Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

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

Postby storysinger » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:14 am

ASSIGNMENT: How do you open your first scene?


The title itself is the first hook. The reader will want to find out what a moongirl is, and what a moon-dawdler is?

The second word of the first paragraph names the MC. Her approximate age and a playful attitude are indicated in the second line. She then lets us know her favorite color and that she has a rebellious side, by wearing shoes her mother hates. The last line of the first paragraph about the cape hiding the tubes is the hook enticing the reader to read on to find out what the tubes are for.

In the second paragraph we learn that she has a dog. Not just any dog. It's a MedGen robodog that resembles a Doberman pinscher and takes care of her respiratory needs. He also makes sure everything she encounters is safe. We learn the parameters of her life on the moon and her parents job while living there. Their boss is about to head out on a Mars mission. The pacing of the information keeps the reader engaged, ready to learn more about the Super-Duper Moongirl. By the end of this paragraph genre is established as near future science fiction.

The third paragraph lets us know her hearts desire, Mars. We find out the extent of her disability, she can't breathe on her own. Dixie lets on that she'd love to see Mars. Her physical therapist instilled an attitude of patience that serves her well. In just three short paragraphs most readers will want to find out the rest of Dixies story.
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Sun Aug 16, 2020 12:08 pm

Before you even start reading the story, how did I hook you?
The title makes you ask, "What is a Moon Dawdler?".

Next. What I was doing in those first three paragraphs? ...
For the opening three paras, every sentence had a purpose, delivering information vital to setting the scene for the story and introducing the characters and the MCs heart's desire. In the first paragraph I picked out nine or ten explicit facts and that's not mentioning the implied ideas and emotions bouncing around in there.

In the second paragraph...
Is another great show of economy of ideas (it's like one of those heirloom tomatoes with a taste so flavorful that you can't believe you settled for supermarket variety all these years). What struck me is that the hook is delivered in the first and then is followed up directly in the second, so there is no opportunity for the reader's mind to wander, instead meeting their focus.

Third paragraph. What do you discover about Dixie's spirit? What's her opening Heart's Desire?
You discover that there is a real challenge in her life and that her spirit is optimistic and strong. Deeper than 'just' going to Mars, reading what is implied is that her heart's desire is to survive and this is a massive emotional thread pulling on the heart of any reader.

Final question. In those first three paragraphs--less than one page--what essential story elements got covered? Did you have any problem visualizing Dixie, her world, her companion, her spirit, and her opening Heart's Desire?
As the theme of the challenge states, the first three paragraphs set the stage. The reader is not asking any questions in their mind, so is free to read on and be carried by the story.

Thanks for the chance to revisit this great story.
HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, SHM, ?

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:43 am

Happy Monday, beasties! Today's Monday prompt is: HESITANT CORROSION.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby zeeteebeez » Mon Aug 17, 2020 5:51 am

ASSIGNMENT: How do you open your first scene?



Before you even start reading the story, how did I hook you?
- interesting title, which gives the reader some sort of footing going into the story. You’ve got a feeling you’re going to read about some happenings on the moon.

Next. What I was doing in those first three paragraphs?
- Dixie’s voice is apparent from the beginning. We know how old she is, that she wears “space keds,” and she’s got some sort of medical device attached to her (hooks). All in the first paragraph.

In the second paragraph, what did you learn about Dixie's health?
- we’ve now got more concrete evidence (on top of the tubes) that Dixie is sick. She needs help breathing, and she’s got a robo-dog to be a companion and help her breathing. We learn a little more about mom and dad and why they’re on the moon. What always strikes me first is how strong the voice of the character is. But there are tremendous world building nuggets sprinkled throughout. Just enough to give us some stable footing so we can start learning the plot.

Third paragraph:
- Dixie can’t be beaten down. She’d love to see Mars.

Final question. In those first three paragraphs--less than one page--what essential story elements got covered?
-I marked this story up the first time I read it because it was so masterfully done. Far before I knew I’d be taking Moon’s workshops. The whole first page, is marked up with things like “character,” “intrigue,” “emotion,” “context.” This was helpful for me as a more “plot” focused writer to see the importance of establishing a character we can root for in an interesting place. We don’t know the “plot” yet, but we’ll get to because the reader is hooked.
Z.T.

7x HM

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

Postby empressed » Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:38 am

Voice of the MC and the story as a whole are established in the title, which is also hooky because what the heck is a Moon Dawdler.

1st paragraph gives gender, age, more voice, which is so infectious it stepped into what I wrote after I reread the story. Her appearance is vivid, her disability is one of the strongest hooks I've ever seen. Mom's critical and Dad's supportive.

2nd paragraph tells us she can't breathe solo (a third hook) and needs Moonie who is also her protector (Doberman) and best friend. We therefore know she's going to need him in that capacity, so we have an idea where this story's headed by the second paragraph. This is a fourth hook. MedGen Robo dog is the fantasy element and the moon is the locality. The parents' boss is a "rich dude" prepping to send others to Mars and there are already other people on the moon, which hints at the beginnings of a wider universe.

3rd paragraph: Her opening desire is to go to Mars. We know she's unstoppable and optimistic and we'll continue to read for that reason alone.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:54 am

Your Opening Scene Exercise: Examining the function of the first three paragraphs in "Super-Duper Moongirl..."


I can't comment on all responses to the exercise, it would become redundant, but I'll hit some of the latest highlights.

CCrawford said: This really makes me think about my Q4 entry, and I'm realizing I can make my first few paragraphs work a lot harder than they currently are.

Well done, Crystal. It is vital to nail your opening, and everyone in this workshop needs to work on this. It's why I gave all of you this assignment.

A note to all. If you didn't get an HM last quarter, you will probably find the answer by going back and reviewing your first three paragraphs. Look at those questions I asked you about "Moongirl's" opening. Study what I accomplished, and why I did it, in those first three paragraphs. Go apply those questions to your opening three paragraphs and see how much you covered, and how proficiently you did it, starting with your title. It should be eye opening. You can fix that for this quarter. I hope you do.


Ryland (Oishi) said: I'm considering several stories for WotF Q4, but my two strongest candidates have openings that made sure to jump immediately into the action. A third story I'm considering was less pushy about getting the action in the reader's face. Reviewing "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" makes me realize it is less about that action, and more about the forward momentum provided by hooks/promises/fulfillment.

It depends on the story you're telling, Ryland. In medias res is a popular way to open stories today. I can't say I agree with the trend, because it's a gimmick to get readers excited with opening action, instead of grounded in characters. But let's face it, many readers are lazy today, and we have to recognize current trends if we wish to win contests and sell to the publications readers buy. That said, I think you will create a stronger story if you quickly set the stage and ground us in the protagonist and the issues about to be explored. KYD, if you've been faithfully applying it all year, teaches you how to get this done swiftly, with economy of words.

I was just at the When Words Collide convention. A successful character-building tool was presented by Angela Ackerman. I think you get a free two weeks to check out the system and their products. https://writershelpingwriters.net/2019/ ... r-builder/
Anyhow, at one point, Angela asked does your character have a beard? If you show this several chapters later after introducing him, it's too late. Your readers already built a vision of him, and you will throw them off if they find out later the vision you gave them left out important details. THIS is why you nail down pertinent details right off the bat when you introduce a character, and then you never have to do it again. It should be brief with unique details to lock the correct image in the reader's mind.

Finally, when you've been writing as long as I have, you develop inherent ability to hook your reader into reading the next paragraph; I was never thinking hook/promises/fulfillment. I was thinking how do I give you an authentic and unique heroine, Dixie, in her own tween voice, revealing her spunky spirit, but also her vulnerability. I was thinking how does she dress so you know she is special, and what does she wear to tell you she is one-of-a-kind? I was thinking how do I give you a quick sketch of her world in the opening so you can drop into it. This included a basic floorplan of where the story would take place, that she has a special high tech life support unit, that he's more than machine, that she has parents, that she has a dream beyond her original dream, and that there is a looming entity out there that has plans going beyond the domain of the moon base. No, there's no immediate action, but there is an immediate full on character, and I suck you in just like a precocious little girl sucks you in by tugging on your sleeve and saying, "Hey, mister! This is my dog! Do you like him?" Boom. If you're a decent human being, you bend down and smile and say, "Hello, little girl. That's an amazing dog you have there. What's its name?" And now she's got you.

In the same way, the opening got you. You might not have known why, but the opening did what I purposed it to do. To give you a unique, sympathetic character you could immediately fall in love with and want to protect, and because her voice is so authentic, you'll follow her as she leads you on rest of the tale.

I did that in three paragraphs. You must do something similar with your openings. Ground your reader in the scene. Ground your reader in your unique character. Accomplish this with artful skill, and your reader will happily take the journey with your heroine.


Storysinger said: She then lets us know her favorite color and that she has a rebellious side, by wearing shoes her mother hates.

I'm glad you caught this, Don. In introducing her shoes, I didn't just toss something on her to dress her, I chose attire that would tell us things about her personality. Economy of words is not just less is more, it's making more out of less. I told you they were Space Keds, so you know she's not on Earth in the very beginning (if you somehow missed the point of the title). I told you they were red, which is a fiery and bold color, and Dixie is obviously compensating for something by wearing bold, stand out clothing. I told you her mother hates them, and yet, she wears them anyhow--this reveals the mother/daughter relationship. All of this, from one pair of sneakers. Good eye, Don!


Peter Glen said: You discover that there is a real challenge in her life and that her spirit is optimistic and strong. Deeper than 'just' going to Mars, reading what is implied is that her heart's desire is to survive and this is a massive emotional thread pulling on the heart of any reader.

Peter, there is nothing more important than creating the reader/heroine bond, something I teach in my Writing Winning Stories workshop. Your job is to make your reader fall in love with or at least care about your protagonist from the moment you introduce them. You note that in three paragraphs, you feel the emotional thread "pull on your heart." That's the reader/hero bond. This goes so much deeper than a formulaic "Save the Cat" beat. I wish I could go into this more. You'll just have to take the master class. : ) Point is, in three seemingly simple opening paragraphs, I got you to care about Dixie. You would now follow her to hell and back, and she's just a fictional character. This is a tremendous Secret; one many writers do not pay enough attention to. I'm glad you spotted it. Now duplicate it in your own work for Q4. :)


Zeet said: But there are tremendous world building nuggets sprinkled throughout. Just enough to give us some stable footing so we can start learning the plot.

Zeet, the salient point here is "just enough to give us some stable footing..." Exactly. That's called grounding. Ground us in setting, ground us in character. Not too much, not too little, jusssst right to give a quick lay of the land, and to make us care about the heroine that is going to take us through it.


Empressed wrote: Moonie who is also her protector (Doberman) and best friend.

Victoria, I know you aren't in the workshop yet, but you took my master class, and that gets you privileges. :) This point is insightful about the Doberman. I am not particularly fond of Dobermans. They are scary, and I had a tactically trained Doberman try to tear my throat out once. This dog had been trained to kill, and I am fortunate the owner was home and came running out of his house to call him off me. But as far as a protector robodog goes, giving him the shape of a Doberman was perfect. My choice reflected his purpose, and Dixie's need for protection. Plus, they're black, and the Mr. Z persona is definitely a black man from the mean streets of the Bronx. Good eye in discerning the reason for my choice!


I know more of you did the exercise. I've tried to comment on some of them, but I must get to my editing jobs. This assignment is for your benefit, so I hope the rest of you that haven't checked in yet will do the exercise.

You want to win Q4, right? This will help!

I'll hold the second part of this exercise for one more day, hoping more will still check in.

All the beast,

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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby Henckel » Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:05 pm

Before you even start reading the story, how did I hook you?
Your title was the first hook. But, even more than that, the title also gave us genera and suggested the tone with words like “amazing” and “super-duper”.

Next. What I was doing in those first three paragraphs? Was the protagonist a marshmallow, or did she have defining characteristics? What did you learn about her in the first sentence? The second? The third? Was there a hook in this very first paragraph? Was there a second hook at the end of the first paragraph, that made you want to read the next? In one simple paragraph, how many essential character details did you learn?
In your first three paragraphs you set the stage by specifying out MC and writing this in a tight POV. From the first sentence we get a sense of the MC’s vocabulary and perspectives (“my birthday is coming up, so close enough” this sort of thing is important to a 12 year old). You show she’s is possibly analytical or philosophical (God gave me red hair, but I picked the rest). Even the word “picked” fits character. Then you give readers a visual, complete with context (mom hates it… Dad loves it…). This not only tells us about Dixie’s parents, it shows us that she has a degree of emotional intelligence and that observing and commenting on such a thing must mean that it’s important to her. Then you mention the “tubes”. Yes, this is the hook in the first paragraph. It evokes a curiosity in readers that nudges them forward.

In the second paragraph, what did you learn about Dixie's health? What original idea came into play? Who does Dixie have for a friend? What other players in this tale are foreshadowed or described? Go back to paragraph one. Did you already get a sense of her mom and dad's personalities? Now back to this second paragraph. What cued genre for you? How quickly did you get an overview of Dixie's world? Was it too much, too little, or just enough to set the stage so you were grounded from the start without bogging the story down?
In the second paragraph, Dixie talks about her dog. This anchors the story in sci-fi (because the dog is a robot) and gives readers a visual on the dog. You also develop your hook a bit more by mentioning that the dog breathes for her. This is original. Again, this nudges readers forward. You also “keep it real” by using Dixie’s vocabulary strategically. “Duh.” You also specify that the parents work for a rich dude that’s about to head the first mission to Mars. Given that this is a short story, readers expect that all fat is trimmed from the narrative. Thus, this is an implicit promise to the reader that the parents, their work, and the rich dude will be integral to the story to come.

Third paragraph. What do you discover about Dixie's spirit? What's her opening Heart's Desire?
Dixie would love to see Mars.

Final question. In those first three paragraphs--less than one page--what essential story elements got covered? Did you have any problem visualizing Dixie, her world, her companion, her spirit, and her opening Heart's Desire?
By the end of those first three paragraphs, readers have a solid visual on Dixie and her dog. They are given genera, tone/attitude, Deep POV, heart’s desire, and initial setting.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
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(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Aug 18, 2020 4:09 pm

Your Opening Scene Exercise, Part 2: Examine the function of the first three paragraphs in any story in WotF Vol. 34, 35, or 36.

That's right! You have three volumes to choose from! Why these three? Because they are current, they give you a good picture of what is currently winning with Dave and the other judges. Start with a favorite story that you recall. Go look at its opening. Is there a clue in the opening as to why it became your favorite? Did it answer questions like you just uncovered in "Super-Duper Moongirl"? How did it hook you from the title, to the first paragraph, to the second and third? What was the first hook? Was the scene firmly grounded? How did the author start hooking you in to the Reader/Hero bond? Did you get a good picture of the protagonist right from the start? If not, you have three anthologies worth of stories to find one that opens with a character, in a setting, with (hopefully) a heart's desire, with a problem. Study the title and first three paragraphs. Find one that did a good job of this and report back your findings, just like you did for Moongirl. You can choose a story by the pro writers as well. But find a story that is a good example of what this Secret is all about--grounding your reader from the opening of your story in setting, character, heart's desire (or a starting desire), and a problem.

For your assignment, open with the title, the volume, and give us how these essential elements were met in the first three paragraphs. You have the original questions to help you out. Quote a few specifics so we see your point without having to go find the story ourselves. Most importantly, I want the answer to these questions at the end: In those first three paragraphs--less than one page--what essential story elements got covered? What new trick did I learn from this author's opening?

Choose one story, but I hope to see many different openings discussed by you beasties! Tell me why it worked! And then go back to your own that you just reviewed in Part One of this assignment and look at yours again. Make it work. You have one week to turn in your assignment.

On a final note, after Dave interviewed me on Apex, I had many contact me about my editing business. My schedule is filling up. For those of you that have met the challenge requirements for the year but haven't gotten your free line-by-line and developmental edit from me yet, I need your stories submitted by August 31st, midnight. This is your reward for doing the work in this challenge, but I do have to take care of my paying clients, so please understand and don't be late. If you don't have my email to send it to, please PM me. It's a good idea to check in now and tell me how it's going. Please try to keep these to a reasonable size. Each edit takes me many hours to complete, they are detailed.

I suggest all of you do an overview of the Super Secrets to make sure you didn't miss something in your Q4. Those of you that took my Fyrelite Master Class have additional tools to develop prizewinning stories. Like Liquid Luck, use them wisely.

I expect to see many honors out of this group in Q4, the culmination of our year of dedication and hard work! You have the power. Make it so!

All the beast!

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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby Retropianoplayer » Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:27 am

For your assignment, open with the title, the volume, and give us how these essential elements were met in the first three paragraphs. You have the original questions to help you out. Quote a few specifics so we see your point without having to go find the story ourselves. Most importantly, I want the answer to these questions at the end: In those first three paragraphs--less than one page--what essential story elements got covered? What new trick did I learn from this author's opening?


Title is Mara's Shadow, Volume 34, story by Darci Stone. Author enjoys stories by Michael Crichton. Crichton has had several of his stories made into movies. One of them is Timeline. I enjoy the way she writes; therefore, I enjoyed the story. I don't just see a story; I see a movie.

Her story is about two parasitologists (this is Pre-Pandemic) trying to beat a parasite which is killing the world's population. But her brilliance doesn't stop there. She has another story interwoven inside of a mountain climber from Austria in the late nineteenth century. This earlier story threads into her main one, and soon enough, the reader feels the tension when the MC loses her significant other to the illness, and she is fearful of losing her Heart's Desire - her child.

First Paragraph opens as one might see in a motion picture. Place, Date. It's a newspaper article. Then WE feel the CAMERA PAN to the MC, whose reading the article. We see her POV through sunglasses. She's in a helicopter. I feel the helicopter, hear its blades whining.

Second Paragraph: Three words. "The helicopter landed." In my mind, I can picture many scenes of a jungle clearing in Vietnam, and her exit from it. "Her partner Tuan climbed out first, then helped Lien." Detail, detail, detail. "Police tape wrapped around bamboo poles created a perimeter." Details, specificity. "The men were wearing full gear: plastic gloves, face shields, bodysuits. Whatever was in that hut had scared them badly."

Brilliant writing. I'm hooked already. What in hell is going on here that two parasitologists are rushed in secret under a cover story to this area? I could be reading a Michael Crichton novel. I've got character, in a setting, with a MAJOR problem. The Heart's Desire comes later, but when it does, it's more powerful because we know what's at risk.

The story was long. It doesn't matter. Darci Stone needed the extra verbiage because there are two stories woven into one. The earlier story becomes a mystery, and then becomes VITAL to solving the latter story. This took real skill. When I initially read it, I did not realize what prize it had won. Not a clue. Just read it for enjoyment; I was watching a cinema flick in real time, with added thoughts and feelings. I wasn't surprised, when I learned it hit Top Gun.

Best,

Retro
"Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love" - Rule 306
"Never compromise your integrity." LIFE'S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK by H.J. Browne, Jr.

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

Postby AjZach » Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:31 am

Openings Assignment Part 2:

I chose "The Trade" in volume 36, by C. Winspear. I chose to do slightly more than three paragraphs, as some are only one sentence long, but all of this information appears on less than the first page of my print copy.

The title: The Trade gives us the indication that there will appear some sort of trade in the contents of the story.

First paragraph: "I had the best view humanity had to offer, but I still felt unfulfilled." Our protagonist (no details on them yet) is somewhere spectacular, and we want to know where, but something is missing from their life, perhaps it is even unclear to them what that is. A hint at a problem (unfulfilling life). This is the hook, we want to know where they are, and the reason for their feelings.

Second Paragraph: We know they are on the International Space Station, with a view of Earth, we have our setting. We also have hints of problems for Earth, "From here, you couldn't tell that the planet was heating up, or that the nations had nuclear ICBMs pointed at each other." There are problems on Earth that our protagonist has escaped from. Our protagonist is taking pictures of the Earth, perhaps their job, but they are "...hunting for something in that arcing landscape of blues and whites, maybe angels. Whatever it was, I didn't find it." Our protagonist is looking for something, perhaps divine intervention? It could be their heart's desire to find a way to solve these problems.

Third Paragraph: Our character is feeling like something is going to happen. "I stood on top of the world, but today the view made me feel uneasy."

Fourth Paragraph: This is where we get character appearance details, and some connection to other characters. Our character takes a selfie for their husband. They describe their "unruly zero-g hair and the wrinkles under my eyes." The selfie, referred to as "Husband tax", gives the impression that the husband, Oleg wishes to stay close to their partner, but our protagonist doesn't feel the same. "Sometimes I felt bad for not missing him as much as he missed me." Perhaps there is problems in the relationship, that our protagonist has fled to the Space Station to avoid. There is no indication of how our protagonist identifies yet, as the story is written in first person.
Vol 35: R, R, R,
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:07 am

I chose "Dirt Road Magic" by Carrie Callahan from Volume 35. I adore this story. This is a trickier opening, but I still think the author does a lot of work in just a few words.

The title sets the stage. This isn't going to be about dragons and enchanted forests, but there will be magic, something to anticipate.

Just the first sentence tells the reader a lot - setting (contemporary or near to it, summertime), and something about the character's environment (either someone with not a lot of money or who doesn't care if their house looks like a frozen dinner). The second sentence expands on those two, confirming that the character lives in a trailer, it's hot (sweltering), and adds ambiance with the weak yellow lighting. Third sentence tells us the character is male (probably), gives a strong sensory detail (itchy polyester blanket) and drops us into the genre - this is fantasy. Our character is trying to do magic. We also get a hint of character age.

The next sentence reinforces age - our character is keeping quiet, in "my bedroom". More and more, this is sounding like a kid, maybe a teenager. The third paragraph, which is only one word, introduces the problem. Sure, he's trying to do magic, but it isn't working. And he really wants it to, giving us his heart's desire.

I counted - Callahan accomplishes setting, character, problem, and genre in 104 words. A third of the printed page. That done, she can tell us her story.

What I like in particular about this opening is the strong setting. Character is present, but we don't get a lot of personality until the dialogue just ahead. Instead, we're fully immersed in a trailer in the summer with crappy lighting and cooling. I can feel the heat, the itchy blanket, see the light struggling to illuminate, hear the whir of a dying AC unit. From those details, my brain fills in the bedroom, the trailer itself, even the dirt road and the weeds outside. I don't need to be told the broader setting, because I can see it. And because I can see it, I can anticipate, infer, empathize with the character. I'm hooked, in barely over 100 words.
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, SHM
V38:

ALWAYS available for critique. PM me.

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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 Henckel » Wed Aug 19, 2020 11:29 am

Dang. this is what I get for being late. ... My favorites in those volumes are: "Dirt Road Magic" by Carrie Callahan from Volume 35 and "The Trade" in volume 36, by C. Winspear.... and of course Super Duper Moon Girl! ....

Anyway, I've chosen “The Damned Voyage” by John Haas (WOTF Vol 35)

What essential story elements got covered in the title and first three paragraphs?

The story’s first hook is the title “The Damned Voyage”. It tells readers that the story will involve a ship voyage (unclear at this stage if this is a traditional ship or spaceship) and that things are going to go horribly wrong. Not just a misadventure, but one where the events plummet to the realm of damnation. This sets an expectation re the depth of the consequences resulting from the conflict.

Next we have a date, “April 10”. This (1) suggests that the story will take place over a period of days/weeks/ months (not hours or years). Also, when seen in conjunction with the location in the next sentence (South Hampton) readers can get a visual of the weather conditions (spring = cool, crisp).

In the first paragraph, we get setting (sight = a busy chaotic port and first class passengers). We also get into the MC’s head. He’s about to board the ship. He neither knows nor cares where the ship is going. This is another hook (what sort of person boards a ship and doesn’t know or care where its going.) Now we combine this without previous title hook (Damned Voyage). The combination greats a subsequent third hook (Is the MC the cause of the trouble to come or will is he going to represent the attempted solution.)

In the second paragraph, we get a more setting (sight and implied touch). We also learn MC uses a cane. Not clear if this is from an injury or old age. Still, it’s unique. You don’t often see an MC hobbling along with a cane. This also suggests a physical weakness, thus MC may be more reliant on his intellect to problem solve. We meet the friend of 25 years (suggests loyalty) who moves to help steady MC when he sways (more physical weakness) but MC refuses the aide. Then we get a brilliant line: that the friend never understood stubborn English pride. This says a lot: MC Characterization, pride as weakness, friend is foreigner, MC may be the lead in this relationship.

The third paragraph is dialogue. “It is here, Doctor Shaw,” he said. From this we know they were (and still are) looking for something. The use of “It is” rather than “It’s” flags a certain sort of language yet to be defined. The use of the Title “Doctor Shaw” is a lilt odd. I wouldn’t have expected this in normal dialogue. Still, it tells us MC is a doctor (we assume a medical doctor).

When we look at what we’ve learned from the first three paragraphs and put them all together we get this: MC (medical doctor) and his foreign friend are on the docks about to board a ship. They’re looking for something. Readers assume whatever they’re looking for is on the ship. Now, MC (and perhaps the friend) are about to board this ship to get it, regardless of where the ship is going. Readers also can safely assume (from the title) that MC boards this ship and the events that follow lead to consequences of damnation.

What new trick did I learn from this author's opening?

The use of perspective to imply one’s own weakness (English Pride)
Using the environment to inform characterization using cause and effect (Wind causes MC to sway on his cane. Friend tries to help, but MC refuses the help due to pride.)
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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

Postby CCrawford » Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:52 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Start with a favorite story that you recall. Go look at its opening. Is there a clue in the opening as to why it became your favorite? Did it answer questions like you just uncovered in "Super-Duper Moongirl"? How did it hook you from the title, to the first paragraph, to the second and third? What was the first hook? Was the scene firmly grounded? How did the author start hooking you in to the Reader/Hero bond? Did you get a good picture of the protagonist right from the start? If not, you have three anthologies worth of stories to find one that opens with a character, in a setting, with (hopefully) a heart's desire, with a problem. Study the title and first three paragraphs. Find one that did a good job of this and report back your findings, just like you did for Moongirl. You can choose a story by the pro writers as well. But find a story that is a good example of what this Secret is all about--grounding your reader from the opening of your story in setting, character, heart's desire (or a starting desire), and a problem.

For your assignment, open with the title, the volume, and give us how these essential elements were met in the first three paragraphs. You have the original questions to help you out. Quote a few specifics so we see your point without having to go find the story ourselves. Most importantly, I want the answer to these questions at the end: In those first three paragraphs--less than one page--what essential story elements got covered? What new trick did I learn from this author's opening?


Some of my original choices have already been done, but I went back into Volume 35 and picked another story that stood out to me: The First Warden.

The title immediately makes me curious about the Warden, and the fact that it's the "First" gives it a weight that implies something important will be happening in this story, maybe the start or ending of an era of some kind.

First hook (besides the title) is immediately in the first sentence: "When I was very young, a sickness struck--the sort that spreads like fire, consuming everyone it touches." By the end of that first paragraph, we know something about the character: that they do not feel the same disdain some feel for the ordinary, and that they would not have minded an ordinary death. This right away sets the character apart and made me curious about the type of person they were. There are no setting details in this first paragraph, but we get a strong sense of character and problem. The "when I was very young" opening also grounds us in a general age for the character, at least at the start of the story (time does pass and the character ages as the story goes on). We also get a strong Heart's Desire, though it's perhaps more implied than openly stated... the character desires escape (from pain, sickness), describing the approach of death as "bliss," as though it would have been a relief. The first-person past tense POV lends the narrative the feel of someone looking back with hindsight or some kind of gained wisdom.

Second paragraph immediately introduces another character, the magus, along with some general worldbuilding info.

Third paragraph fills in the larger setting as the character is carried outside and we realize the character was in a tent, it is daylight, and the tent bursts into flames. Here we also get an expansion of the Heart's Desire as the character asks if the magus is taking him to the Afterworld, as well as the introduction of a new conflict--his family's tent is being burned (which we find out in the first sentence of the very next paragraph still had his family inside).

It is sort of interesting that we do not get a name or gender for the main character in these first three paragraphs. This surprised me, so I went through and found that the main character's name is not given until several pages in. And there is very little (if any?) direct physical description of the character given in the first few pages (though there is description given of Shae, the magus). However, I still felt I had enough info to identify with the character, perhaps because the narrative is so rich with character emotion and perceptions of what's going on. Also, the magus, Shae, is a major focus for the story, so a lot of the description is spent on Shae (from the main character's perspective, what he noticed, their interactions) rather than on the main character himself.

A trick I learned from this author's opening is how to lend a sense of weight and depth to the story very quickly via small cues (the "First Warden" title, plus the "when I was very young" opening, which implies that this story is about a pivotal event the character is looking back on). Also, I learned the importance--particularly if a story is first person--in grounding the narrative in the character's perceptions and emotions so that the character feels immediately empathetic (in this case, even with a lack of much other information).
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM

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

Postby zeeteebeez » Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:13 pm

Openings assignment 2

Happy to be the first to get to "Yellow and Pink" by our fellow beastie Leah Ning.

First the title. While maybe not as in-your-face as Moon's winner, I think there's some intrigue here. I think the use of color immediately gets the reader's brain to start imagining a story in a visual sense. Also, there's some contrast between the two colors.

Since this opening page has a bit of dialogue, I'm going to lump a bit of it together when examining the "first three paragraphs."
The first third of the opening page we get some solid intrigue. A man is dying in the first line and speaking to the main character. In the next couple sentences we get the speculative element. "Decades ago, Edward Weaver's dying words had bothered him." This clearly sets up some sort of time travel element, without smashing us over the head with it. Then to close out that first paragraph we know what sort of state of mind the character is in.

The next third of that first page shows us a little more about the speculative element, as the main character is actively working toward getting a piece of plastic out of the dying man's arm. The main character wants this so bad, he killed someone for it? Please, go on!
Also, with a clever use of dialogue, the dying man asks what the main character is trying to change. While we don't necessarily get an answer from the character, it doesn't matter quite yet. We know the character would kill for what he wants, and now we know somehow this murder and this piece of plastic will help the main character achieve their goal.

And in the final third of that first page, we know the character is willing to die himself in order to get what he wants. "Nathan had chosen someone vengeful for a reason." He was going to have to endure another gutshot death to get whatever it is he wants.

We get a clear sense that this is some sort of near future with time travel tech. We're grounded in a world that's enough like our own, it doesn't need much fleshing out but to hint at the tech and the effects of it. We know who our character is and how desperate they are. The sense of how much the character wants this is tremendous, even though we still don't really know what he's after.

A couple tricks I picked up and will try to implement in my next stories:
- Use of color in a title
- Main character so proactive, there's no doubt about how badly they want to achieve their goal
Z.T.

7x HM

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Aug 20, 2020 10:23 am

Great analysis so far by those challenge beasties that have presented their results on Part Two of the Nail Your Opening exercise. I gave all of you the week, so there are still others in this challenge that need to post ... and you still have time!

I am happy to see all that was learned from Part One where you examined what made the opening of "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" work. Your comments were excellent, and you got the point. Powerful openings set a tight scene, an empathetic and unique protagonist, and a Heart's Desire on the first page. They also give a specific genre cue so the reader knows they will get the type of story they purchased a ticket to see. The problem follows after, but first, you must set the stage, and reveal it at the opening curtain. Minimal props that say everything about what is to come, and who your players are, and opening lines that cunningly declare what your play is all about. Only after doing this can the reader truly let go and enjoy the ride.

Doing that effortlessly and without anyone recognizing what you are doing is the mark of a true magician, not a sideshow charlatan doing sleight of hand. It is the mark of the winners in Writers of the Future, as you are now discovering. Want to win Writers of the Future? Master this vital aspect of craft. Think you have? Go back to your openings and prove it to me in Q4. I have just told you one of the biggest reasons aspiring writers do not get an honorable mention in this contest. They can't even get to Dave because of this. The gatekeeper will reject the story. It's as simple, and as serious, as that.

Finally, I enjoyed every one of your posts on Assignment #1. Brilliant! I don't need to go back and show you what I did--you got it, and I'll save that for the Super Secrets book. But I will give special commendation and an award to a person that caught something no one else did, and she's not even in the challenge, but she does send me every assignment on the side. Candice Lisle. When Dixie said "My birthday's coming up, so close enough," I wrote that not only to place age, and not just to create an authentic voice of a child with a desire to appear older than she was. I actually foreshadowed an event in the story. A birthday, something every child looks forward to with giddy anticipation. As the story went on, that birthday became vital to the plot, because Dixie would never have gotten the expensive top-of-the-line PowaPlayah4 digidrive without it. And without that device (Magic Sword!), something rare and powerful (models have this model! and it has enough memory as a human brain!), Dixie could never have hoped to beat Flashpoint, that rich dude's corporation that planned to do the worst thing imaginable to her friend. Not going to say more, I don't want to spoil it for onlookers that haven't read it yet. Point is, there were three things I did with one noun--birthday--and while others might have mentioned it, Candice was the only one to catch the biggest point of the third thing, and explain to me why she thought I did it. She was right. Well done, Candice!

This concept is known as Chekhov's Gun. It is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make "false promises" by never coming into play. Anton Chekhov said, "Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there." In other words, only include elements that have direct relevance to your story and its plot.

For catching this elusive firefly, and for committing to the challenge even though she wasn't officially in it, I'm sending crlisle one of my signed art cards, a little gift many of my customers frame. It's special to me. My program crashed that I produce them through, and this is my last one. The art is featured at the conclusion of my "How to Write Winning Stories That Take the Gold" master class, so I think Candice will remember and get a kick out of it. Enjoy!

Still awaiting more responses to this exercise. Thank you to those challenge beasties participating! May your hard work pay off ... in Q4!

All the beast,

Beastmaser 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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby StarReacher » Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:12 pm

For my story, I chose The Warden by Kai Wolden from vol. 35.

In The Warden by Kai Wolden, suspense and mystery swirl in the first three paragraphs of the opening. In the first paragraph, we learn of a young child living through a spreading sickness. “I remember terrible heat, terrible cold, a drifting sensation, and something I can only describe as bliss.” There are hints this is no ordinary child. Instead of fear, the narrator (as the child) explains that dying from this sickness would not result in a “bad death,” but rather, as the narrator goes on to claim: “It would have been an ordinary one, and I have never felt the disdain some feel for the ordinary.” In the second paragraph, the child sees a figure appear as though in a dream. It is the familiar, long-haired magus Shae, a vessel to the gods, come to take the child away. In the third paragraph, we have a moment of strange humor as Shae laughs when the child wonders if they are going to the Afterworld. “And he laughed the most delighted, silken laugh.” This moment of lightness magnifies the blow a few sentences later as the child sees the family’s tent “burst into flames” as he is carried out into the cold. By this point in the story, we are left with the delicious wonder of why this particular child has been spared and what will come of him.

What I find fascinating in this story is heart's desire, which is the child trying to figure out why he was saved. For me, Wolden does this very cleverly by also making it our desire. Why does this god-like figure take it upon himself to make one child out of the entire village his ward and protect him from harm? I wanted to know and that hook pulled me through all the way to the very satisfying, yet emotional ending.

Hubbard, L. Ron. L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 35: Bestselling Anthology of Award-Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Stories (p. 53). Galaxy Pr Llc. Kindle Edition.
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), HM (Q4)

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

Postby StarReacher » Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:18 pm

Whoops!! I didn't want to be influenced by anyone's analysis so I didn't check to see what stories got chosen.

Crystal, just read your assignment :-) I suppose great minds think alike!
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), HM (Q4)

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:42 pm

StarReacher wrote:Whoops!! I didn't want to be influenced by anyone's analysis so I didn't check to see what stories got chosen.

Crystal, just read your assignment :-) I suppose great minds think alike!


I am glad you followed the instructions and chose the story that spoke to you, StarReacher. It matters not that others might also have chosen it.

I added a point about Chekhov's Gun to my post above. It is important everyone reads that. Items you include in your opening carry great weight. Readers expect payoffs for them, because you presented these items in the opening of your story as gateways into your world. They are promises to the reader of what is to come, and great thought should be given to everything you include in your openings. As you can see, the winners of Writers of the Future did so. If you hope to win, you must do the same, and do it with such finesse, nobody sees what you are up to.

If you have been faithfully doing the complete KYD exercise to the Monday prompts throughout the year, you have trained yourself in how to make one word do the work of three in the 250 phase of the exercise. This skill you developed will serve you well in your openings, where every word must carry power and entice your reader into the current that is your plot.

Carry on. Once you complete this exercise, may I suggest you go to the openings of your favorite short stories and novels and study them? It will come in handy next week. :)

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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby oishisushi911 » Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:57 pm

Assignment: Your Opening Scene Exercise, Part 2: Examine the function of the first three paragraphs in any story in WotF Vol 34, 35, or 36.

I decided to review Educational Tapes by Katie Livingston, from Vol. 36, as it’s one of perhaps six or seven that stick to my mind from the latest three volumes. Edit: I also chose this because I heard Farland himself say this was one that really grabbed him because it was new and different than most of the other stories. And jeez, I can see why--there's a lot going on here.

In the first three paragraphs, the writer brings us everything the story needs: a main character (Student 147B) in a setting (a clean, safe school with educational tapes and educational professionals) with a starting heart’s desire (freedom and independence) and a problem (those choices are about to either end or bring great harm to the main character and there’s nothing to be done about it).

The title tells us the entire structure: Educational Tapes. The first paragraph clarifies this immediately “This is installment one…for student 147B.” The description of who 147B is and their supposedly peaceful location leads us to paragraph 2 that confirms this peace but flips it, to illustrate its edge (introducing tension, meaning, theme, character conflict, etc.) by stating that nothing will harm the character except for the character’s very choices.

Grounded immediately. First sentence gives story structure and genre: we are listening to a government-issued educational tape (we are in some kind of SF near future, possibly utopia/dystopia. It introduces the idea of choices that are not really choices: “If you are not student 147B, you may now remove your headphones and raise your hand.” We are immersed in setting details: “…lay your head on your desk,” “smell the faint chemical residue of the disinfectant that the school janitor used to wipe your desk down this morning,” and smell “the dirt and playground rock dust still clinging to your skin.” The first hook of listening to the tape asks us to immerse ourselves, suggests that it is our choice to immerse ourselves, and yet, we really have no choice; the hook has already been delivered.

By the second paragraph, a short, three-sentence paragraph, I can’t stop reading. “Know there is nothing here to harm you. Only your choices. Only yourself.” The reader is promised significant, meaningful thematic exploration. While the narrator suggests the story is safe, which functions as a surface lure, the real lure (hook) is that there is promised emotional weight: every choice and everything the main character is (whether that is student 147B or the reader themselves) promises to do harm, promises to reveal authentic conflict, promises to dig deeper.

The reader and hero begin to bond through the sense of normalcy and play. The concept of play is introduced by this line at the end of the first paragraph: “Smell, also, the dirt and playground rock dust still clinging to your skin.” Deep down we all connect to this child, we’ve all played outside and had a good time at some point in our lives. Before and after this we have the normalcy and peace of resting on a desk and just listening and smelling, of “eating toast for breakfast”, of “putting on a wrinkled green T-shirt, of simply “watching a bug twitch on your windowsill until it lay still.” There is also a play on the trope of The One here. The Educational Tape is meant for Student 147B, no one else (except for maybe you, the reader…).

We receive a surprisingly clear description for a 2nd person POV. They’re wearing headphones in a school setting. They’re crossing their arms and putting their head on their desk. They’re closing their eyes and smelling the clean school smells. They’re dirty from playing outside in the dirt and dust. They’re wearing a wrinkled green T-shirt. Most of it ties into the school setting and listening to the tapes, but there’s the suggestion of something beyond that (playing outside and wearing the T-shirt that links to home and watching this bug at the window with its possible suggestion of freedom or death depending on how your take the last wording, “twitch on your windowsill until it lay still.”

While we get more detail after the third paragraph about the heart’s desire with the arrival of a fated delivery in the mail, we still get hints before that. Apparently, the main character wants to make choices, which suggests the main character wants freedom. We also know the main character wants independence, “Every choice that you have made up to this point was your own.” But that same line also suggests the freedom to make choices is about to change, “made up to this point”. As a reader, I must read on and find out how this is going to play out, there’s just too much looming beyond.

Main lesson for me?
Besides using essential details to immerse in a setting, character, and theme, the main lesson for me here is foreshadowing but more specifically linking that foreshadowing to the very basic elements of an opening tied to the main character’s life. The opening setting of the school is linked to the character’s safety but also to the character’s need to make choices and how those will eventually rule their life. Also, even though the foreshadowing is laid on thick here IMO, the story starts with so much normalcy that whatever is foreshadowed is going to be surprising and stand out to the reader (which I know is a big thing for editors; they want new surprises).

This story also emphasizes the neat trick of repeating lines in the denouement with much more weight than they started out. The story ends with “Remember, there is nothing here to harm you. Only your choices. Only yourself.” And the writer has already prepped the readers for engaging more deeply with the theme and depth within those lines, by placing them in the second paragraph of the story opening. Along the same lines, the first paragraph of the story prepares us for the beginning of every scene or every section of the story. So, the opening hook of every scene leads to the opening hook of every scene thereafter. This connecting of hooks throughout the entire story is going to be something I focus in on when I run through my drafts for my Q4 submission, not to mention my other submissions made in September.
R.J.K. Lee
WotF 2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs
WotF 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 2 HMs
2020 Goal: 99 rejections, 25 pending

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

Postby oishisushi911 » Thu Aug 20, 2020 6:22 pm

I just read through everyone's write-ups. Glad we have all these to look over together! Go team. Great analysis. Looking forward to seeing more. I was surprised to see two first person stories that do not clarify gender from the start. With one of my few HMs, that was something readers really pushed back on, that I wasn't giving enough gender grounding, and so I acquiesced, but perhaps that is much less important compared to, as CCrawford said, a narrative "so rich with character emotion and perceptions'" that we are immersed enough not to worry about gender. Or as AjZach pointed out, there's so much of the character's worries and relationship that the gender identification isn't important yet. If the reader is given enough to be grounded and have anticipation for what comes next, the some details can come much further down the line. Still, based on how grumpy readers can become about not having those details confirmed early on, not mentioning gender is certainly a risk.

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

Postby Retropianoplayer » Fri Aug 21, 2020 9:07 am

Swift Potato, checking in. My Pathfinder Squadron of Avro Lancaster bombers just dropped their 10-ton blockbuster bombs on target.

Just kidding. I submitted my Fourth Quarter story to WOTF, as per 37th Volume Challenge Beastie Requirements. I have until September 30th to submit additional fresh story to respectable market.

Best,

Retro
"Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love" - Rule 306
"Never compromise your integrity." LIFE'S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK by H.J. Browne, Jr.

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Aug 21, 2020 11:06 am

Got you down, Retro! Nice job :)
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby storysinger » Fri Aug 21, 2020 11:31 am

The story I've chosen is Poseidon's Eyes by Kary English

In the first two sentences we are informed that all we need to know about the town is to understand one man. Kary gives us the name and the description of her character, Peyton Fain, in the rest of the first paragraph. The terms she uses create a picture of a man of the sea, could it be Poseidon himself come to walk among men?

As the second paragraph unfolds we learn not everyone in the town accepts the man, so we have conflict. Before the end of the sentence we learn about his knowledge pertaining to the local spirits. Now we know the story is based in paranormal happenings. Not only do we find out genre, we also know the spirits are believed to have been responsible for more than one death in the town. The spirits go from joke fodder to a powerful force to be reckoned with.

The third paragraph provides background of the original settling of the town as a sort of Utopia. The first inhabitants are described as spiritualists that are peaceful to a fault. They have a communal lifestyle where everything is shared.

By the end of the first page we have been hooked into wanting to learn more about the spirits living around the village.
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Fri Aug 21, 2020 5:31 pm

Assignment pt2

I chose 'Educational Tapes' by Katie Livingston from v36. The word 'tapes' in the title hints at a conspiracy, something that I find interesting. The first paragraph confirms this by bringing in the government with a dystopian setting. This paragraph also defines the MC as a student but also hooks us with descriptive writing that should bring forward the reader's childhood memories (eg. disinfectant on school desks). This student could be you, a feeling reinforced by the second-person perspective (here lies the bond with the reader). The paragraph seems light on facts, compared with some other stories, but there is also an economy here as the reader does not need to know more.

The second paragraph is short, but the three sentences are well structured and focus on the idea that 'you' have a choice. But, as a dystopia, we know that there is no real choice that the theme is about the struggle against the loss of control.

The third (and next) paragraph does two things: 1. It further sets the scene, telling us what the life of the MC looks like, nothing out of the ordinary, but we become familiar with the character; and 2. We are told that everything that has happened is the MC's choice (but of course it won't be), thus letting us know that the heart's desire will be for freedom or at the least freedom of choice.

We want to read on, not only to prove ourselves correct but, through descriptive writing, to be carried through this discovery.
HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, SHM, ?

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

Postby C.A. Tedeschi » Sat Aug 22, 2020 8:57 am

Wulf Moon wrote:
THIS is why you nail down pertinent details right off the bat when you introduce a character, and then you never have to do it again. It should be brief with unique details to lock the correct image in the reader's mind.


It seems much trickier in third person. No author intrusions.

To get your character's description in right at the beginning, keeping in POV, even with a strong narrative voice, that's a big platter to fill. I know there's always dialogue but... What other options are there?

i thank you for your time..... ... .. .. . .. . . . .
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Sat Aug 22, 2020 9:31 am

Check out the idea of free indirect speech. I use it in third person a lot.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby C.A. Tedeschi » Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:52 am

RSchibler wrote:Check out the idea of free indirect speech. I use it in third person a lot.


I'm looking into it now. Thank's for the bone.

Ok so. It seems an awful lot like a tight POV 3rd person limited... Which is really what i'm currently shooting for.

There's probably a distinction in there somewhere, i just can't see it.

I'll try and touch it up. That's all we can do—is try and approach it from another angle.

Better get back to it. I've got a deadline.... Finish 1st draft in one week from today.

Only 5 weeks left, and i still need time to garner a few critiques...
"You've come a long way to be where you are right now, might as well relax. Life ain't a destination, it's not even a journey. It's an arrival." C.A. Tedeschi

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Aug 24, 2020 4:36 am

Good morning, beasties! Today's Monday prompt is: SHIPWRECKED, BUT NOT ALONE...
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 24, 2020 12:37 pm

C.A. Tedeschi wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:
THIS is why you nail down pertinent details right off the bat when you introduce a character, and then you never have to do it again. It should be brief with unique details to lock the correct image in the reader's mind.


It seems much trickier in third person. No author intrusions.

To get your character's description in right at the beginning, keeping in POV, even with a strong narrative voice, that's a big platter to fill. I know there's always dialogue but... What other options are there?

i thank you for your time..... ... .. .. . .. . . . .


Tedeschi: It's not hard to do, you just employ different methods and styles to get in environment and character details. I'll do a POV Super Secret--it's obvious it's needed. In the meantime, look at how I did it in third person limited (what I call 3P close, or 3P intimate), in the opening of "Weep No More For the Willow" in DEEP MAGIC, Fall 2019. Look at it close, and you'll see my tricks. That story was a semifinalist in WotF, and Dave said on the level of world building alone, it was probably better than all the other finalists put together. So it's a good example. See how I opened my world. See how I introduced my players. You don't need much in the form of written code to activate the vision in your reader's mind, but it does have to be vivid, and unique items of scenery, characteristics, and clothing help as well. Remember: you are keying in code that will activate the life experiences within your reader. Much as you'd like, you can't give them your experience and life images. When you say pirate, they might think Captain Jack Sparrow crazy pirate, or they might think calculating Long John Silver pirate. It doesn't matter. Get them in the ballpark with a solid detail, and they'll key up a pirate, and they'll modify him or her as the story progresses. But if your pirate is a one-legged pirate with a wooden appendage, you must reveal that in the opening, not on page 27 when he unscrews his leg in the brig, pulls out a dagger, and slashes the throat of his antagonist and wins the day! Sheesh. I can't tell you how many times I've seen things like this. Give it to us up front in your opening if it's going to be important later on. But please, please, please don't float fluffy white marshmallow people through your story. As an editor, I'll just impale them on a stick and roast them!

I hope that helps. Now back to the challenge beasties in this workshop that are working hard on their winning Q4s! Don't miss this lesson. It's the primary reason for not placing. Open with an empathetic character, in a vivid setting, with a Heart's Desire, and then a problem opposing that Heart's Desire. Don't forget your genre cue. First two pages, or you're OUT! I've repeated this many times. There's a reason I got certificates 14 times out of the 15 times I entered with Dave as the coordinating judge. The ONE time I didn't? I didn't open with my protagonist. Word to the wise.

Finally, don't become complacent. Sure, there's always another quarter. But this is the last quarter of the contest year. You miss this one, it's a whole 'nuther year of trying. Writers know this. Some writers have been working all year on one story, maybe even hired pro editors to help them make it perfect. If you can't afford that (I couldn't), you do your best with what you have at your disposal. But the most important thing you have is time, enough time to write another story. Use that time. Push yourself. Come up with another cool idea and wonderful character and put them through soul-crushing hell. Make the tension build and build to the climax so that it will be impossible for Dave to put your story down. You compel him to read to the end and wipe away a tear, you make finalist.

But remember this: You are up against champions. To beat a champion, you must become a champion. Never is this more important than in Q4. Ask me how I know ...

All the beast!

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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:11 pm

Good choices all of you on SET. YOUR. STAGE. Phase 2 exercise, which was to analyze a story in the last three WotF volumes that you felt did a good job on nailing the opening. It worked for you, so the writer did their job right.

Now, I'd like to share one of my own. I'd like all of you to take a look at the first three paragraphs in "Catching My Death" in Vol. 36. First, title. That's a title that makes you go "Ooooooh, I wish I'd thought of that myself. I know exactly where this story is going." Indeed, the first line, set alone for dramatic tension, delivers. "Jacob caught his death yesterday." Boom. We're hooked. We read on, and what his death looks like is no mystery. "It looked like a good one: quiet, a soft, dark-grey thing nestled like a kitten in the crook of his arm." Boom. A major mystical world element described neat and tidy, and we're ready to run with it. Next paragraph, more world elements, problem elements, clothing elements. It's a good, dynamic opening, and it's all done in exposition. SET. YOUR. STAGE. Please go back and review that opening by J. L. George. It's a great one.

And now, ASSIGNMENT for the SUPER SECRET: SET. YOUR. STAGE. Phase 3 Exercise:

Same as you did in the Phase 2 exercise. This time, analyze the first three paragraphs in your favorite non WotF short story. If you can't find one that exemplifies what we're looking for in openings, try your favorite novels, but find for the group the very best that opens with a character, in a setting, with a Heart's Desire, and hopefully a problem follows shortly after. Answer:

1. How did the author make a powerful vision of their world open up in my mind with a minimum of details?

2. How did they introduce an empathetic character that was unique and made me immediately connect with them?

3. What age, gender, and characteristics were given of the protagonist to help me lock a vision of them in my mind? Was it accurate enough to carry me through the rest of the tale?

4. How did they sneak in what their character wanted, a Heart's Desire?

5. By the time I had read three paragraphs, did I know what genre I was reading in? Were there strong hints as to what this story was going to be about?

6. What new tricks did I learn from analyzing this opening, that I can implement in the openings of my story?

7. How important is this lesson in nailing the opening of transitional scenes as well? What happens when you nail down details of place, characters, and time before they start interacting or speaking?

8. What do I need to do in my Q4 entry to Writers of the Future this contest year?

You have one week. Do take your time and find us a good example.

All the beast!

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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf


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