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Writers of the Future 4th Quarter Winners

Writers of the Future 4th Quarter Standings for Year 35


Of all the writing contests out there, this one launches careers!

 

And the Winners are:

First Place – Andrew Dykstal from Virginia

Second Place – Wulf Moon from Washington

Third Place – John Haas from Canada

 


Finalists:

Nathan Dodge from Texas
John Lacist from Illinois
John D. Payne from New Mexico
Brittany Rainsdon from Idaho
Thomas White from West Virginia

Semi-Finalists:

James Blakey from Pennsylvania
Rob Bleckly from Australia
K.L. Evangelista from Australia
Jason Evans from Illinois
Kevin McGinn from New York
N.J. Morris from Idaho
Cassiopeia Mulholland from Arizona
William Stewart from New York

Silver Honorable Mentions:

Yuk Chi Chan from Singapore
Jordan Chase from Oregon
Jeremiah Christie from Florida
Russ Colson from Minnesota
Paulo da Silva from Germany
David Eyk from Washington
Justin Ferguson from Kansas
Kevin Folkman from Washington
Henry Gasko from Australia
Amanda Geard from South Africa
Ken Hoover from New Mexico
Gregory R. Hyde from Colorado
Christopher A. Jos from Canada
Carolyn Kay from Colorado
Jennie J. Keyes from Idaho
Kari Kilgore from Virginia
Anike Kirsten from South Africa
Amber Knoles from California
A.J. Lee from Canada
Roger Mannon from Colorado
Brad McNaughton from Australia
Charles Mears from California
Stephanie Mirro from Virginia
Marian Rakestraw from Missouri
Jared Schmitz from Kansas
Jerod Scott from West Virginia
Dillan Smith from Georgia
Michelle Staloff from Florida
Jessica Staricka from Minnesota
Robert Stephenson from Australia
Todd Sullivan from Georgia
Morgan Welch from the United Kingdom
David Williams from Ohio
Elisa Winther from the Netherlands

Honorable Mentions:

K.C. Aegis from California
B. Morris Allen from Oregon
J.W. Allen from the United Kingdom
Steve Arensberg from Texas
Tim Asay from Oregon
Zack Be from Maryland
Josh Beals from Georgia
Joe Benet from North Carolina
Derek Benson from Florida
Len Berry from Missouri
Paul Bianchetti from Montana
Michael W. Boggs from the Philippines
Gustavo Bondoni from Argentina
Ezekiel James Boston from Nevada
L.R. Braden from Colorado
Madison Brake from Florida
J. Leigh Bralick from Texas
S.R. Brandt from Louisiana
Jonathan Bronico from Massachusetts
Collin Brown from California
Gregg Brownell from Ohio
Bokerah Brumley from Texas
Jacob Byers from Massachusetts
Brennan C. Caldwell from California
Tom Camozzi from California
Cody Campbell from Oregon
Anna Cates from Ohio
Alicia Cay from Colorado
Grace Chan from Australia
Joanne Chapman from Utah
Dantzel Cherry from Texas
Myles Christensen from Utah
Rui Cid from Portugal
C L Clickard from Florida
Thom Connors from Texas
Rob Cornell from Michigan
David Costa from Portugal
Kody Cowell from California
E.L.V. Cowen from Australia
Crystal Crawford from Florida
Richard Crawford from California
Sarina Dahlan from California
Kayla Dailey from California
Kate Dane from Minnesota
Kyle de Waal from Canada
Benjamin DeHaan from Illinois
Elizabeth Delafield from Pennsylvania
Nestor Delfino from Canada
FR di Brozolo from California
Peter Diamantopoulos from Virginia
Caroline Donica from Texas
Mira Dover from Virginia
Em Dupre from New York
J.W. Elliot from Massachusetts
David A. Elsensohn from California
Matan Elul from Australia
Tim Emery from the United Kingdom
Jon Eno from Texas
Tim Fenner from Wisconsin
Neil Wesley Flinchbaugh from Illinois
Aiki Flinthart from Australia
Jacob Flowers-Olnowich from North Carolina
Tim Fox from Oregon
Nick Franco from California
Alex Franco from Georgia
Adam Friedma from California
Urania Fung from Texas
Simon R. Gardner from the United Kingdom
Michael Gardner from Australia
Katharina Gerlach from Germany
Grant Gerwatowski from Michigan
Michelle F. Goddard from Canada
Barry Goldsmith from Arizona
Ian Gonzales from Washington
Mark A. Gordon from Florida
Erin Grant from California
Barry Gregory from Florida
A.D. Guzman from Texas
Anaïd Haen from the Netherlands
Pam Hage from the Netherlands
Kevin Hallett from Texas
Laura Handley from Virginia
Dan Hankner from Iowa
Karissa Harlow from Arizona
Kelly A. Harmon from Maryland
Vanessa C. Hawkins from Canada
James A. Hearn from Texas
Alexandra Holbrook from New York
Keith Hoskins from Maryland
Matthew House from North Carolina
Chip Houser from Missouri
Celesta Hubner from Maryland
Scott Hughey from North Carolina
Corinne Hurlbert from Texas
Carolyn Jew from Maryland
Jessica Johnson from Virginia
K.D. Julicher from Nevada
Brandie June from California
William Kalb from Massachusetts
Joshua Kapusinski from California
Dave Kavanaugh from the Netherlands
Seth W. Kennedy from California
R.W. Kerry from Ohio
D.M. Kiely from Florida
Marjorie King from Texas
Ness Kingsley from the United Kingdom
Michael Kingswood from California
Megan Kraus from Connecticut
Andrea Kristeller from Argentina
M. Kuriel from Virginia
Eli Landes from New York
Alon Lankri from Israel
Alexis Lantgen from Texas
Laura Lavelle from New York
Avram Lavinsky from Massachusetts
Adrian Law from New Mexico
Ricky Lawhon from Florida
J. Lyon Layden from Georgia
Michael Lee from Florida
Sabrina Leyba from New Mexico
Misha Liu from Canada
Robert Allen Lupton from New Mexico
Durwood MacCool from Washington
Rachel Macklin from Washington
Melford Maderazo from the Philippines
Oliver Madison from Arizona
Bonnie Jean Mah from Canada
Scot Maiorca from Oklahoma
Celine Malgen from Switzerland
Roni Manor from California
Johannes Mathijsen from the Netherlands
Robert J. McCarter from Arizona
Jason McCuiston from South Carolina
Guy McDonnell from New Mexico
Kenneth Meade from Georgia
Assaph Mehr from Australia
Jessica Miller from New York
Mark Minson from Utah
J.L. Moore from Texas
Vincent Morgan from Canada
Leon Moss from Israel
William Nalley from Tennessee
V.E.W. Navarra from Georgia
Kristin Nergaard from Colorado
Linh Nguyen-Ng from Massachusetts
Dana Nisewarner from West Virginia
Luke Nolby from Minnesota
Megan Nordquist from Utah
Joseph Norris from California
Lawrence M. Nysschens from California
Mandy Oaks from Tennessee
Adam O’Connell from the United Kingdom
Julie Oldham from Missouri
John Olsen from Utah
Al Onia from Canada
James Paris from Tennessee
Courtney Pederson from Texas
George Petit from Delaware
J.C. Pillard from Colorado
Thomas Pitts from the United Kingdom
S.C. Potter from Utah
J.N. Powell from Texas
Beth Powers from Indiana
Rajeev Prasad from California
Lisa Prince from Alabama
Milana Quezada from California
Toms Raven from Latvia
Fatima Razvi from California
Becky Reape from Ohio
Esther Magdalena Reed from Colorado
Thomas Ricks IV from Mississippi
Vincent Riddle from Utah
Daniel Rodrigues-Martin from Utah
Lynette Roggenbuck from Michigan
Glenn Rosado from California
Roger Rosenberg from California
Andrew J. Savage from Japan
Cassandra Schoeer from Canada
Carrie Schwieger from Washington
caroline sciriha from Malta
Evie Seldon from the United Kingdom
Gary Sharp from Ohio
Sydney Shockley from Idaho
Joseph Simurdiak from Japan
Adam Smedley from Alabama
Benjamin Tyler Smith from Pennsylvania
Alexander Smith from Rhode Island
Daniel Soeder from South Dakota
Chase Speicher from California
C.L. Spillard from the United Kingdom
Shelby Sprigg from Maryland
Robert Stahl from Texas
C.K. Stevenson from New York
E.C. Stever from Idaho
Laura N. Stewart from the United Kingdom
Shami Stovall from California
Megan Stuart from Ohio
Celia Stuart-Powles from Oklahoma
Johanna Stumpf from Norway
Liviu Surugiu from Romania
Vincent Sutherland from Arizona
Nuha Syed from Texas
S.C. Taulbee from Oregon
SJ Thayer from Canada
Jessie Thomas from Kansas
Nicholas Thomas from Ohio
Noelle Tkacz from Massachusetts
Rebecca E. Treasure from Texas
Heather Truett from Mississippi
Daniel Uncapher from Indiana
Nick Vracar from Illinois
KT Wagner from Canada
Hetty White from Tennessee
Luke Wildman from Indiana
JM Williams from South Korea
Cliff Winnig from California
Thomas Woodward from Minnesota
Claire Wrenwood from North Carolina
Tannara Young from California

Writers of the Future 3rd Quarter Winners

Writers of the Future 3rd Quarter Standings for Year 35


Of all the writing contests out there, this one launches careers!

 

And the Winners are:

First Place – Elise Stephens from Washington

Second Place – Christopher Baker from the United Kingdom

Third Place – Mica Scotti Kole from Michigan

 


Finalists:

Sarah Feng from California
Storm Humbert from Michigan
Tom Prentice from Ireland
Ujwal Rajaputhra from New Jersey
Tyler West from Georgia

Semi-Finalists:

Jason Cantrell from Texas
Andrew Dykstal from Virginia
Chanahra Fletcher from Georgia
Berkeley Franklin from Oregon
Taylor Geu from South Dakota
Sydney Kuntz from New York
Eden Ariel from New York
James A. Hearn from Texas

Silver Honorable Mentions:

Joshua David Bennett from Colorado
Carina M Bissett from Colorado
Sarina Dahlan from California
KM Dailey from California
Nathan Dodge from Texas
Mira Dover from Virginia
Neil Wesley Flinchbaugh from Illinois
Charlie Harmon from Illinois
Barbara Lund from Utah
Chinedu O’Nwachukwu from Nigeria
John D. Payne from New Mexico
J.C. Pillard from Colorado
Kindra Pring from California
Claire Wrenwood from North Carolina
Dodde Steiner from Georgia
Blazej Szpakowicz from Canada
Galen Westlake from Canada

Honorable Mentions:

Jaimie Aurelio from California
Hannah Azok from Ohio
Robert Bagnall from the United Kingdom
Raluca Balasa from Canada
Garrick Bateman from Colorado
Christopher Baxter from Utah
Jordan Benefiel from California
F. J. Bergmann from Wisconsin
Olivia Berrier from Pennsylvania
Len Berry from Missouri
Hayden Bilbrey from Oklahoma
Beverly Alice Black from Pennsylvania
Timerie Blair from Ohio
Rob Bleckly from Australia
Gustavo Bondoni from Argentina
Matt Bosio from Florida
Ezekiel James Boston from Nevada
James Braun from Michigan
Forrest Brazeal from the United States
Ian Brazee-Cannon from Colorado
Rodney Brierly from Virginia
Richard D. Bruns from Minnesota
S.D. Bullard from Louisiana
Katie Bushan from Virginia
R.H. Butler from Pennsylvania
Jackson C from Kansas
Steve Cameron from the United Kingdom
Tom Camozzi from California
Dylan Cary from California
Erin Casey from Iowa
Amanda Cate from California
Ethan Douglas Chadwick from Kansas
Grace Chan from Australia
Carrie Channell from Illinois
Samuel Chapman from Washington
Stephen Charles from Australia
Rachel Chimits from Nevada
Russ Colson from Minnesota
James A. Conan from Canada
David Coombs from Canada
Michael Costello from New York
Emily Craven from Canada
Kate Dane from Minnesota
D.J. Daniels from Australia
S. R. Dantzler from Arkansas
Brandon Daubs from California
Laurance Davis from the United States
Drema Deoraich from Virginia
M.A. Dosser from North Carolina
CC Dowling from California
Jen Downes from Australia
David Dunbar from Pennsylvania
W.H.N. Dunham from Canada
Noel Dwyer from Illinois
Sharon Erez from Israel
Andrea Escoto from District of Columbia
Frederick Essig from Florida
Kristy Evangelista from Australia
Eveona from California
Aiki Flinthart from Australia
Jacob Foncea from Alabama
P.K. Gardner from North Carolina
Nick Garrett from Georgia
Collin Gian from Tennessee
JCG Goelz from Louisiana
Ilyssa Goldsmith from Arizona
W Goodwin from Florida
Mark A. Gordon from Florida
Asa H. Grey from Utah
Thomas Griffin from Tennessee
Ioseff Griffith from Sweden
Claudine Griggs from Rhode Island
Jen Haeger from Michigan
E. G. Hamilton from Indiana
Dan Hankner from Iowa
Rachelle Harp from Texas
John Harper from New Zealand
Mary-Jean Harris from Canada
S.L. Harris from Illinois
DW Harvey from California
AnnElise Hatjakes from Nevada
Danielle Hauck from Canada
Robert Hawkins from Texas
Christopher Henckel from New Zealand
Brendan Hiles from Canada
Alexandra Holbrook from New York
K.R. Horton from Oregon
Kate Howe from Colorado
Porter Huddleston from Florida
Patrick Hurley from Washington
Isabelle Hutchings from California
Ifeoluwa J. Ibitayo from Indiana
Stephan James from Missouri
Cristina Jantz from Colorado
Jao from the Philippines
Anisha Johnson from California
Jessica B. Johnson from Virginia
Joe Jones from Maryland
Ron Kaiser from New Hampshire
Carolyn Kay from Colorado
Christopher Keene from New Zealand
A. Keith Kelly from Georgia
Zada Kent from Ohio
Michael Kingswood from California
Priscilla Kint from the Netherlands
Emily Kjeer from Minnesota
Brittany Koch from Illinois
Kacie Faith Kress from Tennessee
Andrea Lain from Utah
R.D. Landau from California
Nita Lapinski from Arizona
Dan Latusick from Oregon
Katelyn Lauer from Colorado
Laura Lavelle from New York
Joseph Layden from Georgia
Colt Leasure from California
Kialee LeValley from Kansas
Marissa Levine from Florida
Roger Ley from the United Kingdom
Miranda Liang from Massachusetts
Brandon M. Lindsay from Japan
Noah Linwood from New Mexico
Sierra Loewen from New Mexico
LindaAnn LoSchiavo from New York
Shantrell Lumpkin from California
Robert Allen Lupton from New Mexico
William Mangieri from Texas
E. H. Mann from Australia
James Stuart Mann from California
A.J. Martin from Ohio
Kiera Martz from Georgia
Dennis Maulsby from Iowa
Robert J. McCarter from Arizona
Jason J. McCuiston from South Carolina
Molly McDonough from New York
L. R. McGary from Massachusetts
Sean Patrick McGinley from Pennsylvania
Taylor McNitt from Minnesota
Jim Meeks-Johnson from Indiana
Brittany Miller from Washington
Devin Miller from North Carolina
CV Mollee from Canada
Dennis Mombauer from Sri Lanka
Wulf Moon from Washington
Josh Morrey from Utah
Aaron Moskalik from Michigan
Nitin Motiani from California
Megan Nordquist from Utah
Toni Novotny from Florida
Kevin L. O’Brien from Colorado
Y.M. Pang from Canada
Aayushi Parekh from India
Jason Parker from Florida
H. Parkin from Maryland
Joe Paul from Maryland
J. R. Pearson from Arizona
Barton Perkins from Alabama
Paul Peters from Kentucky
Vin Piazza from California
Thomas Pitts from the United Kingdom
Aelred Powell from Georgia
Rajeev Prasad from California
D. Hunter Reardon from Virginia
Esther Magdalena Reed from Colorado
Jake Reed from California
Willow Reeves from Kentucky
Elsa Risgin from Massachusetts
M.C. Rosado from New York
Jesse Lynn Rucilez from Nevada
Nicholas Ryan from Maryland
Will Scarborough from Georgia
Jacob Schafer from Oregon
Cody Schroeder from Missouri
Spencer Sekulin from Canada
Jasmine Sewell from Montana
V. Shalace from California
C.L. Shoemaker from Canada
Hank Shore from North Carolina
Joseph Simurdiak from Wisconsin
Adam Sloter from Arkansas
Mikayla Smart from Canada
Richard Smith from Georgia
Shelby Sprigg from California
Robert Stahl from Texas
Mark W. Stallings from Colorado
Tasha Staples from Colorado
Robert Stephenson from Australia
Nicholas Stillman from California
M. F. Sullivan from Oregon
Cynthia Suryawan from Texas
N. L. Sweeney from Washington
Shannon Sweetnam from Illinois
David Teves from California
Dan Thurot from Utah
Shara Tran from California
Alicia Tubbs from Georgia
Noe Varin from France
Scott Pohaku Vilhauer from California
Ben von Jagow from Canada
Jonathan Vowell from Tennessee
Jack Waddell from Arkansas
KT Wagner from Canada
M. Saxe Wallace from Ohio
Jeremy Walsh from California
Alice Wanamaker from Massachusetts
R.C. Weissenberg from California
Thomas Welsh from Washington
Daniel Westmoreland from New Jersey
Luke Wildman from Indiana
David Williams from Ohio
Oona Winners from Illinois
Cliff Winnig from California
Tyler Wood from Utah
Thomas Woodward from Minnesota
Austin Worley from Oklahoma
James Wright from Utah
Michael J. Wyant Jr from New York
Dax Xenos from Kentucky
Sonny Zae from Texas
Jackie Zitin from Missouri

Alicia Cay certificates

How To Start Writing

I have always known that I am a writer. With the kind of knowing you feel deep in your bones and emanates from the very core of your being. And as writers must do, I write. Although that wasn’t always the case. How to start writing…

A Writing Contest

About eight years ago my Mom returned from a trip to Los Angeles with a couple of books she had gotten for me. One was the coffee table book, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future—The First 25 Years, which she had even gotten signed by someone. The other book was the contest’s most recent anthology at the time, Volume 27. My Mom encouraged me to read about the writing contest and send in a story. Somehow she knew it too, before I had ever written a purposeful word of fiction, that I was a writer, and I just needed a nudge in the right direction. I appreciated the gift, thanked her, and promptly tucked the book away on a shelf. I don’t think I even cracked the binding.

A Writers’s Journey Begins

Three years later my Mom passed away, and it took another two years for the haze of grief to thin enough for me to realize, it was time to begin writing. But where to start? As if in answer, a writer showed up in my life and took me under his wing. He introduced me to the world of writing, showed me where to begin, and even took me to my very first Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention. Now, I had heard about the contest from those books my Mom had given me, but at the convention something happened that was going to change the direction of my entire life. I met a previous winner of the Writers of the Future writing contest who was kind enough to share her experience with me, and that, as the old saying goes, was all she wrote. I decided right then and there I was going to start writing, enter the contest, and win! This meant that I, who had never written a short story before in my life, now had a month to write one and get it submitted before that quarter’s deadline.

My First Story

The first thing I did when I got home from the convention was to dig out those books my Mom had gotten me, and I began to pour over every word. I learned everything I could about the contest itself, and began to read and study the stories written by previous winners. I even studied the contest judges, previous and current, reading at least one book or story from each of them.

I managed to get a story written and submitted by the end of that quarter. Two months later I was rewarded for my efforts with an Honorable Mention. I haven’t missed a quarter since.

Twelve Quarters Later

Twelve quarters and many stories later, I have attended other conventions and met other Writers of the Future winners, all of them kind enough to offer a word of encouragement or sign their story in one of the volumes I have collected. I also attended one of David Farland’s wonderful writing workshops, where he taught us how to bring our stories to life and immerse the reader into our worlds. A few of my short stories have even given way to novel ideas (pun intended), and I’m working on those now. Of course, I always make sure to get a story entered into each quarter of the contest as well.

I am beyond grateful. This contest started me writing and it has kept me writing. It gives me a deadline, and a goal worth achieving. Plus, there are those cool certificates that show up in my mailbox and keep me encouraged—nine Honorable and Silver Honorable Mentions to date—such a treat! The contest also pushes me to continue to improve my writing, and not only my writing, but in my life too. I had to come out of my shell to learn how to network. I’ve found other writers to talk to, I’ve made new friends, and I’ve become part of an awesome writing group. All of these things I have reached for because there was a need for it—because I want to be a better writer, and because I am going to win this contest. To do that, I need to write a story worthy of those who have come before me, and whose words grace the pages of each new Writers of the Future volume.

Oh, and that signature in the Writers of the Future book that my Mom gave me? Turns out she got Kevin J. Anderson, one of the contest judges, to sign it for me. So yeah, Kevin got to meet my Mom. Lucky guy.


Alicia CayAlicia Cay has had a loyal love affair with books since she could read, collects quotes, and suffers from wanderlust. She currently writes short fiction, has had two of her stories published in SF/F anthologies, and is working on her first novel. Alicia lives in Denver with a corgi, a cat, and a lot of fur. Follow her writing and traveling adventures at: aliciacay.com.

Dave Wolverton and Algis Budrys

A Different Kind of Writing Workshop

David Farland with Algis Budrys at the Writers of the Future workshop in 1991

When L. Ron Hubbard initiated the Writers of the Future contest, he knew that there would be awards and publications for the winners. As Algis Budry, the first contest administrator put it to me, “He wanted to make sure that this helped launch new writers. That it gives them publication and some notoriety, along with enough prize money from winnings and publication so that a new writer could invest in his or her career by purchasing a new computer, doing research, and so on.”

But he wanted more for the new writers. He wanted them to meet and mingle with real professionals, people who had struggled and made their mark on the field, and he wanted to do that in the context of a writing workshop.

So a different kind of workshop was envisioned. They knew that the authors who won would already be good writers—maybe even incredibly gifted and talented writers. So a decision was made early on: We’re not going to go back over the basics. We aren’t going to teach the writers yet once again how to polish a sentence.

How to Become Writers

It was reasoned that each of these writers would have learned to write, at the very least, a professionally sellable story, and probably a great story. So what do you teach a writer who already knows the basics of how to write?

The answer was to teach them “How to become writers.” In other words, teach them how to move from being an armchair quarterback and to get into the game.

You see, people have a lot of odd ideas about what writers do. They imagine that we go to scenic mountain resorts and type out a manuscript, then deliver it to an editor to great applause. What most people don’t know about writing is this: Writing can and should be hard work.

So a workshop was created to give advice that would be perfect for taking budding new writers into the professional arena.

Algis put the lesser amount into the workshop, and so I will cover his offerings briefly. He suggested that in the mid-1980s, most new authors weren’t being taught how to plot a novel or short story. He was right.

Plotting a Story

Throughout the 1930s to the 1980s, many in the mainstream were rejecting the idea of literature that they felt “relied upon plot.” Such literature—which included things like romance, mysteries, and science fiction—were called “genre literature,” and were not considered worthy of study. Certainly, in many creative writing programs, plotting was something that was never taught. In my school, Brigham Young University, several professors refused not only to teach how to write genre literature but demanded that students not even read or study it, since it was unworthy of emulation.

Now, it didn’t matter that the most popular stories in the world were well plotted, or that “genre authors” very often outsold literary authors a thousand copies to one. Nor did my teachers realize that their notions were antiquated and had been proven wrong in other mediums. For example, in poetry when many of the beat poets were suggesting that poets ought to revolt against form in writing, Robert Frost famously silenced them by saying that “Writing poetry without rhyme is like playing tennis without a net.” In short, it makes the artist weak and sloppy. His real answer to them, though, came in his own magnificent poems that used rhyme and near-rhyme so effectively that the rhyme schemes became invisible, so that you could read one of his poems in a natural voice and not discover until after you stopped and studied the poem that it was a perfect sonnet.

In short, Algis’s argument in favor of form is simple: A formed story can be more powerful than one that has no form. So he decided to talk about form in the workshop. How do you write a plotted story? He chose a simple adventure plot, and advised writers on how to handle it. As he put it, “This isn’t the only way to write a formed story, but if you use it, you can make an entire career using this basic plot line.”

So he taught authors how to write a simple story. You can learn about his structure in an article called “Writing to the Point,” which is available from Wordfire Press. It is one of the most insightful little books on plotting you’ll ever find.

When Algis wrote it, I don’t recall ever seeing any other book on plotting—and I looked. I was researching the craft heavily, and I really wanted to know. Eventually, I became an expert on plotting myself, and you can read some of my insights into it in my book Million Dollar Outlines, where I teach not only how to create a plot, but also teach enough advanced audience analysis so that a writer can figure out how to write a bestseller.

Of course, in the past thirty years, I’ve seen a number of other fine books on plotting come out, and they are readily available now.

Becoming Your Own Muse

L. Ron Hubbard wanted to talk about more than just plotting, though. He wanted to talk about a lot more. He wanted to talk about where ideas for stories come from, and how to generate them off-the-cuff, so that if an editor calls you looking for a story or a novel, you can compose the tale in a matter of a few hours, rather than agonizing over them for years.

So Ron contributed articles like “The Manuscript Factory,” where he emphasizes that an author is a factory that produces manuscripts for a living. If you aren’t producing, you’re like a factory that has shut down.

He also contributed articles like “Magic Out of a Hat,” where writers learn to draw upon their broad experience in travel and in learning various vocations so that they can “write what they know.”

Most writers are insular people—folks who make their friends in books, so that they have little in the way of first-hand experience to draw upon. But the most successful writers in science fiction have been people who have studied engineering, worked in the military, become doctors or researchers.

In short, his advice can be boiled down to “live a large life.” As a teen, Ron left home to travel the world, becoming a photographer in China, joining the Explorer’s Club, learning to fly a plane and pilot a ship, and eventually joining the military. All of his experiences became fuel for his stories.

So he designed exercises to help writers identify some of their own unique experiences. Maybe the author has worked as a cop or a prison guard? Maybe she’s been through an ugly divorce? Maybe he was abused as a child? All of that can add details and realism to a story.

And of course, he suggested that we keep learning. Ron designed exercises to help people learn how to go start up conversations with strangers, or how to research information at libraries.

In short, I think that he would say that the person who refuses to live life, to go out and experience it, to examine it, is probably not going to go very far.

Oh, yeah, and there is that productivity thing. I remember in college hearing a quote from an ancient Greek philosopher who said that if he could go out and come up with a perfect sentence in a single day, he felt gratified. It was enough.

But that’s foolish. One sentence a day won’t do it. Instead of writing one perfect sentence in a day, I’d rather write twenty pages of damned-fine scenes, and with some jobs, it might take more. A real writer sometimes has to roll up his sleeves and get to work. If a producer needs a hundred-page screenplay in two weeks, you write it in two weeks. I recall writing a Star Wars book at 3 a.m. and feeling exhausted, so I put in another two and a half hours before I caught some sleep.

All of that “Sitting around and waiting for the muse” is tripe. Real writers become their own muses.

So Ron suggested that we have our winners compose a story in a day. For many writers, that seems undoable. But most of our writers discover that not only is it doable, it becomes an essential skill.

The Point of the Writers of the Future Workshop

Last of all, L. Ron Hubbard wanted to expose the winners to some of the wisdom of the best current writers in the field, so on the last couple of days of the workshop, the authors get to hear from and hobnob with our contest judges, where they learn the industry secrets and gossip that you won’t find in any writing books.

The entire workshop is a big and exhausting event, and it is sometimes hard on some of our winners. For example, early on, Algis and I had to decide how to start the workshop. We might have people flying in from all over the world on a Monday. Some of our winners might have flown in from places like Australia, or London, or South Africa. They’d have terrible jetlag. So we considered giving them that first night off, but when we talked to students, most of them were excited to get started.

So we decided to introduce them to the workshop that first night in part so that our winners would be able to get some work done.

But we felt that there was something far more important that happened: When we introduce the students to one another on that first night, they always get together and begin to talk, to compare notes, and to socialize. They bond, and in effect, they often begin to become best friends for life. We’ve even had couples marry.

So if you win the contest, and you’re jet-lagged that first night, and I call you in so that we can all introduce ourselves, blame me. Sorry, you might lose a little sleep, but you’ll gain something more.

Really, what I want to emphasize is this. The point of the Writers of the Future workshop was never to “teach you how to write.” Instead, the goal was to teach you some more important skills, like “How to succeed as a working writer.”

 


David Farland

David Farland

Guest Blogger, David Farland, Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future Contest.

David Farland is an award-winning, international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language” for his science fiction novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year” for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and many more awards for his work. He is best known for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.

David Farland winning Writers of the Future Contest in 1987

Prize Writing—Three Things to Know

Contest judge Frederik Pohl presents Writers of the Future Award to David (Wolverton) Farland, 1987

As many of you know, I got my start by prize writing. While I was in college, I won third place in my first writing contest and decided to see if I could win first place in a contest. I spent a year honing some short stories for various contests, in between my studies, and sent them out in the autumn of 1986. Within a few weeks I discovered that I had won not just one, but all of the contests that I had entered. One of the judges at Writers of the Future, Robert Silverberg, liked my story well enough so that he shared it with some editors, and this led to a three-novel contract with Bantam Books. I’ll always be grateful to Bob for that.

So I promised a couple of people on the list that I would talk about prize writing. If you think about it deeply, everything that you write is really for a competition. You’re competing for publication with other writers, for promotional monies from the marketing departments of various publishers, for literary awards, and of course for your reading audience. So these posts really apply to any writer. When you think about it, it would seem that there isn’t a lot that you can do in order to win a prize. Thousands might enter a competition, but only one will win. However, there are some things that you can do to increase your chances dramatically.

These things include:

  • Get to know your judge’s tastes.
  • Aim your story straight at your judges.
  • Make sure that your story is presented well.

This all might sound easier than it is, but let’s take this one step at a time. Your first step is to get to know your judge’s tastes. Now, if you’re talking about a contest judge, this person might be a teacher at a local university. The best way to gauge the judge’s tastes is to read anything that they’ve written. If your judge has written short stories, look at the age of the protagonists, the themes that the judge covers, his or her use of language, and so on. This will tell you whether the judge values crisp dialog over brilliant metaphors, slow pacing versus fast, and so on. Pay particular attention to the themes. If a judge has a penchant for writing about stories that deal with death, for example, you might realize that your story will hit them harder if you feature a death scene.

In some cases, you’ll have a panel of judges. For example, there are more than a dozen judges at the Writers of The Future. So if I wanted to win that contest, I’d look at the mix of writers. How many write only science fiction? How many write fantasy? What do each of their tastes seem to be.

One easy way to gauge their tastes is to look at past stories. You could read the grand prize winners from each anthology. By doing so, you’d begin to notice some patterns.

You can of course do this same thing with any publication. You could go to editor’s panels at science fiction conventions and listen to editors talk about their favorite books out. You could go to Publisher’s Marketplace on the internet and find out what each one of those editors has bought.

It’s really quite easy to learn the tastes of one solitary reader. If you’re facing a panel of judges, the task becomes more complex, but it is possible to write a story that will average out to be a winner.

So start studying!

 


David Farland

David Farland

Guest Blogger, David Farland, Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future Contest.

David Farland is an award-winning, international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language” for his science fiction novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year” for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and many more awards for his work. He is best known for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.

Writers of the Future 2nd Quarter Winners

Writers of the Future 2nd Quarter Winners Announced for Volume 35

 

Here are the 2nd Quarter Writers of the Future Contest Winners for Volume 35

 

Congratulations to you all!


Winners:

First Place – David Cleden from the United Kingdom

Second Place – Rustin Lovewell from Maryland

Third Place – Carrie Callahan from Kentucky

 


Finalists:

Robert Mitchell Evans from California
Meera Gangasani from Texas
James A. Hearn from Texas
D.T. Ludlow from Utah

Semi-Finalists:

S.A. Barrie from Utah
Lucy Caird from California
Hillary Dodge from Colorado
Phillip McCollum from California
Mikko Rauhala from Finland

Silver Honorable Mentions:

Chris Abela from Maryland
Dustin Adams from New York
Joy Auburn from Minnesota
Nathan Batchelor from Ohio
Laurel Douglas from Massachusetts
Luke Elliott from Oregon
Monalisa Foster from Texas
Cary Kreitzer from Utah
Travis Madden from Maryland
Wulf Moon from Washington
Christine Tyler from Colorado
Ramez Yoakeim from Australia
E.E. Young from Tennessee
Jackie Zitin from Missouri

Honorable Mentions:

Jeffrey Steven Abrams from Washington
Mark David Adam from Canada
Ester Shaina Agishtein from New Jersey
Christopher Aiello from North Carolina
Justin Aiello from Connecticut
Ingmar Albizu from Pennsylvania
Sydney Alexander from Maryland
Samantha Allen from Michigan
Darren Ambs from Kentucky
Brandon Scott Argetsinger from New York
Rachel Ayers from Alaska
Jill Creech Bauer from Utah
Paul Bean from Indiana
Bronson D. Beatty from Utah
Renan Bernardo from Brazil
W.B. Biggs from Mississippi
Lyssa Bivens from Idaho
Gustavo Bondoni from Argentina
Marty Bonus from the United Kingdom
Matt Bosio from Florida
Ezekiel James Boston from Nevada
Emma Brenner from Pennsylvania
Willa Brosnihan from Massachusetts
David Bruns from Minnesota
Lynn Buchanan from Utah
Nathan Buckingham from Arizona
Claire Campbell from Illinois
Cody D. Campbell from Oregon
Olivia Cuevas Carle from California
C.J.M. Carr from South Carolina
Shiloh Carroll from Tennessee
Philo V. Carter III from Utah
Alicia Cay from Colorado
Samuel Chapman from Washington
David M. Chevalier from New Hampshire
Ted Condi, Jr. from Colorado
Caitlene Cooke from Australia
Scott D. Coon from California
Claire Czotter from Massachusetts
KM Dailey from California
Elto Danzig from California
Jonathan Darling from Canada
Paulo da Silva from Germany
Benjamin DeHaan from Illinois
John DeLaughter from Oklahoma
Wendy S. Delmater from South Carolina
Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald from Nigeria
Max Dosser from North Carolina
Steve DuBois from Kansas
Alexander Duhamel from Canada
Sulan Dun from California
Wade H. Dunham from Canada
Marie Dundra from Florida
Kate Duval from Florida
Heather Lee Dyer from Idaho
Samantha Edelman from Nevada
H. Walker Edwards from Hawaii
Matan Elul from Australia
Tim Emery from England
Bryan Alexis Escobar from Texas
Jason Evans from Illinois
Angelique Fawns from Canada
T.A. Fenner from Wisconsin
Michael Feramisco from North Carolina
Suzanne Ferguson from Louisiana
Sam Fletcher from Washington
Aiki Flinthart from Australia
L.A. Fuller from Virginia
Joyce Lai Gabay from Pennsylvania
Allison Galbreath from North Dakota
Chris Galford from Michigan
Alex Garber from Texas
Michael Gardner from Australia
Jessica George from United Kingdom
Katharina Gerlach from Germany
Jamin N.S. Goecker from Alaska
JCG Goelz from Louisiana
Les Gould from Virginia
Erin Grant from California
Jude-Marie Green from California
Thomas Griffin from Tennessee
Jen Haeger from Michigan
Anaid Haen from The Netherlands
Clint Hall from Georgia
Kevin P. Hallett from Texas
Doug Hamilton from Ohio
Dan Hankner from Iowa
Charlie Harmon from Illinois
R.D. Harris from Arizona
S.M. Hawley from the United Kingdom
Alexa Herrera from Florida
Crystal Hill from Nevada
Cameron Hopkin from Utah
Morgan G. Howell from South Carolina
R.J. Howell from Illinois
Ashley Hyun from New Jersey
Miryam Jackson from Ohio
Bethany A. Jennings from New Hampshire
Christopher A. Jos from Canada
K.D. Julicher from Nevada
Brandie June from California
Robin Kaczmarczyk from Oregon
Skyler Kane from Minnesota
Carolyn Kay from Colorado
Dave Kavanaugh from The Netherlands
Angela Kayd from Indiana
Seth W. Kennedy from California
BC Kindt from California
Michael Kingswood from California
Isaac Kitterman from California
Shawn Kobb from Virginia
Jayson Kretzer from Florida
Allen Kuzara from Tennessee
Tinh Le from Ohio
Sonia Loosli from Oregon
Adam Luebke from South Dakota
Angus MacGregor from Australia
E.H. Mann from Australia
Twyla Marie from New York
Django Mathijsen from The Netherlands
Robert J. McCarter from Arizona
Joshua Harley McKnight from California
Ashley Meader from California
Jim Meeks-Johnson from Indiana
Gene Michaels from Texas
Lynn Michals from Virginia
Devin Miller from North Carolina
Bo Miranda from Switzerland
N.J. Morris from Idaho
Diane Morrison from Canada
Deborah Natelson from Colorado
GW Neill from Canada
Erik Nihil from Louisiana
Jay Ochotnicky from Delaware
Ray O’Meara from New Jersey
Geena Papini from Canada
Jess Pende from Arkansas
Peter A. Philleo from Wisconsin
Beth Powers from Indiana
Zachary Powers from Colorado
Rajeev Prasad from California
Eric Purcell from Canada
Mighty Rahiem from Colorado
Brittany Rainsdon from Idaho
Carlos R. Ramirez from New York
Julie Reeser from Montana
Lynn Renard from South Carolina
Mike Restaino from Nevada
Lauren E. Reynolds from Maryland
Julian D C Richardson from California
Nim Riel from Texas
Barbara Buckley Ristine from Nevada
Karen Rochnik from California
Lynette Roggenbuck from Michigan
Stephanie Rossmeisl from New Hampshire
Imani Russell from North Carolina
Max Russell from Colorado
Kiran Kaur Saini from California
Colin Sammons from Florida
Edward Sammons from Florida
H.J. Sandgathe from Utah
Lynne Sargent from Canada
Eric Schieber from North Carolina
Alfred D. Searls from the United Kingdom
Michael Simon from Canada
Kate Osana Simonian from Texas
Steven A. Simpson from Massachusetts
Joshua Sky from California
Ethan Parke Smith from Pennsylvania
J.F. Smith from Florida
Claire Sorrenson from North Carolina
Elsa Sotiriadis from the United Kingdom
Dale E. Sprague Jr. from Iowa
Gene Springsteel from Utah
Kristyn Stallings from Illinois
Krasimira Todorova Stoeva from Bulgaria
Tyra Tanner from Utah
Jessie M. Thomas from Kansas
L.N. Tillery from Kentucky
Scott Pohaku Vilhauer from California
Jade Visos-Ely from Kansas
Melissa Volker from Massachusetts
A. N. Waleron from Illinois
Jamie Wang from Minnesota
Abigail Welborn from Washington
Kristy L. Wells from Texas
Filip Wiltgren from Sweden
Michael J. Winegar from Georgia
Amie Irene Winters from California
Michael J. Wyant Jr. from New York
Anna Maria Wybraniec from Poland

Eneasz at library

Humanity vs. Monstrosity

Eneasz Brodski has a definite opinion about the importance of human values vs. soulless monstrosities. And so this is his tale of how his story “Flee, My Pretty One” published in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 34 came to be. Check out the video interview below and Eneasz’s article that follows.

“Flee, My Pretty One”

This was originally written quite a while ago, for an open anthology call on the theme of “Start A Revolution.” I’ve been rabidly anti-corporation for most of my life. They’re soulless, profit-maximizing monstrosities, who know nothing of human values. Optimizers unfettered by concern for us. Stross calls them invaders from Mars. Many people have pointed out that they resemble the problem of unfriendly AI in their lack of human values + ability to alter their environment to fit their utility functions (including, infamously and recently, Ted Chaing). I agree, and I would love (or rather, once would have loved) to see a revolution bringing these forces to heel.

I call them Dragons. For two reasons. The first is that dragons are already known for their rapacious love of treasure, and their willingness to do anything to horde it. They are powerful, and non-human, so they make a good metaphor.

The second is that I’m racist against dragons. If that’s a thing? I realized this back when I was playing Shadowrun. During the course of a campaign, I realized that no matter what he did, I would never trust Dunkelzahn. He could be a saint for centuries, doing only good works, and die sacrificing himself to save me personally, and I still would say “Good riddance. You can’t trust a f**king dragon. He was obviously motivated by some evil plot, he held hatred for us all in his heart, and it will come to light eventually.” I’d be horrified if my offspring dated a dragon. Etc. I don’t care what they do, I know they’re evil.

Artist Alana Fletcher with Eneasz and the artwork for his story

Artist Alana Fletcher with Eneasz and the artwork for his story

And like, if you’re going to be racist, I think it’s probably best to be racist against a fictional giant lizard species, so you aren’t hurting anyone. And as long as I’m at it, I can maybe use that racism in my stories, so anyone who’s similar to me can get that same visceral revulsion.

Anyway, yes, the story is about starting a revolution against corporations, except that corporations are actual non-human persons(?) in the story. This makes it more satisfying to attack them, since violence against a person is always more meaningful than violence against “the system.” And giving your villains a voice and agency is more exciting.

Except, of course, violence is bad. And the real world is messy and fuzzy, so trying to apply sufficient violence to the correct target is never as clean as Hollywood and/or activists make it seem. So it all keeps spiraling into ever more chaos until everything is shit around you. And thus was born “Flee, My Pretty One.”

Of note: This story had a lot of near-misses when it was seeking publication, with editors saying “This is good, but it’s not quite right for us.” Then Trump was elected. And the next place I submitted to said, “Wow, this is great, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of the society.” And I nodded and said, “Oh yes, yup, that’s exactly what I was doing.”

I’ve been pissed at the system my entire life, regardless of the political party in charge. Because it’s not about the political parties, for the most part. It’s about the entrenched powers that stay entrenched from one election to the next, regardless of whether the Reds or the Blues are nominally in charge that moment. I guess most people aren’t that upset with the system itself. So, on the one hand, it’s interesting to see so much of the population suddenly as riled up as I’ve always been. It helped get this story published, at least. But I’m dismayed that what they’re angry at is still the politicians. I figure this means that once the politician in charge is swapped out, society will return to how it was, and nothing will have changed.

>:(


Eneasz BrodskiEneasz Brodski lives in Denver, Colorado. He is active in the Bayesian Rationalist community, an eclectic collection of misfits who believe humans can do better. Through the powers of science and technology, he hopes all humans currently living can someday celebrate their 5,000th birthday.

Eneasz has a number of meaningful relationships, of many varieties. He was raised in an apocalyptic Christian sect, and while he has left that behind, that childhood colors much of his writing to this day. He’s been writing since he could hold a pencil, but has only begun professional efforts in the past few years. He just finished his first novel and hopes to see it in print soon.

When he’s not writing, podcasting, or blogging, he can often be found gothing it up at a local goth club. He’s willing to strike up a conversation with anyone in dark clothes and eyeliner.

Writers of the Future 1st Quarter Winners

Writers of the Future 1st Quarter Winners Announced for Volume 35

 

Here are the 1st Quarter Writers of the Future Contest Winners for Volume 35

 

Congratulations to you all!


Winners:

First Place – Kyle Kirrin from Colorado
Second Place – Preston Dennett from California
Third Place – Kai Wolden from Minnesota

 


Finalists:

Rui Cid from Portugal
Derek Eklund from Virginia
K.R. Horton from Oregon
Kalen Kubik from Texas
Shedrick Pittman-Hassett from Texas

Semi-Finalists:

Jack Calverley from the United Kingdom
Jason C. Duke from Arizona
Jared Allen Jackson from Utah
William Bryan Layton from Mississippi
Craig Swapp form Utah
Dawn Vogel from Washington
Michael J. Winegar from Georgia

Silver Honorable Mentions:

Kevin Hallett from Texas
DW Harvey from California
C.H. Hung from Utah
Christopher A. Jos
Cassiopeia Mulholland from Arizona
Kurt Pankau from Missouri
Leonid Tarasov from the United Kingdom

Honorable Mentions:

Nicholas P. Adams from Utah
J.J. Adamson from Vermont
Bryan Aiello from New Jersey
M.F. Alfrey from England
Van Alrik from Utah
Steve Arensberg from Texas
Brandon Scott Argetsinger from New York
Aaron Ash from California
Abby Baier from California
Dawson Balencia from Texas
B.P. Barwick from Indiana
Christopher Baxter from Utah
J.A. Becker from Australia
Hayden Bilbrey from Oklahoma
Rob Bleckly from Australia
Matt Bosio from Florida
Z.T. Bright from Utah
Alicia Cay from Colorado
Chan Yuk Chi from Singapore
Michael V. Calianna from Connecticut
Paulo Da Silva from Germany
Benjamin DeHaan from Illinois
Peter Michael Diamantopoulos from Virginia
Juan Joel Diaz from California
Steve DuBois from Kansas
Robert B. Finegold, M.D. from Maine
Kathryn Fletcher from Texas
Jacob Foncea from Alabama
Monalisa Foster from Texas
Caroline Furlong from Virginia
Bruce Golden from California
Ian E. Gonzales from Washington
Emanuel Grigoras from Canada
Mel Haaser from Indiana
Clint Hall from Georgia
Belwoeth Harbright from Oklahoma
Brendan Hiles from Canada
Marc Humphrey from Austria
Levi Jacobs from Colorado
Kent A. Jones from Minnesota
K.D. Julicher from Nevada
Gwen Kauffman from California
Kevin Folkman from Washington
Colt Randy Leasure from California
Sussu LeClerc from Ohio
Dennis Lee from Australia
LindaAnn LoSchiavo from New York
William Mangieri from Texas
Jadon Mann from Texas
Robert J. McCarter from Arizona
Phillip McCollum from California
Shawn Robert McKee from Texas
Kenneth Meade from Georgia
Devin Miller from North Carolina
Ian Moore from Virginia
Daniel Morris from Maryland
Rhiannon Nee from Australia
George Nikolopoulos from Greece
John M. Olsen from Utah
Y.M. Pang from Canada
Stephen Patrick from Texas
Beth Powers from Indiana
Matthew Reardon from Canada
Melanie Rees from Australia
Juliana Rew from Colorado
Nim Riel from Texas
Glenn Rosado from California
Eric Schieber from North Carolina
Matthew P. Schmidt from Ohio
Maria Schrater from Illinois
Gary Sharp from Ohio
Camille Singer from California
Robert A. Smith from New Jersey
Robert N. Stephenson from Australia
E.C. Stever from Idaho
Vincent Sutherland from Arizona
Clive Tern from the United Kingdom
Dan Thurot from Utah
Rebecca Esther Treasure from Texas
Steven Tubbs from Florida
Jesse Weiner from Colorado
Luke Wildman from Indiana
JM Williams from South Korea
Elisa Winther from The Netherlands
Thomas Woodward from Minnesota
Ramez Yoakeim from Australia
James Yu from California
N. Immanuel Velez from Virginia

 

Writers of the Future logo

Writers of the Future 4th Quarter Winners Announced for Volume 34

 

Here are the 4th Quarter Writers of the Future Contest winners for Volume 34.

 

Congratulations to you all!


Winners:

First Place – Erin Cairns from Texas
Second Place – Cole Hehr from Oklahoma
Third Place – Jonathan Ficke from Wisconsin

 


Finalists:

Lou Berger from Colorado
Aiki Flinthart from Australia
L.P. Melling from the United Kingdom
J.C. Pillard from Colorado
Gilad Seckler from Rhode Island

Semi-Finalists:

James Beach from California
O.E. Fine from Massachusetts
Samuel Marzioli from Oregon
Kessia Robinson from Utah
Robert Ryder from Arizona
John Walters from Washington

Silver Honorable Mentions:

Steven R. Brandt from Louisiana
Steve DuBois from Kansas
J.G. Follansbee from Washington
Kyle Kirrin from Montana
Allen Kuzara from Tennessee
Ellen Saunders from Oregon
Paulo de Silva from Germany
N. Immanuel Velez from Virginia
Neal T. Williams from Colorado

Honorable Mentions:

Mike Adamson from Australia
Kia Addison from Oregon
Sarah Allen from Utah
Van Alrik from Utah
Michael Anderson from Ontario, Canada
Jaymie Andre from Maryland
Julia V Ashley from Mississippi
Charity Ayres from Virginia
Nikki Baird from Colorado
Robert Bagnall from England
Taylor Banks from Texas
Matthew Baron from Georgia
Corey Barracato from Pennsylvania
Ryan W. Benson from Georgia
Scott Benting from Oregon
Mark Bilsborough from the United Kingdom
Rebecca Birch from Washington
Amy Bisson from South Carolina
Stephen J. Blake from New Hampshire
Matt Bosio from Florida
Morgan Broadhead from Ohio
Victoria Brock from Australia
Diogenes C. from Thailand
Diane Callahan from Ohio
Alicia Cay from Colorado
Tracy Cembor from Georgia
Jordan A. Chase from Oregon
Harriet Clifford from North Carolina
Mary Coldren from Colorado
Alexei Collier from Illinois
Tyrell Collins from Louisiana
James A. Conan from Ontario, Canada
Stephen J. Cooper, Jr. from Virginia
Leigh Ann Cowan from Arkansas
Coleman Cox from California
Brennan Craig from Kentucky
Claire Czotter from Massachusetts
Brenden Kahil Davis from Wisconsin
Lance Dean from California
Benjamin DeHaan from Illinois
Hillary Dodge from Colorado
Iona Douglas from Spain
C.P. Dunphey from Mississippi
Frank Dutkiewicz from Michigan
Jason Evans from Illinois
Mckayla Eaton from Nova Scotia, Canada
Judith Everett from Utah
Brianna M. Fenty from New York
Michael Feramisco from North Carolina
Anne Fleeson from North Carolina
Cassiopeia Fletcher from Nebraska
Courtney Floyd from Oregon
Leah Marie Fox from Alabama
Jennifer A. Friedl from Indiana
V.H. Galloway from Texas
K.L. Garzone from Tennessee
Amanda H. Geard from South Africa
Jude-marie Green from California
Faustine A. Guerrero from California
Leslie Haig from Maryland
Brian C. Hailes from Utah
Philip Brian Hall
C.J. Harper from Florida
Carolyn Harris from Ontario, Canada
John-Michael Hawley from Texas
J. D. Haymaker from Minnesota
Russell Hemmell from Scotland
Brendan Hiles from Ontario, Canada
Cathy Humble from Oregon
Ife J. Ibitayo from Indiana
Rebecca Inch-Partridge from California
Mitchell Inkley from Utah
Bascomb James from Michigan
Stephan James from Missouri
Jeran Jenks from Idaho
Ashley N. Johnson from Virginia
Cameron Johnston from Scotland
John F. Keane from the United Kingdom
Christopher Keene from New Zealand
Kian Kelley-Chung from Maryland
Thom Kenison from Utah
Seth W. Kenney from California
Joshua Kidd from California
Benjamin C. Kinney from Missouri
Cass Sims Knight from Oregon
HRT Knight from South Africa
B. Koch from Illinois
Andrew Kooy from Louisiana
Marysia Kosowski from California
Megan Kraus from Connecticut
Andrea Kriz from Massachusetts
Kalen Kubik from Texas
Xavier Lastra from Spain
Laura Lavelle from New York
Sam Lefar from Georgia
Colton Long from Maryland
Roger Mannon from Colorado
Robert J. McCarter from Arizona
Phillip McCollum from California
Durwood MacCool from Washington
Guy McDonnell from Texas
Shane Patrick Meagher from Florida
Rebecca Mix from Michigan
Kathleen Monin from Pennsylvania
Wulf Moon from Washington
Marta Murvosh from Washington
Ethan Nahte from Arkansas
John Noel from Illinois
Arella Noreen from Texas
David O’Hanlon from Arkansas
Rosie Oliver from England
Kirstie Olley from Australia
Tyler Omichinski from Ontario, Canada
Sarah Ortega from Texas
Toluwani Osibamowo from Texas
Kurt Pankau from Missouri
Vernie Pather from South Africa
William C. Peragine from Pennsylvania
Karen Pepin from Virginia
Brittany Rainsdon from Idaho
Vani Rajh from Malaysia
Avery Ramuta from Washington
Melanie Rees from Australia
Nim Riel from Texas
Sarah Rose from Utah
Jelena Rutter from New Hampshire
Sebastien Sacre from Ontario, Canada
Edward Sammons from Florida
Caroline Sciriha from Malta
Spencer Sekulin from Ontario, Canada
Gary Sharp from Virginia
Camille Singer from California
Robert Anthony Smith from New Jersey
Joshua P. Sorensen from Utah
Robert N. Stephenson from Australia
Blake Stone-Banks from Colorado
J.P. Sullivan from California
Troy Tang from New Zealand
Clive Tern from the United Kingdom
T. Tate Thorpe from Utah
Joseph Tyrrell from New Jersey
Jack M. Ventimiglia from Missouri
Emefa Victorious from Florida
R.W. Warwick from Japan
Kristi Weisgerber from Alberta, Canada
Robert Christopher Weissenberg from California
Thomas Michael Welsh from Washington
Melvyn R. Windham, Jr. from North Carolina
BJ Wingate from Arkansas
William R.D. Wood from Virginia
Michael J. Wyant, Jr. from New York
Neil V. Young from California
Tannara Young from California
Bill Zaget from Quebec, Canada

 

Defining yourself

Defining Yourself

I’m going to talk a bit about audience analysis. It’s always good before you begin to write to really understand who your audience is and that their needs are so that you can better meet those needs. But it’s also important to understand who you are as an author, and what it is that you want to achieve.

Yesterday I was helping an author write a query letter, and as I did, I was thinking, “Now what more can I say about his book? What sets this apart from other books in its genre?” Those are the same questions that I ask myself anytime I’m looking at a query letter, but I don’t just ask them about the book. I ask them about the author.

A few years ago, an author I knew flew to New York to be interviewed by the legendary agent Al Zuckerman, the founder of Writers House Literary Agency. As they spoke, Al suggested that the author “define his niche in the marketplace.” For example, you might say, “I’m the John Grisham of Middle Earth.” By that, you might mean that you’re writing political/legal thrillers in a brilliantly devised fantasy setting. Is there a market for such books? Maybe. And if you think of a potential mixture that excites you, one that energizes any agent or editor that hears about it, you can instantly command a fortune in advances.

For example, years ago my former student Dan Wells mentioned that he wanted to be the “Stephen King of young adult fiction.” I thought that was an odd and interesting combination. Yet when his first novel, I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER came out, it earned him huge advances overseas and led to the start of a brilliant career.

So you as an author, when you prepare to write a book, might consider whether you want to brand yourself.

Just as importantly, you might want to look at your novel and brand it. What does that mean? It means that you set goals for your story—goals that have to do with understanding how it fits in the genre and what kind of qualities you want to achieve. When I began the Runelords series, one goal that I set was simple. I said, “I want this to start out like a traditional medieval fantasy, but by the time that a reader finishes the series, I want them to realize that there is nothing ‘traditional’ about this.” So I set out to work on biological world creation, magic systems, and so on in ways that I hadn’t seen before.

In a similar way, when I wrote my novel On My Way to Paradise I set a list of goals. At about spot number twelve I wrote, “I want to write the best battle scenes ever put into a science fiction novel.” Now, I had a lot of other goals, ones that were more important. But I was gratified when I got a gushing review from one young man who seemed not to notice all of the other cool literary things that I did: he just talked about the mind-blowing fights which he described as “the best battle scenes ever shown in science fiction.”

So ask yourself the questions: “What kind of writer am I? What do I want to achieve that is similar to some of the bestsellers of all time? How am I going to carve my own unique niche in the world? As I write this coming book, how will it help reach that goal, or does it take me off in the wrong direction? What kinds of goals do I want to reach with this novel?”

As I set my writing goals, I find that it’s best if I actually write them down, turn them into concrete, specific goals.

Give it a try!

 


David Farland

David Farland

Guest Blogger, David Farland, Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future Contest.

David Farland is an award-winning, international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language” for his science fiction novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year” for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and many more awards for his work. He is best known for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.