Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
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AlexH
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby AlexH » Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:07 pm

And after my post, I just saw this when I went to the BBC homepage: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-50041509

My brain didn't know whether I should laugh or cry.
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: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby StarReacher » Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:19 pm

Denoument, for me, is like the glass of milk you down after a particularly rich chocolate fudge cake. Maybe you had to fight off aliens or dragons to get that slice, but now you've devoured every succulent morsel, including the drizzle of raspberry sauce you furtively scrape up with your fork. Your tummy is full, but your senses are overloaded. That milk brings you back down to reality, clearing your sugar-rushed brain and leaving you with contentment as you think back to when the cake arrived on a pretty white plate, and you had yet to discover all of it's delights.

An example of denoument comes from one of my all-time favorite books, "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh." Incidentally, that may have been my introduction, at the age of 9, to the blending of Science Fiction and Fantasy. After surviving the farmer's plow, the author (Robert C. O'Brien) shows the family living in their new summer home, all snug and happy.

Sadly, I can think of 2 of my short stories, right off the bat, that are missing denoument endings. Both WOF entries. But now I know better and those will be stories to dust off at some point (obviously rejections) and take another look at. I know that one of them felt "off" but I didn't know why at the time. I am very new to SUPER SECRETS. The stories of mine that got HM and SHM, I think I just intuitively got right (or close enough) just by chance.

Wulf Moon wrote:Next Assignment

1. What exactly is denoument, and why must a story have it?

2. Describe a denoument for us from one of your favorite books.

3. Go back to the last short story you wrote (not the Flash). Ask yourself: Did my story have a true denoument? And then confess. Here. You heard me. Don't worry, we'll absolve you if necessary. : )

Cheers!
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: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Andy Dibble » Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:19 pm

Like everything we learned in school, there's more to denouement than "the falling action". The plot's loose ends must be tied; the promise to the reader, fulfilled. Better yet, there should be some emotional resolution for the reader. Moon mentions coming full circle as a satisfying denouement. Any ending that colors our views of previous parts of the story, especially the beginning, can have emotional impact. Also, going beyond "what happened" and suggesting "why it matters".


I'll add that very occasionally a story can end well without a proper denouement. "Mobius" in WotF 32 is one such story. It's entirely left up in the air what the protagonist does at the end. The reason this worked is because the author gave us potent reasons on either side of a very momentous choice. Wrapping the story up in that case would have been cheaper than leaving it hanging. That being said, I think it's quite rare that a story is made better ending with a cliff hanger.

There's also the grade school story "The Lady and the Tiger"
http://www.english-literature.uni-bayre ... ckton1.pdf

I struggle to think of other well-written stories without denouement. If Borges's "Book of Sand" were to actually exist, that would be a story without denouement because it is infinite!
http://archives.evergreen.edu/webpages/ ... _Sands.pdf

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:54 pm

Okay, I tend to enjoy "darker" humor so many of my favorite jokes don't fit here. I think this one is fairly clean, though:

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One turns to the other and says, "Does this taste funny to you?"

Another fun one that has a double meaning:

My wife told me I had to stop acting like a flamingo. So I had to put my foot down.

Oh, last one, I promise:

And God said to John, come forth and you shall be granted eternal life. But John came fifth and won a toaster.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:58 pm

First, an apology. I intended to do these faster, but y'all are prolific posters and I'm a very busy human. Feel free to ignore any and all of my comments as always. I'll try to do the next batch with more dispatch. wotf009

Hey, The Girl with the Glasses. I really enjoyed your siren's story. The magic is up front, there's an immediate plot problem, you've got your magic dongle and your character goes through change. That being said, when she says "I lied" I'm not sure, in the 250, what she lied about. Liking him? Unclear to me. Maybe I'm missing something. That's my only real comment though. I love the imagery this story presents.

AJ, Tricks is a fun story. Not speculative fiction, as far as I can tell, but since it's not for the contest I can see why you went this way for the prompt. I have a few comments. First, I might remove the filter in the 500. "He thought he should run home..." only because I feel like the sentence is a bit stronger without it? See what you think. I try to be aware of these in my stories. Also the "starting to feel more afraid" is fine, but sometimes emotions are more impactful if the reader feels it instead of being told the feeling. What does a little kid feel like when he's afraid but trying not to be? Finally, I don't understand why he went back into the woods after being told there was something in there and he'd escaped successfully from it. I wouldn't be heading back in there! Maybe I missed something.

Swift Potato I like the neat idea of your story. The 500 has a sympathetic protagonist and some attempts to solve the problem of his missing dog. Alas, the dog is dead and he's going to forget all about him. In the 250, I think we lose some of the clarity and flow of the longer piece. I don't see evidence of conflict, because the characters presented are in accord with one another. We sympathize with the boy being deceived, but because we're not in his POV I wonder how much we're invested in the outcome. Instead we have two women lying to a child. If you decided to expand this out, I might reconsider the choice to change the POV, maybe. The boy is the one with the most to lose - the knowledge of Inkblot's death, and his mother's deception.

CC Crawford, yours might be my favorite of the lot (so far). The subtle magic, the love and frustration, and most of all, the implications of a longer backstory without exposition running rampant. Well done. I don't really have any critiques on yours, really. The dongle is there, in the iris. There's even a denouement as we wonder and imagine his life with an iris instead of his wife. If you were to expand this out, there would need to be a greater source of conflict, maybe. In a flash, just her illness and tending the flower is enough, but I'm not sure that would sustain itself over 3000 words. I could be wrong, of course.

RetroPianoPlayer, there's a lot of good writing in your story. I like the scene setting, the clear love the mother has while she's also concealing something from the girls, and especially the voice of your narrator. That being said, I am not sure the quasi-historical nature of the piece rang true for me. The "twist" of revealing his name cast the rest of the story into a confusing place for me personally. Perhaps due to my training as a historian, it left me wondering if I'd missed clear references to the Holocaust (I did, the German street) and so instead of being an "Aha!" moment it was a "Eeeh?" moment. That could be entirely personal, of course. If you were to expand this out, I might either lean into the historical and place it more appropriately in a concentration camp, and the deception is the audition (much like the boy with the striped pajamas) or, make the reference to Mengele more subtle. That's just me though.

Story Singer I like the premise of your story a great deal. I think the 250 suffers a little bit from "and then" syndrome, in the sense that there's not a lot of scene setting. We lose the coffee, we even lose that brilliant line of immaculate deception. One of the things I learned from the first time I went through this exercise was the difference between the skeleton of the story and the head of a story. A vignette is a rich, fully developed, slice of a story able to imply, in the reader's mind, the full tale. Or a full tale, since we'll all have different details off the page. Maybe focus on one scene, maybe the scene with the most conflict (in your story I'd suggest the final image of the boy being taken) and see if you can use small details and reflections to fill in the rest of the story while delivering the richness of a longer piece.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:14 pm

RSchibler, thanks for the feedback! I think you're right that some of the emotional investment was lost in the 250. Likely this perspective would do better in a longer form, but I can see merits to both! It depends on whether the conflict the reader is wondering about is "will the boy find out about his dog" or "will the boy find his dog", and all the different things that can happen as a result of those questions. Thank you again - it was so kind of you to go through and give comments on all these pieces. :)
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby einstein36 » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:27 pm

Here's a funny joke...(No insults intended)

what do you get when you put a bunch of blondes in the freezer...…

Frosted Flakes...LOL
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:47 pm

RSchibler, thanks so much for your feedback and encouragement about my 500 and 250. I think you're right that in a longer piece, I'd definitely need more conflict.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:17 pm

RSchibler, thank you for taking the time to beta-read my flash and give constructive criticism.

You have a good nose. DECEPTION is continuous throughout the story. The mother's deception to avoid telling her children what she knows is in store for them (she's already received the letter earlier); the mother's deception that their missing father will be home soon; the mother's deception it's a small police matter (hardly likely as she holds a suitcase in her hands); the deception of the audition inside a hospital (extremely improbable under any circumstances); and finally the MAJOR DECEPTION - all of the girls who enter the Left Door never return.

As a historian, you're aware of the Acktion T-4 program in Germany which caused an uproar prior to the concentration camps. This program was based on the American Eugenics programs in the twenties, and euthanized ordinary citizens who were considered "mental retards" or those born with disabilities, and a closely guarded secret pre-Holocaust.

If you're a history lover, I highly recommend THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE (ON AMAZON PRIME), the book was originally written by Philip K. Dick, and shows an alternate history of WW2. I've seen every season and looking forward to its return.

Best,

Retro
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:22 pm

Humor is subjective.

The best advice on humor I’ve heard is to draw down as many times on the same punchline as possible.

A few years ago I published a humorous novella called “so you wanna be a desperado demon slayer”. It was one long inappropriate joke bound tightly together with hundreds of smaller inappropriate jokes. I used character dynamics to add humor:

• An obsessive compulsive cross-eyes cowboy
• A mentally retarded body builder girl is in love with the gay guy in town
• A Reverend who accidentally killed his entire congregation after a night of celebratory snake handling is now WAY over-zealous as penance for his sin
• A Deputy with anger management issues who finds inner peace by pistol whipping people



Sometimes, the humor is in the delivery of a situation. It helps if the situation is ridiculous to begin with.

Reverend Peter Coleman, empowered by the one true Lord and backed with an excess of four hundred and fifteen pounds of gluttonous obesity, chopped a roundhouse kick right in John's money-maker. Demon, man, or marsupial—it made no difference. John's knees buckled as his jewels launched into the galactic orbit.


I often use the series of three approach, where the last in a series is the humorous item.

I’ll have my tea with milk, sugar, and Scarlett Johansson.


Sometimes I reverse this so I start with two obnoxious items and the humor is in the mundane item--then I throw in a fun POV and you’ve got something good.

“Mamma, for my birthday I want a rocket ship, a nuclear power plant, and a paper plate. Do we have paper plates?”


I won't claim to be funny, but people laugh at me a LOT!
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:48 pm

Comments on "Soulmates." Volume 37 challenge requirements by StarReacher.

I'm not setting you up to be the teacher's pet, but we are doing these exercises to learn from one another. So I feel it necessary to say this is the most professional storytelling style I've seen so far. If I were to pick up a professional magazine or anthology, I know I'd find concise, dramatic writing like this with lots of good one-line descriptions. I'm thinking of your description of closing the drapes as 'fabric sweeping away the city' and describing the company rep as having a "serial killer vibe." Vivid images, with minimal words. Powerful impact. And it all fits the action scene you have going on here. Challenge beasties should take a look at your layout for action scenes and remember it. Well done! We know how you got those Silver HMs in your signature.

That said, I'd pick the 500 over the 250. Since the 250 is just a smart cut and gut from the 500, telling the same story, the 500 does a better job with the extra words. Again, when you do the exercise, try to rethink your story before creating the 250. It should help you find a potent emotional scene that was part of the larger tale in the 1000 word flash piece. Focus on that, and it will often change the heart of your story as you build up from this potent seed later on.

I do think you need to tell us a little more of what's going on so we're not lost in this piece. Perhaps your 1000 word flash did so. A little uncertainty as to why we are here is okay, but leaving out key details your reader needs to understand your work is not. These are setup issues. We have your character, in a setting, with a problem--he doesn't want to kill himself, even if it's technically not killing himself. But I don't know why he has to go through with this to please his soulmate, or meet the company's interest in it all. All of this is a mystery never solved in my mind. You know the answers, you are the writer, it's all in your head. But for me as reader, I don't find enough clues in the coding to make me say "aha"--excellent though that coding was on a technical level.

Again, good writing. Glad to have you with us!

OH KEEPER OF RECORDS, DRAW FORTH STARREACHER'S BLOOD AND ADD HIS NAME TO THE WALL OF OATHS! MY GOODNESS, JUST START A NEW MEMBERSHIP LINE, YOU KEEP MAKING THEM SMALLER AND SMALLER AS THE LIST GETS CLOSER TO THE FLOOR. I'M GOING TO NEED A MAGNIFYING GLASS OR A MICROSCOPE IF YOU KEEP THIS UP!
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:52 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:OH KEEPER OF RECORDS, DRAW FORTH STARREACHER'S BLOOD AND ADD HER NAME TO THE WALL OF OATHS! MY GOODNESS, JUST START A NEW MEMBERSHIP LINE, YOU KEEP MAKING THEM SMALLER AND SMALLER AS THE LIST GETS CLOSER TO THE FLOOR. I'M GOING TO NEED A MAGNIFYING GLASS OR A MICROSCOPE IF YOU KEEP THIS UP!


The whispers start again, but this time they sound disgruntled. Writing begins in a new column on the cave wall. You breathe a sigh of relief. The names were beginning to grow too small to read, but this one is clear: STARREACHER.
Last edited by SwiftPotato on Thu Oct 17, 2019 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby storysinger » Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:18 pm

Thank you for the crit Rebecca. I do like the idea of expanding on the capture scene. All things are possible.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:47 pm

Comments on "The Under-galactic Railroad." Volume 37 Challenge requirements by Henckel.

I like your writing style, Henckel. This has a professional feel to it as well. You code up some powerful descriptive images, like this one: "Her blood pooled like used motor oil." Vivid, easy to visualize simile. This one is interesting in the fact that the 250 actually contains more information than the 500! I haven't seen that before. Normally, you lose details as you go down. In this case, we gained details by your sacrificing the conclusion that was on the 500. It's still alluded to, we just don't have it in the 250. And that's how you fit more in less space. It can be satisfying as well, because if you do your job right, we fill in the blanks at the end, like popping in a last puzzle piece you framed around but left out for us to have the satisfaction of finishing off the puzzle. Well done!

Some things to think about. The conversing frogs addition in the 250 was very confusing. It seemed bizarre and had no relevance to the story you were telling. I assumed a metaphor, but you quoted them with literal dialogue, so that means they were really talking. You can do that in SF, but it has to be relevant to the world and story you are telling. Also, I needed to know your protagonist's motivation better. I couldn't tell for certain if he hated this "railroad," or if he hated cheating the customers (slave holders?) who owned the creatures with the tracking devices. Sometimes, an obvious statement is necessary. We really do need a map that says YOU ARE HERE when we start a story. It helps us understand what's really going on. This seems to be a recurring theme as I talk about these flash exercises. If your reader gets lost in the beginning, they're going to quit reading. If they're the judge, they're going to reject your story, well-written though it may be. Often this happens because we know our hero and his motivation and moral compass, but we don't get it clearly on the page. We think we do, because we know our characters and stories so well. But our readers do not. They expect the author to give them the necessary info they need to understand the basics, and they expect it to come pretty darn quick. Fail to do that, they'll just be confused, and they won't be likely to read on.

That said, it's an interesting setting, with a grisly situation. I'd focus in on that conversation with the female creature that you had in the 500. That makes us read, because why would anyone want their hand (or paw?) cut off? There's something chilling in willingly seeking something so horrible.

Oh, good title--it's the first clue as to what is going on--but your title was not capitalized properly. I fixed it for you. Even here, proper format counts. And in the contest, when Dave has to choose between some 24 or so near perfect stories like last quarter? Little things like that can actually determine whether he makes you a finalist or not. It's that close.

Great job, glad to have you, welcome to the pack!

OH KEEPER OF RECORDS! DRAW FORTH HENCKEL'S BLOOD AND ADD HIS NAME TO THE ILLUSTRIOUS WALL OF OATHS! What, you say? His blood pooled like used motor oil and is swirling counterclockwise on the cavern floor? That's not magic, stop crossing yourself. There's a scientific term for that, the Kiwi Effect or some such. Don't be afraid, dip in and get his name up on the wall before it clots and we have to start all over again!
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:52 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:OH KEEPER OF RECORDS! DRAW FORTH HENCKEL'S BLOOD AND ADD HIS NAME TO THE ILLUSTRIOUS WALL OF OATHS! What, you say? His blood pooled like used motor oil and is swirling counterclockwise on the cavern floor? That's not magic, stop crossing yourself. There's a scientific term for that, the Kiwi Effect or some such. Don't be afraid, dip in and get his name up on the wall before it clots and we have to start all over again!


As you hold your lantern aloft, more writing begins, this blood darker than the rest. And does this writing seem shakier? It's difficult to tell in the dwindling light, but you can still make out the word: HENCKEL.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:54 pm

Rebecca (RSchibbler), as you know, is the Forum crit beast. Thank you for all of your thoughtful commentary, Rebecca. I'm sure people appreciate it. wotf009
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:26 pm

AlexH wrote this (I wish I knew how to pull smaller quotes out like some of you do, instead of the whole post): "A lot of my favourite jokes are funny because the ending gives the build up a different meaning to what I expected. That lines up with what you say about a final line having a different meaning to what was the same line early in the story. Many jokes come full circle in a small space."

Well said, Alex. You got it! And I hope that novel you're working on comes out okay!

Here's a joke, first told to me by a four-year-old girl:

Mushroom walks into a bar and says, "Bartender, give me a drink!"
Bartender says, "No way, we don't serve your type around here."
Mushroom says, "Why not? I'm a fungi."

We have a character (mushroom) in a setting (bar) that clearly states what it desires: it wants a drink!
We also have a problem: the antagonist (bartender) has a strong prejudice against walking and talking mushrooms. Oh no!
Our witty protagonist tries to win the bartender over and get what he desires with a play on words. We laugh, because a lightbulb goes off in our head when we realize phonetically, fungi sounds like "fun guy." The ending satisfies and brings forth the desired emotional response, a chuckle.

Not a perfect example, because this one doesn't have the denouement. But you can see how Story elements work and can even evoke emotion in the smallest of forms.

Let's see some more! Looking for a story joke, what Algis Budrys called a jape.

Beastmaster Moon
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Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:35 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:(I wish I knew how to pull smaller quotes out like some of you do, instead of the whole post)


You know how when you hit the quote button, it pops up the comment editor with the whole post inside a [ quote][/quote ] tag (without the extra spaces - I'm just using them to avoid accidental formatting nasties)? As long as you leave those two tags in brackets, you can delete as much of the post in between as you want! So originally your entire comment was in my comment box, but after I pulled out the bits I didn't need, it looked like:

[ quote="Wulf Moon"](I wish I knew how to pull smaller quotes out like some of you do, instead of the whole post)[/quote ]

(again, without the extra spaces). Hope that helps. If not, I can try to make my example better!
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:45 pm

Thanks for your comments Wulf-all good valid points. Reading your vignette helped a lot!

Also, this "killing year darlins" challenge has been a huge asset for me already. I've heard writing advice for years talking about an economy of words and getting bang for your buck. But it wasnt until I've deliberately tried this myself that I can truely embrace what this looks and feels like.

I'm looking forward to the next challenge, and I'm thrilled to be a part of the Wulf pack.

Lastly, on the subject of music and stories, I reccomend listening to Steve Earl. Some like copperhead road, devils right hand, and the rain came down,... those songs are short stories. And his song N.Y.C. shows impeccable use of descriptive words.

I've never really listened to rush. I think I'll listen now.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
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(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:45 pm

SwiftPotato wrote: Hope that helps. If not, I can try to make my example better!


By George, I think he's got it. I thought there was a secret key for it or something. Elementary!

Thanks.
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Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:24 pm

Henckel wrote:Thanks for your comments Wulf-all good valid points. Reading your vignette helped a lot!

Also, this "killing year darlins" challenge has been a huge asset for me already. I've heard writing advice for years talking about an economy of words and getting bang for your buck. But it wasnt until I've deliberately tried this myself that I can truely embrace what this looks and feels like.

I'm looking forward to the next challenge, and I'm thrilled to be a part of the Wulf pack.

Lastly, on the subject of music and stories, I reccomend listening to Steve Earl. Some like copperhead road, devils right hand, and the rain came down,... those songs are short stories. And his song N.Y.C. shows impeccable use of descriptive words.

I've never really listened to rush. I think I'll listen now.


Glad the exercise is helping, Henckel. I developed it to win that contest each week, and discovered something when I did the 500 to 250 phase. I couldn't tell the same story I had started with, it would just be a flat, less detailed version of the larger. Instead, I had to seek out the germ within, and then built the poignant scene. They can be quite powerful and very evocative. And after working on them, building all that intensity into the vignettes, they become so vivid in your mind, you can't forget them. Many demanded I write their larger tales, like "Weep No More for the Willow" in DEEP MAGIC, and the story changed when I went to build them back up. It makes me think of casting ore into a furnace, skimming away the dross, bringing forth the pure, molten metal. Hopefully gold, but nothing wrong with silver and copper.

Steve Earl. Copperhead Road has much power, and is indeed a story. I know it well, and my buddy plays it. I'll have to check out the others. With Rush, the 2112 Overture is a great SF story. I like "Trees" a lot, I thnk that's what it's called. "Bastille Day" is another good un'.

But as I mentioned, check out Van Morrison's "Coney Island." It's a true vignette, what we're talking about here. Capturing moments like that and making readers wistful, touching their hearts, evoking their own memories, that's what good writing, even songwriting, is all about. Good writing makes people think, but the best writing makes people feel. They will never forget you if you touch their heart.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon
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Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby JESchleicher » Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:21 pm

I'm in. wotf024

Title: Fain to Dine and Sup on Soup

My 500 Word Flash (499 words)

Bobbing in the tank of brine, Greg clung to a corpse to stay afloat and stared at the skull. The one with the baby teeth. The one with the small, empty sockets. He couldn't be sure it was Jesse's. Other adolescent skulls scattered the old government building. But the possibility gave him the strength to tread on. He mustn’t die. Not yet. His revenge and humanity’s last stand needed to be tasted.

Greg smelled the creature before it crawled into the room, an acrid and sour scent like bile from a dry heave. The patter of its legs echoed from the corridor.

Pushing aside the corpse, he turned toward the hallway with tiny strokes. Shadows from the drowned dotted the tank’s salty depths.

The creature squeezed through the door not designed for its horrid kind. Its six-bladed legs slid and scratched on linoleum yet terraformed. It found purchase on brown, fibrous vines that snaked the floor and walls. Eight yellow eyes peppered its bulbous black body that dripped an odorous puss onto the vines. That's how they communicated, so the scientists had said, through the vines that now choked Earth.

It skirted toward the tank and peered over before splashing two legs into the solution.

Greg somersaulted under thrashing water, and for a moment, didn’t know which way pointed up. He collided into a body, then another, and felt the give of bloated skin.

He surfaced, coughing and spitting up.

With two pierced bodies held aloft like kabobs, the thing pattered to a large cooking vat that spat boiling water. He had to get into that soup, let his weaponized microbes do their work.

“Hey ugly!” He splashed the water. “Take me next! I’m delicious! Marinated just right!”

The creature plopped the bodies into the vat and turned back. Red water bubbled over the vat’s side. He tried to not think about what caused the new smell. He’d soon add to it.

The thing looked over the tank and Greg readied himself for the pain. It’d be dull compared to never again hearing Jesse say I love you, Daddy.

It shot a leg through Greg's sternum.

He screamed, arching his back, feeling and hearing his ribs crunch.

It lifted him. Water, pink with blood, dripped into the tank below.

He kept limp. His end lay near, with it his grief. He stared longingly at the skull and wished he believed in an afterlife.

The heat bit him above the vat. He gazed down at the bubbling red. Occasionally a hand popped up or hair or a leg. Any second now, he’d join their macabre dance, churning in the water with them, becoming a meal.

He smiled for the first time since before Jesse’s death. One slurp and the microbes would kill this creature. Its toxic puss would infect the others. Rapidly, so the scientists had said, through the vines. All fine. This one though mattered. This one had eaten Jesse.

Greg splashed in and felt a scalding satisfaction.

My 250 Word Flash (247 words)

Greg treaded water in the tank of brine and stared at the skull. He couldn't be sure it was Jesse's. Other adolescent skulls scattered the old government building. But the possibility gave him strength. His revenge and humanity’s last stand needed to be tasted.

Greg smelled the creature first, a sour scent like bile from a dry heave. With six-bladed legs, it squeezed through the door, crawling on brown vines that now choked Earth. Eight yellow eyes peppered its bulbous black body that dripped an odorous puss onto the vines. It skirted to a large cooking vat that spat red boiling water.

He had to get into that soup, let his weaponized microbes do their work. “Hey ugly! I’m marinated just right!”

As it pattered to the tank, he readied himself for the pain. It’d be dull compared to never again hearing Jesse say I love you, Daddy.

It pierced a leg through Greg’s sternum.

He screamed. His ribs crunched.

It carried him like a kabob to the soup.

His end lay near, with it his grief. He stared at the skull, wishing he believed in an afterlife. He gazed down at the bubbling red. Occasionally a body part popped up. Any second now, he’d join the macabre dance.

He strained a smile. One slurp and the microbes would kill this creature. Through the vines, it’d infect the others. This one though mattered. This one had eaten Jesse.

Greg splashed in and felt a scalding satisfaction.
Last edited by JESchleicher on Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby JESchleicher » Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:51 pm

Did you hear about the pretzel that hopped down the back alley? It was assaulted.

And a "twist" on Wulf's fungi joke:

A rope slides into a bar and says, "Can I have a drink, please?"
Bartender says, "No way, we don't serve your type around here."
Rope leaves with its top end slumped.
Outside, rope thinks, I'm getting that drink. But to be sure, it decides to go in disguise, and so it ties itself into a knot, fraying its ends.
Inside, and with a little more swagger, "Hey, Keep! Get me scotch on the rocks. Your best!"
Bartender says, "Say, ain't you that rope that came in here not but two snaps ago?"
Rope says, with a smirk and a wink, "I'm a frayed knot."
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby einstein36 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 5:36 am

I know we are talking about flash fiction, but what do you think of two sentence stories???
for example..
I couldn't tell if the noise was a cry of sorrow or cackle of laughter.
Then I realized: I was the one making the noise.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:19 am

einstein36 wrote:I know we are talking about flash fiction, but what do you think of two sentence stories???
for example..
I couldn't tell if the noise was a cry of sorrow or cackle of laughter.
Then I realized: I was the one making the noise.


Oh I love these! There's a whole sub-forum on Reddit dedicated to them (I think it's called something like TwoSentenceHorror). I think they're pretty similar to jokes in that they're supposed to be very punchy in a very short form. Fun question: do you think you could boil your 250 down into a two sentence story?
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Oct 15, 2019 9:15 am

I liked your "twist" on my joke, JESchleicher. It had two try/fail cycles in it as well. Well, perhaps a try/succeed--the frayed knot attempt might have worked!

These boil stories down to their basics, making it easier to see how the elements of Story works.

For those tracking my progress since winning WotF, the past thirty days were rather surreal. I had three works published in that span, four if you count the latest Future SF podcast. It's been a lot to keep up with, but I'm not complaining after years of selling nothing. There's actually good reasons this is happening, unique premises I have that can help you, and it's a big part of the upcoming Super Secrets and Vol. 37 Challenge I am preparing. If you'd like a preview of what's to come, read my article "Never Let Go" in HOW I GOT PUBLISHED AND WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY. Some Secrets are going to be coming out of that once we begin, some flying in the face of everything people tell you to do. October 20th, by midnight, is when enrollment ends, so do get your submission requirements in here before the gates close and the ponies start the race!

Here's my latest publication. "Cold Iron" in the pro-paying Third Flatiron Publishing's INFINITE LIVES: SHORT TALES OF LONGEVITY. This is the sequel to "War Dog" that won the Critters Readers' Choice Award for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story of 2018. Another wild historical fantasy with my hero Capricho in the time of the conquistadors!

But you want to know what's really interesting? As I looked at the TOC (Table of Contents for you home gamers), I started talking to the editor about how many WotF winners were in this. There were FIVE, including David Cledan, my fellow compatriot from Volume 35. The editor told me she doesn't target WotF winners, in fact, she doesn't even look at cover letters until they've made their final selections. So how does this happen? What does this say about the WotF contest and the type of people that win? You tell me! Look at Martin Shoemaker. He won WotF, what, five years ago? And yet now he's got a #1 bestseller in both the Fantasy and Science Fiction categories on Amazon. What does this tell you, and how does this relate to you, to this challenge? Discuss please. This is your current assignment.

And if you'd like to check it out, here's the link to the book. There's also a trade paperback, Amazon just hasn't linked the two up yet. Cheers!

https://www.amazon.com/Infinite-Lives-L ... 196&sr=8-1
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.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Tue Oct 15, 2019 9:29 am

Congrats on the newest publications, Moon! That's great!

The number of WotF winners could mean something very simple but still big: WotF is fulfilling what it set out to do. They want to find the new writers with the most potential and get them published and workshopped and helped as much as possible. For us, it means we've got a lot to live up to. :) The challenge is supposed to help us build up our potential, no matter where each of us is at in the writing journey, until we either win the contest or pro out.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby officer » Tue Oct 15, 2019 11:39 am

Congrats, Moon! Agreed with SwiftPotato, that the contest is clearly succeeding in fostering the growth of future writers. Pretty amazing.

The obvious observation: WotF winners keep writing stories. And a lot of them, to have that kind of representation in a themed anthology (almost 20%). Think about that, and it's more subtle. They're working at their craft and producing more than their WotF submission. Most likely, it's a habit: they worked hard before winning, as well. They've gone through a lot more than three try-fail cycles!

Between winning WotF and future success, there's probably more correlation than causation. But there is one certain cause-effect at play: practice leads to success. Whether it's working to win the contest, growing from the resources of WotF, or working towards some related goal.

Ari
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:09 pm

Congratulations, Wulf Moon, on your newest publications, and I'm certain in the future, even more forthcoming, especially your novel trilogy.

Without being a Greek chorus, I agree with Swift Potato's analysis of how and why WOTF winner's are consistently hitting and maintaining high trajectories.

Best,

Retro
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby AlexH » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:23 pm

When I see Coney Island, I can't help but think of Fountains of Wayne. They have some good storytelling in their songs. Here's one that leaves me feeling by the end: https://genius.com/Fountains-of-wayne-s ... ove-lyrics

As for jokes with a story, or japes...

Batman hit me over the head with a vase and shouted "T'PAU!"

I said, "Don't you mean KAPOW?"

He said, "No, I've got china in my hand."


(Tim Vine joke)
Could the last line be considered a denouement?

A police dog chased me. I crawled through a tunnel, balanced on and over a little seesaw and jumped through a hoop of fire. I just couldn't get away.

Then I realised, police dogs are trained for that.
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