Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

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crlisle
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby crlisle » Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:29 am

My review for Deep Magic Fall 2020 is up on Amazon!

https://www.amazon.com/review/R3FYK2FR6 ... eml_rv0_rv
Q1 37 R
Q2 37 HM
Q3 37 HM
Q4 37 submitted
Published in Sci Fi Lampoon, "My Ten Cents"

"Never give up. Never Surrender." - Galaxy Quest

AjZach
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby AjZach » Fri Oct 16, 2020 11:33 am

Here is my baseline 250:

A Drive for Blood

“You’ll feel a little pinch. OK, just hold that right there,” Jennifer said, pressing a cotton ball onto her patient’s arm. She stuck the labels onto the vials of blood. “OK. You’re good to go here.” Jennifer packaged up the sample for testing, all except for one vial, which went in the pocket of her scrubs.

Jennifer had been pouring the vials into her coffee thermos in the break room.

The other girls had come back from their coffee break. Jennifer reached for her thermos and took a sip, only to realize it was coffee. She swallowed the bitter liquid and looked down at the thermos. It was the same as hers but along the bottom, in faded sharpie was the name: Trish.

“Oh Trish, I got our thermoses mixed up.”

Trish was retching into the sink.

Jennifer felt the cold hard stares of the nurses.

Jennifer grabbed her thermos from Trish’s hands and bolted for the door. She got in her car. The supply of blood she had in her thermos might last a few days if it had to, but she would need more soon.

Jennifer drove to the corner store. There was a poster on the door.

“Blood Drive: Looking for Volunteers, Please Apply.”

Once in her car, she called the number on the poster.

“Yes, hello, I’m calling about the blood drive.”

Jennifer ended the call and leaned back in her seat. She sipped from her thermos. Everything would work out perfectly.
R, R, R, R, HM, R, HM, HM, R, SF,?

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GlibWizard
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby GlibWizard » Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:09 pm

Henckel wrote:You mentioned space pirates. I like you already.


One day I'll be able to make the zero-G parrots work! Thank you, Henckel, and everyone for the welcome. Flying with all of you is going to be so much better than having my nose to the grindstone alone.

Here's a baseline 250.

---

Dragon Bait

The village children were disappointed by the dragon hunter. She was dressed in homespun as road-weary as her face. Her short knife looked as useless as Trond and Osmond’s sharp sticks.

The village adults were disappointed because Erikson had killed the dragon two days before she arrived, but she did not lower her fee. “He was feeding a mate. When their eggs hatch, your livestock will die first. Then your children.”

Trond and Osmond followed her when she walked into the forest. She was carrying meat.

As she walked, the dragon hunter walked made small chirping noises and whistles. Sometimes she stopped and listened. The boys fell over each other then, wrestling for balance. She looked back and sighed.

“What is the meat for?” asked Trond.

“The queen. She won’t leave her eggs. I grew up watching dragons,” said the hunter. “Sometimes I brought them food.” She chirped again.
Something answered.

A dragon nested under a fallen tree. Her eyes were focused on the meat.

The dragon hunter lifted it up.

Trond was beside her. The dragon’s hard lips parted, revealing a fleshy pink tongue that quested forward, reaching out. The dragon skipped the meat. It strained toward Trond. When the small boy realized his danger it was too late to do anything but jerk his head up, wide- and wild-eyed, to look at the woman who fed dragons.

She did not look at him. She plunged her knife into the soft fleshy folds exposed by the dragon’s stretch.

---

(edit. That's a save-the-dumb-kid stab in the long version. It became ambiguous when I cut it down, but edit 2, maybe I was just psychic and anticipating that "betrayed" prompt.)
Last edited by GlibWizard on Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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V.36 Q2: HM V.37 Q3: Finalist / Q4 - pending V.38 - committed to four submissions!

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Oct 17, 2020 4:09 pm

As Commander Moon enters the muggy Miramar classroom, you hear “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins coming from every corner, but there’s no PA system. All stand at attention.

“At ease.”

As you sit down, the Commander slips the silvered aviators from his face, slides them in his breast pocket, and stares at you with cold steel eyes. “Day one. You’ve flown your first 250 klicks missions. Jester tells me you’ve got talent. I like talent. But I like talent combined with perfect training exercises better. We’re going to analyze your flight recorders one by one. You think you did it right? Well, maybe you did, pilot. But Top Gun is about making you do it better.

“There appears to be a little confusion by one or two of you as to what the requirements are in this year of Top Gun. I chose self-motivated pilots with top honors--and a couple that did some maneuvers that impressed me--to get the job done. Each year to date since this program began, one from this Super Secret military academy has won the top honor--a win in the Writers of the Future Contest and a trip to fly with Hollywood, er, to fly to Hollywood to receive top honors from top brass.”

Points to the Wall of Fame on the back wall. “Leah Ning, Volume 36. Kate Julicher, Volume 37. This year for Volume 38, I expect two on that board from this flight school.

“Now I know that’s a tall order. That’s why I expect you to work harder and smarter than anyone else. Some of you may crash and burn. Look around you. Make sure it’s the other guy. And it better not be your copilot. That’s right. I want you to analyze the 250s and pick a pilot that will help you succeed. A pilot that you believe you’ll be compatible with. Do this outside of class, but this is your assignment. You and your partner should be willing to assist one another in whatever mission you face throughout this year, no questions asked.

“I’ve also enlisted “Jester,” veteran dogfighter Leah Ning, callsign “SwiftPotato,” to keep tabs on your sorties. At the first of the month, report privately to her on your missions accomplished from the prior month. She’ll post the ongoing roster, including your results in WotF. Fail the requirements and your name goes off the board. This year, there are no points for second place.

“What are the requirements? Simple. Act like the pros you are. Fulfill your missions. Prove you are the Right Stuff. Win honors and respectable sales for yourself and your teammates. Here is the bare minimum you must do:

1. Write an original novel chapter or a short story each month of at least 3000 words.
2. Do one full Kill Your Darlings Exercise each month, preferably on one of the Monday prompts.
3. Enter Writers of the Future each quarter with a story of your choice, new or revised, but make it your best.
4. Submit at least one story a month to a respectable market. (I’ll ask SwiftPotato to post a new Respectable Market List, and ask Super Secret alumnus Ryland to help her.)

“There’s a change this year on who gets free professional line-by-line edits from Wulf Moon Editing. In the past, as long as you met the requirements, you received one professional edit for the year. This year, there’s only two per quarter, and you earn it by last quarter’s honors rank. Keep getting highest honors, and you guarantee yourself one-on-one training with Commander Moon. Last quarter, highest honors were earned by GlibWizard as a finalist, and AJZach as a semifinalist. Well done, ace! You’re both in the hot seat this quarter. Deliver me your best shot by November 30th, or forfeit.

“Worried you won’t make the cut next quarter? Good. I like a little fear in my pilots. Keeps you pushing your craft, riding on the edge of your abilities. Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of training whether or not you earn an edit. That’s what Top Gun is all about.

“Learn your BFMs forwards and back. The Super Secrets are your basic fighting maneuvers. The ACMs are your air combat mission assignments, which include your monthly qualifying reqs. I chose you because I had faith you could do the work necessary to win. You can’t determine whether that win will happen, but you will come out a winner regardless at the end of the contest year IF you do the work. Each of you gave your blood oath when you accepted your papers to Top Gun. Fulfill your vows, stay out of my gun sights, and make your commander and team proud.

“You have your first mission. Find your copilot. You’re going to be flying together.” Commander Moon gives one last look to the names on the Wall of Fame. You wonder if he’s looking at yours.

As he walks out the room, that song fills the air again. Never looking back, Commander Moon says, “You’d do well to discern the meaning behind those lyrics.

“Dismissed.”


“Revvin' up your engine
Listen to her howlin' roar
Metal under tension
Beggin' you to touch and go

Highway to the danger zone
Ride into the danger zone

Headin' into twilight
Spreadin' out her wings tonight
She got you jumpin' off the deck
And shovin' into overdrive

Highway to the danger zone
I'll take you
Right into the danger zone

They never say "Hello" to you
Until you get it on the red-line overload
You'll never know what you can do
Until you get it up as high as you can go

Out along the edge
Is always where I burn to be
The further on the edge
The hotter the intensity

Highway to the danger zone
I'm gonna take you
Right into the danger zone
Highway to the danger zone
Ride into the danger zone

Highway to the danger zone
I'm gonna take you
Right into the danger zone
Highway to the danger zone
Ride into the danger zone

Highway to the danger zone
I'm gonna take you
Right into the danger zone
Highway to the danger zone
Ride into the danger zone

Highway to the danger zone
I'm gonna take you
Right into the danger zone”
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Oct 17, 2020 4:57 pm

A huge THANK YOU to Leah Ning, callsign SwiftPotato, for updating the Super Secrets TOC, including all the exercises from Year Two: RELEASE THE KRAKEN! Bravo, Leah! Couldn't do all of this without you!

Here's the new TOC! Be sure to thank "SwiftPotato" for flying with us!

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&p=88255#p88255
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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crlisle
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby crlisle » Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:14 pm

Thank you SwiftPotato! You rock!
Q1 37 R
Q2 37 HM
Q3 37 HM
Q4 37 submitted
Published in Sci Fi Lampoon, "My Ten Cents"

"Never give up. Never Surrender." - Galaxy Quest

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CCrawford
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:23 pm

Thank you, Leah!!
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, ??

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Sat Oct 17, 2020 7:07 pm

No problem at all, y'all :) hope it's helpful!

Edit: saw your new list ask, Moon - working on getting that up to date.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby StarReacher » Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:56 pm

Thanks Leah!!
2017 - R (Q4)
2018 - R (Q1), HM (Q2), R (Q4)
2019 - SHM (Q1), R (Q2), SHM (Q3), HM (Q4)
2020 - HM (Q1), HM (Q2), SHM (Q3), P

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:02 am

Commander Moon enters the mission room at Miramar, looking over the rims of his aviators at the pilots standing at attention.

“It’s Monday. We do training exercises on Mondays. The more KYD flights you log, the more you fly against the best, the more likely your name will be awarded top honors by the end of the Top Gun year. Perfect practice makes perfect pilots. Assignment: Visualize your name at the top of that Wall of Fame in gold letters. See the graduation ceremony. Stand at the lectern with your Top Gun award. Then figure out your plan this year to get there. Write it down. Number your steps. Then post it to your cockpit where you can see it, preferably not over your instrument panel or targeting radar. Swift, you’ve already won Top Gun in Year 36. I know what your new goal is. Stay on target. Do the same assignment for your current goal.

Your Monday prompt Is: Betrayed by one most trusted.

“Dismissed.”
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Oct 19, 2020 4:51 pm

Commander Moon stands front and center in the Miramar ready room.

"Okay, Jester. Roll the footage on Zeet."

The lights go out. A screen drops down. The commander taps the screen with his pointer. "Eyes up front, people. Let's see what this flyboy's got."

zeeteebeez wrote:\
"Archen Ablaze"

My brother, Julian, stands at the city gates of Archen, caressing his Book of Truths. A mindless habit. He has changed much since that day we met the Book Wizard and his intelligent truth books. It’s not so much the hint of grey in Julian’s black beard, but the hatred in his eyes. A reflection of the chaos within Archen.

The streets echo with the sounds of rioting. It is dusk but the city glows an ominous orange from blazing fires. Madness.

“Leave with me,” I say, choking on smoke.

“Oh, Marc! You’re so righteous! So much better than us.”

“Julian, I have no part in this! I just want my brother back.” I remove my book from my satchel and hand it to him. It is not sky-blue like his, but also not the burnt-orange of his enemy's. Black, trimmed with gold, as it always has been.

I almost see my brother again.

But he hands it back, setting his jaw. “No, I fight for truth.”

“You don’t! The book's magic shows us what we want to see! It cares not for truth, only that we read. Truth is dead!”

“I’m sorry.” He walks away, clutching his book.

A hot tear courses down my nose as I exit the city gates. The Book Wizard waits for me. I give him my book. He whispers an incantation. Now it's only paper. No more intelligent magic.

I say one last goodbye to Julian, trapped in his web of non-truths.



Zeet provides us with a first person POV, present tense, a dangerous gambit with the WotF judges, but not so here, provided it has compelling voice and heart. It does. We have two brothers, in a defined location, with a city in chaos, fires raging. The setup is swift and energetic, as it must be in most stories, and especially so in flash. High marks for setting your stage, Zeet!

Now for constructive analysis:

1. It should have opened: My brother, Julian, stands before me at the city gates of Archen, caressing his Book of Truths.

Why? You didn't lock down where the protagonist is located. He could have been watching his brother from a tower or just down the street. When you open a story, the most important thing to lock down is where your POV character is at. We are watching the world through his or her eyes, so it's vital information and should come immediately.


2."“Julian, I have no part in this! I just want my brother back.”

I would change I to "I will have no..." I don't believe he is being questioned as to whether he caused the chaos, yet that is what you have written. Instead, he is making a statement that he will not follow his brother's path. It's confusing the way you've written it.

Also, "I just want you back," would have been a bit more personal. Plus, we have no way of knowing if Marc is trying to save this brother, or another. Only by reading on can we determine who this is truly about.


3. "It is not sky-blue like his, but also not the burnt-orange of his enemy's. Black, trimmed with gold, as it always has been."

This is unnecessary detail for a 250. You would need to explain all of this, including who is his enemy and why they are different colors or if they change color depending on your alignment or emotional state. All of this could be very interesting explored in a short story, but by dropping it in here, without any context, it muddies the water. Apparently, Marc's handing his own book to his brother might pull him back from chaos, but you give no reason as to why it should.

4. "I almost see my brother again." This is a good line. It is his Heart's Desire in this piece. He almost achieves his greatest wish in this spot. And fails. Alas, we do not see why he fails, which would have made this piece stronger. Granted, it's tough fitting things in when you only have 250 words. That's why the space taken up by the colored magic books could have been utilized better.


5. "It cares not for truth, only that we read." Again, unclear and undeveloped. A few words as to what these books really do, nailing down the evil within, would have strengthened the entire piece.


6. Marc calmly goes to the Book Wizard and gives him back his book of magic. After the heated exchange with his brother, this all seems so nonchalant. These magic books came from this book wizard, right? I assume he wanted the spells within read. I don't think there would have been this calm exchange as Marc walks away from his mission. And what is intelligent magic? Defining your type of magic in these books early in this piece would have helped us understand what's going on.


Good job on setting the stage with characters, setting, an immediate problem, and Heart's Desire. Work on defining or streamlining your unique magic system--especially in a 250--so it's not complex and confusing. The point of a 250 is to create a vignette: a vivid, touching postcard reflecting a clear image from a much bigger world.

I conclude with commendation. Good work on your dialogue.

Commander "Beastmaster" Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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zeeteebeez
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby zeeteebeez » Tue Oct 20, 2020 4:56 am

Thanks for the commentary, Moon.

This one was much stronger at 350 than 250. Lost a lot of context in the final trim. Looking forward to being able to expand upon this one. Thanks again!
Z.T.

6x HM

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Tue Oct 20, 2020 5:42 am

250 KYD completed on "Betrayed by one most trusted". Process was still painful but it is getting easier. Funny how practice works.

Wrapping up a short story for the month, will send it out once I get my crit group's comments resolved. This one might be my Q1, but I am hoping I can get some personal feedback from Charlie Finlay. His comments have helped with stories before.
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, P

ALWAYS available for critique. PM me.

Stories in:
A Dying Planet, 2020
Upon A Once Time, 2020
Hold Your Fire, 2021
2020 Writers of the Future Superstars Scholarship

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Oct 20, 2020 9:49 am

zeeteebeez wrote:Thanks for the commentary, Moon.

This one was much stronger at 350 than 250. Lost a lot of context in the final trim. Looking forward to being able to expand upon this one. Thanks again!


Understood. Just remember when you take it down from 500 to 250, you aren’t trimming, you are redesigning, Zeet. If you try to tell the big story with less words, you will fail. Instead, search for the beating heart and give us a vision, a vignette, of that potent scene.

The exercise also revealed how clear you need to make those magic books and their specific powers to the reader in a longer piece. When you introduce your magic system, quickly define the rules that bind it, clear, clean, and logical. Adhere to your rules throughout.

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:52 pm

Commander Moon stands front and center in the Miramar ready room.

"Okay, Jester. Roll the footage on RSchibbler."

The lights go out. A screen drops down. The commander taps the screen with his pointer. "Eyes up front, people. Let's see what this flygirl's got."


Baseline 250 "The Best Babysitter On Earth" 250 words on google docs.

"You're the best babysitter on Earth!" Lilian bounced on the couch amid bowls of popcorn.

Jenny didn't know about that--she only babysat for Lilian and the Gronsch triplets--but she enjoyed kids and needed the money for college. "Ready for a dance-off?"

A white flash left Jenny's head spinning. She dry-heaved. Her vision cleared, revealing a white egg-shaped room the size of a semi-truck. Jenny floated in the center, distraught stomach twisting, smelling something bitter. Jenny looked down through a curved window and released a strangled, hopeless sound.

Earth--blue and green, white swirls shaded in grey and silver.

There was a whoosh. Jenny turned and saw a pig in a jumpsuit.

There were slight differences; instead of pink, the creature was bronze, the snout less pronounced, and something in the way the hooves opened and closed. Jenny caught a stronger whiff of the bitter scent.

The pig-creature floated nearer. "I am Grunga." Hooves clicked. The words had a grumble to them.

Jenny gaped, grasping for rationality.

Grunga's hooves clicked again. The snout wiggled. "I require your help."

Jenny just stared. Nothing in biology class had prepared her for first contact with pig aliens.

"I have..." More clicking and wiggling. "...work to do. Your charge said you were the best in this world."

"Help?" Jenny almost laughed. "With what?"

Grunga snorted a hiccupy, rhythmic cascade and three piglet aliens tumbled in, squealing and grunting.

Grunga sighed, sounding so much like Mrs. Gronsch that Jenny knew exactly how the alien parent felt. "Babysitting."

END[/quote]


Becky gives us a humorous babysitting tale, complete with extraterrestrials. Humor is perfect for short flash pieces, and I smiled at the last line.

Now for flight analysis:

1. I know you are fond of the Feist-styled untagged opening line, Becky, but I am not. This is because until we know who is speaking or have some idea of context, the only question running through a reader's mind is, "Who is saying this?" And the next question, "Where are they?" Why raise the questions when you could introduce the character taking the stage, instead of having a nebulous talking head line? Even reversing the order of those first two opening sentences would have helped. Super Secret? SET. YOUR. STAGE.

2. "Ready for a dance-off?"

When you pose a complete question in a sentence like that, we assume the next line is the follow through. Instead, we got something entirely different. This is confusing. I had to back up, because this was obviously not part of the dance-off as your sentence lead us to believe. Instead, it was a surprising interruption before the dance-off could take place.

What's the better way to write this so we understand this event is not some weird alien dance-off? Interrupt the babysitter's question with a dash--
"Ready for a dance-off, or a game of chec--" The interruption would have clued the reader that this is something unexpected and unrelated to what the babysitter was asking.

3. Earth--blue and green, white swirls shaded in grey and silver.

Again, confusing without more context. Yes, she's looking out a window in space. But it's abrupt. Lead us into it with: There was Earth, blue and green, swirling with clouds of silver.

4. There was a whoosh.

This is passive. Try this: The air whooshed.

Not only is that sentence active, you cut one word to use elsewhere. :)

5. We have a pig in space. Miss Piggy would be proud! You do make it a bit alien, but still identifiable. I'd add "odd" to this line: ... and something odd in the way the hooves opened and closed.

This line seems irrelevant. Not sure why it's important, and it takes up many words in your 250 you could have used elsewhere. Specific items like this need a payout or get rid of them: Jenny caught a stronger whiff of the bitter scent.

6. Jenny just stared. Nothing in biology class had prepared her for first contact with pig aliens.

Cute line, and tags this story as humor. Important to tell the reader what type of story they are reading, or they'll be ticked off to find a punch line at the end of what they might have believed was only an SF story. Good job!

7. "I have..." More clicking and wiggling. "...work to do. Your charge said you were the best in this world."

The odd free standing sentence within an aside looks awkward. Try this: "I have--" more clicking and wiggling "--work to do. Your charge said you were the best in this world."

8. "Help?" Jenny almost laughed. "With what?"

I see this a lot when I edit. Writers will have a character answer a question that was a couple lines back. It doesn't work because it doesn't connect to the line spoken just prior to this one. As a reader, I stop and backtrack dialogue, trying to figure out why she asks this question. Make sure your dialogue is in the now, the current smack of the ping-pong dialogue ball, not in plays within past lines. It's jarring, annoying, and confusing to answer something spoken a couple lines back.

9. Grunga sighed, sounding so much like Mrs. Gronsch that Jenny knew exactly how the alien parent felt.

You muddled your clean ending here. It could have been funnier. I had to go back up and figure out who Mrs. Gronsch was, because she was such a minor name in the opening. If she had been introduced in the opening as Lillian's exasperated mother, I would have appreciated her name showing up at the end, and would have remembered her as well. Why? Because you would have assigned importance to her. Exasperated human mother, end with exasperated pig alien mother, and it comes full circle. We chuckle at that thought that little ones are work, no matter what species, and good babysitters are hard to come by . . .

I end on a positive note. 250s are hard. They are meant to be. Thank you for doing the work. You are reprogramming your mind to see the beating heart within a story, and to work only with that. There was a beating heart in this babysitter story, and it was cute. With a little work, you could amplify that heart even more.

All the beast!

Commander "Beastmaster" Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Oct 21, 2020 1:51 pm

Each new workshop year, I ask challenge members to review the Super Secrets. If your stories aren't selling or placing higher, I'll guarantee there's something in the Secrets that could help! This year, we're going to do our review a different way. Leah's FB post on "Muzik Man" gave me the idea. I'll include it below, and I think you'll see where this is heading. Sometimes, it's easier to grasp something in someone else's work than it is our own. But first, you need to read "Muzik Man" in Deep Magic, Fall 2020.

So here's your ASSIGNMENT:

1. Get a copy of Deep Magic, Fall 2020 and read "Muzik Man." If $2.99 is a hardship (and trust me, I've been there), PM me and I'll be happy to get you a copy. Here's the link: https://amzn.to/313KGJf

2. In the first week of November, I'll give you your assignment. For now, I need to finish critiquing your 250s. This gives you time to read the story! That's all I want you to do for the moment--read the story--if you haven't already done so. To any ONLURKERS, :) spoiler alert! We're going to put "Muzik Man" on the Super Secret operating table. If you don't want to have the story ruined for you by seeing all its giblets jiggling about, you might want to read the story yourself or avert your eyes! This is not for the squeamish! THERE WILL BE BLOOD! wotf001

Here's SwiftPotato's--Leah Ning's--FB review on "Muzik Man":

"My friend Wulf Moon has a story here! Now that I've finally gotten to read it, I'll gush: what an absolute TRIP, in the best way possible. New worlds, new creatures, and a brand spankin' new robot who was made to play music inside and out. Had some good laughs, had some good feels, and an ending I didn't expect. Go make friends with Muzik. He'll charm your socks off! This story has some good, good heart in it.
This especially for my writer friends: if you've been following Moon's Super Secrets in any way, go read this story and scroll through all those secrets while you do. See 'em in action! Get it while it's hot! Secrets are a dish best served with Muzik."
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:49 pm

Thanks Wulf! The second one I wrote was much better. I do like that opening style. I agree with the rest though, heehee. I’m still struggling to find the right balance of prose and punch at the vignette level, and it got a little muddled. I wrote it back up and made it just one human mother - glad that was your suggestion, too! Thanks for all the time you take to review these.
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, P

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby GlibWizard » Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:52 am

Wulf Moon wrote:To any ONLURKERS, :) spoiler alert! We're going to put "Muzik Man" on the Super Secret operating table. If you don't want to have the story ruined for you by seeing all its giblets jiggling about, you might want to read the story yourself or avert your eyes! This is not for the squeamish! THERE WILL BE BLOOD! wotf001


It's the game of Operation, but with a lot more sound effects when our tweezers hit the sides!
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:27 am

The editor-in-chief of Apex posted this article today. See if you can’t find more than a few supersecrets hidden in the words!

https://apex-magazine.com/why-do-you-keep-rejecting-me/
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, P

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Oct 22, 2020 3:38 pm

RSchibler wrote:The editor-in-chief of Apex posted this article today. See if you can’t find more than a few supersecrets hidden in the words!

https://apex-magazine.com/why-do-you-keep-rejecting-me/


I'm still chuckling, Becky. Thanks for posting this! I had you challenge beasties working on this one in exercises for over a month! Shows you the Secrets are on target!

Jason Sizemore, editor-in-chief, said this today: "As a writer, you need to be aware of the basic elements of a story: characters, plot, theme, tone, setting. For genre fiction, I like to include sub-genre as a sixth element. In a typical story with a typical narrative structure, readers should be given the who (your protagonist), the where (setting), and the introduction of your conflict (the engine of your plot) within the first 250 words. Many stories we publish accomplish this in the first paragraph. Others in the first sentence."

Now you know why I spent so much time on this, challenge beasties. It's critical. Fail to master the Secret SET. YOUR. STAGE. and you won't get read. I advise all to go back over that Super Secret and the accompanying exercises. It can change your world!

Beastmaster Moon

P.S.: Here was the exercise we did on September 8th, 2020 (Super Secrets p. 111):

PHASE FIVE of the SET. YOUR. STAGE. Super Secret Exercise:

You just wrote three paragraphs to create a solid opening to a story. I'm curious how much of that you can get in one intriguing opening sentence, without it being cumbersome. Can you get a named protagonist in there? I should hope so. Can you get a defining detail in there, such as age, gender, personality trait, body type, apparel? Can you set this within some concept of setting? How about a genre cue? How about a Heart's Desire? Finally, can you even get a hint of the problem, ALL IN ONE SENTENCE, without it becoming bloated and driving your reader away?

A good opening line accomplishes many of these things. A great opening line does it so well, the reader is hooked without conscious recognition. IN ONE LINE.

Think about that. Brilliant opening lines can set the stage with character and setting and desire and often even the problem, and do it in such a spellbinding way, you are instantly bound to the character and the journey they are about to embark on.

So here's your assignment, two parts.

1. Give me an opening line from anything you have read that is a wonderful example of this. Cite the work, the author, and the opening line.

2. Write your opening line that accomplishes something similar, and post it here.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Thu Oct 22, 2020 4:39 pm

The second most frequent reason I reject stories from Apex is because nothing is happening. I hear Wulf in my head every time “Start Your darn Heroes Quest!”

The third most common reason is because I have no idea what’s going on. “Set Your Stage!”
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, P

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:32 pm

Baseline 250 - Negotiations Guaranteed

Inventory Manager, Aggie Vate’s mug read: why spend ten thousand when you could get the same for two. She sipped her steaming coffee, then placed the mug beside the holographic projector on her desk.

“I can buy uranium for one fifth that price in the Gliese System,” she said. “Two thousand or no deal.”

Kevin, the supplier’s Customer Support Officer, stared back at her through the projector. “But you’d have to go to Gliese to get it.”

“While I’m there” —Aggie leaned close to Kevin’s image— “I’ll buy extra then sell it off to your customers.”

Kevin’s cheeks billowed then deflated. “Can you cut me a break? I’m new here. My boss will fire me if I make a loss.”

When Aggie didn’t reply, Kevin pressed on.

“I got this job because the last guy misspelled a client’s name on the invoice. The company is hard core about guaranteed quality service.” He said the phrase like an advertisement. “The company fired him then refunded the clients order, apparently standing by their guarantee.”

Aggie raised both palms. “I understand. Thank you for your honesty.”

Aggie paid top dollar for the uranium, including an administration line item earmarked for Kevin’s account.

Once the order was delivered, Aggie contacted Kevin’s manager. “I wish to report fraud within your organization. I expected better from an organization that guarantees quality service.”

When the conversation ended, Aggie ordered herself a new coffee mug. The inscription read, why spend ten thousand when you could get the same for free.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – pending
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Dragonchef » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:58 am

Henckel wrote: Aggie ordered herself a new coffee mug. The inscription read, why spend ten thousand when you could get the same for free.

Heh-heh! Love it
R = 5
HM = (Q4v36)
SHM = (Q3v32, Q3v37)
SF = Zip
F = Zero
WINs = Zilcho
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:49 pm

Commander Moon stands front and center in the Miramar ready room.

"Okay, Jester. Roll the footage on Candice, callsign crlisle."

The lights go out. A screen drops down. The commander taps the screen with his pointer. "Eyes up front, people. Let's see what this flygirl's got."

________________________

Follow the Pretrons

In the lab, the President of the West and his head general watched the scientist turn on the Mapascope. It hummed as it warmed up and the smell of burning dust filled the tense air.

“Will we see something soon?” The President of the West asked.

“Yes,” the scientist answered.

Their insatiable hunger for domination turned his stomach. Every invention which was meant
for the good of mankind had been used to increase their power. But not this time, he vowed.

Grayish, shadowy images appeared on the display.

“What you see gentlemen, are images made of pretrons. An energy form which shows the path matter takes as it moves through time. You will now see the future.”

“Is it set? Will nothing change it?” the General asked.

“You can take action to derail the future off its track.”

Jaws dropped as the men watched troops coming from the East, demolish the troops in the West.

“I think Mr. President,” the General said. “That we need to consider a diplomatic solution.”

The President shook the scientist’s hand, “Thank you for saving your Country. We are grateful.”

“I live to serve,” the scientist forced through gritted teeth, the line which all citizens of the West were expected to give to their President.

As soon as they were gone, the scientist removed the cables from the Mapascope and reversed them. He put them back into their original positions and watched as troops came from the West and demolished the East.

THE END[/quote]

_________________________________

Candice gives us a 250-word vignette on a scientist upset with how his inventions are turned to aid power hungry leaders, instead of used to help mankind. She gives setting immediately--a lab--and puts her players on the stage right at the start. This is good. No surprise characters materializing out of thin air. We know who is speaking, because you identified them and put them all in the lab at the opening. Good job.

Some constructive comments:

1. You open with the President of the West, so it's natural to assume this is your hero. But we later find out the protagonist is the scientist. So this is a miscue. Plus, you do not name the scientist--he's just a generic white lab coat guy, apparently. The Reader/Hero bond requires a name first of all, because you can't claim friendship with someone if you don't know their name. A name would have given us someone to bond with, and brief description would have helped us visualize this scientist. You have his viewpoints later which make us sympathize with him, but it does help to have an action right up front that makes us care about him. Perhaps the president speaks down to him, treats him gruffly. Perhaps the general thinks this whole operation is a sham. Maybe the scientist has a chihuahua on a pillow in the corner that growls when the leaders enter. Give us unique reasons right away to identify with your protagonist.


2. “Will we see something soon?” The President of the West asked.

This is one sentence. As such, you do not capitalize "the" where it says: "The President of the West asked." There are several dialogue issues like this, which should never happen. This is the equivalent of shooting your story--or in this case, vignette--in the foot. Professional writers do not make these kind of mistakes, so you must not make these kind of mistakes. Professional editors will not forgive them if they appear even a few times. So learn sentence and dialogue structure, either through reading up, or hiring an editor or proofreader to go over your work. You can't ask your writing partner or partners to correct all of these in a manuscript for you. You have to learn sentence structure. Or hire a proofreader until you get it down. They'll cost you a penny a word, but they won't do a piece this small. So you need to learn your craft. Or have them proof a larger story before you send it out to market. I repeat again, until you master sentence structure and proper dialogue beats and tags, stories sent out like this will get rejected. This is mission critical.


3. Their insatiable hunger for domination turned his stomach. Every invention which was meant
for the good of mankind had been used to increase their power. But not this time, he vowed.

While not subtle, this is still better than nothing at all. Many fail to show Heart's Desire in a story, and without it, your reader will not deeply care about the problem. To make it more personal, get rid of the generic statement. How about every invention he and his team had made had been turned to increase these despot's power. That gets up close and puts his stake in the game. Again, good job on having his Heart's Desire in this piece.


4. “What you see gentlemen, are images made of pretrons. An energy form which shows the path matter takes as it moves through time. You will now see the future.”

This was a remarkably fast way to set up your science. In a short story, you would develop the science further, making it more believable, but in a 250, you simply don't have the space. This was a quick way to deal with the science and get back to your story. I commend you for this.


5. “I think Mr. President,” the General said. “That we need to consider a diplomatic solution.”

This is one sentence, with a dialogue tag in the middle. You do not end "the General said" with a period. You also need a comma before Mr. President. You write it like this: “I think, Mr. President,” the General said, “that we need to consider a diplomatic solution.”

A better way is to lead with an action beat so you don't stop the flow of your sentence. Like this:

The General scowled. “I think, Mr. President, that we need to consider a diplomatic solution.”

Got it? Good.


6. The President shook the scientist’s hand, “Thank you for saving your Country. We are grateful.”

This is written incorrectly. Here is the right way, because the shaking hands line is a complete action beat and sentence:

The President shook the scientist’s hand. “Thank you for saving your Country. We are grateful.”

Also, country is not capitalized. It's not a proper noun.


I conclude with the positive. You understand story structure, Candice. You put characters in a setting, and your protagonist had a heart's desire and a problem he had to deal with. The ending fulfilled his desire to use his invention for good, instead of being used by despots to harm others. The elements within the vignette all harmonize with your protagonist's desire, and he gets a payoff at the end. Well done.

Commander "Beastmaster" Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby crlisle » Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:27 pm

Thank you Wulf Moon for your insightful critique. You are correct about my weakness in writing dialogue. This is something I need to study more. You, as always, are spot on!
Q1 37 R
Q2 37 HM
Q3 37 HM
Q4 37 submitted
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:52 pm

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SUPER SECRET CHALLENGE BEASTIES
THAT WERE AWARDED THE FYRECON MASTER WORKSHOP SCHOLARSHIPS!

Angela, callsign StarReacher

Ryland, callsign oishisushi911

Crystal, callsign CCrawford


WELL DONE! CARRY ON, CHALLENGE BEASTIES 3000! SEE YOU AT THE FYRECON ONLINE CONVENTION NOVEMBER 12TH-14TH!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:03 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SUPER SECRET CHALLENGE BEASTIES
THAT WERE AWARDED THE FYRECON MASTER WORKSHOP SCHOLARSHIPS!

Angela, callsign StarReacher

Ryland, callsign oishisushi911

Crystal, callsign CCrawford


WELL DONE! CARRY ON, CHALLENGE BEASTIES 3000! SEE YOU AT THE FYRECON ONLINE CONVENTION NOVEMBER 12TH-14TH!



Thank you! I'm so excited! :)
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, ??

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby crlisle » Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:29 pm

Congrats to all the scholarship winners! See you at Fyrecon. We are going to have so much fun!
Q1 37 R
Q2 37 HM
Q3 37 HM
Q4 37 submitted
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:54 pm

Commander Moon stands front and center in the Miramar ready room.

"Okay, Jester. Roll the footage on Angela, callsign StarReacher."

The lights go out. A screen drops down. The commander taps the screen with his pointer. "Eyes up front, people. Let's see what this flygirl's got."

StarReacher wrote:
Working Title: Subject 63

Subject 63 jerked his fingers away from the itchy neural ports as keys rattled outside the cell door. He pulled a blanket up to his chin and rocked side to side as Dr. Harrington and three orderlies approached.

“Ready for some questions, Subject 63?”

Careful to hide his bandaged toes, Subject 63 tucked his feet beneath him and whimpered.

Dr. Harrington clucked his tongue. “Not those kinds of questions.” He reached into his lab coat pockets and pulled out two greasy bundles wrapped in paper napkins. “Look, I’ve brought a treat.”

The failure of his last test, one that ended with his toenails removed one by one with pliers, kept Subject 63 frozen. Still, the lack of food made him woozy. His nose quivered at the scents. He had to curl his fingers into his armpits to stop himself from reaching out.

“Good boy!” The doctor was smiling now, never a good sign. “Would you like to try one, John?” The name at the end of the question was firm and succinct. As though it should mean something.

“It’s okay, John. Come closer.”

Who the hell was this John fellow? Subject 63 shrank against the cold concrete wall. Was he supposed to find him? Kill him like he had been asked to kill the cat the week before?
Subject 63 moaned.

“John?”

One morsel smelled sickly sweet. The other, a bone with chunks of fat and gristle looked vaguely human. I shouldn't want it, Subject 63 thought. But he did.


Angela gives us a freaky story of Subject 63, a possibly enhanced human (neural ports) being tortured and tested in a containment cell. We definitely have a character, in a setting, with a problem, all told in the first two lines. Well done! Both are identified with name tags, and the orderlies, which have no bearing on the story, are properly left nameless. Angela shows a good command of Set Your Stage, and indeed, of craft skills in general, with a good mix of both narrative and dialogue done right. This is exceptionally well written, Angela. Note how she didn't need a single dialogue tag; she did it all with action beats. This is smart, especially in a tight vignette like this. You can say more with action beats than you can with "John said."

Some constructive comments:

1. Neural ports.

This is a genre cue, and you did it right up front. That's the good news. You followed this Super Secret. Now the bad news. The neural ports had zero payout. When you point to something like that in the opening of any tale, it's like Chekhov's Gun. I will be doing a Secret on this, but the playwright said if you show a gun in Act 1, it must go off in Act 2. There's lots of variations, but the point is, if you the author point out something weird or deadly in the opening, it better have a payoff later on. You drew attention to it, which is in effect a promise to the reader. It's like shouting, "Hey, look at this, it's important!" as the author, and then never talking about it again. Your readers will hate you for this. Everything must have a reason for being in your story, ESPECIALLY in a work as small as this.


2. Heart's Desire.

I never discerned what your protagonist hoped for. Instead of passionately hoping for some outcome in the beginning, he is just shrinking out of fear. Passive characters are less interesting, because they are only reacting to their environment, instead of actively seeking an outcome. Heroes act. Cowards retract. Make your protagonists fight for better outcomes, even in horrible situations like this. It's called Character Agency.


3. John.

I assume John is the humanity within Subject 63. Alas, it's never clear what is wrong with John, and why he's being tempted to eat human flesh. I assume some kind of zombie affliction, but he doesn't show light sensitivity, pigment discoloration, not a single clue to the reader as to what might be wrong with him. Just the neural port, which you never return to. So, we are left in the dark by the ending, and that's a fail. By the last line, the darkness should be illuminated. In this case, we are left with more questions.

You mentioned this is part of a bigger piece you stopped writing because you had no idea where it's going. I designed the KYD process to help you figure this out. You opened with the neural port. Why not center the 250's beating heart around that. Does Subject 63 want it out of him? Is he being turned into an animal or killing machine and longs for his humanity back? Does he wonder in the opening what his name used to be, and his heart's desire is just to remember who he was? This would compel us to care about him and feel his suffering. Yes, you did the toenails thing. Anyone would cringe from that. But what makes us CARE that he had his toenails pulled out? Find his heart's desire and use it to create the Reader/Hero bond. You must do this immediately in a 250. Make it so.

You still need to work on clarity in the Storytelling side of the writing equation. See the beating heart of your story, which is tied up in the protagonist's Heart's Desire. The Problem only matters if we know what your protagonist desires above all else. If everything else in the story stays focused on that, you will create a tight, page-turner story. I spend a lot of time covering this in my "The Secrets of a Howling Good Plot" master class coming up at Fyrecon. That class is all about Story, and it's essential you have a command of those nine elements. You cannot write with clarity if you cannot see the foundation stones and know how to place them. But the most important cornerstone of them all is Heart's Desire. Everyone here should review that vital Super Secret. Or take the class--it is definitely worth your time and dime. :)

I conclude with the positive. Your technical proficiency in writing is excellent, light years ahead of where you began in this workshop. It's obvious you've been doing the work. There is no question you should be in Top Gun, Angela. I am happy you made the cut.

Now go make us proud! We are at war, and in a dogfight, there are no points for second place. Study hard.

Commander "Beastmaster" Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby StarReacher » Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:32 pm

Thanks, Moon!

All great points! This story has continued and has grown into a full-length piece. I will incorporate your suggestions into the final before I submit to publishers.
2017 - R (Q4)
2018 - R (Q1), HM (Q2), R (Q4)
2019 - SHM (Q1), R (Q2), SHM (Q3), HM (Q4)
2020 - HM (Q1), HM (Q2), SHM (Q3), P


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