm not 100% positive, someone please correct me here), then paragraph two should actually be spit into three paragraphs: two statements and Corizon's reactions to them. If I'm reading this right, Corizon doesn't actually say a word, so I think that would apply throughout. All of the conversation is between the Warden and Christopher with Corizon merely thinking about what they say. Also, I think an attribution right after the first statement would help solidify who's saying what. It doesn't have to be a 'said', but could be "Corizon shifted uncomfortably at Christopher's statement..." and you can then change the next attribution for Christopher to 'the reporter' to make it perfectly clear who he is. 

I really liked how you managed to get a recurring theme about lying in such a small piece. "Ears didn't lie, even if some mouths did." "Noses didn't lie." Added in with his thoughts about the end results of CHIP on the inmates, this gives a sinister feel to what the Warden's saying. The truth of 'rehabilitation' is not what it seems, though you didn't have to use word space to say that explicitly. Well done.

The image you created of Corizon laying back and putting his snake-tattooed arm under his head is beautifully poetic. I could picture that perfectly. And using the word 'trapped' for something unrelated to CHIP adds to the feel of despair within the piece. 

You may not have liked this piece, but I enjoyed it. I think just a couple of tweaks and it would make a nice vignette to a larger story, possibly even the introduction.

V38 Q2: HM
V38 Q3: Submitted
V38 Q4: Submitted

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 31, 2021 11:38 am
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Advanced Member
Posts: 41
Posted by: @lost_bard
Posted by: @physa

Challenge met. Here's my new 250 piece not grounded in real life. Thanks for the prompt @Moon. This is just one of many directions I thought of to go with this.

The deadly banquet of fairy

Mushrooms formed a circle.  Insect wings fluttered.  Hallie goose stepped her way to inspect the ring closer, avoiding the slippery, wet grass.

“Don’t step in the middle of the ring.”  Zylle said.

Zylle’s voice came as a distant whisper as Hallie crossed into the ring. The nearest mushroom, red with white spots towered over her, its gills formed a maze of hyphae filled with basidiospores.

A castle appeared. Bees buzzed over a field of poppies as Hallie approached the front door. Trays of food laid out on a long table, a remnant of ancient kings, made her stomach growl and mouth water. An odd assortment of characters sampled the food and a seat at the table opened for her.

Men dressed in overalls, business suits, animal skins, and in all manner of military uniforms. Women along with their children carrying babies in papooses, bonnets covering their head, wearing colorful dress suits and the short skirts of flappers from the roaring twenties.

A young girl with pale blond hair and grey eyes, beckoned to Hallie.  

“Come and eat.”

“No thanks.”

“You’ll change your mind.”

Zylle stormed in. “Don’t! Don’t eat or drink. Or you’ll be enslaved to the end of the world.”

The girl creature’s skin glowed bright and her mouth revealed sharp needle teeth.

In the briefest of seconds, the banquet table was surrounded by bones and decaying flesh and then it snapped back to the original festive crowd. The mushrooms shrank and the girls stepped out of the ring.

First of all, I'd like to thank @scribblesatdusk for reviving this thread. I too have been reading through Wulf's Super Secret thread line-by-line and have only made it to page 33. So much content there! I've been wanting to do the KYD exercises, but kept procrastinating since I didn't have anywhere to post them. So thanks for getting this going! I have no excuse now. I'll have something up soon, but first I'll see if I can provide constructive criticism to the two most recent 250s here. 

@physa, I loved your second take on this 250. Your descriptions were nicely vivid outside of the question of size. I automatically assume that characters are human until told otherwise (maybe not a great assumption around here grinning ), but I wasn't sure how big Zylle and Hallie were, or if perspective changed once they entered the mushroom ring (aka Alice in Wonderland). Looking at your last line, I think they're human and it was a perspective change, but that wasn't clear at the beginning.

Your dialogue between the fairy, Hallie, and then Zylle is well done. You set it up, then didn't need to use dialogue tags to make it tight.

I only saw two minor formatting errors. Your first line cut into the second line (you probably hit enter accidentally when reviewing it), but that made me think that 'The deadly banquet of fairy' was your title that was missing capitalization. What is your title? Second, your first dialogue from Zylle needs a comma before 'Zylle said' instead of a period.

Good story!

Thanks David for your comments. You are right, Hallie and Zylle are normal, human girls and they enter into the world of fairy where the size of the mushroom grows to be as tall as a tree (or they shrink). What looks like the first line is the title. I struggle with titles in general and I now see I should have used capital letters in the title. Doh! I'm glad you enjoyed it and look forward to reading yours. Smile

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 31, 2021 12:26 pm
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143

Okay, here goes. This is my first KYD and MAN was it hard. I really liked this vignette at around 350 words, but all those amazing little tidbits and phrases had to go. I can definitely see the value of this exercise because every time I went back through to cut a few more words, I found spots where one perfect word fit better than three. Of course, I may have made it harder on myself by having a repeating bit, but I don't think the story would be the same without it. I look forward to your critiques!

The Purity of Fire

Click-Flash-Click

Pria’s lighter flicked rhythmically, but Donovan let her be. Fire-bugs preferred talking with flame in hand.

Click-Flash-Click

“Why do you love fire?” His voice was low, unthreatening.

“The old is consumed, making way for the new. Hell destroyed that heaven may thrive.” Pria whispered, a true believer. A blanket wrapped her thin shoulders against the pre-dawn chill.

“And Mayor Thomas?” The mansion’s charred bones stretched toward dawn. Smoke still swirled.

“He was a beacon.”

Click-Flash-Click

Donovan frowned. “For whom?”

“Vahagn.”

Click-Flash-Click

The planet? Donovan sighed as a raptured smile stole onto Pria’s face. “Please, elaborate.” He’d joined the colony to escape this kind of work.

Click-Flash-Click

“Vahagn welcomed us, nurtured us, then we bored into his soul.”

“This is a mining colony. The value of Vahagn is under its surface.”

“You speak truth, but understand nothing.”

Click-Flash-Click

Sunlight warmed the back of Donovan’s head, and Pria’s raptured smile turned manic. He glanced back and froze.

The sun--a sun--stood beyond the ruins, too close to be real, too real to ignore. Fiery eyes burned within it, shifting, searching. The sun rose again, as a man from his knees, to become a giant of pure fire towering over them.

A whoosh of fire whipped Donovan around. Pria had lit herself aflame. She stood, arms skyward.

“Come Vahagn! Scourge us in cleansing fire!” Her eyes burned into Donovan as the giant approached. “Join me and be free.”

Donovan scrambled and fell as she threw the blanket around his shoulders.

Click-Flash-Whoosh

V38 Q2: HM
V38 Q3: Submitted
V38 Q4: Submitted

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 31, 2021 3:02 pm
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