Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:58 pm

Peter Glen wrote: "Thanks for these insights. I have another KYD win yesterday when getting a baby Kraken ready to go out. It was 7000 words, and by the time I'd gone through, it was 6700 words. Plus there was a passage that I'd left in, but now, after reading this, will go back and slit its throat. Perhaps I could take the story down further, but need to put my time into writing new stories."

I bet when you're done with the final edit, you cut 10%. And there's Ken Rand's Ten Percent Solution, another good book!

You get the point. You clean up your manuscript, but you don't keep reworking and reworking it. It's on to the next story, where your true growth occurs, because you are WRITING, not editing. Well done! That's how you get your million words!

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 thegirlintheglasses » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:41 pm

Gahhhhh! I'm getting burried under all the updates lol. Here are my answers to the latest assignment wotf009
PS You all are awesome. I love learning from and with you, on this thread.




ASSIGNMENT to go with Moon's SUPER SECRET #37

After reading "Never Let Go" in our workbook HOW I GOT PUBLISHED AND WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY, please answer the following:

1. Why are amateur writing contests an excellent way to break into publishing?
Because you aren’t jockeying against a magazine's favorites. You stand an actual chance of breaking through.

2. What benefits come from entering the Writers of the Future contest even if you do not win? (And we hope you do!)
You learn to write to a deadline. You set goals and grow your writing.

3. What might consistently getting honorable mentions in Writers of the Future indicate about our writing? When we start getting the higher honors, what does that indicate?
An Honorable Mention means you are on the right track. When you start to do better, it can put a LOT of wind in your sails, because Mr. Farland is saying “Hey, you almost had it.” It means you are getting, there and THAT is worth something when all the rejections come pounding through.

4. Before George Mallory successfully climbed Mt. Everest, what did he do?
Climbed other mountains.

5. How do we scale new peaks with every story we write? If we keep training, what happens over time?
When we write a new story, we take on another opportunity to grow—to hone voice, to build new worlds, to foster character development. If we keep writing new, we build our muscles to scale our Mt Everest.
6. If you haven't watched this video from Joni Labaqi already, please do so. https://www.writersofthefuture.com/jerr ... i=77104938
Done.

7. What's the concept behind the saying: "The first million words are practice?"
The first million are learning how to write. After that, you’ve developed skill that (hopefully) make your work shine (and it becomes more uh, subconscious, less brick by brick)
8. It's quite possible Jerry Pournelle coined this saying, and he said it alot (although some swear it was Heinlein, others Bradbury, and so on). In the video, did he say we have to write one million words before we'll sell a story to a professional market? What range did he list as a general rule where our stories might start hitting the professional mark? (His definition of professional being someone with the ability to publish will pay us for our story.)
No, it won’t be at one million words for everyone. He suggested a half a million to a million—because then you start just writing a story (and not thinking about it)

9. While every writer's innate skills and learning levels vary, what's the takeaway from Mr. Pournelle?'
Write. Don’t sit there endlessly “mucking” with the old stuff. Keep writing.

10. Suppose a novice actor decides they're only going to audition for Broadway productions, nothing else. What is likely to happen?
They’ll likely fail – and get so discouraged they give up entirely.

11. Why might it be a good idea for that novice actor to audition at Off-Broadway productions as well?
So they can have some success. THOSE editors are looking for new talent, not just sticking with the established (although you do mention there’s room for some give—there’s just not nearly as much).
12. Thinking of this illustration, if a new writer only sends their stories to the top SFWA approved markets and stops at the last SFWA approved market, what will they miss out on?
Sales. Exposure. Opportunities to make a name with certain editors, who then could talk about you to bigger names. Establishing a professional presence.

13. How will targeting these semipro markets and writing to their specified themes improve your chances of a sale? What will be the case with the competition in these markets?
There will probably be fewer big names going after a themed/semipro zine (although you do mention there ARE professionals submitting there). There’s more opportunity for a no-name here.

14. Once you get your foot in the door with a publisher, what often happens?
IF you present yourself well, establish a professional relationship, and continue to write good stories—they may ask you to submit again (and hopefully speak well of you to others. Publishing is a small world)

15. Are there any other advantages to selling a story to mid-level respectable markets, what I call Off-Broadway productions?
You’ll get noticed. That first sale is the hardest. If you sell to someone respectable, others may take notice.
16. Are there any drawbacks?
You may not get the same ‘prestige’ from certain outlets…but that seems a pretty minor thing. Especially re-listening to the Pournelle video. Get your writing to someone who will buy it or it does you no good. If the upper limits aren’t as interested in the new guy, find the editor who is.

17. Do the benefits outweigh the risk?
Um, yes.
18. If we're being realistic, if we're well below the 500,000 words mark in our writing, are we really risking much?
No. As Pournelle says, our words can’t be so ‘precious’ they hold us back and keep us stubbornly stuck on making a mid-growth sale. Growth comes from the next story.
PS I liked the bit about gold stories. Silver and bronze sell too—but if we send to places that only take gold from a first-timer, well, chances are you’ll make a silver or bronze story first. Give yourself the best chance to sell. Gold will come.

19. Psychologically, how might getting a decent sale and seeing our story in print--even though it's not technically a pro market--help us stay in this marathon for the long haul?
It fuels belief, which is perhaps the most powerful thing that can help us muck through the rejections.

20. List one of Moon's "Lessons Learned" stated in the essay that could help you in your goal to become a professional writer.
Send out your stories. (Release the Kraken). I’m super guilty of holding onto my stories after they come back from this contest, never letting them see the light of day again. My finalist from last year…it’s still on my computer. WHY AM I SITTING ON IT A YEAR LATER? Honestly? Probably a bit of that belief thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come to believe that Dave likes some of my stuff, and I like getting those pretty certificates in the mail…but will happen if I send to the “other” guys? They aren’t going to be sending a cute little certificate my kids can point out and say, “mommy writes stuff and got this!” They’ll email a no thank you. Or nothing at all.
WotF is safe. Those more public, name-addressed rejections aren’t hidden behind a nice blind submission process that you can be a real ‘newbie’ with (Because Joni, bless her, tries her darndest to help us all succeed). So this tip resonates the most for me. If I want to publish professionally, I have to turn myself into a professional, which means sending in professional stories.
Brittany Rainsdon
R-SHM-HM-R-HM-R-F-F-HM-HM-HM

John Goodwin asked me to type up a blog post about writing my wotf entry around giving birth. Here it is!
https://www.writersofthefuture.com/birt ... -rainsdon/

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:50 am

Wulf asked me to make a post regarding my perceptions of frequent issues I see in my many critiques. Here it is!

1. Basic Spelling and Grammar: Without a doubt, the single most common thing I'm commenting on in stories is basic grammar, and I suspect it is the hardest to correct. "Its" vs "It's" is a very common confusion, for example. Until you know the difference, the mistake will keep cropping up. Most modern stories don't have egregious spelling errors but if you use the wrong word, or don't hyphenate when you should, spell check won't catch that.

2. Formatting Errors: Shunn Standard Manuscript Format is the template all our stories should work from. Read it, learn it until anything else looks wrong to you. The biggest errors I see here are not using the formatted indents for paragraphs, incorrect spacing or font sizing, forgetting page numbers and titles, and not understanding when dialogue should start a new paragraph (which is generally when a new character speaks, but this is a hard one. I'm not sure I get it right all the time.)

3. Rambling Sentences and Paragraphs: Big Blocks of Text are hard to read. As a critiquer it's difficult to know where you as the writer would break your paragraphs into smaller chunks, but my eyes start to water when a paragraph takes up more than a third of a page.

4. Confusing or Contradicting details: Sometimes this is due to one scene showing the characters in a forest, and in the next it's more a swamp, but that's less common. What I do see all the time are character voices that don't ring true, choices that seem out of character, or setting details that make my skeptical brain twinge. For the first, make sure your character voices are consistent and realistic. "Not, uh, so like, realistic that, you know, it's hmmm hard to, like, read," but that they flow, that there is character imbued in the voice, and that it sounds like something a person would say.

For the second, don't force your characters to do things that aren't in their nature. Shy children don't suddenly take on the Fairy Queen unless they have been given reasons to do so. Brave women don't cower on the floor unless the threat is so overwhelming, anyone would cower. Brilliant scientists aren't surprised by obvious conclusions. (I see this one a lot - characters presented as brilliant missing the obvious answer, which is then presented as a great revelation) Readers are smart- assume they're smarter than we are and cover your bases.

For the last, do your research! The biggest ping here is children's voices that sound like brain-damaged adults, or, just plain adults. That's not how children talk. If you don't have kids, youtube videos are a great resource here. In the Pournelle video on the WotF blog, he talked about writing about subjects you know about. Don't write about molecular biology unless you can make it sound convincing. Do your research, or don't write about things you don't understand. Part of writing is research.

5. Passive Characters: With writers who have a good sense of prose basics, one problem I see quite often is the plot happening to characters, instead of them happening to the plot. There are no choices made, no actions taken, just 4,000 words of the character reacting to things. I've read multiple places that readers (and therefore editors and agents) prefer active characters. Literary agents call this "character agency". Try to make sure your character is the one driving the plot. On the subject of characters, some other things I see - too many characters make it difficult for the reader to keep track in a short story, not enough characters leaves the MC in an echo chamber with nothing to reveal their personality through dialogue or conflict, flat characters who don't seem to exist off the page at all (this is similar to passive characters), characters who all sound the same, and heavily cliched characters (the buff action hero, the damsel in distress, the mysterious priestess, the ugly but kind witch etc).

6. Weak Settings: This one is huge across the board, and especially for WotF is an obvious fix. Dave Farland has repeatedly stressed how important setting is. Sensory Details up front, and then regularly sprinkled through the piece. This is an easy fix, but can become hamfisted if we try too hard. Keep it simple. Food is a great hook for readers. I like to include temperature cues. KAV cycles (kinesthetic, audio, visual) are a good way to start scenes.

7. Starting in the Wrong Place: Short stories begin as close to the problem as possible. Readers don't pick up a short story to learn every detail about the world and the character's life story. Start the action. "In media res" is the industry term for this. I feel like new writers struggle to set the scene and provide backstory while getting the story going - best solution for this is to read read read read read.

8. Nothing Happening: Another frequent plot problem I notice is pages of the character going about their daily routine, or traveling. Often they're waiting for something, or fearing something is about to happen, or worried about something, but something keeps not happening. Or something does happen, but then it turns out to be nothing after all. The problem is resolved too easily, or turned out to be not a problem at all. Again, this is something I feel like new writers struggle with. Readers want interesting people doing interesting things. Make your characters suffer.

9. Too Few or Too Easy Try Fail Cycles: Related to the previous plotting issues, this is something I still struggle with. Algis Budrys puts this into one box on his seven-point plot but it should really be the bulk of the story. Character tries to fix the problem and things get worse. They try to fix it a different way and things get worse. To the point that if they don't fix it right now the space station will explode, or the princess will die, or the village will get ravaged by mutant squirrels wearing hats. Whatever it is, they have to do it right now. Margaret Atwood said the cardinal rule of writing is "Hold My Attention". Characters solving problems easily without struggling, or solving their problems the first time they try, is not attention-holding.

10. Not Finishing the Story: This is pretty common as well. The problem isn't solved, leaving the character in a literary quandary with a clever exit line, but no resolution. Or the problem is solved, but the story ends immediately after, leaving the reader wondering what the point was. Don't forget to finish your climax and write a denouement. Denouement can be one sentence or a whole scene, but it needs to be there. The manuscript is not the story, but the implication of "life goes on" needs to be there somewhere.

I hope some of that makes sense to everyone. One last bit of advice- I recommend solving these problems in reverse order. Fix your plot problems first, then your setting and characters, and then rewrite your prose and quadruple-check your grammar and spelling. No point in fixing sentences you might not need in the long run anyway.

Always available for critiques!
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM

ALWAYS available for critiques. PM me.

https://www.flametreepublishing.com/A-Dying-Planet-Short-Stories-ISBN-9781787557819.html

2020 Writers of the Future Superstars Scholarship recipient

SwiftPotato
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:49 am

This is super useful, RSchibler! Thanks for the post! I can definitely see a few things in here that I do (try/fail cycles too easy...*cough*). Saving this off for future reference.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:30 am

Great work, Becky! Thank you for rising to the task and giving us such excellent commonalities in problems seen as you critique. There is good counsel here for all of us.

I asked Becky to do this because I am certain she has critiqued hundreds of stories. Many of those were for the WotF forumites, and no doubt a goodly sum even among our challenge members. This is very kind of her, as it cuts into her own writing time, where Becky grows her own skills. You can learn much from a skilled editor analyzing your manuscript and giving you a critique, so as long as she keeps asking and knows how to protect her writing time, do take advantage of her kind offer. She provides a wonderful service to our WotF Forum, and, as a fellow challenge beastie, she has a vested interest in helping those on our team to succeed.

But you can help her to succeed. You can make it easier on her. Present her with the best story you can possibly write. NEVER send a first draft or something sloppy to someone that's kind enough to offer you a critique. Submit to your critiquer your very best, just as you would to this contest. I did a lot of critiques for the members of the Volume 35 challenge, and I recently critiqued everyone's stories in this year's challenge for the KYD exercises (so did Becky!). You're good writers, make no mistake. But you have to be superlative writers to win this contest, and to sell to professional markets. In addition to simply writing A LOT of fresh stories, we all have to be working on writing smarter as we do so. This requires not only reading about how to write well, it requires application of that knowledge. It requires not just being smart about the elements of Story, it requires understanding what makes a story good, and then implementing that understanding successfully. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. The wise person figures out how to use what they come to understand to make good...better.

I'm going to talk straight, because you want to become professional writers, and I assume you both want that kind of talk from me and know you can take it...otherwise, you will never become professional writers. So far, I have not critiqued a story in these challenges where I have been able to say, "Wow. This is a winner. Don't touch a thing!" (One came close last challenge, and the writing I saw was high enough caliber that I invited this challenge member to submit to the private call for the theme of that issue of Future Science Fiction Digest.) They all have needed work--sometimes, a lot of it, like five hours or more going through line by line with corrections on stories that are only five or six thousand words. That shouldn't be happening. Dave will never take the time to do that, which is what he'd have to do if he was to put it in the WotF volume. You'll just get an R, or an HM if the writing shows promise, but it will go no further.

So do yourselves a favor. Be in it to win it. Go through Becky's list. Chances are, she's critiqued your story and you are in that list somewhere, probably on multiple points. I know I'm weak in one of those areas, and I work on improving it in every story I write. Find your weaknesses and work on them. Work on them in the weekly flash exercise with the prompts I'm giving you. Practice doesn't make perfect, smart practice does. And you, my challenge beasties, are smart. It's why you took this challenging challenge. : )

I'm going to give you an ASSIGNMENT. Before you send off your next story for a critique, read every word out loud. Better would be to have someone that's a good reader read it to you, because they don't know it and when they stumble, you'll know something is wrong. Try to listen as if you'd never heard the story, and had just bought it from Audible and fired it up. Mark every time you or your reader stumbles as they try to read your words. Fix it. Then read it out loud again. Then, and only then, submit it to the best critiquer you know, always offering to reciprocate with similar word counts.

See if you can get these bugs out that Becky is talking about. They are serious. They will get you rejected, both at WotF, and at reputable markets. I assume you are tired of getting rejections, and want to do something about it. Becky and I just told you how to start changing that.

But you have to do the work.

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

CCrawford
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:42 am

I'm behind again! Here are my answers to the assignments I missed... I answered these before reading anyone else's answers, so I'll go back and read all the previous responses as soon as I can!

Also, full disclosure... I'm behind on my KYD exercises and my flash for this month/stories for this quarter, too (overdue baby and sickness and things!)... but I am not giving up! I have already started work on one or two of them and I'll get them done!

ASSIGNMENT -- QUESTIONS BASED ON OFFICER’S COMMENT:

Which brings me to important questions I've been waiting to ask all of you. Please provide the answers.

1. In view of Officer's comment above, if story determines length, why would you ever write a story to a certain length?
To meet criteria for particular markets or contests.

2. With regular practice, what might the Kill Your Darlings exercise teach you to do? To tell just as powerful a story but in far fewer words, opening up more possibilities for meeting specific length requirements as well as making longer pieces more potent.

[b]3. Besides stimulating fresh ideas for stories, what other concept might Moon be teaching with the weekly prompt? T[/b]he ability to hone words and story concepts and distill them into their most powerful forms, and the ability to generate fresh stories at will based around a specific emotion, theme, or concept.

4. When open submission calls for anthologies are announced, what is the case with every anthology? They have a theme and specific requirements.

5. How can this knowledge improve your targeting? It helps with choosing the best fit to submit from your batch of krakens, and/or provides guidance for creating the perfect new baby kraken to send out.

6. Why is it a good idea to sign up for market newsletters and to continue to do market searches, even after you've set up your personal market list? So that I don’t miss deadlines for up-and-coming contests, anthologies, etc., for which I might have the perfect story to submit.

---------------------------------------------

ASSIGNMENT: SUPER SECRET #26


1. Have you found your wise reader, preferably someone with pro sales, or at least a writer with more experience than you?
No – I still need one!

2. Admittedly, finding a pro to read your work is hard to find. How about someone at your level that is striving, just like you, to do their best to level up? I have a writer friend (not in this forum) who reads much of my stuff, but primarily for other genres I write in with very different audiences and goals. She is at about the same level as me, so we encourage one another. However, I would love to partner with someone with more experience than I have, and I need to partner with someone who is familiar with this contest and with the type of writing I’m striving to create for it and for pro fantasy/sci-fi markets.

3. Writing partners are good things--they keep you accountable, and they are positive people that are always there for you, helping you achieve your publishing goals, because you are doing the same for them. Do you have a writing partner? Yes and no – see #2 answer above.

4. Writing partners are writers you get along with, and you love reading what they write, they love reading what you write. It's the only way it works effectively. They aren't softies, they tell it like it is and expect you to do the same for them. What might be another reason that Moon had a list compiled of all the challenge beasties, linked to their intros (which are really bios)? Why might analyzing their writing samples help you find a compatible writing partner with the same goals as you? The list of bios and the writing samples can help identify writers with whom I’m more likely to click, and who might be a good writing partner for me.

5. Have you looked at their publishing credits? How about those credits in their signatures with this contest? What might this indicate as to the level their writing is currently at? Those who have placed in the contest are clearly doing something right! This indicates they would be good “wise readers” for me.

-----------------------------------------

ASSIGNMENT -- “Never Let Go” Questions

1. Why are amateur writing contests an excellent way to break into publishing?
You’re competing against other amateurs, rather than going up against established pros... and yet the contest can still yield credits, exposure, and great opportunities for the future.

2. What benefits come from entering the Writers of the Future contest even if you do not win? (And we hope you do!) Learning to meet deadlines and to create fresh stories regularly, plus a benchmark for knowing if the quality of your stories are improving.

3. What might consistently getting honorable mentions in Writers of the Future indicate about our writing? When we start getting the higher honors, what does that indicate? Honorable Mentions indicate that our writing is close to the professional mark – higher honors indicate that the writing quality is improving and getting closer and closer to that mark, or perhaps is already at that mark but just didn’t make the cut for this particular contest (send that kraken out to take down a different ship!).

4. Before George Mallory successfully climbed Mt. Everest, what did he do? He trained and climbed many other mountains. Because of this, he knew he was capable of climbing Everest.

5. How do we scale new peaks with every story we write? If we keep training, what happens over time? Every story builds skills and hones our craft, especially if we are continually challenging ourselves to grow and improve to a higher quality of writing with each story. If we keep doing this, we’ll eventually be able to scale higher and higher peaks with our writing.

6. If you haven't watched this video from Joni Labaqi already, please do so. https://www.writersofthefuture.com/jerr ... i=77104938. Done

7. What's the concept behind the saying: "The first million words are practice?" Writers improve by... writing. There really is no shortcut – but with continued, intentional practice and training, our writing will grow and improve.

8. It's quite possible Jerry Pournelle coined this saying, and he said it alot (although some swear it was Heinlein, others Bradbury, and so on). In the video, did he say we have to write one million words before we'll sell a story to a professional market? What range did he list as a general rule where our stories might start hitting the professional mark? (His definition of professional being someone with the ability to publish that will pay us for our story.) A writer doesn’t have to write a million words, necessarily... the range he gave was half a million to a million words. Some writers may break through to professional level closer to the 500,000 mark while others may need closer to a million words to reach that point. (I really related to his analogy about trying to stack bricks on bricks with no idea what the thing is even supposed to look like... I remember feeling that with some stories I’ve written! The only way to get past this is to write more, so that the mechanics become second nature and you can just focus on the story itself.)

9. While every writer's innate skills and learning levels vary, what's the takeaway from Mr. Pournelle? Writers have to write. (And write and write and write.) Finish things, then write new things. Write more, rather than reworking the same pieces over and over.

10. Suppose a novice actor decides they're only going to audition for Broadway productions, nothing else. What is likely to happen? Lots of rejection, because they’re competing against established pros rather than those closer to their own level.

11. Why might it be a good idea for that novice actor to audition at Off-Broadway productions as well? They might be chosen for a role in an Off-Broadway production where they were rejected for Broadway, and then that Off-Broadway role provides them experience (and exposure) which makes it more likely for the Broadway director to seriously consider casting them in the future. They are less of an unknown risk, at that point – they have shown they have what it takes to perform well.

12. Thinking of this illustration, if a new writer only sends their stories to the top SFWA approved markets and stops at the last SFWA approved market, what will they miss out on? Opportunities to gain fans, get their work seen, gain experience in being published (often alongside bestselling authors), and show that they have what it takes to produce pro-level writing.

13. How will targeting these semipro markets and writing to their specified themes improve your chances of a sale? What will be the case with the competition in these markets? These markets may be more likely to take a risk on a new writer, plus the competition might be less intense than with pro markets.

14. Once you get your foot in the door with a publisher, what often happens? Editors start to take notice and to watch for your work, meaning there is more likelihood of future sales.

15. Are there any other advantages to selling a story to mid-level respectable markets, what I call Off-Broadway productions? Increase in confidence/belief that you have what it takes to write at pro level; moving closer to the breakout moment when suddenly you start selling everywhere (This is a fabulous, motivational visualization for me... I’m just going to keep picturing myself getting floods of acceptance/win/sale emails from all my baby krakens some day in the future).

16. Are there any drawbacks? There is the (small) possibility that you might sell a story to an “Off-Broadway” market when it could have made it on Broadway... but... still, you haven’t really lost much. You still get all the benefits of that Off-Broadway publication and if your writing really is good enough, you can just keep leveling up with future sales.

17. Do the benefits outweigh the risk? Yes.

18. If we're being realistic, if we're well below the 500,000 words mark in our writing, are we really risking much? No... according to Pournelle, those are still “practice” stories, anyway!

19. Psychologically, how might getting a decent sale and seeing our story in print--even though it's not technically a pro market--help us stay in this marathon for the long haul? Self-doubt can be super discouraging, but getting confirmation that we’re on the right track can be a huge boost to self-belief (and therefore motivation to keep going).

20. List one of Moon's "Lessons Learned" stated in the essay that could help you in your goal to become a professional writer. Write fresh stories! (That’s why I’m here in the challenge.) Also... actually sending my stories out to more than just Writers of the Future.
------------------------------------------------
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R

AjZach
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby AjZach » Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:25 am

SwiftPotato wrote:This is super useful, RSchibler! Thanks for the post! I can definitely see a few things in here that I do (try/fail cycles too easy...*cough*). Saving this off for future reference.


I'm still learning with the try/fail cycles myself. I was recently looking into some tips for this, and one thing that resonated with me is using a YES, BUT or a NO, AND technique. So for YES, BUT, your character would succeed at some part of their goal, BUT something in their action made things worse. The NO, AND part would be they failed at their task, AND things got worse. Because things always have to get worse wotf001

For example, John spots some zombies coming down the road towards their gates. He realizes that those gates have been left open! The zombies could just walk right in! (Here is two examples that show how his actions can make things worse for himself and other residents, where they will need to use other try cycles to further along the story.)

1 YES, BUT: John runs down to the gates and manages to lock them securely. But, while he is doing this the gates clang together, attracting the zombies toward the camp. The zombies begin to move faster, they know people are there!

2 NO, AND: John runs down to the gates, but his hands are shaking too badly to lock them. As he struggles, he sees the zombies coming. He runs for safety, allowing the zombies in through the gate and sustains a bite to his arm before he can scramble through the doors.

SwiftPotato
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:34 am

AjZach wrote:
SwiftPotato wrote:This is super useful, RSchibler! Thanks for the post! I can definitely see a few things in here that I do (try/fail cycles too easy...*cough*). Saving this off for future reference.


I'm still learning with the try/fail cycles myself. I was recently looking into some tips for this, and one thing that resonated with me is using a YES, BUT or a NO, AND technique. So for YES, BUT, your character would succeed at some part of their goal, BUT something in their action made things worse. The NO, AND part would be they failed at their task, AND things got worse. Because things always have to get worse wotf001

For example, John spots some zombies coming down the road towards their gates. He realizes that those gates have been left open! The zombies could just walk right in! (Here is two examples that show how his actions can make things worse for himself and other residents, where they will need to use other try cycles to further along the story.)

1 YES, BUT: John runs down to the gates and manages to lock them securely. But, while he is doing this the gates clang together, attracting the zombies toward the camp. The zombies begin to move faster, they know people are there!

2 NO, AND: John runs down to the gates, but his hands are shaking too badly to lock them. As he struggles, he sees the zombies coming. He runs for safety, allowing the zombies in through the gate and sustains a bite to his arm before he can scramble through the doors.


I like this exercise a lot! Definitely going to use this in the story I'm currently working on. It seems like it'll be really helpful in making try/fail cycles more...meaty? I'm gonna go with meaty.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby officer » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:30 pm

Thanks, Becky and Moon, for the great list and suggestions/assignment!

I'm available for copyediting and happy to do it at the end of the quarter for the group's WotF submissions (my holiday gift to you!).  I should be able to make time on Dec 26-27. That means getting your stories reviewed and revised before Christmas. I'll remind you all then. In the meantime, feel free to PM me.

I say copyediting - not critiquing - because I'm not as experienced as Becky or others here on "big picture" items, including much of her list. I need to improve all that in my own writing first! Instead, I can probably help with sentence-level style: grammar, logic, repetition, word choice, indecisive writing, etc.

As Becky suggests, we should pursue such edits last. I would return your story with comments in Google Docs; you'd make any actual changes (language is in flux - even grammar is debatable). We already know from the KYD samples and posts that everyone here can write. But no one is perfect.

My biggest fault is #4, contradictions. The manuscript never fully reflects the story, which is why we need beta readers. Just last night, a friend alerted me to some inconsistencies buried in a story. I doubt they caused its rejections, but I'll resolve them before my next submission. The WotF judges, especially, decide based on the manuscript they read - not its potential. DF can't request a revision mid-contest.

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:30 pm

Ever since I critiqued the video by Peter Glen and submitted the clunky, chunky words list, I thought – in addition to words to avoid like the plague, there must be lists of STRONG ACTION VERBS to enhance anyone's writing style.

Once I have an idea, I never let it rest. This afternoon, I found on Google a website which offers a FREE download of Jerry Jenkins' THE ULTIMATE ACTION VERBS LIST THAT WILL SUPERCHARGE YOUR WRITING, turned on the printer, and printed out 249 of these gems.

Thank you, Becky and Wulf, for your excellent pointers crafting a story.

No worries, Girl In The Glasses, I'm positive you will catch up with the group and, based on your WOTF results, soon overtake us, lol.

I can't believe there was a time in my life when I REFUSED to submit stories to pro and semi-pro markets due to the incorrect and misguided assumption all they paid for a story was about fifty dollars, lol. Since joining the Forum, I'm receptive to new innovative mindsets.

Best,

Retro

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:32 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:I bet when you're done with the final edit, you cut 10%. And there's Ken Rand's Ten Percent Solution, another good book!

thanks for the heads up ... I've added it to the list :)

And! Thanks Becky for your observations ... have also saved for reference :)
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:18 pm

Brittany wrote: "20. List one of Moon's "Lessons Learned" stated in the essay that could help you in your goal to become a professional writer.
Send out your stories. (Release the Kraken). I’m super guilty of holding onto my stories after they come back from this contest, never letting them see the light of day again. My finalist from last year…it’s still on my computer. WHY AM I SITTING ON IT A YEAR LATER? Honestly? Probably a bit of that belief thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come to believe that Dave likes some of my stuff, and I like getting those pretty certificates in the mail…but will happen if I send to the “other” guys? They aren’t going to be sending a cute little certificate my kids can point out and say, “mommy writes stuff and got this!” They’ll email a no thank you. Or nothing at all.
WotF is safe. Those more public, name-addressed rejections aren’t hidden behind a nice blind submission process that you can be a real ‘newbie’ with (Because Joni, bless her, tries her darndest to help us all succeed). So this tip resonates the most for me. If I want to publish professionally, I have to turn myself into a professional, which means sending in professional stories."

Thanks for your honesty, Brittany! And yes, it's crazy to be sitting a year on a story that made Finalist in a quarter that held Thanatos Drive, Super-Duper Moongirl, and Voyage of the Damned (John Haas' story, and one of my favorites for his excellent prose). You had the Golden Pen Winner in your quarter! In a different quarter, you likely could have won with that story. I've read it, and showed you what I thought needed a fix, and it wasn't much. It's an excellent story...buried away...like a baby kraken...that was so close to taking down his first ship...and you demoted him to sewer rat in your bilge. ARE YOU CRAZY? THAT KRAKEN ALMOST TOOK DOWN A BATTLESHIP! : )

But that's why we have this challenge. You're going send him back out to sea. You've studied all those ships now, and you know the ones he can take.

RELEASE THE KRAKEN!

But before you do, I have one vital Super Secret, coming up next, and then you're ready.

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 Wulf Moon » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:23 pm

CCrawford wrote: "Also, full disclosure... I'm behind on my KYD exercises and my flash for this month/stories for this quarter, too (overdue baby and sickness and things!)... but I am not giving up! I have already started work on one or two of them and I'll get them done!"

Nice answers, CCrawford. No worries about baby and health, like I've always said, health and family come first. We know you have a lot on your plate. The challenge is supposed to be fun, not to give us stress. Just to motivate us. But it's great you haven't surrendered, and that kind of spirit will serve you well in your writing career.

All the best on the upcoming little one! May you bring forth the cutest baby kraken EVAH! : )

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 Wulf Moon » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:39 pm

Officer wrote: "I'm available for copyediting and happy to do it at the end of the quarter for the group's WotF submissions (my holiday gift to you!). I should be able to make time on Dec 26-27. That means getting your stories reviewed and revised before Christmas. I'll remind you all then. In the meantime, feel free to PM me."

This is a wonderful gift you are offering to our group, Officer. Thank you. It's a great example in leading by helping the gal on your right, helping the guy on your left. I hope all the challenge beasties take you up on this, because Q1 is a weaker Q, meaning many miss because of the Holidays, meaning all of YOU have a better chance if you get in with a near perfect story! (I can't count all the December 31st's I was in my office until midnight for this contest, while everyone else was having a grand time celebrating and getting tipsy.) So make this one count, and Officer wants to help you make it so!

I've read some of Officer's TIME articles. He's written around twenty, by my quick glance. They're good. He can give your kraken's three piece suit a fresh, crisp press so that when he goes out, he's dressed to kill.

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 Wulf Moon » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:42 pm

Thanks for sharing the source for those action verbs, Retro. The road to hell is paved with adverbs, so that list must be the path to heaven. : )
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 SwiftPotato » Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:20 am

First non-WotF kraken released! I wrote up a flash piece based on a couple of the Monday prompts from here, revised it, and decided I liked it enough to send off after its first ship. We'll see how it goes...
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:32 pm

SwiftPotato wrote:First non-WotF kraken released! I wrote up a flash piece based on a couple of the Monday prompts from here, revised it, and decided I liked it enough to send off after its first ship. We'll see how it goes...

wotf006 GL Leah!!
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:33 pm

officer wrote:
I'm available for copyediting and happy to do it at the end of the quarter for the group's WotF submissions (my holiday gift to you!).  I should be able to make time on Dec 26-27. That means getting your stories reviewed and revised before Christmas. I'll remind you all then. In the meantime, feel free to PM me.



Wow! That is perhaps the most generious offer I've ever seen made in the forum. Thank you soooooo much.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – ?

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:36 pm

SwiftPotato wrote:First non-WotF kraken released! I wrote up a flash piece based on a couple of the Monday prompts from here, revised it, and decided I liked it enough to send off after its first ship. We'll see how it goes...



Good work !!!!!

I submitted a flash story on Friday too. I've now got 4 baby krakens out to sea, licking the barnical glue off the publisher's boats.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
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(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:35 pm

Nice, guys! Keep it up!!! And thanks for the well wishes :D
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby officer » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:39 pm

Henckel wrote:Wow! That is perhaps the most generous offer I've ever seen made in the forum. Thank you soooooo much.

You're welcome! It's not entirely selfless (just the timing). I've learned much from the Wulf Pack, especially from writing samples in this thread. I'm excited to see how everyone applies the super secrets.

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:21 pm

officer wrote:
Henckel wrote:Wow! That is perhaps the most generous offer I've ever seen made in the forum. Thank you soooooo much.

You're welcome! It's not entirely selfless (just the timing). I've learned much from the Wulf Pack, especially from writing samples in this thread. I'm excited to see how everyone applies the super secrets.


Nice.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
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(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:02 am

Wulf Moon wrote:I'm going to give you an ASSIGNMENT. Before you send off your next story for a critique, read every word out loud.


Done ... now the story is an additional 200 words lighter (after the initial 300 culling) !! Thanks also to Becky who suggested that I read out loud also :)
Last edited by Peter Glen on Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:09 am

Peter Glen wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:I'm going to give you an ASSIGNMENT. Before you send off your next story for a critique, read every word out loud.


Done ... now the story is an additional 200 words lighter (after the initial 300 culling) !!


Nice! In Ken Rand's book THE TEN PERCENT SOLUTION, that was his super secret. It's one of the most important tricks to improving your writing after you have the basics down. I encourage everyone to make time to do this before sending your stories into this contest, or elsewhere. You will find things listening to your stories that your eyes will have missed.
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 Peter Glen » Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:17 am

Time management is not my strong point so I've got a system working over at trello.com that is keeping me up to speed. Thought I'd share a screenshot of my private board here in the chance that someone will find it useful: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1kvPXb ... ZnHOJ7lQ7R
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:19 am

Wulf Moon wrote:Nice! In Ken Rand's book THE TEN PERCENT SOLUTION, that was his super secret. It's one of the most important tricks to improving your writing after you have the basics down. I encourage everyone to make time to do this before sending your stories into this contest, or elsewhere. You will find things listening to your stories that your eyes will have missed.


Thanks again Wulf! I believe that the story is much stronger thanks to you :)
edit: and everyone else here too wotf009
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:48 am

Good morning all! This week's Monday prompt is: SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. Happy darling killing!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:24 am

SwiftPotato wrote:Good morning all! This week's Monday prompt is: SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. Happy darling killing!

Yes! Ray Bradbury prompts! Maybe this will be the one. I've written for all the prompts though KYD success has been limited. At least they've all inspired stories. Need to work harder.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:28 am

RSchibler wrote:Wulf asked me to make a post regarding my perceptions of frequent issues I see in my many critiques. Here it is!

...

I hope some of that makes sense to everyone. One last bit of advice- I recommend solving these problems in reverse order. Fix your plot problems first, then your setting and characters, and then rewrite your prose and quadruple-check your grammar and spelling. No point in fixing sentences you might not need in the long run anyway.

Always available for critiques!


Thank you so much for this. A fantastic list, especially point 11. Will be using this a lot.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:30 am

Peter Glen wrote:Time management is not my strong point so I've got a system working over at trello.com that is keeping me up to speed. Thought I'd share a screenshot of my private board here in the chance that someone will find it useful: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1kvPXb ... ZnHOJ7lQ7R

This is great. I need to work on this as well. Thank for the nudge and keep up the excellent self-management!
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2015-2019: 4 HMs, 9 Rs


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