Notifications
Clear all

Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

173 Posts
16 Users
160 Likes
17.4 K Views
Yelena
(@scribblesatdusk)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @lost_bard

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.

Thank you so much for the reply! To clarify there are 3 characters in this. The warden is Corizon. That's why they're his inmates. There is a reporter conducting the interview, a female who is never named (intentionally). And the inmate being interviewed who is Christopher. So it was Corizon speaking when he said "rehabilitations hard work.." though I didn't add a "said" tag.

A lot of it is the warden (Corizon's) reactions to Christopher's replies (hell, pain) to the questions though his replies are never actually shown in dialogue. I realize now when I expand it up to add more said tags so it's clear the warden, Corizon, is speaking.

The snake tattoo image I was going for was to show Christopher's (the inmate's) helplessness, as you caught onto (woo!) though I realize now the word instead of trapped maybe should have been buried?

Thank you again for having a go at it and your criticisms! Super helpful! 

 

And I realize after the fact how confusing it is that the only names mentioned start with C or CH but part of it is from a literary perspective as Corizon (I named him as an easter egg. It's one of the biggest companies that offer health management in correction facilities in USA) and Christopher (play on Christ too) are foils of each other and both are influenced by CHIP but realize that def wouldn't have come across and I should have just given them totally different names. 

 

V36:Q3 HM V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM V38: R,HM, F, HM V39: HM, SHM, ?

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 1:13 am
Yelena
(@scribblesatdusk)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @lost_bard

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

So glad you're joining! It really helps knowing others are doing this with me (both exercises and critique). Since I've been rereading that secret thread I started doing those early prompts on my own too.

 

Ok, onto your piece. So I read it a few times. I think the story is written very tight in that a sentence has more than one meaning or the meaning of it changes as the story goes on and that's a really tough thing to do. Props on that! I've yet to be able to do it in my own writing. 

I am not sure the significance of the click-flash-click. Is that Pria playing with the lighter or something different? I'm not sure it actually adds anything to the piece. 

I'm assuming the work Donovan joined the colony to escape is to interrogate Pria (maybe he used to be a detective/cop) for what I assume is her causing the mansion to go down in flames and killing the mayor? Is that correct?

At first it confused me why Pria would want to kill a mayor who was a beacon to Vahagn (the planet?). I think I understand now that she meant she wants to use his murder as a warning to others but initially it was unclear to me since I associate beacons with guidance/support and thought it meant the mayor was good to the planet. 

I love the description of a sun rising as a man from his knees. What a fantastic image! 

 

I think it would be helpful when Pria is saying "join me and be free" for it to be clear she means Vahagn there and not Donovan. Initially I thought she was saying it to Donovan, since she throws the blanket around his shoulders, but on rereads I believe it makes more sense all of it was to Vahagn.

 

Hope this is helpful should you decide to make any changes on expansion. 

V36:Q3 HM V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM V38: R,HM, F, HM V39: HM, SHM, ?

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 2:15 am
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Prominent Member
 

@scribblesatdusk

Thanks for the critique! I guess the click-flash-click is one of the darlings I should have killed. It is her playing with the lighter, which was clear in the original and 500, but was lost in the 250. It initially showed where her attention sat, she focused on the lighter; but when he asked the wrong questions, she would pause half way through the motion to give him a ‘you’re an idiot’ look before continuing on. I cut a whole sequence for the 250, so the impact of the clicking lighter was lost.

Good point on the death of the mayor. It should be a warning, not a beacon. 

Yeah, I wrote Donovan’s backstory as a prison psychologist, something he joined a colony to get away from. The backstory got cut, but maybe I can tickle a little of it back in for clarity.

I’ll take another stab at this in the morning, though your critique has me laying awake thinking about rewrites. Hopefully my subconscious will take charge and mull it over for a bit. Or maybe just I’ll get up and go write. Who needs sleep anyway?

Winner, Volume 39, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Place
V38: HM, HM, SHM
V39: HM, 3rd Place

Published Stories:
"A Properly Spiced Gingerbread" in DreamForge Anvil Volume 7
"The Last Quest of Corbin the Coward" in Factor Four Magazine
"Reassessed Value" in Third Flatiron's After the Gold Rush Anthology

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 2:52 am
Yelena
(@scribblesatdusk)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @lost_bard

 Or maybe just I’ll get up and go write. Who needs sleep anyway?

Yea that's what my kids say when they barge in at all hours and then wonder why I'm a grump fish or try to squirrel in writing time when it should be "mommy plays with you" time. 

 

It might be better to wait until Wulf Moon gets back with his criticisms, once/if he'll have time in his schedule. He may say something totally different from what I said, given he actually knows what he's talking about. 

His commentary on the home piece by Physa, for instance, made me think about it in a completely different light. 

V36:Q3 HM V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM V38: R,HM, F, HM V39: HM, SHM, ?

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 3:04 am
Yelena
(@scribblesatdusk)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @physa

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.”

I liked your 2nd take on the prompt!

For me, my criticism would be the lines here. Why does Hallie say no thanks? How does Zylle know drinking/eating would enslave them. This seems critical to the vignette but it's glossed over.

Maybe some indication of why they are going under the mushroom at all would help explore this or upping the tension by making Hallie doubt her decision or be given better incentive by the fairies to partake of it. 

It's mentioned Hallie's stomach growls and mouth waters but I didn't take it to mean she was starving/hasn't eaten in a very long time, just that the food looked appetizing so that didn't come off as enough of a source of tension for me.

The other thing is the beginning, when they're going under the mushroom and then when Hallie is inside the castle read as such different scenes that they almost seem from two different vignettes. I'm not sure how you could connect them better, maybe not starting with the mushroom or more mushroom imagery in the castle? 

 

Unlike David, I thought The Deadly Banquet of Fairy was the title so that did help prime me for the genre and ending. 

V36:Q3 HM V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM V38: R,HM, F, HM V39: HM, SHM, ?

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 3:19 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Member
 
Posted by: @lost_bard

@scribblesatdusk

Thanks for the critique! I guess the click-flash-click is one of the darlings I should have killed. It is her playing with the lighter, which was clear in the original and 500, but was lost in the 250. It initially showed where her attention sat, she focused on the lighter; but when he asked the wrong questions, she would pause half way through the motion to give him a ‘you’re an idiot’ look before continuing on. I cut a whole sequence for the 250, so the impact of the clicking lighter was lost.

Good point on the death of the mayor. It should be a warning, not a beacon. 

Yeah, I wrote Donovan’s backstory as a prison psychologist, something he joined a colony to get away from. The backstory got cut, but maybe I can tickle a little of it back in for clarity.

I’ll take another stab at this in the morning, though your critique has me laying awake thinking about rewrites. Hopefully my subconscious will take charge and mull it over for a bit. Or maybe just I’ll get up and go write. Who needs sleep anyway?

The flicking lighter trick works--it's a signal that something bad is coming, and it builds suspense. Think of the chicken heart story, and how the heartbeat keeps thumping through it, building tension. But you can only do it for so long before it becomes annoying, so you play the trick in a bigger story perhaps once in each scene when a fire is started, and readers would know without you even showing the fire what was about to happen as you cut to the next scene. You can also save it up for a climax, and do it repetitively there, building the climax. 

It worked for me in the 250, but you sacrifice some narrative to do that, which would have helped with understanding what was going on better. You did play it again at the end, but with a change, which is always good. Same, same, but different. New meaning.

Glad you see the benefit of finding one potent word that does the work of three. The exercise trains your mind to do more with less.

Don't forget to find the beating heart, and build your 250 entirely around one poignant scene about it. That way, when you go to expand it one day, you'll have a powerful theme to work with.

Good job for your first try!

Moon

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" won Best SFF Story of 2019! Read it in WotF, Volume 35. Order HERE!
"Muzik Man" won Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? Just awarded Best All Other Short Stories of 2021! Read in THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
Enjoy my award-winning SUPER SECRETS of Writing articles! FREE to read in every issue of DreamForge Anvil! Don't miss Best Positive Future Story of 2021: "Shaken, Not Stirred." FREE! Click HERE!

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 5:54 am
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @lost_bard

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

This is a cool piece. I think it would read better if there was just the Click-Flash-Click at the beginning and Click-Flash-Whoosh at the end. It's a nice set of words, though and does have a nice rhythm, but there are so many it disrupts the actual story. I love the use of fire as a consumer and as a purifying. Nice job.

WOTF results:
Before Moon's Vol 39 challenge, 6 R's: Vol 31 Q3, Vol 33 Q3, Vol 35, Q4, Vol 37 Q3 and Q4, and Vol 38 Q3.
For Moon's Vol 39 challenge: Q1 RWC, Q2 HM, Q3 P, Q4 in progress...
IOTF results:
Vol 39: Q1 HM, Q2 R, Q3 P, Q4 in progress...
According to Winston Churchill, "success is going from failure to failure with enthusiasm"
Somehow I lost my Guthington profile, but it's me. Amy Wethington = Guthington = Physa

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 1:10 pm
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @scribblesatdusk
Posted by: @lost_bard

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.

Thank you so much for the reply! To clarify there are 3 characters in this. The warden is Corizon. That's why they're his inmates. There is a reporter conducting the interview, a female who is never named (intentionally). And the inmate being interviewed who is Christopher. So it was Corizon speaking when he said "rehabilitations hard work.." though I didn't add a "said" tag.

A lot of it is the warden (Corizon's) reactions to Christopher's replies (hell, pain) to the questions though his replies are never actually shown in dialogue. I realize now when I expand it up to add more said tags so it's clear the warden, Corizon, is speaking.

The snake tattoo image I was going for was to show Christopher's (the inmate's) helplessness, as you caught onto (woo!) though I realize now the word instead of trapped maybe should have been buried?

Thank you again for having a go at it and your criticisms! Super helpful! 

 

And I realize after the fact how confusing it is that the only names mentioned start with C or CH but part of it is from a literary perspective as Corizon (I named him as an easter egg. It's one of the biggest companies that offer health management in correction facilities in USA) and Christopher (play on Christ too) are foils of each other and both are influenced by CHIP but realize that def wouldn't have come across and I should have just given them totally different names. 

 

That does help explain your piece. And yes... names that begin with the same letter is hard to catch when writing fresh. I do that too...

WOTF results:
Before Moon's Vol 39 challenge, 6 R's: Vol 31 Q3, Vol 33 Q3, Vol 35, Q4, Vol 37 Q3 and Q4, and Vol 38 Q3.
For Moon's Vol 39 challenge: Q1 RWC, Q2 HM, Q3 P, Q4 in progress...
IOTF results:
Vol 39: Q1 HM, Q2 R, Q3 P, Q4 in progress...
According to Winston Churchill, "success is going from failure to failure with enthusiasm"
Somehow I lost my Guthington profile, but it's me. Amy Wethington = Guthington = Physa

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 1:13 pm
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Estimable Member
 

@scribblesatdusk Thanks. I'll think on it some more. It depends on folks having a deep knowledge of the world of Fairy as depicted in the King Arthur tales. Hallie would have read them and so in the back part of her mind she would know there could be a trap. At any rate there were 3 ways an entrance to fairy could go: trapped by death, trapped by time and released to find everyone you knew was now dead, or to somehow be accepted by fairy as an acolyte. These points you bring up will be further explored in the larger piece I hope to write. I like the idea of adding more tension right away. One common entrance to fairy is by stepping into a ring of mushrooms and like in Dr. Who the world of fairy is larger on the inside.

WOTF results:
Before Moon's Vol 39 challenge, 6 R's: Vol 31 Q3, Vol 33 Q3, Vol 35, Q4, Vol 37 Q3 and Q4, and Vol 38 Q3.
For Moon's Vol 39 challenge: Q1 RWC, Q2 HM, Q3 P, Q4 in progress...
IOTF results:
Vol 39: Q1 HM, Q2 R, Q3 P, Q4 in progress...
According to Winston Churchill, "success is going from failure to failure with enthusiasm"
Somehow I lost my Guthington profile, but it's me. Amy Wethington = Guthington = Physa

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 1:20 pm
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Prominent Member
 
Posted by: @scribblesatdusk

It might be better to wait until Wulf Moon gets back with his criticisms, once/if he'll have time in his schedule. He may say something totally different from what I said, given he actually knows what he's talking about. 

Don't sell yourself short. Your writing I've seen so far says that you know what you're talking about. We're all just trying polish that craft until it shines. Thanks for the comments, they were great!

Winner, Volume 39, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Place
V38: HM, HM, SHM
V39: HM, 3rd Place

Published Stories:
"A Properly Spiced Gingerbread" in DreamForge Anvil Volume 7
"The Last Quest of Corbin the Coward" in Factor Four Magazine
"Reassessed Value" in Third Flatiron's After the Gold Rush Anthology

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 2:04 pm
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Prominent Member
 

Thanks @wulfmoon, @scribblesatdusk and @physa for your comments. I took another look at it and added  more clarity. I was surprised to find even more fluff I could cut to make room for a few explanatory phrases. Wulf was right, at 250 you have to know the heart of your story and every word has to count. For me, this is a commentary on progress. We clear the old that our idea of heaven may thrive, then get upset when the old fights back. On the flipside, being the old that gets cleared away is usually unpleasantly painful.

The Purity of Fire (Take 2)

Click-Flash-Click

Pria’s lighter flicked open, flames danced, then flicked closed. Fire-bugs preferred talking with flame in hand, so Donovan let her be.

Click-Flash-Click

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

“The old is consumed, nurturing the new. Hell destroyed that heaven may thrive.” Pria whispered, a true believer. A blanket wrapped her thin shoulders against the predawn chill.

“And Mayor Thomas?” Smoke still caressed the mansion’s charred bones.

“He was a warning.”

“Of what?”

“Vahagn’s purifying judgement.” The lighter paused, flame capturing Pria’s raptured gaze.

Donovan sighed. He’d joined Vahagn’s colony to escape prison psychology. Colonists get screened, damnit. Pria raved softly.

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

“This is a mining colony. Vahagn’s value lies under its surface.”

“You speak truth, but understand nothing.”

Click-Flash-Click

Sunlight warmed the back of Donovan’s head as Pria’s smile turned manic. Sunrise already? Donovan 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, 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 and stood, arms skyward.

“Come Vahagn! Come!” Manic eyes shifted, burned into Donovan as the earth shuddered. Vahagn came. “He will scourge this hell, that heaven may thrive.”

Donovan scrambled and fell back. Pria knelt over him, alight, lighter held close. “Be purified.”

Click-Flash-Whoosh

Winner, Volume 39, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Place
V38: HM, HM, SHM
V39: HM, 3rd Place

Published Stories:
"A Properly Spiced Gingerbread" in DreamForge Anvil Volume 7
"The Last Quest of Corbin the Coward" in Factor Four Magazine
"Reassessed Value" in Third Flatiron's After the Gold Rush Anthology

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 2:15 pm
Yelena
(@scribblesatdusk)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @lost_bard

Thanks @wulfmoon, @scribblesatdusk and @physa for your comments. I took another look at it and added  more clarity. I was surprised to find even more fluff I could cut to make room for a few explanatory phrases. Wulf was right, at 250 you have to know the heart of your story and every word has to count. For me, this is a commentary on progress. We clear the old that our idea of heaven may thrive, then get upset when the old fights back. On the flipside, being the old that gets cleared away is usually unpleasantly painful.

The Purity of Fire (Take 2)

Click-Flash-Click

Pria’s lighter flicked open, flames danced, then flicked closed. Fire-bugs preferred talking with flame in hand, so Donovan let her be.

Click-Flash-Click

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

“The old is consumed, nurturing the new. Hell destroyed that heaven may thrive.” Pria whispered, a true believer. A blanket wrapped her thin shoulders against the predawn chill.

“And Mayor Thomas?” Smoke still caressed the mansion’s charred bones.

“He was a warning.”

“Of what?”

“Vahagn’s purifying judgement.” The lighter paused, flame capturing Pria’s raptured gaze.

Donovan sighed. He’d joined Vahagn’s colony to escape prison psychology. Colonists get screened, damnit. Pria raved softly.

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

“This is a mining colony. Vahagn’s value lies under its surface.”

“You speak truth, but understand nothing.”

Click-Flash-Click

Sunlight warmed the back of Donovan’s head as Pria’s smile turned manic. Sunrise already? Donovan 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, 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 and stood, arms skyward.

“Come Vahagn! Come!” Manic eyes shifted, burned into Donovan as the earth shuddered. Vahagn came. “He will scourge this hell, that heaven may thrive.”

Donovan scrambled and fell back. Pria knelt over him, alight, lighter held close. “Be purified.”

Click-Flash-Whoosh

This was so much better! I didn't have to read it multiple times to understand what happened. Huge huge huge improvement (for me). I liked the addition of "colonists get screened..." 

The detail of Pria raving. 

It's foreshadows much better what happens and why "Vahagn's purifying judgement." I like how you spiral back to an earlier part in the dialogue "he will scourge this hell, that heaven may thrive." 

Even the ending with Pria saying "be purified" to Donovan adds a level of character depth to her. 

 

If I had to criticize something here, and this is me probably nitpicking, I'd say it feels somewhat emotionally distant. Where is Donovan's fear at the end (if he feels fear)? I know it happens kind of quickly and you do show us him scrambling and falling back but I want more. Purely subjective on my part though. I really did love this rewrite of yours. Props to you!

V36:Q3 HM V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM V38: R,HM, F, HM V39: HM, SHM, ?

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 4:12 pm
Yelena
(@scribblesatdusk)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @physa

@scribblesatdusk Thanks. I'll think on it some more. It depends on folks having a deep knowledge of the world of Fairy as depicted in the King Arthur tales. Hallie would have read them and so in the back part of her mind she would know there could be a trap. At any rate there were 3 ways an entrance to fairy could go: trapped by death, trapped by time and released to find everyone you knew was now dead, or to somehow be accepted by fairy as an acolyte. These points you bring up will be further explored in the larger piece I hope to write. I like the idea of adding more tension right away. One common entrance to fairy is by stepping into a ring of mushrooms and like in Dr. Who the world of fairy is larger on the inside.

Ah ok I'm not too familiar with details of the King Arthur lore aside from the movies, roundtable stuff. I didn't know that about fairies and stepping into a ring of mushrooms. I am familiar with Doctor Who so I figured that was the case with the castle and is a cool detail. 

Often a problem I see in slush is stories rely too heavily on expecting readers to have prior information that's not just common knowledge instead of writing a story that stands on its own without need for extra research to contextualize it.

V36:Q3 HM V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM V38: R,HM, F, HM V39: HM, SHM, ?

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 4:19 pm
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Prominent Member
 
Posted by: @scribblesatdusk

“Come Vahagn! Come!” Manic eyes shifted, burned into Donovan as the earth shuddered. Vahagn came. “He will scourge this hell, that heaven may thrive.”

Donovan scrambled and fell back. Pria knelt over him, alight, lighter held close. “Be purified.”

Click-Flash-Whoosh

This was so much better! I didn't have to read it multiple times to understand what happened. Huge huge huge improvement (for me). I liked the addition of "colonists get screened..." 

The detail of Pria raving. 

It's foreshadows much better what happens and why "Vahagn's purifying judgement." I like how you spiral back to an earlier part in the dialogue "he will scourge this hell, that heaven may thrive." 

Even the ending with Pria saying "be purified" to Donovan adds a level of character depth to her. 

 

If I had to criticize something here, and this is me probably nitpicking, I'd say it feels somewhat emotionally distant. Where is Donovan's fear at the end (if he feels fear)? I know it happens kind of quickly and you do show us him scrambling and falling back but I want more. Purely subjective on my part though. I really did love this rewrite of yours. Props to you!

Thanks! It felt better to me too. Clearer. I was going to complain that there's not enough room to add the depth of what Donovan is feeling, but then I remembered that brevity is the whole point of this exercise. Here are the last two paragraphs again, slightly rewritten with the same exact word count.

“Come Vahagn!” Manic eyes shifted, burning Donovan’s soul as the earth shuddered. Vahagn came. “He will scourge this hell, that heaven may thrive.”

Donovan scrambled and fell, disbelieving. Terrified. Pria knelt over him, alight, lighter held close. “Be purified.”

Click-Flash-Whoosh

Winner, Volume 39, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Place
V38: HM, HM, SHM
V39: HM, 3rd Place

Published Stories:
"A Properly Spiced Gingerbread" in DreamForge Anvil Volume 7
"The Last Quest of Corbin the Coward" in Factor Four Magazine
"Reassessed Value" in Third Flatiron's After the Gold Rush Anthology

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 5:10 pm
Wulf Moon and Yelena reacted
Yelena
(@scribblesatdusk)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @lost_bard

Thanks! It felt better to me too. Clearer. I was going to complain that there's not enough room to add the depth of what Donovan is feeling, but then I remembered that brevity is the whole point of this exercise. Here are the last two paragraphs again, slightly rewritten with the same exact word count.

“Come Vahagn!” Manic eyes shifted, burning Donovan’s soul as the earth shuddered. Vahagn came. “He will scourge this hell, that heaven may thrive.”

Donovan scrambled and fell, disbelieving. Terrified. Pria knelt over him, alight, lighter held close. “Be purified.”

Click-Flash-Whoosh

I am so curious what others will say about this but for me this added the emotional punch that was missing.

 

Isn't it a whole lesson on craft just seeing your 250 words go through these changes and how you applied the criticisms? It's another thing I really liked about Wulf's thread when people posted their 1000, to 500, to 250 changes to see them work through and find the heart of their story. 

V36:Q3 HM V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM V38: R,HM, F, HM V39: HM, SHM, ?

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 5:46 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Member
 
Posted by: @lost_bard
Posted by: @scribblesatdusk

“Come Vahagn! Come!” Manic eyes shifted, burned into Donovan as the earth shuddered. Vahagn came. “He will scourge this hell, that heaven may thrive.”

Donovan scrambled and fell back. Pria knelt over him, alight, lighter held close. “Be purified.”

Click-Flash-Whoosh

This was so much better! I didn't have to read it multiple times to understand what happened. Huge huge huge improvement (for me). I liked the addition of "colonists get screened..." 

The detail of Pria raving. 

It's foreshadows much better what happens and why "Vahagn's purifying judgement." I like how you spiral back to an earlier part in the dialogue "he will scourge this hell, that heaven may thrive." 

Even the ending with Pria saying "be purified" to Donovan adds a level of character depth to her. 

 

If I had to criticize something here, and this is me probably nitpicking, I'd say it feels somewhat emotionally distant. Where is Donovan's fear at the end (if he feels fear)? I know it happens kind of quickly and you do show us him scrambling and falling back but I want more. Purely subjective on my part though. I really did love this rewrite of yours. Props to you!

Thanks! It felt better to me too. Clearer. I was going to complain that there's not enough room to add the depth of what Donovan is feeling, but then I remembered that brevity is the whole point of this exercise. Here are the last two paragraphs again, slightly rewritten with the same exact word count.

“Come Vahagn!” Manic eyes shifted, burning Donovan’s soul as the earth shuddered. Vahagn came. “He will scourge this hell, that heaven may thrive.”

Donovan scrambled and fell, disbelieving. Terrified. Pria knelt over him, alight, lighter held close. “Be purified.”

Click-Flash-Whoosh

Great job, David. You understand why my KYD exercise works, and how to do it properly, to gain the full benefits. Keep doing these regularly, and you will see noteworthy improvements in your writing. Many from my workshops attribute the exercise as the key to how they leveled up so quickly and are now respectably published, earned finalists in this contest, and are even up for other significant industry awards. These are often with a KYD they expanded into a short story.

The system works because it forces you to reprogram your writing mind. It helps you eliminate common new writer mistakes that cloud your writing style, emotional impact, and plot pacing. 

Keep at it and I look forward to hearing of your contest and publishing results!

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" won Best SFF Story of 2019! Read it in WotF, Volume 35. Order HERE!
"Muzik Man" won Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? Just awarded Best All Other Short Stories of 2021! Read in THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
Enjoy my award-winning SUPER SECRETS of Writing articles! FREE to read in every issue of DreamForge Anvil! Don't miss Best Positive Future Story of 2021: "Shaken, Not Stirred." FREE! Click HERE!

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 6:11 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Member
 
Posted by: @wulfmoon

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.

Physa,

Your new KYD250 is fine, but it’s not based on this suggestion. Instead, you gave us a traditional fey temptation story. It’s written well, and subject choice is always your call. However, there’s nothing *new* in it. The plot is the same as so many other stories I have read on this theme. Originality is a key ingredient to have your story rise to the top, whether it’s at a magazine, or at a major contest like this one. 

Also, you give botanical details on the mushrooms that are out of place for this story. Be careful with that. You are a professor, but that kind of detail has to be restrained in this fairy tale setting. Otherwise, your readers start singing, “One of these things is not like the others ...” 😊

Thanks for doing the exercise! Keep up the good work, just work in original, never before seen idea.

Cheers!

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" won Best SFF Story of 2019! Read it in WotF, Volume 35. Order HERE!
"Muzik Man" won Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? Just awarded Best All Other Short Stories of 2021! Read in THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
Enjoy my award-winning SUPER SECRETS of Writing articles! FREE to read in every issue of DreamForge Anvil! Don't miss Best Positive Future Story of 2021: "Shaken, Not Stirred." FREE! Click HERE!

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 6:24 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Member
 

@scribblesatdusk It’s beneficial to see the changes from the 500 to the 250. But it can also skew the evaluation of the 250. The trick is to code the 250 effectively, so it stands on its own and gets the beating heart across to the reader. If you know more details from the 500, you will have information you shouldn’t have, and you might believe the 250 got across the points just because you have them already in your mind. 

The challenge is to make the 250 stand on its own two feet, to get enough coding into it so that it works without confusion *for those reading it.*

 

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" won Best SFF Story of 2019! Read it in WotF, Volume 35. Order HERE!
"Muzik Man" won Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? Just awarded Best All Other Short Stories of 2021! Read in THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
Enjoy my award-winning SUPER SECRETS of Writing articles! FREE to read in every issue of DreamForge Anvil! Don't miss Best Positive Future Story of 2021: "Shaken, Not Stirred." FREE! Click HERE!

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 6:41 pm
David Hankins and Yelena reacted
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Prominent Member
 
Posted by: @wulfmoon

Great job, David. You understand why my KYD exercise works, and how to do it properly, to gain the full benefits. Keep doing these regularly, and you will see noteworthy improvements in your writing. Many from my workshops attribute the exercise as the key to how they leveled up so quickly and are now respectably published, earned finalists in this contest, and are even up for other significant industry awards. These are often with a KYD they expanded into a short story.

The system works because it forces you to reprogram your writing mind. It helps you eliminate common new writer mistakes that cloud your writing style, emotional impact, and plot pacing. 

Keep at it and I look forward to hearing of your contest and publishing results!

Thanks Wulf, that means a lot. I did see a lot of value in it and am excited to try my next one. Hopefully with a comedy this time instead of a tragedy. I've noticed that my writing tends toward more humorous adventure like The Dresden Files or Discword (though I can only dream of achieving Pratchett's level of awesome). I've enjoyed toying with the darkness, but my writer's soul needs laughter.

Winner, Volume 39, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Place
V38: HM, HM, SHM
V39: HM, 3rd Place

Published Stories:
"A Properly Spiced Gingerbread" in DreamForge Anvil Volume 7
"The Last Quest of Corbin the Coward" in Factor Four Magazine
"Reassessed Value" in Third Flatiron's After the Gold Rush Anthology

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 6:57 pm
Wulf Moon reacted
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Prominent Member
 
Posted by: @scribblesatdusk

Isn't it a whole lesson on craft just seeing your 250 words go through these changes and how you applied the criticisms? It's another thing I really liked about Wulf's thread when people posted their 1000, to 500, to 250 changes to see them work through and find the heart of their story. 

That's probably the biggest lesson I got from this. I struggle to find the heart of my story, writing multiple false-starts to figure out my protagonist and identify their heart's desire. I did find it fascinating on the original KYD thread how many of the folks had better 500s than 250s, but the ones who managed to really neck it down had amazingly impactful vignettes that stood alone (Dying of the Light by @rschibler jumps to my mind). Jumping forward to some of the current KYDs being posted in the Super Secrets thread (what, two years later now?), I'm consistently seeing more impact. Running this exercise repeatedly has definitely improved people's writing.

Thanks again for getting this going for the rest of us! Anyone else watching from the wings: jump on in! The water's fine, and the sharks only nibble a bit.

Winner, Volume 39, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Place
V38: HM, HM, SHM
V39: HM, 3rd Place

Published Stories:
"A Properly Spiced Gingerbread" in DreamForge Anvil Volume 7
"The Last Quest of Corbin the Coward" in Factor Four Magazine
"Reassessed Value" in Third Flatiron's After the Gold Rush Anthology

 
Posted : August 1, 2021 7:11 pm
RETreasure, storysinger, Wulf Moon and 1 people reacted
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @wulfmoon
Posted by: @wulfmoon

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.

Physa,

Your new KYD250 is fine, but it’s not based on this suggestion. Instead, you gave us a traditional fey temptation story. It’s written well, and subject choice is always your call. However, there’s nothing *new* in it. The plot is the same as so many other stories I have read on this theme. Originality is a key ingredient to have your story rise to the top, whether it’s at a magazine, or at a major contest like this one. 

Also, you give botanical details on the mushrooms that are out of place for this story. Be careful with that. You are a professor, but that kind of detail has to be restrained in this fairy tale setting. Otherwise, your readers start singing, “One of these things is not like the others ...” 😊

Thanks for doing the exercise! Keep up the good work, just work in original, never before seen idea.

Cheers!

@wulfmoon, you're quite the task master.  At least I know my writing isn't at fault. Will struggle on. Thanks for your honest critique. 

WOTF results:
Before Moon's Vol 39 challenge, 6 R's: Vol 31 Q3, Vol 33 Q3, Vol 35, Q4, Vol 37 Q3 and Q4, and Vol 38 Q3.
For Moon's Vol 39 challenge: Q1 RWC, Q2 HM, Q3 P, Q4 in progress...
IOTF results:
Vol 39: Q1 HM, Q2 R, Q3 P, Q4 in progress...
According to Winston Churchill, "success is going from failure to failure with enthusiasm"
Somehow I lost my Guthington profile, but it's me. Amy Wethington = Guthington = Physa

 
Posted : August 2, 2021 3:44 pm
Wulf Moon reacted
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Member
 

@physa  True. I try my best to be kind, but I don’t pull my punches. It’s the only way to help aspiring writers see what they as yet cannot see. But every editor and judge will see, and you won’t be able to get past Go, and you won’t know why.

This way is better, painful though it may be. But those that have listened to me have ended up winning this contest, among many other wonderful things. Embrace the pain and continue to grow, pushing yourself to break through boundaries.

This is the way. 😊

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" won Best SFF Story of 2019! Read it in WotF, Volume 35. Order HERE!
"Muzik Man" won Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? Just awarded Best All Other Short Stories of 2021! Read in THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
Enjoy my award-winning SUPER SECRETS of Writing articles! FREE to read in every issue of DreamForge Anvil! Don't miss Best Positive Future Story of 2021: "Shaken, Not Stirred." FREE! Click HERE!

 
Posted : August 2, 2021 4:23 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Member
 

@physa  Wow, just read this article by Dave today! Exactly what I’m talking about. Your story idea has to be so unique and original, it makes editors and judges shiver. Combine that with flawless execution, endearing protagonist, and strong emotional arc, and you’ve got a winner on your hands. 
I hope this helps.

https://mystorydoctor.com/david-farlands-writing-tip-the-shiver-test/

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" won Best SFF Story of 2019! Read it in WotF, Volume 35. Order HERE!
"Muzik Man" won Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? Just awarded Best All Other Short Stories of 2021! Read in THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
Enjoy my award-winning SUPER SECRETS of Writing articles! FREE to read in every issue of DreamForge Anvil! Don't miss Best Positive Future Story of 2021: "Shaken, Not Stirred." FREE! Click HERE!

 
Posted : August 3, 2021 8:11 pm
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @wulfmoon

@physa  Wow, just read this article by Dave today! Exactly what I’m talking about. Your story idea has to be so unique and original, it makes editors and judges shiver. Combine that with flawless execution, endearing protagonist, and strong emotional arc, and you’ve got a winner on your hands. 
I hope this helps.

https://mystorydoctor.com/david-farlands-writing-tip-the-shiver-test/

Thanks Moon... If it were easy everyone would be able to make a living at writing speculative stories. And we'd all have large mansions, our own island, etc. I shall give the article a close read. sippincoffee  

WOTF results:
Before Moon's Vol 39 challenge, 6 R's: Vol 31 Q3, Vol 33 Q3, Vol 35, Q4, Vol 37 Q3 and Q4, and Vol 38 Q3.
For Moon's Vol 39 challenge: Q1 RWC, Q2 HM, Q3 P, Q4 in progress...
IOTF results:
Vol 39: Q1 HM, Q2 R, Q3 P, Q4 in progress...
According to Winston Churchill, "success is going from failure to failure with enthusiasm"
Somehow I lost my Guthington profile, but it's me. Amy Wethington = Guthington = Physa

 
Posted : August 3, 2021 9:39 pm
fox
 fox
(@foxed)
Eminent Member
 

Hey! Just found this cool thread. Would love to get feedback on my first KYD, which was based on the prompt Ricochet in Ruins. I wrote another for Sent you to Hell but it might be the seed of a new story so I'll hang onto that for now Smile And honestly, I kind of like some of the ideas I came up with in this piece below so maybe I'll rework it too — in short, what I'm saying is, KYD rules! I definitely prefer my 500 word versions but I think that's normal. 

 

Echoes in Stone

Was that a mirage, or the ruined city he sought?

Marc crossed the dunes and came to an archway. He palmed the pitted stone.

A town-crier had stood here reading from a scroll. People flitted about the market. Creatures made of sand bore cargo across their backs, like crates floating atop ocean swells. 

The man kept the thread of the past alive as he walked. 

He came to the ramparts. Slatted windows served as footholds as he climbed to the top.

The guards could’ve seen for miles. Marc frowned as he gripped the wall, probing. He could see no obvious catalyst, no offensive launched.

He walked the length of the wall, studying the thoroughfare below.

The amorphous sandbeasts were never still, always bearing goods, sometimes ferrying the nobles themselves on scorching summer days. 

One of the sandbeasts had cast its crates aside. Its guide rounded on it, shouting. The sandbeast encircled him and he was swallowed in an instant. Market-goers began to run. Everyone was screaming. Guards uselessly fired their crossbows into the rebelling creatures, the bravest swinging down on ropes, and all vanished in a roiling tide of white. 

The sandbeasts lingered after the city’s death, spread thin across the stone, until a strong wind blew and sent them back into the desert.

Everything gone, save for echoes of times past.

Again Marc looked out beyond the walls. He thought he could see ripples beyond, like water rounding over rocks.

Or perhaps it was a mirage.

2021
Q2: HM, Q3: no sub, Q4: HM
2022
Q1: SHM, Q2: Pending, Q3: putting this here so i'm forced to write it

 
Posted : August 4, 2021 2:55 pm
Yelena
(@scribblesatdusk)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @foxed

Hey! Just found this cool thread. Would love to get feedback on my first KYD, which was based on the prompt Ricochet in Ruins. I wrote another for Sent you to Hell but it might be the seed of a new story so I'll hang onto that for now Smile And honestly, I kind of like some of the ideas I came up with in this piece below so maybe I'll rework it too — in short, what I'm saying is, KYD rules! I definitely prefer my 500 word versions but I think that's normal. 

 

Echoes in Stone

Was that a mirage, or the ruined city he sought?

Marc crossed the dunes and came to an archway. He palmed the pitted stone.

A town-crier had stood here reading from a scroll. People flitted about the market. Creatures made of sand bore cargo across their backs, like crates floating atop ocean swells. 

The man kept the thread of the past alive as he walked. 

He came to the ramparts. Slatted windows served as footholds as he climbed to the top.

The guards could’ve seen for miles. Marc frowned as he gripped the wall, probing. He could see no obvious catalyst, no offensive launched.

He walked the length of the wall, studying the thoroughfare below.

The amorphous sandbeasts were never still, always bearing goods, sometimes ferrying the nobles themselves on scorching summer days. 

One of the sandbeasts had cast its crates aside. Its guide rounded on it, shouting. The sandbeast encircled him and he was swallowed in an instant. Market-goers began to run. Everyone was screaming. Guards uselessly fired their crossbows into the rebelling creatures, the bravest swinging down on ropes, and all vanished in a roiling tide of white. 

The sandbeasts lingered after the city’s death, spread thin across the stone, until a strong wind blew and sent them back into the desert.

Everything gone, save for echoes of times past.

Again Marc looked out beyond the walls. He thought he could see ripples beyond, like water rounding over rocks.

Or perhaps it was a mirage.

It's interesting, I actually preferred my 250 to my 500 version to this prompt and often find that the case with my KYDs :/. I haven't re-expanded my sent you to hell one back to 1000 yet, waiting/hoping for some more commentary that might give me insight into how to do a better job but do hope I'll like that one more. Haha. How come you liked your 500 more?

Onto yours, very cool and on 2nd read was more powerful knowing what happened to the city. It left me wondering, how did Marc know all this. Does he have power of hindsight? Why did he seek the ruined city? I have no sense of what Marc's motivations are. You can start the 1st sentence with his name, Marc, instead of the vague "he," but that may just be my personal preference. The sandbeasts made me think of Dune. 

I'd also often say be wary of writing all backstory, which this is essentially but I'm not sure if those same "rules" apply for a KYD. 

 

V36:Q3 HM V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM V38: R,HM, F, HM V39: HM, SHM, ?

 
Posted : August 4, 2021 4:12 pm
fox reacted
fox
 fox
(@foxed)
Eminent Member
 

@scribblesatdusk Hi Scribbles, thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. 

So, your questions are kinda why I preferred the 500 word version; it allowed me to add a bit more context as to why Marc is in the ruins. (Also, he didn't even have a name when I first wrote this and I selected Marc out of the blue, so that may account for your valid first-line gripe). Essentially, he is just extracting these memories from the ruins, trying to figure out what happened to the city/why it no longer stands. He's heard conflicting rumors of its demise, and he has the ability to…see what used to be, so he wanted to check it out for himself. I didn't go beyond that when fleshing out the initial piece.

With all that said, it’s entirely possible that I cut the wrong parts out, lol, which may result in confusion for readers.  So thank you for the feedback, it’s very helpful! Character motivations are obviously a must so I want to make his clear.

I find it hard to straddle the line between "lay everything out for your readers" and "lay out just enough so they can connect the dots". Definitely trickier to do the second one well but I find it more rewarding when it does work. That's why getting feedback is so helpful, to see if I’m close to hitting that mark or not 😉 

That's cool/interesting that you prefer your 250 word piece. In addition to everything I've said, I also favor descriptions, and I find that cutting down to 250 is really difficult. It forces me to get more uncomfortable with my piece, if that makes sense? And as I strip away the details I am left with something that feels lacking. But that's why it's a helpful exercise, because it forces you to unearth the core of the story. 

2021
Q2: HM, Q3: no sub, Q4: HM
2022
Q1: SHM, Q2: Pending, Q3: putting this here so i'm forced to write it

 
Posted : August 4, 2021 6:12 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Member
 
Posted by: @foxed

That's cool/interesting that you prefer your 250 word piece. In addition to everything I've said, I also favor descriptions, and I find that cutting down to 250 is really difficult. It forces me to get more uncomfortable with my piece, if that makes sense? And as I strip away the details I am left with something that feels lacking. But that's why it's a helpful exercise, because it forces you to unearth the core of the story. 

Hi foxed!

In my KYD exercise, your 500 will likely be prettier than your 250. You have the advantage of more words. However, that's not the point of this exercise. Before you do the 250, you should search for the beating heart of the piece. What element within the 500 has the emotional punch? Craft a 250 word vignette on that moment, using potent words, images, and symbols to say more with less. Making those tough calls challenges your mind like a crossword puzzle. But no pain, no gain. You still do your best to trigger concepts in your reader's brain with the proper code. The better you get at this, the stronger your writing will be, because you will say more with less. 

Candice Lisle from here took a 250 KYD and boiled it down to its essence, just 100 words. And she sold it to a pro market. Others expanded their KYDs, and are now finalists in the Baen Adventure Fantasy Award and the Mike Resnick Award. I challenged Brittany Rainsdon to do five KYDs in one month because of issues I kept seeing in her writing. She listened and did the work. She turned at least one of those into a short story. It sold to Deep Magic, and was so strong, they selected it for their Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two. I developed the exercise to win one of the largest flash fiction contests ever created, with 25,000 to 30,000 entries over the course of one year. Two of mine were in the top ten, one of those winning grand prize. KYD is a very good skill to learn. 

It's the fastest way I've found to train aspiring writers how to cut out the plot-slowing, non-essential fluff from their stories. The majority of aspiring writers have to get past this phase before they start writing stories that can sell ... or win this contest. It's why I challenged those in the Super Secrets Workshop here (and those following along) to do at least one a month, based on a provided weekly prompt. Even writing to the prompt teaches. Most magazines and anthologies run themes. Being able to write to theme at the drop of a hat will serve you well, and make you sales after you've leveled up.

Happy smart practice!

Moon

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" won Best SFF Story of 2019! Read it in WotF, Volume 35. Order HERE!
"Muzik Man" won Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? Just awarded Best All Other Short Stories of 2021! Read in THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
Enjoy my award-winning SUPER SECRETS of Writing articles! FREE to read in every issue of DreamForge Anvil! Don't miss Best Positive Future Story of 2021: "Shaken, Not Stirred." FREE! Click HERE!

 
Posted : August 4, 2021 7:53 pm
David Hankins and fox reacted
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Member
 
Posted by: @scribblesatdusk

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.   

 

Thanks for doing the KYD exercise and posting the final result, scribblesatdusk! I'll go through this and offer constructive comments.

You open with your neat idea. It would be stronger to open with your character in a setting, and then introduce the problem. Otherwise, we don't know who "He'll soon be fit ..." is until later. 

It hurt hearing Christopher disparage the tech. When did he do so? You don't show this, so you make your reader go back up to see if they missed something. Nope. You failed to give the necessary info. Never confuse your readers by leaving important info out. They will quit reading, and likely get mad at you. Smile

And here is where we go off the reservation. I have no clue who *she* is. I am lost because of lack of clarity who is speaking and who is in this scene. I'd quit here if I were an editor choosing stories for a publication. “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.

Here we are again. Another character not introduced: The reporter inhaled deeply.

This could all be solved by employing the Super Secret "SET. YOUR. STAGE." If you don't clearly establish setting, including every character that's going to be in the scene, your readers will be lost as characters appear out of thin air. If you are doing this in your WotF submissions, you need to fix this issue to advance. It's got to be clear.

And yes, I know it's hard in a KYD250. Which means you have to drop some characters to use the tiny space better, or figure out how to code them in up front when you introduce your setting. Think of a play you might have attended. The curtain rises. You have some props on the stage to code up a setting in the viewers' minds. There are actors there, or they are about to come out. You watch them wondering, "Who is this going to be about?"

Answer those same questions for your readers, right up front. 

Oh, no idea why the bleach is there, covering up blood and guts smell. You didn't code what happened. 

Good job on dialogue, just don't forget to tag it when it's not clear who is speaking. Use said, or using an action beat to tag.  And nice image of the snake tattoo.

Thanks again for sharing. It takes courage to post an exercise out in the open like this and ask for it to be critiqued. Good for you!

Now review what I wrote, see if it's valid, and if so, fix this issue in your piece, and in your writing if you discern this is an issue. You will level up!

Best,

Moon

 

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" won Best SFF Story of 2019! Read it in WotF, Volume 35. Order HERE!
"Muzik Man" won Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? Just awarded Best All Other Short Stories of 2021! Read in THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
Enjoy my award-winning SUPER SECRETS of Writing articles! FREE to read in every issue of DreamForge Anvil! Don't miss Best Positive Future Story of 2021: "Shaken, Not Stirred." FREE! Click HERE!

 
Posted : August 4, 2021 8:25 pm
David Hankins and Yelena reacted
Yelena
(@scribblesatdusk)
Estimable Member
 
Posted by: @wulfmoon

Thanks for doing the KYD exercise and posting the final result, scribblesatdusk! I'll go through this and offer constructive comments.

You open with your neat idea. It would be stronger to open with your character in a setting, and then introduce the problem. Otherwise, we don't know who "He'll soon be fit ..." is until later. 

It hurt hearing Christopher disparage the tech. When did he do so? You don't show this, so you make your reader go back up to see if they missed something. Nope. You failed to give the necessary info. Never confuse your readers by leaving important info out. They will quit reading, and likely get mad at you. Smile

And here is where we go off the reservation. I have no clue who *she* is. I am lost because of lack of clarity who is speaking and who is in this scene. I'd quit here if I were an editor choosing stories for a publication. “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.

Here we are again. Another character not introduced: The reporter inhaled deeply.

This could all be solved by employing the Super Secret "SET. YOUR. STAGE." If you don't clearly establish setting, including every character that's going to be in the scene, your readers will be lost as characters appear out of thin air. If you are doing this in your WotF submissions, you need to fix this issue to advance. It's got to be clear.

And yes, I know it's hard in a KYD250. Which means you have to drop some characters to use the tiny space better, or figure out how to code them in up front when you introduce your setting. Think of a play you might have attended. The curtain rises. You have some props on the stage to code up a setting in the viewers' minds. There are actors there, or they are about to come out. You watch them wondering, "Who is this going to be about?"

Answer those same questions for your readers, right up front. 

Oh, no idea why the bleach is there, covering up blood and guts smell. You didn't code what happened. 

Good job on dialogue, just don't forget to tag it when it's not clear who is speaking. Use said, or using an action beat to tag.  And nice image of the snake tattoo.

Thanks again for sharing. It takes courage to post an exercise out in the open like this and ask for it to be critiqued. Good for you!

Now review what I wrote, see if it's valid, and if so, fix this issue in your piece, and in your writing if you discern this is an issue. You will level up!

Best,

Moon

 

Thank you so much for commenting! I really appreciate it, especially given how busy you are and this isn't your main thread. 

 

I see what you mean.

I tried to have a conversation happening in the background that the reader needs to fill in from subtext (similar to some DSF stories I've seen). It's not what I'd do in the 1000 version but I thought it worked for the 250. Goes to show how I'm blind to my own stuff. I had hoped the title and the beginning that they're Corizon's inmates were frame enough to get the setting/characters across. Damned if I do, I'll try better next time 😉 

V36:Q3 HM V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM V38: R,HM, F, HM V39: HM, SHM, ?

 
Posted : August 4, 2021 8:43 pm
Wulf Moon reacted
Page 4 / 6
Share: