Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

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

Postby Henckel » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:13 pm

Wow, that was fast. I just got my first personal rejection from F&SF Magazine. Less than 24 hour turn around.

Dear Christopher

Thank you for giving me a chance to read "Magician’s Midlife Crisis." I appreciated the quality of the prose, but overall the story didn't quite win me over and I'm going to pass on it for Fantasy & Science Fiction. I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it and hope that you'll keep us in mind in the future.

Best regards,
Charlie

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby StarReacher » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:15 pm

Assignment Response: Relating success of WOtF Winners

First, congrats Wulf on your latest successes! Your achievements help encourage the rest of us to keep writing and to keep submitting.

Just participating in WOtF contest ups your game if you are a serious writer and you pay any attention to the incredible, voluminous advice found on these boards (and tips from Dave Farland and other judges.) I know that my own writing, particularly the short story form, has evolved in just the two years that I have been here. I don't think I have ever scrutinized my writing so much! And that was BEFORE I discovered Moon's Super Secrets! Plus, if you are submitting regularly here, that puts you in the mindset that you CAN produce more stories than you thought possible. I used to be amazed that I could get 4 stories in per year here. Now, 2 per quarter seems very doable. I am writing more and writing better.

Wulf Moon wrote: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.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby StarReacher » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:20 pm

Henckel,

I've gotten a few of these from F&SF. So I feel your pain. But, on the flip side, this is a personal rejection where he complimented you on your prose. I have gotten both the standard rejection as well as a personal one similar to yours.

You definitely want to submit to them again with a different piece. He is basically saying he likes your writing, but that particular story just didn't win him over.

Stay positive my friend!! And submit that story somewhere else!

Henckel wrote:Wow, that was fast. I just got my first personal rejection from F&SF Magazine. Less than 24 hour turn around.

Dear Christopher

Thank you for giving me a chance to read "Magician’s Midlife Crisis." I appreciated the quality of the prose, but overall the story didn't quite win me over and I'm going to pass on it for Fantasy & Science Fiction. I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it and hope that you'll keep us in mind in the future.

Best regards,
Charlie
R - 4th Qtr 2017
R - 1st Qtr 2018
HM - 2nd Qtr 2018
R - 4th Qtr 2018
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:53 pm

Welcome aboard, StarReacher. I don't know if you're still interested in crafting dialogue as you said the screenwriting consultant says you're adept.
If you're interested, the book I read about dialogue (I read it more than 22 years ago; don't know if it's still in print) is enormously informative – STEIN ON WRITING - where the master editor of authors such as Jack Higgins, etc. asserts that the best dialogue provides a subtext (the real intention behind the narrative). People say one thing, and mean something else entirely.

Another book I loved back in the day is THE SCREENWRITER'S BIBLE, 6TH EDITION EXPANDED AND UPDATED by David Trottier.

Anyway, you're not that old, lol, unless you remember a time in this universe when the Internet was the Encyclopedia Britannica, the only phones were rotary dials, there was such a thing as "collect calls" and "Party lines," a standard calculator was a slide ruler, and the only GPS available was an old-fashioned AAA map and triptik, the only music available were on LPs or 45s with that tiny little plastic piece inset, the only cell phone used by Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Best,

Retro

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Oct 17, 2019 1:35 pm

Brain Trent is a winner from Writers of the Future. He sells regularly to F&SF, Analog, Third Flatiron Publishing, and he just won Baen's Military SF award.

Since I know many of you are currently submitting to F&SF, I asked in behalf of the Forum his advice on what editor Charlie is looking for. Have a listen. Report back your findings. This is, after all, a master class.

Become the masters of your craft. : )

https://www.blogtalkradio.com/rithebard ... ith-sherri
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Thu Oct 17, 2019 1:54 pm

Wulf Moon wrote: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.


My answer is basically just a variation on what the others so far have said:

I think it shows that the same skillset/professional level of writing which results in winning WotF also makes for desirable writing for other markets. Since the editor didn't even look at that qualification ahead of time, it's clear that it's not *just* about the exposure of being a winner of this contest... The common factor is keeping at it and learning to produce professional, quality stories so that you're writing at a caliber worthy of both winning the contest *and* succeeding in other markets.
v35: Q4 - HM
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby StarReacher » Thu Oct 17, 2019 2:11 pm

Thanks Retro for the book suggestions. If I ever get back to do a screenplay, I will def check them out. And I giggled at your list of "old" items, sitting next to my teen who is playing minecraft. Sadly, I can remember that little tennis game where the only objective was to hit the ball from one side of the screen to the other. And I was blown away by the technology LOL.
wotf001

Retropianoplayer wrote:Welcome aboard, StarReacher. I don't know if you're still interested in crafting dialogue as you said the screenwriting consultant says you're adept.
If you're interested, the book I read about dialogue (I read it more than 22 years ago; don't know if it's still in print) is enormously informative – STEIN ON WRITING - where the master editor of authors such as Jack Higgins, etc. asserts that the best dialogue provides a subtext (the real intention behind the narrative). People say one thing, and mean something else entirely.

Another book I loved back in the day is THE SCREENWRITER'S BIBLE, 6TH EDITION EXPANDED AND UPDATED by David Trottier.

Anyway, you're not that old, lol, unless you remember a time in this universe when the Internet was the Encyclopedia Britannica, the only phones were rotary dials, there was such a thing as "collect calls" and "Party lines," a standard calculator was a slide ruler, and the only GPS available was an old-fashioned AAA map and triptik, the only music available were on LPs or 45s with that tiny little plastic piece inset, the only cell phone used by Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Best,

Retro
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R - 1st Qtr 2018
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? - 4th Qtr 2019

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby officer » Thu Oct 17, 2019 2:49 pm


Thanks, Moon, for the call-in on our behalf (you should be on radio, by the way)! Reporting back on what Trent says Charlie at F&SF looks for:

Tight stories. Vibrant worlds. Believable characters.

(Reverse that order and you have a CHARACTER in a SETTING with a PROBLEM... start your story like that and you get a Moon Super Secret!)

I, too, intend to submit to F&SF soon. After much debate, I sent a story elsewhere last week, though my style generally falls closest to F&SF. Ultimately, I thought it would equally fit another market that also does audio, which would be fun (I will probably never say that again of my own work). If/when I get that first rejection, it's headed to Charlie!

Ari

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:26 pm

Wulf, reporting in as ordered.

Thank you for asking this question on behalf of your Wulfpac. In order to save everyone time, Wulf comes in on this podcast at 33:13. Separating the wheat from the chaff, these I think were the highlights: It took Brian Trent several years to break through to where his stories were accepted; he writes hard science fiction; the Editor Charlie is an extremely knowledgable and pleasant person (I knew that already on the basis of his reply); Charlie is interested in strong world-building and characters; the magazine has regular contributors who are established masters in their craft; if Charlie writes you a note, it's a strong indicator you should resubmit a different story at another time.

Trent also says he's found upon reviewing his earlier iterations and prose, he looks upon them now as they weren't truly ready to be published. The more one writes, and writes, and writes, and hones in on their craft, the more adept they become.

Trent also mentions he conducts considerable research on the topic he is writing before he begins; sometimes takes a notebook with him along.

And when he writes, he is OFF-LINE and nothing is permitted to disturb his routine.

Best,

Retro

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:29 pm

Comments on Not Quite Sparta. Challenge submission requirements by AVDutson.

You made it, Dutson! Glad I pulled you out of your chair at the bar and sobered you up with some wake-up juice. : ) Thanks for showing you did the 1000, then cut from there. This was a cute story with a fun ending. You can imagine this spacer's drunken panic as something hunts him as the bar closes, only to find out at the end the monster he's trying to escape from is his wife. Cute! Perfect use of the flash form--it would be hard to sustain the humor in this in a short story, but flash is just right for the payoff at the end. It's written well, too. Easy to follow, visualizes quickly, which is what you need to do in flash. And you have a character in a setting with a problem, the basis for any good opening.

Some comments. It's good to ground us immediately as to location in any story, even flash. We really do need a pin in the map saying YOU ARE HERE at the start. That the spacer is in a bar doesn't come until the second paragraph. Open like this: "The old spacer in the bar stared into the dark...". See? We immediately know setting, instead of wondering where this event is happening at. It took one additional word to key up location in the reader's mind in your opening sentence. YOU ARE HERE. Some might want to tape this as well to their monitors. It's a common mistake, even by some incredibly famous authors.

I didn't get the title reference. And all three words need to be capitalized in a title like that. Not Quite Sparta. I was thinking of Spartans and Leonidus and the 300 and waited for that to play out, and it seemed to have nothing to do with your story. Perhaps I'm missing something. The truth is, I took a class on hooks with David Farland at Superstars. In short stories, the title is the first hook. So it must follow proper rules for titles--the capitalization issue--and it must be the tasty sample of what's inside the packaged goods that makes us desire to open it up. If we have to go back to the title and question it, it failed to do its job. And since it's the first hook, it's important. It's the first impression your story will give the reader...and the editor or judge. Don't make title mistakes. Best foot forward, especially in this contest with thousands to stand out from every quarter.

Sticky is not a taste, it's a texture, a tactile sensation with no flavor. Be very careful about things like that. They really jump out, and you don't ever want your reader jumping out of your story to mull over wrong word choices. I am assuming this error happened because you rushed this when you realized there was a deadline. A second pass usually catches these things. So does having a wise reader go over a work before sending.

But you did a great job on layout, no distractions there. Professional presentation. I question some of your use of dashes, but perhaps that's just me. As to the 500 vs. the 250, because your 250 was siimply a cut down version of your 500, the 500 is better with the extra words. Not by a lot, but still better. However, in the case of this story, I don't think there's something vivid enough to create a highly focused, poignant vignette, so in this case, you did the right thing. I do hope you try the exercise again sometime, with a bigger concept, so you can utilize the 250 in its best use--creating a vignette from a scene within the story, not retelling the same story with less words. It teaches us different skills when used in this way. Important skills.

The last lines in the 500 were better as well:

"She sniffed the air. “I see you’ve drank our money away.”
“I’m sorry, sweetness.” He shook, trying to offer his wife a loving smile.

His shaking shows fear. He is afraid of her, and it makes clear she is the monster he was running from. In the 250, it's not as clear, so the line is less potent. It's perfect in the 500. And I do feel there's a chance if you could enhance the scenery of the bar, the fear in the old spacer, some deeper description of an alcoholic's fears, a bit more of the chase and escape, you might pull off a descriptive but tight 1500 word flash with that humorous twist at the end. It might be enough to make Dave chuckle. Maybe even to satisfy his taste for the humor he always calls for, but rarely shows up in the anthology. It might be worth the chance.

I will mention one concern with humor pieces, and my belief why we see so few in WotF anthologies. There is a prejudice against humor. Most feel humor is not serious (why-oh-why don't they fix this with the Oscars by simply having a Humor category?) Well, yeah, humor doesn't have a straight face, it's designed to make us laugh. But funny is very subjective and a very hard thing to pull off successfully. It actually takes great wit, timing, and skill. But when it goes up against eight finalists, someone that developed an intricate world or intelligent plot or powerful wordsmithing over 6,000 words or more will provide a larger sample of their writing skill. It's going to provide the judges weightier proof that a writer has the chops to write professionally. That may not be a fair assumption, but human nature is if someone offers you an ounce of gold or a pound of gold, you're going to take the pound of gold, even though both have equal purity.

Just my thoughts. I think humor is the riskiest thing you can submit to this contest for the win. And in this case, I don't think the higher the risk, the higher the rewards.

Anyhow, that I am even talking about a larger build back up from this toward a WotF submission should tell you you done good. We know how you got that coveted Silver HM last quarter. Well done!

OH KEEPER OF RECORDS! DRAW FORTH THE BLOOD OF AVDUTSON AND ADD HIS NAME TO THE WALL OF OATHS! HE IS BOUND! Do read him the fine print. We cannot be responsible for loss of life or limb, and some applications of this challenge have in rare cases been known to cause life threatening rashes, heart attack, stroke, or even kidney failure. If you're allergic to Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge, stop taking immediately and consult with your physician before resuming. It is not recommended taking Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge while pregnant or nursing. If you are pregnant or nursing, or experiencing any signs of constipation, nausea, or erectile dysfunction, hell, don't blame us. WE WARNED YOU!
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Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:38 pm

HEAR YE, HEAR YE, JUST THREE DAYS LEFT BEFORE THE END OF THE WORLD! MOON'S SUPER SECRET BONUS CHALLENGE VOLUME 37 IS ABOUT TO LIFT OFF! THE DOORS AUTOMATICALLY SEAL AT MIDNIGHT ON OCTOBER 20TH, 2019. DON'T BE LEFT BEHIND!
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Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:46 pm

Wonderful reporting on Brian Trent's interview, Retro. Thanks for posting where his comments on F&SF come in on the timeline. That's the pertinent info for our group.

And once again, it reveals much about the type of people that win Writers of the Future, and why so many go on to create flourishing professional writing careers. Brian tells you the secrets on how to sell to F&SF, and the cold hard truth about why it takes so long to make our first professional sale.

Looking forward to more of your comments. It's good to hear it from the horse's mouth. Brian was a new writer just like you some years back. And then he won this contest. But he tells you what it takes to win. It's all there, between the lines.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon
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Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Thu Oct 17, 2019 4:13 pm

Ah, Wulf, I heard you call in about the 34 minute mark.

Good interview. Brian had some helpful comments re submitting to F&SF magazine. Sounds like the editors appeal leans toward:
- tight stories with strong world building
- Believable characters who move on their own, and
- strong vibrant words.

That bit about tight world building is really important and ties into our discussion about denouement. Stories have to be tight. Don’t leave lose ends.

Re believable characters, I like to consider the right level of believably to be set according to the world and story type. We’ve all been subjected to super hero stories where the MC is faster than a bullet and able to leap over buildings. In their own world, this is acceptable. But the moment you put Superman in the Mary Poppins story, the plausibility breaks down. Ts no longer believable. Mary has her own sort of magic (pulling huge lamps out of tiny bags) that if we were to see these in a Superman move, it would not be believable. ….Yeah, I did a crap job of describing that, but hopeful the message is in there.

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Thu Oct 17, 2019 5:52 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:OH KEEPER OF RECORDS! DRAW FORTH THE BLOOD OF AVDUTSON AND ADD HIS NAME TO THE WALL OF OATHS! HE IS BOUND! Do read him the fine print. We cannot be responsible for loss of life or limb, and some applications of this challenge have in rare cases been known to cause life threatening rashes, heart attack, stroke, or even kidney failure. If you're allergic to Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge, stop taking immediately and consult with your physician before resuming. It is not recommended taking Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge while pregnant or nursing. If you are pregnant or nursing, or experiencing any signs of constipation, nausea, or erectile dysfunction, hell, don't blame us. WE WARNED YOU!


You move your lantern to the cave wall again, gentle for fear of putting out the ever-shrinking flame within. You think it may last you three more days before you are plunged into the darkness of this cavern which seems to have no exit. A clock begins to tick softly and maddeningly from above. When you return your attention to the new writing, it has already finished. The large letters read: AVDUTSON. There is a massive paragraph of fine print beneath that you can't make out even if you squint...
R, ?

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:07 am

I just finished a trip back to the origin of Midkemia in MAGICIAN: APPRENTICE by Raymond Feist, because I don't believe I read the author's preferred edition (updated version from 1992). Since we've been talking about denouements, I thought I'd show you something. Remember when I said our sense of justice requires someone that has worked hard or made sacrifices to be told, "Attaboy, nice job" at the end? Listen to these attaboys in the concluding chapter, in the denouement scene. This is about Arutha, the prince of Cridee, after repelling and defeating a drawn out seige. (Spoiler alert: even if you haven't read the book, I don't think it will harm the ending to read this--there could be no other outcome if you wanted to write about these characters in subsequent books, and Feist certainly did. But your call.)

Fannon managed a slight smile and allowed Tully to lead him back down the stairs. When he was gone, Gardan said, "The Swordmaster's right, Highness. You've done your father proud."

Arutha watched the approaching ships, his angular features fixed in an expression of quiet reflection. Softly he said, "If I have done well, it is because I have had the aid of good men, many no longer with us." He took a deep breath, then continued, "You have played a great part in our withstanding this seige, Gardan, and you, Martin."

Both men smiled and voiced their thanks. "And you, pirate." Arutha grinned. "You've also played a great part. We are deeply in your debt."

Amos Trask tried to look modest and failed. "Well, Highness, I was merely protecting my own skin as well as everyone else's." He then returned Arutha's grin. "It was a rousing good fight."

____________________________

There was, of course, a final concluding scene where their victory was not what it seemed, once you saw what was going on from the opposing side. 'Yes, well done boys,' Feist tells us, 'you were victorious. Slap one another on the back, break out the ale, but there's more hell to come.'

You done good. And life goes on. The very purpose of denouement in full display here. And, as Feist reveals, if you want to write a sequel, it's more like life goes on, but enjoy your victory against the enemy while you've got it, it won't last long, my dear heroes.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby AlexH » Fri Oct 18, 2019 10:36 am

Duotrope has some great interviews with editors. Especially check out responses to "Describe the ideal submission." Here's Charlie's interview:
https://duotrope.com/interview/editor/2 ... iction-fsf

I'm disappearing soon until November (I only knew last night), so don't post too much for me to catch up with! wotf011

My first fresh Q1 attempt will have to wait, though I have started and am making notes as things pop into my head.
35: R R R | 36: R HM R ?

Probably free for critique swaps, but double-check in case I'm away.
If you're a new writer and concerned about giving a critique, you're welcome to send me something anyway. :)

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:21 am

Thanks for sharing, AlexH. I'm certain many will read that! See you when you return.

Here's something to listen to in your travels--just went live today! "Approximations That Gradually Approach the Truth" by David M. Hoenig. Narrated by Wulf Moon, with that radio show vibe from Gallery of Curiosities!

By the way, this is a market to check out when they do their themed calls, usually a couple times a year. Pay is three cents a word, so it's semi-pro, but you usually get into a digest-sized book and are likely to receive a podcast. Exclusive to my SUPER SECRET challenge members: do tell the editor in your cover letter you are friends with one of their narrators, Wulf Moon. While they read blind (like here, name removed from manuscript), they look at the covers after. If Kevin Frost knows I sent you, you might get me as your narrator. THAT would be a reward for me, to narrate one of your stories--perhaps your first ever published! How cool! I hope it happens.

We're going to be talking about this early into the challenge--writing to specific markets and themes. It's one of my upcoming SUPER SECRETS!

https://gallerycurious.com/2019/10/18/8 ... -m-hoenig/
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby StarReacher » Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:57 am

Comments on Wulf's call-in to Brian Trent about success with F&SF

What resonated with me:

1) believable characters
2) strong, vivid world-building
3) good story
4) keep trying
5) competitive market
6) writing is a craft (you need to hone your skills)
7) be prepared for the long haul
R - 4th Qtr 2017
R - 1st Qtr 2018
HM - 2nd Qtr 2018
R - 4th Qtr 2018
SHM - 1st Qtr 2019
R - 2nd Qtr 2019
SHM - 3rd Qtr 2019
? - 4th Qtr 2019

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby einstein36 » Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:58 am

Hi there Wulf,
Let me know when you are deep enough on the submission to markets, because I have a question(I know I am jumping ahead) but I am just curious about something on market submissions..:)
Thanks..

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:13 pm

I'm a bit behind already (the story of my life) ... just read the Cooper Nickel discussion on flash (http://copper-nickel.org/a-brief-symposium-on-flash/)

Had to LOL when reading this part by Patricia Colleen Murphy: "When it was my turn to read he was floored and loved the piece. He said, "Why don't you do that in your memoir?" And I replied, "Because this is a poem." He said, "Well who cares then. Write more poems." Prose does not come naturally to me. I wonder how many writers of flash are poets in drag."

My first serious write was based on a poem, and that ended up winning a Watty award but hadn't really thought of the poem in the context of flash fiction...but, hell yeah, why not!

I've started the write for the "SIMPLY IRRESISTABLE" prompt and will try and bring some poetry in there.

Also, regarding denouement (a new word for me) have learned much by everyone's comments. For me, I like to set the reader up at the end of a story for them to think, "I wonder where they are going to go with that?" and hopefully given them clues as to what the protagonist would be likely to do...luckily my Q4 entry is a good example of this (fingers crossed;)

Henkle, StarReacher and Wulf (yes, great radio voice) thanks for sharing re the SF&F ... very interesting ...
HM 1, R 4

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:50 pm

StarReacher wrote:Comments on Wulf's call-in to Brian Trent about success with F&SF

What resonated with me:

1) believable characters
2) strong, vivid world-building
3) good story
4) keep trying
5) competitive market
6) writing is a craft (you need to hone your skills)
7) be prepared for the long haul


Well done, StarReacher, Henckel, Retro, and others. You not only summed up how to sell to F&SF, you summed up the basics of powerful stories and how to become a professional career writer.

That #7, be prepared for the long haul part. This is actually "infinite game" thinking. The old saying, "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey" is summed up in this concept. Brian Trent is a brilliant man, but I will add a modifier to this, and I am certain he would agree--he said as much in the interview. It's not really "Be prepared for the long haul," it's "Expect the long haul." When you realize there is no spoon, you have the potential for infinite growth.

Here, NEW ASSIGNMENT, watch this, it's about five minutes long. https://www.cbsnews.com/video/simon-sin ... nite-game/

And then comment on these questions, and anything else that might have grabbed you:

1. In publishing, who are you competing against?

2. Does a rejection mean you lost, or does it mean something else?

3. How can each of us be leaders? Do we have to be top dog? What does it mean to lead?

4. On midnight, October 20th, we become committed to one another's success in this group for a year (hopefully longer, but the terms are one year). In what ways can we assist our small tribe--that fellow on the right, that fellow on our left--to succeed in their journey toward becoming a published writer and to develop their professional career? We all have gifts, we all have life skills inherent or learned. What do we bring to the table that might aid our pack?

We now have more than enough to build a solid team to help one another succeed. I'm going to run this like I ran my gaming guild of 300 (http://www.theforestguard.com). With our emblem of the purple wolf, I taught my guildies that we were a wolf pack, which meant throwing away the meistic approach to gaming and to work together as a team. We recognized those with specialized skills, and they trained the cubs--new recruits--so they could move with the pack and develop the skills necessary to work as a unified team. Because of this, we regularly took down guilds and even servers that had us outnumbered three to one, even ten to one. So I do like it that one of you called us a Wulf Pack. We are here to help one another beat the odds. Because when you believe, do the work, and are determined to never let go, there are no odds.

There is only destiny.

All the beast,

Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

AjZach
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby AjZach » Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:38 pm

1. We are competing against ourselves in publishing. I mean this is a contest, and only so many people can win in a quarter, but we are each learning and growing in our writing and our time will come. So really you have to compete with yourself to push yourself along in the journey. You are competing with the writer you were yesterday to write more, put in more emotion, whatever you happen to be working on.

2. Rejection, in the spirit of the video, is not losing unless you have a finite mindset, it's not winning, so it would be a loss. If you have an infinite mindset, you can see through the rejection as a learning stepping stone, that will eventually allow you to grow as a writer.

3.We can be leaders by leading through example. We can show others what we are working on, or what is working for us, for them to take or leave as it suits them. Being top dog, like the video suggests is an impermanent position, as there will always be more people up and coming, and you, yourself must constantly working on your own growth as a writer.

4. We should bring positive constructive criticism, to our fellow writers. The only competition is with ourselves, so we should support others wholeheartedly. We should swap stories, and techniques.

einstein36
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby einstein36 » Fri Oct 18, 2019 2:03 pm

Also what has been said in previous writing exercises, that yes, you just can't be lazy on being a writer, it takes work, like ones old 9-5 job...but think of it this way...it's work that is fun so one doesn't mind working the hours to make a living out of writing..

quote="StarReacher"]Comments on Wulf's call-in to Brian Trent about success with F&SF

What resonated with me:

1) believable characters
2) strong, vivid world-building
3) good story
4) keep trying
5) competitive market
6) writing is a craft (you need to hone your skills)
7) be prepared for the long haul[/quote]

User avatar
Retropianoplayer
Posts: 67
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Location: Peoria, Arizona

Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Fri Oct 18, 2019 7:02 pm

Wulf, reporting in as ordered. I'll first analyze what Simon Sinek highlights in "The Infinite Game", then answer four posited questions.
ANALYSIS: Sinek postulates that life is a game with no end. He refers to examples of 1986 James Cards. There are two distinct games – finite and infinite. In the FINITE game, there are known players, fixed rules, and agreed-upon objectives. In the INFINITE game, there are known and unknown players, the rules are changeable, the objective is to perpetuate the game and there is "no such thing as winning" with no finish line.

Mind Sets: The FINITE mind set is obsessed with winning in a game with no finish line. In an INFINITE MIND SET and INFINITE GAME, we are playing for the game we're in. There is an increase in trust, an increase in cooperation, and an increase in innovation.
With a FINITE MINDSET and an INFINITE GAME, there is a decline of trust, a decline of cooperation and a decline of innovation.
Sinek emphasizes it is important to play with the right mindset for the game you're in. He feels it's the journey (the play) that is vital, believes we can learn to change our mindset. When you take an infinite mind-set, you haven't LOST, you're just BEHIND. Several key quotes: "The only true competitor in the infinite game is ourselves," "You don't have to be in authority to be a leader," A LEADER has a responsibility to see those around us rise. Everyone of us can be the leader we wish to have."

APPLICATION TO POSITED QUESTIONS:
1) Who are you competing against in publishing? You are competing against both yourself, and until you hone your skills, the others who are momentarily ahead of you.
2) Does a rejection mean you lost, or does it mean something else? Publishing is an infinite game. With an infinite mind set, there will be increase in trust, cooperation, and innovation, and one won't feel threatened as he or she hones their craft. You're just behind; you're just behind. Temporarily.
3) How can each of us be leaders? Do we have to be top dog? What does it mean to lead? Sinek's definition is succinct: To be a LEADER, you bear the responsibility of seeing those around you rise. All of us can be the leader WE wish to have. Sinek points out there are those in authority (top dogs) who can't lead or lack the capability of ever leading. There are those with little to no authority who could inspire thousands.
4) In what ways can we assist our small tribe to succeed toward becoming published writer and develop their professional career? What do we bring to the table that might aid the pack? We assist the tribe by sharing the piece of the jigsaw puzzle (any piece of pieces) that we've found successful along the way. Those who are already published become MENTORS. In the 18th Century, one can read about apprentices to the different trade crafts. The concept is similar, though not identical. I can bring to the table any of the puzzle pieces I've learned, either through practice or reading professional literature for the past few decades.

I hope I haven't bored anyone to tears. I'm now going back to my PAPA BEAR mug with my Earl Grey tea, one lemon slice, and a few teaspoons of Turbinated Cane Sugar.

BROADSWORD TO DANNY BOY. OVER AND OUT.

zeeteebeez
Posts: 43
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby zeeteebeez » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:04 pm

This thread's moving so fast I can't keep up!

Anyway, I'm in!

First time writing any sort of flash. Took a while to get from 1350 down to 1000, then a whole lot longer to get to 250. But I'm there now. I have a problem both putting too much in my stories AND not giving proper context. So, this exercise was difficult but necessary. Hopefully I didn't lose too much during the cuts.

My story tentatively titled "New lies"



- 500 (485):

Jhoon wore her lies like an interplanetary travel suit.

Protecting.

Disguising.

Refugees, sent by their parents with their life savings in search of a better life on Ezris would be easy marks for ransom.

Humble religious pilgrims, not so much.

The Olemic church, or what was left of it, was headquartered on Ezris and was rumored to have the ability to cure the effects of the stillspore that plagued Rhakti. A perfect, multi-functional lie.

The smuggler’s “office” smelled like unwashed armpits.

“I don’t like this,” Jhoon said.

“A smuggler’s your only way to the spaceport.” Shokhad said.

“Smugglers are all liars and cheats.”

“Aren’t we all, when we need to be?” Shokhad said, reaching into his pocket and producing a small vial of oil. “Check this out.”
He tossed it onto Rhakti’s lap. Jhoon watched her brother rock back and forth, excited.

“What is it?”

“Borrowed it from the smuggler. Sell them as souvenirs on Ezris. Open it up.”

Shokhad was a good friend. Rhakti was obsessed with all things Olemy. She remembered the days they used to pretend together. The stories she’d tell him. Olemists rubbing the oil into their hands. Freezing, igniting, or electrifying objects with their wizardry.

Jhoon dropped a dab of the oil onto Rhakti’s hands and pried the golden Olemic token, his prized possession, from his rigid fingers. She rubbed his hands together. The fragrance was fresh and crisp.

Behind them, the sliding door opened.

“Hands up!”

Startled, Jhoon spun, raising her arms. The vial bounced off Rhakti’s lap and tinkled across the floor into the boot of a man holding a military-grade rifle.

“The hell? Is that my Oil?”

Jhoon held her breath, nervous for Shokhad.

“Ah relax,” Shokhad said. “She’s worth at least a hundred-thousand bit-packs. I’ll buy you more oil with my cut.”

Jhoon was adept enough with lies to understand. She’d been played.

The smuggler snorted.

Jhoon almost chuckled. Shokhad had been played just like he had played her. Liars and cheats, just like she had said.

The butt of the smuggler’s rifle met Shokhad’s face. Thud.

Jhoon’s heart thumped.

The smuggler stepped close.

“Two hours to get two hundred thousand bit-packs to me. Then I start breaking your brother’s bones.”

Jhoon gritted her teeth. She’d get the money, but that would wipe them clean. Back home with nothing. No Ezris. No hope for Rhakti. She watched as the man raised an eyebrow and looked to where Rhakti sat behind her.

She glimpsed something gold flip past her head. The man caught it. Then he dropped to the floor, convulsing.

Jhoon turned to see Rhakti standing behind her. Standing!

“What? How?”

Rhakti shrugged. “I guess the stories you used to tell me had some truth.”

He retrieved the oil and his Olemist token and they quickly left the office.

Jhoon supposed Shokhad had been right.

They were all liars and thieves when they needed to be.



-250 (244)

Jhoon’s lies protected. Disguised.

Refugees, with their life savings, fleeing to Ezris, were easy marks for ransom.

Religious pilgrims weren’t. A good lie because it was true. The Olemic church on Ezris could cure Rhakti.

“Sure about this?,” Jhoon asked.

Shokhad nodded.

“Smugglers are liars.”

“Aren’t we all?” Shokhad said, reaching into his pocket. He tossed a vial onto Rhakti’s lap.

Rhakti rocked back and forth, excited.

“What is it?”

“Olemic oil. An Ezrian souvenir, apparently.”

Shokhad was a good friend. Rhakti was obsessed with Olemy.

Jhoon remembered when they used to play pretend. Olemists rubbing their oil into their hands. Electrifying objects with their wizardry.

Jhoon pried Rhakti’s Olemist token, his prized possession, from his rigid fingers. She rubbed oil on his hands for him.

A door opened.

“Hands up!”

Jhoon spun. The vial tinkled to the floor.

“Is that my Oil?”

Inhale.

“I’ll buy you more with my cut,” Shokad said.

Exhale.

She’d been played.

The smuggler snorted.

Shokhad had been played, too. Told him so.

The smuggler punched. Shokhad dropped.

He approached Jhoon. Her heart thumped.

“Two hours. Two hundred thousand bit-packs. Or Rhakti loses fingers.”

Jhoon swallowed. It was over. No Ezris. No cure.

The man raised an eyebrow.

Gold flipped past. The man caught something, then dropped, convulsing.

Jhoon turned. Rhakti stood behind her! Stood!

“What? How?”

Rhakti shrugged. “The oil I guess?”

They left quickly with the oil and token.

Jhoon smiled. Time for some new lies.
Z.T.

Alternating HM's and R's

“It’s gonna seem so far. It’s gonna feel so hard. Until you want the work more than the reward. Do you want the work more than the reward?” - Jimmy Eat World

zeeteebeez
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:53 pm

Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby zeeteebeez » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:10 pm

Henckel wrote:Wow, that was fast. I just got my first personal rejection from F&SF Magazine. Less than 24 hour turn around.

Dear Christopher

Thank you for giving me a chance to read "Magician’s Midlife Crisis." I appreciated the quality of the prose, but overall the story didn't quite win me over and I'm going to pass on it for Fantasy & Science Fiction. I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it and hope that you'll keep us in mind in the future.

Best regards,
Charlie


Congrats on the "Charlie," Henckel!

A couple of good personal's from him (along with my HM's from WOTF) are what keep me going when I'm running low on confidence.

Good luck with that story at other markets!
Z.T.

Alternating HM's and R's

“It’s gonna seem so far. It’s gonna feel so hard. Until you want the work more than the reward. Do you want the work more than the reward?” - Jimmy Eat World

JESchleicher
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby JESchleicher » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:17 pm

This is all awesome stuff! Many thanks, Wulf for spearheading and moderating this smorgasbord of insights and perspectives. Also, I appreciate your time and feedback on my soup story. Not sure if you can see from your peninsula (I live in Montana), but I have a hand imprint on my forehead due to the grammatical error. And in the first sentence….Sheesh! Since the 250-word story wasn’t marked on the cave wall for eternity like our blood, I’ve since edited it. And for the title…Yep. Makes sense. I can now see how my choice made for a disorienting start. What a great exercise. I’m better for it. Thanks!

A lot has been said about denouement, so I won’t add much. An aside, I appreciate that Wulf phonetically sounded it out. I’ve been mispronouncing it all this time. But a great tool to help a writer get that denouement right is Orson Scott Card’s MICE quotient. Knowing what classification the story falls in (M-Milleu Story I—Idea Story C- Character Story E - Event Story), can help you end the story in the correct spot and then make sure your denouement gives the reader that satisfying conclusion. Here’s a “Writing Excuses” podcast expanding on Card’s MICE quotient: https://writingexcuses.com/2011/08/07/w ... -quotient/

And thanks AlexH for sharing the Charlie interview and the flash stories. The voice stealer story is powerful. I liked how when asked to describe what F&SF publishes in under 25 words, Charlie did it in 2 (Fantastic Fiction). It lends to the general theme from the Kill Your Darling exercise to write deliberately and succinctly.
V36 Q4 - Pending

Wulf Moon
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:01 am

JESchleicher wrote:This is all awesome stuff! Many thanks, Wulf for spearheading and moderating this smorgasbord of insights and perspectives. Also, I appreciate your time and feedback on my soup story. Not sure if you can see from your peninsula (I live in Montana), but I have a hand imprint on my forehead due to the grammatical error. And in the first sentence….Sheesh! Since the 250-word story wasn’t marked on the cave wall for eternity like our blood, I’ve since edited it. And for the title…Yep. Makes sense. I can now see how my choice made for a disorienting start. What a great exercise. I’m better for it. Thanks!


You're welcome, JE. Exercises and what they expose remind me of a scene in Jim Carey's THE GRINCH. He tests his turbo powered sleigh, making himself look like a crash test dummy. He smashes into the wall, mangling his sleigh, knocking himself silly. He looks straight into the camera. "Hmmm. Airbags deployed a little late." He pauses, thoughtful, and then holds up a scraggly finger. "But that's why we do these tests!"

This is to all, so please read this, all you challenge beasties! I know I stress perfection in format and error free coding on the page. It's because it's the mark of professionalism, and shows you take your work seriously. Sloppy capitalization in the title, grammar errors in the first sentence, mispelled words, wonky errors in dialogue formatting--each send the editor signals as to how worthy your story is of being read by them. Kary English as first reader has thousands of stories to cull in a quarter, sending up to Dave ONLY those stories that have the potential to be a winner. Dave has a very tough job. He still has to go through hundreds of well-written stories, and those that he puts in his final read stack are superlative. You make it there, you are competing against thirty or so brilliant, professionally crafted stories. Somehow, Dave must choose eight out of those to send on to the quarterly judges. As he's biting his lip trying to figure it out, the last thing you want him to see at that moment in time is a glaring error in your title, in your opening sentence, in your first page, in your wonky, non-professional format. For instance, I was told one of the Silvers last Q had their "justify margin" setting on. Sure, it looks pretty, all those sentences neatly lined up and ending perfectly on the margin. But to do that, wonky spacing occurs within the line of type and spacing between words. It can actually make the page look like it's full of errors, especially if you're an editor used to old world monospaced fonts like Courier (Dave's preferred font for reading manuscripts, by the way, and mine too.)

Errors like this send subtle messages, and not so subtle if they are glaring at the editor on the first page. You don't need to write 500,000 to a million words before you can discern how to fix this. You can get it right, right now.

So here is our next EXERCISE. Yes, there have been a lot of exercises, and we haven't even *officially* started, but this is a master class. You want to become masters, you have to keep up. THE MARINES ARE LEAVING, PEOPLE! : )

Go to the example linked below. Shunn's Manuscript Format is a bit dated, but it's still the go-to for how professional manuscripts are supposed to look. You can never go wrong if your mansucript looks EXACTLY LIKE SHUNN'S. This is what professional manuscripts look like, clean and crisp. If you get fancy, you'll think you're looking pretty spiffy in that purple velvet three piece with the pimpalicious hat and those white platform shoes--but your far out, man, like way far out...of this contest.

Two caveats about Shunn's. Don't do two spaces after a period. Only one space and start your next sentence. And don't underline for italics anymore. Copy editors will curse you if you do, and you don't want me standing over your bleeding out body on the publishing house floor saying, "I told you so."

Look at that first page. Tell me how many lines of story are actually on it.

Look at that first page. Tell me how many lines of story are actually on it.

Look at that first page. Tell me how many lines of story are actually on it.

Got it? Good. Because I hardly ever see that in here when I read challenge beasties' stories. Worse, some try do to tricks with margins and such to fit more lines and words onto the page so they can get the vital things occuring in those first two pages. Why oh why do you want to rig the game you have every power to do right in the first place? Do you think editors who see thousands of manuscripts every quarter for decades of their lives are blind idiots? 'Nuff said.

Here's Shunn's: https://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

And here's your assignment.

1. Read it.

2. Print out the first few pages from your latest story.

3. Compare margins, compare headers, compare lines of story on that first page, compare, compare, compare (with the caveats I've already mentioned).

4. Make yourself a PROFESSIONAL SHORT STORY TEMPLATE.

Done? Good. Then come back here and confess. If you made yourself a PROFESSIONAL SHORT STORY TEMPLATE, we will absolve you.

But if your manuscript still looks like a purple pimp strutting the streets of Harlem back in the 70's, um, he's not with us, man. I don't know why he keeps following us. wotf001

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

Wulf Moon
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:19 am

AjZach wrote: "We are competing against ourselves in publishing....You are competing with the writer you were yesterday...."

Beautiful! Well said!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

officer
Posts: 35
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Location: Chicago

Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby officer » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:23 am

I confess - I started my Q4 submission higher up and expanded my margins slightly to get something onto the second page. But my next story, which has gone out to market, was formatted correctly (and glad to see you say Italics are good... I wasn't sure!).

It has been hard for me to break the habit of two spaces but I finally did it. I still have to search for "[space][space]" and replace all with one space. For formatting, I recommend never using tabs and using a built-in indent on first line. I would assume that's easier on publishers if they want our stories! But also makes life easier writing once you're used to it.

Ari


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