Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

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

Postby Henckel » Mon May 25, 2020 10:28 am

AjZach wrote:I just wanted to remind anyone that is struggling, that things aren't the same. With covid-19, kids at home (and possibly anxious) whatever you have going on, things are different. Any major life event brings some change with it, and that can definitely affect your work flow and energy. I've been seeing lots of stuff about how much people can get done right now, or what people have historically done in quarantine, and I think that's so much pressure! At least I feel like it.
So if you aren't getting done as much as you used to, that's ok. Keep writing, keep training yourself to write of course, but take a breather too. If you are thrown out of your usual routine, that's ok, you'll find a new one. Just give yourself some space to do that.


Very very very true. At the risk of flogging it..... yes, yes, yes, you are so very right.

..and just to add to the anxiety of lockdown, yesterday was suposed to be my first day back in the office. But then we had about 10 earthquakes. ... the first was magnitude 5.8 then a bunch of smaller ones hit about every 10 minutes. My daughter and I were standing next to front door when it started shifting in its frame. It sounded like someone maniacally kicking the door 500 times trying to bust the door off its hinges. ... that'll raise a person's anxiety.

Anyway, yes, my writing time has suffered over lockdow and I havent achieved flow state for a very very long time. I just cant do it with the kids fighting in the next room. My allotment of writing time is limited, but I maximised the hell out of it.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – pending
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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Pumpkin
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Pumpkin » Mon May 25, 2020 10:46 am

Henckel wrote:
..and just to add to the anxiety of lockdown, yesterday was suposed to be my first day back in the office. But then we had about 10 earthquakes.


Oh wow! I hope you and your family are alright!
Q3 V37: submitted after some time of staring at an unchanged word doc

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

Postby oishisushi911 » Mon May 25, 2020 7:02 pm

SwiftPotato wrote:Happy Monday, beasties! Today's Monday prompt is: MOLTING HEART.


Thanks for the prompt! Tried starting this one off with research, since the words themselves didn’t spark anything. And it worked for a decent start. Happy writing everyone.
R.J.K. Lee
2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs; 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 1 HM, 1 pending
Goal of 100 rejections in 2020: 89 rejections, 21 pending, 110 total submissions
Keep writing, revising, submitting!

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

Postby CCrawford » Mon May 25, 2020 8:00 pm

Checking in: I just finished my Flash for May, based on the "Buried Alive" prompt.

I have my first story for Q3 written but am still working to implement some feedback from my wise readers. I've got an idea and a beginning on my second story for the quarter and will work on it more after I get the first one done.

After struggling for WEEKS to get more than a few paragraphs down at a time, I have finally broken through and can write again. I don't know exactly what made the difference, except that I took a couple days to recharge by reading and resting, and then after reading the Flow article I came across another one that suggested using binaural beats. I didn't even listen to them on headphones like you're supposed to to get the effect, I just let it play out loud in my office because it was just really mellow and calming. Music doesn't usually work for me while writing, but this actually seemed to make a difference, and put me into sort of a relaxed, zen frame of mind. I'm not sure if it was that or the combination of all the above, but yesterday I was able to hit a flow state and stay there for a long period of time and got a lot done.
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, ??

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

Postby zeeteebeez » Mon May 25, 2020 8:13 pm

Henckel wrote: ..and just to add to the anxiety of lockdown, yesterday was suposed to be my first day back in the office. But then we had about 10 earthquakes. ... the first was magnitude 5.8 then a bunch of smaller ones hit about every 10 minutes. My daughter and I were standing next to front door when it started shifting in its frame. It sounded like someone maniacally kicking the door 500 times trying to bust the door off its hinges. ... that'll raise a person's anxiety.


Henckel, I hope your family is doing ok. Especially any little ones. We had a 5.6 a couple of months ago followed by hundreds of aftershocks over the course of a couple of weeks, many of them 3-4 magnitude. It apparently really impacted my 5 year old. He’s had a hard time going to bed ever since.
Z.T.

6x HM

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

Postby oishisushi911 » Tue May 26, 2020 12:33 am

Earthquakes still sometimes freak me out in Japan, though my kids seem pretty much numb to them and shrug them off more often than I do. We had that huge one in 2011 with its many aftershocks, and actually ran out of the house to a park before the aftershocks, and the overprotective parent in me still feels some residual anxiety over that one. We've had several hit recently near Tokyo, but more of the typical shrug-worthy ones we feel in Japan every month.

Having big ones hit while in lockdown seems extra stressful. I hope you manage the transition back to your work well enough without any more big stressors.

I was thinking I'd bring up one other thing that helped me get writing done. I guess it's not getting in the zone or this flow-state, but it works. Pete joined me too. Word sprints with a group of say 5-10 writers. The system was to meet, chat for 10 minutes, then start the timer and all work on our separate writing projects or goals for twenty minutes, then all come back to report on our progress and chat for ten minutes, then start the timer again and do it for 20 minutes. It doesn't allow you to get into that flow really, but it is motivating to have everyone together and focused, and knowing you'll be checking in. Pete and I did it with a KYD flash and it went pretty well. We got the bulk of the flash done in those word sprints and had something to submit the following week. The other writers were working on short stories or chapters from their novels.

If anyone wants to do some word sprints in the future, do let me know. I even used word sprints for revision before, and it worked decently. It's not always the way I want to focus on my writing, but it can help sometimes.
R.J.K. Lee
2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs; 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 1 HM, 1 pending
Goal of 100 rejections in 2020: 89 rejections, 21 pending, 110 total submissions
Keep writing, revising, submitting!

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Tue May 26, 2020 3:43 am

Got your flash down, CCrawford, and I'm glad to hear you're able to write again! :)
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby Retropianoplayer » Tue May 26, 2020 1:15 pm

Swift Potato, I finished my FLASH PROMPT CHALLENGE for May. The challenge prompt was LOCKED IN A BOX.

I'm waiting until I receive the Maase book you suggested so I can review it before I click SUBMIT on my Third Quarter WOTF entry.

Am in revision mode on my second Third Quarter story.

Best,

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

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Tue May 26, 2020 1:23 pm

Got you down, Retro! Enjoy the Maass book--I hope it's helpful to you!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue May 26, 2020 1:26 pm

Wow. Sorry about the earthquakes that several of you mentioned. One catastrophe at a time, please. May the big ones stay asleep, so that your little ones are able to sleep.

Glad the flow state review helped most of you. Whatever it takes to make the good writing flow, use it!

If you missed Kevin J. Anderson's WotF Podcast interview, there was something mentioned briefly I will point out. Kevin said he entered Writers of the Future seventeen or eighteen times. He finally had to stop because he pro'd out with a novel sale. But here's something he didn't mention. I don't believe he ever got an honor certificate with all those tries, not one. No HMs, no Silvers, no Semis, no Finalists.

And yet look where he is today.

Whether you win this contest or not, never give up. And please don't put all your eggs in one basket. It's why I'm having you submit to other respectable markets in addition to this contest. There are many ways to launch a professional writing career. All of them have to do with writing and sending your work out to be published.

All the beast!

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

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

Postby Retropianoplayer » Tue May 26, 2020 7:50 pm

Whether you win this contest or not, never give up. And please don't put all your eggs in one basket. It's why I'm having you submit to other respectable markets in addition to this contest. There are many ways to launch a professional writing career. All of them have to do with writing and sending your work out to be published.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon


Those words, Wulf, are so true. As I'm watching the wonderful documentary GRANT on the HISTORY CHANNEL, this theme is stated over and over again.
The famous Civil War General for the Union, Ulysses S. Grant, more often than not in life, was down on his luck. His main struggle was putting food on the table for his family. But his enormous success came from his philosophy of resilience in the face of tremendous odds. Watching this drama unfold, it's almost as if he expected adversity, was prepared for it, learned to cope early with it, and thought outside the box. Another fact I never knew about this man – he helped Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) when the author's career was in decline; and at the end of Grant's life, the author helped write his biography which Grant's fortunes were in decline. And all this from a man (Grant) who was told to either resign from the Union Army, or be court-martialed because of drunken conduct.

Best,

Retro wotf022
"Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love" - Rule 306
"Never compromise your integrity." LIFE'S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK by H.J. Browne, Jr.

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

Postby oishisushi911 » Tue May 26, 2020 10:25 pm

Oh, I suppose I should check in, too.

I did my flash KYD of Buried Alive and submitted to a decent market on Sunday after my writing partner helped guide me toward a piece that made me cry. Sniffle. I mean, yay! Then I submitted four other stories to other publications. More rejections forthcoming! (Don’t worry, I’m saying that in a positive manner and it will only make the eventual acceptance one of these years all the more exciting—or who knows, maybe I’ll go full-on indie if it comes down to it, since it seemed to really work for some.)

Q3 number one is awaiting another revision to be done by 6/1 and I have three options I’m considering for the other Q3 story that are all halfway done. I hope everyone is enjoying their writing when they can.
R.J.K. Lee
2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs; 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 1 HM, 1 pending
Goal of 100 rejections in 2020: 89 rejections, 21 pending, 110 total submissions
Keep writing, revising, submitting!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue May 26, 2020 10:56 pm

oishisushi911 wrote:Oh, I suppose I should check in, too.

I did my flash KYD of Buried Alive and submitted to a decent market on Sunday after my writing partner helped guide me toward a piece that made me cry. Sniffle. I mean, yay! Then I submitted four other stories to other publications. More rejections forthcoming! (Don’t worry, I’m saying that in a positive manner and it will only make the eventual acceptance one of these years all the more exciting—or who knows, maybe I’ll go full-on indie if it comes down to it, since it seemed to really work for some.)

Q3 number one is awaiting another revision to be done by 6/1 and I have three options I’m considering for the other Q3 story that are all halfway done. I hope everyone is enjoying their writing when they can.


First, to Retro: Interesting points about Grant. Thanks for sharing those, including his relationship with Samuel Clemens. Also, glad you feel the same about the Braveheart soundtrack. Another one I used to listen to when writing was Enya.

Now, to RJK Lee, and everyone else in this challenge. Enjoy your vacation. You'll have a new Super Secret, and assignment, tomorrow. wotf001

All the beast!

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

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Wed May 27, 2020 5:00 am

Got you down for your flash and first Q3 sub, oishisushi! Nice job!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby oishisushi911 » Wed May 27, 2020 5:08 am

SwiftPotato wrote:Got you down for your flash and first Q3 sub, oishisushi! Nice job!

Just the flash. No Q3 sub yet. Still working on them. I just meant that I submitted flash fiction and short stories written before this quarter to other publications in hopes of increasing my rejection count. I hope everyone else is getting those stories submitted regularly. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for marking the flash down!
R.J.K. Lee
2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs; 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 1 HM, 1 pending
Goal of 100 rejections in 2020: 89 rejections, 21 pending, 110 total submissions
Keep writing, revising, submitting!

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Wed May 27, 2020 5:20 am

oishisushi911 wrote:
SwiftPotato wrote:Got you down for your flash and first Q3 sub, oishisushi! Nice job!

Just the flash. No Q3 sub yet. Still working on them. I just meant that I submitted flash fiction and short stories written before this quarter to other publications in hopes of increasing my rejection count. I hope everyone else is getting those stories submitted regularly. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for marking the flash down!


My bad, for some reason my brain interpreted "submitted" as something other than the flash, which was literally the only piece of writing in that sentence...don't do rostering on little sleep! Lesson learned. Thanks for the fix!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby oishisushi911 » Wed May 27, 2020 5:23 am

SwiftPotato wrote:
oishisushi911 wrote:
SwiftPotato wrote:Got you down for your flash and first Q3 sub, oishisushi! Nice job!

Just the flash. No Q3 sub yet. Still working on them. I just meant that I submitted flash fiction and short stories written before this quarter to other publications in hopes of increasing my rejection count. I hope everyone else is getting those stories submitted regularly. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for marking the flash down!


My bad, for some reason my brain interpreted "submitted" as something other than the flash, which was literally the only piece of writing in that sentence...don't do rostering on little sleep! Lesson learned. Thanks for the fix!


No problem. I was trying to be an inspirational member of the wolf pack. Everybody keep submitting your stories and howl at the Wulf Moon. Heh.
R.J.K. Lee
2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs; 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 1 HM, 1 pending
Goal of 100 rejections in 2020: 89 rejections, 21 pending, 110 total submissions
Keep writing, revising, submitting!

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

Postby storysinger » Wed May 27, 2020 11:08 am

oishisushi911 wrote:No problem. I was trying to be an inspirational member of the wolf pack.

You are definitely an inspiration to me and my learning curve.
The numbers you post about your workload and production are very impressive.
My production dropped dramatically when I learned to QWERTY type over you talk it types programs.
But I admit to being bullheaded. I know that if I maintain a steady attitude about learning to type I'll learn to enter into a Flow State and the words will appear on the screen faster all the time.
Write on!
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.
D.R.Sweeney

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed May 27, 2020 3:44 pm

oishisushi911 wrote:
SwiftPotato wrote:
oishisushi911 wrote:Just the flash. No Q3 sub yet. Still working on them. I just meant that I submitted flash fiction and short stories written before this quarter to other publications in hopes of increasing my rejection count. I hope everyone else is getting those stories submitted regularly. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for marking the flash down!


My bad, for some reason my brain interpreted "submitted" as something other than the flash, which was literally the only piece of writing in that sentence...don't do rostering on little sleep! Lesson learned. Thanks for the fix!


No problem. I was trying to be an inspirational member of the wolf pack. Everybody keep submitting your stories and howl at the Wulf Moon. Heh.


Heh. Actually, I always planned to make a ribbon for convention badges that said: HOWLING FOR THE WULF MOON.

Which will be a blessing, and a curse--everyone that sees me will start doing wolf howls from across the room in greeting. wotf012
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed May 27, 2020 4:02 pm

Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET #43: "Write smart dialogue!" Moon exclaimed emphatically.
Copyright 2020 by Wulf Moon. All Rights Reserved

Long ago when one could walk into bookstores--yes, young whippersnapper, this was in that distant time almost forgotten before the pandemic--I'd pull a book off the shelf, lick my COVID-free finger, and thumb through gilded pages. What? Yes, yes, this was in the age when books were still printed on paper. Just cork the questions for a moment and listen! Okay, where was I? Oh, yes. I'd thumb through those pages, not looking for how the story opened--any writer worth their salt will put all the spit shine in the opening. No, what I hunted for was some juicy dialogue I could sink my teeth into. Well, I had teeth back then, smart mouth. Anyhoo, if that dialogue murmured, mumbled, hissed, inquired, grimaced, or growled, I'd spit it right back out and put it back on the shelf. Mighta' been a few cuss words uttered for the writer, editor, and publisher, too. I'm not saying. But there's one thing I am saying: Write smart dialogue, son!

Said. Said is such a simple verb, it's beautiful. Said is so perfect, nothing else has to be said. It's like the gray man, walking through the crowd, invisible. Only if you stop and study the crowd do you know he's even there. And that's the problem. New writers don't like plain clothes. That gray man must be up to something sneaky. They want to spice up that invisible man, put him in some platform shoes, chartreuse lederhosen, a duster with pink polka dots, and a purple pimp hat with a flowing white feather. Dy-no-mite! You just shook that invisible dude up and pimped his ride! He is now so pimpalicious, you don't see anyone else in the crowd. Only him.

And that's a problem. Dialogue is the conversational exchange between two or more people. When these people open their mouths, we see what's going on inside of them through the exchange. There is a tempo to dialogue, like an intense tennis match, back and forth, poing, poing, poing. The last thing you want during that match is for an announcer to step onto the court and shout through a bullhorn, "See that? Melania hit that ball with ferocity! Hear that? Taikwanda rebounded it angrily! Oh no! Melania retorted with finality!" Please, please, please, announcer, just get off the court and let us watch. You are KILLING the energy!

New writers have a hard time with this. Even successful bestselling authors can have a hard time with it. They don't trust the reader to deduce the emotions taking place between the characters as they speak. They HAVE TO TELL YOU through emotive dialogue tags. They patronize their readers, explaining how each sentence was spoken. And without knowing it, they've alienated their readers. So much so, most readers are going to shove that book back on the shelf and never pick up a book by that author again. And if they just happen to be a *first* reader, editor, or contest judge, they'll mark it R, slap a form rejection on it, and send it back. Amateur dialogue is the mark of ... surprise! amateurs ... and editors are in the business of buying professional stories.

Here. Let me give you a simple example of some annoying speaker attributions, more commonly called dialogue tags. Why? Because, tag. You're it. Tag, now she's it. In writing, it's like the author holding up a sign that says, This guy is now talking. And then another sign. Now this gal is talking. Easy. Now here's some badly written tag signs:

"I'm going up that hill to fetch a pail of water!" Jack shouted.

"It's a long way to the top," Jill snorted.

"I don't care. I'm doing it!" Jack retorted emphatically.

"Do you really think you can make it?" Jill queried, doubt in her eyes.

"I'll show you!" Jack exclaimed, stomping up the hill.

"Fool boy," Jill whispered quietly, "you're going to break your crown."

Ever seen dialogue like that? Ever written dialogue like that? 'Ahem, ah, no, never in my life, har-har, silly amateurs.' Come on, we've all written dialogue like that, once upon a time. But if we're still doing it, we need to shake off the traits of a babe and stop. It's not professional. And professional all the way is the only way a story wins ... or sells. Well, if you're mere mortals. Some famous writers might get away with this, but usually, they made their name long ago in an era when obnoxious tags were tolerated. But no more. Not for you and me.

Go ahead. Get out your red pen. Change that annoying dialogue above into something more palatable. Line out those adverbs and replace them with 'said'. Done? Now doesn't the dialogue read so much cleaner?

"I am going up that hill to fetch a pail of water!" Jack said.

"It's a long way to the top," Jill said.

"I don't care. I'm doing it!" Jack said.

"Do you really think you can make it?" Jill said.

"I'll show you!" Jack said, stomping up the hill.

"Fool boy," Jill whispered, "you're going to break your crown."

Okay, I kept the verb 'whispered.' You could say "said with a whisper" but whispered is simpler. Doesn't this read much better? See how the dialogue already implies determination, doubt, stubbornness, uncertainty? Do we really need to spell out every emotional implication? No. It's overkill. And your savvy reader will think it's condescending. (Also, note the placement of 'said.' 'Said' follows the person it attributes. Placing it before the name is outdated.)

However, this piece still has a problem. 'Said' is normally like punctuation--just like a comma or a period, it's practically invisible. But when you start stacking 'saids' in dialogue, 'said' creates an echo. It is no longer the invisible man because it has been repeated too much. Every time the grey man pops his head out of the crowd, he becomes visible. In this mission, he's supposed to be going commando. Or incognito. You choose.

As we look to the edited example, are there any sentences where it's obvious who is speaking? If it's obvious, do we really need to gild the lily? Not if we're lean mean professional writers! Go grab that red pen and line out any tags that are obvious. We don't need them. Done? You sure? Or do you need to use your Phone a Friend? No? Okay, here's what you should have come up with:

"I am going up that hill to fetch a pail of water!" Jack said.

"It's a long way to the top," Jill said.

"I don't care. I'm doing it!"

"Do you really think you can make it?"

"I'll show you!" Jack said, stomping up the hill.

"Fool boy," Jill whispered, "you're going to break your crown."

So there's the Super Secret. Identify who is talking with a dialogue tag. Identify who replies with another dialogue tag. After that, if it's obvious who is talking--like when there's only two people in the room and one of them has asked a question--we don't need tags anymore. We know who is replying. And you can continue on without tags until it becomes unclear who is speaking. When that happens, you tag again, and on the playful banter goes. Or the lovers' spat. That's always more fun to listen in on.

There is another secret of attributing dialogue to a character without pasting a string of 'saids' to the page. It's called beats. What's a beat? It's having a character do an action that identifies them as the speaker. Like this:

Jack teetered at the top of the peak, hoisting a pail of water. "See? Nailed it!"

Do we need to follow Jack's quoted words with 'Jack said'? No. The action, the beat, beforehand clearly shows it is Jack that is speaking. We need no more.

Want to see how this works? Here's an example in one of my stories where I employed beats. It's the opening of "Weep No More for the Willow" published in DEEP MAGIC, Fall 2019:

Through the cold and glistening blue, the Spanish galleon El Pez Volador groaned with her heavy load of bullion under a bright Caribbean sun. Captain Don Capricho Delgado y Cervantes stood amidships, fists to hips, his coppery, shoulder-length hair whipping about his head like pennants in the wind. He was what Spaniards dubbed a rojo, his red hair and fairer skin considered regal, a unique contrast to the dark olive of his men. He stared over the gunwale and scowled at the horizon. His ship maestre, Salvador, stood to his right, and a grizzled sailor named Sanchez crouched beside him, dipping a ladle into the scuttlebutt.

“There it is again.” Capricho pointed at a surreal column that plumed in the distance. It transformed from peaceful blue into wicked flickers of scarlet. He shielded his eyes with a hand, squinted. “Have you ever witnessed its like?”

The burly Salvador hissed when he spotted it. “No. Never.”

The column continued shimmering on the horizon in bizarre shades of arterial red.

“Lightning perhaps?”

“No lightning does such things.”

“Waterspout?”

“A twister glowing with blood light?”

Capricho lowered his gaze, turned to the old sailor. “You, Sanchez? You have traveled this sea longer than any of us.”

Sanchez brought the dented dipper to his lips and drained it. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, sighed, and squinted a rheumy eye at Capricho with suspicion. “Thought you didn’t want me tellin’ my stories.”

Capricho frowned. “I said hold your tongue because the men are twitchy from yesterday’s squall. They are a superstitious lot.”

“By all the saints, they should be after seeing that beast of a storm slice our flotilla apart.” Sanchez waved the dipper. “You want to hear about my watch last night?”

Salvador grunted a quick “No” but Capricho held up a hand. “Does it have bearing on this phenomenon?”

“Course it does!”

“Make it brief.”

______________________



In this excerpt, all dialogue is tagged exclusively by beats. If you were to read on, you'd find only one 'said' in the entire scene between Capricho, Salvador, and Sanchez. The beats aren't contrived. They add motion to the dialogue, and convey character details without stopping for lengthy descriptions. Using beats in dialogue can kill many birds with one stone, not the least of which is wasting a lot of space with repetitive 'he said' 'she said.'

Now that you understand dialogue tags and beats, I give you a new Secret. Once you set up your players in a scene, you can actually make the characters speak for a long time without any attributions. How is this possible? Because you are clever, that's how. It's a good skill to know. One of the best I've seen at it is Michael Connelly of The Lincoln Lawyer fame. He really gets into his stride with this technique in The Fifth Witness, which I recommend you read just to watch the master at work. Instead of quoting an excerpt from the book, I challenged myself to create an example mimicking his style. Here goes:

Chuck frowned at his assistant. “The judge will never get us on the docket in time, will he?”
“You want me to find out?”
“You can do that?”
“Sure. Me and Judge Ramrod go way back. We went to law school together.”
“Well, if you can it would sure help.”
“Well, I can, and I will. Now how about that raise?”
“What? You just started working for me last week!”
“I know, but who has connections like I do? I have friends in high places.”
“You get me a win on this big one, and we’ll talk about it.”
“Okay, boss. You got it.”
“Stop calling me boss.”
“Okay, partner.


There you go. Twelve lines, and I even gave this vignette a chuckle ending. Not a 'said' in the lot. Only one beat, necessary to set up who leads this dance, and who the dance partner will be. Two characters in this little scene. Chuck, who we discover is an attorney, and his unnamed assistant. Get a sense of character? Feel the lightning fast energy? That's because it's a ripping game of ping pong, and it's not bogged down with attributions.

I'm not saying to do this all the time. Along with the other points mentioned, it's just another powerful tool you'd be wise to keep handy in your toolbox. Skilled whippersnappers like yourselves should be collecting tools, and learning how to work with them like master carpenters.

"Now you try," Moon said.

ASSIGNMENT:

You get twelve lines. Set the stage. Tell us who is speaking at the start with 1) a beat, or 2) a 'said' dialogue tag. Then, only have the conversation imply who is speaking. No cheating with "As you know, Bobs" (also known as maid-and-butler dialogue). Whenever you're done, post your creation here for all of us to study. Let's have this exercise wrapped up in one week from today. I'm hoping to see seventeen completed assignments, health and circumstance permitting. After all, that's how many signed on to this year's challenge. (And if you aren't on the enrollment roster, you are most welcome to do the exercise, but please keep the thread clear for the enrolled challenge beasties. With seventeen members, it gets cluttered enough as it is. Thanks so much!)

Well, what are you waiting for? Don't you know we're at WAR?

All the beast!

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

Peter Glen
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Wed May 27, 2020 5:43 pm

DIALOGUE ASSIGNMENT - Thanks Wulf! Love this secret!! My current story is very heavy with dialogue so am able to apply your wise advice into practice straight away and it will be a great tool to focus on for my next pass. Here's my assignment attempt:

Code: Select all

   The writer flipped shut the lid on his notebook, dazed by the brilliance conferred by the screen, "Marg! I just read the most amazing write. It was about dialogue."
   "What was that? I had to run all the way from the other end of the house. Some of us have things to do, unlike you, lazy ass.
   "Think you can turn that TV down some. I don't know how you can concentrate with all that noise."
   "It's just that I learned a new writing super secret skill, a Wulf Moon super secret. It's awesome."
   "If it's so good, then why are you crying?"
   "To illustrate a point, dear. To illustrate a point."
   "Lazy ass. You know, the lawn needs mowing for over a week now."
   No thanks, dear, you can do it, he almost said.


Edit: first try didn't read the question properly :o
Last edited by Peter Glen on Fri May 29, 2020 3:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, SHM, ?

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Retropianoplayer
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Wed May 27, 2020 6:29 pm

THE COIN OF THE WOLF MOON



“Hello? Anyone here?” A musty odor pervaded the antique shop on Arcturus Prime. I tossed the gold coin upon the polished display case.
“A moment, please. I’m not getting any younger.” An old man scampered to the counter. Beady eyes appraised my artifact. “Where’d you get this?”
“Let’s agree not to ask each other questions.” I paused. “Colonel Maltose.”
His left eye twitched. “A long time ago.”
The artifact with howling wolf on obverse and wolf moon on reverse had enormous value. His eyes were pleading. “Name a price so I never see you again.”
I laughed. “Sixty-five thousand pentares. I swear you’ll never see me again.”
He counted out banknotes. In the adjacent alleyway, I took my Book of Shadows out. “Blessed Be God and Goddess, on this Night of the Wolf Moon, return my coin to original form.” Five similar coins clinked inside my trouser. “For your war crimes and five others under your command, for the death of my wife and children, Colonel Maltose, you will pay the highest sum.”
I peeked inside the closed shop as moonlight streamed in. The golden coin on the countertop morphed into original form – a twenty-foot howling male wolf with terrifying fangs. Somewhere during the worst of the man’s screams, I hailed a cab to my next five destinations.
"Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love" - Rule 306
"Never compromise your integrity." LIFE'S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK by H.J. Browne, Jr.

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

Postby CCrawford » Wed May 27, 2020 7:04 pm

DIALOGUE ASSIGNMENT:

Rianne's small dragon flicked its tongue at the man in scarlet robes as she nestled it onto her shoulder. “My answer is no.”
“I can give you a palace by the sea. Mountains of jewels.”
“Still no.”
“Gold? Velvet dresses? Fine chocolates and gourmet cheese? Isn’t there anything to change your mind?”
“N—Mariel, stop that, we have plenty of cheese here—No. Well, perhaps...”
“Yes?”
“Dragons.”
“Dragons?”
“Dragons.”
“Where in Scarfallow would I get dragons?! Only the craziest fool--or the bravest!--would attempt to capture a dragon!”
“Exactly.”
“Oh.”
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, ??

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

Postby storysinger » Thu May 28, 2020 10:49 am

D'hani stood in the door shaking snow from his cape, the north wind whipping by threatened to extinguish the hearth fire, "Who is the owner of this wretched excuse for refuge from this weather?" He roared.
A stoop shouldered old man, ever alert for signs of conflict with customers approached on shuffling feet and said, "I am Ajai, the current owner of this hole in the wall abode, How may I be of assistance?"
"I would rent your place and everyone in attendance for the evening. I am the manager for a travelling menagerie and we need a place to practice our craft before we play for the King and his court next week."
"The King himself eh? If I may ask would you be able to produce a document to validate your claim?"
"Well, as to that, the replacements always travel by foot due to expenses and all and the papers are with me mate."
"Hmm, so if I agree to your terms you will provide entertainment fit for a King?"
"Guaranteed my good man, without a doubt."
"I will spread the word that will fill the establishment, usually it's standing room only. We have an agreement so feel free to proceed with your preparations."

It never ceased to amaze D'hani how easy it was to assemble a herd of human-cattle for the annual Virgin Vampire Validation ceremonies where the new bloodsuckers were introduced to the colony in a no holds barred bloodfest.
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.
D.R.Sweeney

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RSchibler
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Workshop & Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Thu May 28, 2020 11:13 am

Dialogue Assignment: (Great assignment, Wulf!)

Lou turned to his lover. “You don’t understand. I need to be the one to do it.”
“Why does it matter?”
“Because. I want Mother to know it was me.”
“There are thousands of Men. Dozens of radio jerks. She doesn’t care about you.”
“Exactly! If she knew it was me, if I was the one… she might remember me.”
“I’m not sure I’d want Mother to know my name.”
“You think I haven’t thought of that? You... you just don’t understand.”
“Ambitious, aren’t you?”
“It’s not that! Well, okay, maybe I don’t want to be a radio jerk forever. Who would? Pushing buttons all day, listening to traders moan about their schedules and scratchy signals from dead radio stations on Earth?”
“I like being a rado jerk. Jerk.”
“I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant. Come back to bed.”
“No. I have to get ready for work, you know, pushing buttons all day.”
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, P

ALWAYS available for critique. PM me.

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

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

Postby AjZach » Thu May 28, 2020 12:21 pm

Dialogue Assignment:

Hecate gave the potion a final stir. “There! Come bring the vial, child!”
“Oh! But which one? How big?”
“That one! Next to the rat’s whiskers. It’s empty isn’t it?”
“Yes it is! Oh no. Whoops.”
“Clumsy child. Your father said you were a good worker when he traded you!”
“I brought another one. Can I ladle the potion?”
“And spill it all over yourself? That’s what I would need, a fish for an assistant.”
“Why does the blacksmith want a fish potion?”
“Who am I to ask why? He paid! There might be some effects around town to amuse us, as well.”
“Can I brew the next one?”
“You, child, want to brew the next one? You have extensive knowledge on love potions then?”
“Yes?”
Vol 35: R, R, R,
Vol 36: R, HM, R, HM,
Vol 37: HM, R, SF,?

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

Postby zeeteebeez » Thu May 28, 2020 1:16 pm

Elias looked up at his grandmother who sat in the saddle of their stone-mule. “Grandmother, why are we going this way? We need to be moving south.”
“What I tell you about calling me that, boy?”
“Sorry, Mozie. Just trying to show some respect, like they taught me in school.”
“Respect! Respect would be doing as I say. You can call me Mozie, or Mozie Moon, or you can call me nothing at all.”
“Yes, Mozie. But we really do need to be heading south. You seen that poster? There’s a bounty out for a moon whisperer.”
“You trying to say that nasty old sketch on that poster looked like me?”
“Well, it was an old lady on a stone-mule.”
“You calling me old, boy?”
“Lying would be disrespectful, Mozie.”
“Ha! You all right, boy. You all right. But we go this way until the moon tell us different. You’ll have plenty of time to go south when I’m dead.”
Last edited by zeeteebeez on Thu May 28, 2020 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Z.T.

6x HM

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu May 28, 2020 1:18 pm

Heh-heh. These dialogue exercises are great. I'm tempted to begin commenting, but I don't want to skew results from others. Do study each one, what works, what doesn't. Remember the lessons when you return to the story you're working on. If you see one of these you really like, ask yourself why.

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

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu May 28, 2020 1:44 pm

I made this post to my Facebook page today. Since my master class is based on the Super Secrets--including my powerful Hidden Super Secrets--I thought you'd enjoy learning about it. There's only room for twenty in the master class, and six have already signed up. If you're interested, I'd recommend enrolling soon. Thanks to all of you for going on this ride with me. It's been a wonderful shared adventure. Cheers!

Here's the public announcement:

Are you struggling to get professionally published? I started an online writing workshop a year and a half ago to help aspiring writers. It's called Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Writing Workshop. In that time, my Super Secrets have had 175,000 views, and they've helped members achieve many firsts in their writing, including scholarships to the prestigious Superstars Writing Seminar, first professional sales, and multiple finalists and two winners in the Writers of the Future Contest. The workshop has been so successful, it won Best Writing Workshop of 2019 in the Critters Readers' Choice Awards.

Would you like to glean the best of these Secrets, but don't have a year to invest in the workshop? What if I distilled my most powerful Super Secrets into a four hour workshop, and made it easy for you to attend in the safety of your own home? Well, that's exactly what I've done. Invest in your success! Join me at Fyrelite Online on July 18th, 2020, for the master class "How to Write Winning Stories that Take the Gold!"


https://www.fyrecon.com/master-classes/ ... -workshop/ Here's a few testimonials from workshop members:

"I searched through writing books and online resources to find the best information on writing marketable fiction. Nothing came close to the quality and focus of Wulf Moon's 'Super Secrets.' It’s the ultimate primer on how to construct a story."--Ari Officer, TIME Magazine contributor

"I first discovered Moon's Super Secrets while I was in the middle of writing my story that ended up winning Writers of the Future. Tips on how to write a story that would win the contest? Sign me up! I read through the entirety of the Secrets and then went scene-by-scene, line-by-line back through my pages to hone to perfection. Using his advice, I won Writers of the Future with the second short story I had ever written."--Leah Ning, winner, Writers of the Future, Vol. 36

"Wulf's decades of experience as a writer and a human being make the Super Secrets not just helpful, but insightful and perfectly aimed at writers hoping to improve their craft and achieve publication. I'd been writing for several years before beginning my Super Secret's journey, and it was shortly after I began to apply and internalize Wulf's methods that I had my first professional sale. My results in contests and submissions improved as well, and more, my personal writing confidence has increased. Wulf helped me to see not just where my writing needed improvement--almost anyone can tell writers what they're doing wrong--but how to improve, which is much more valuable and difficult to find. Of the dozens of writing books, methods, courses, and seminars I've encountered, "Wulf Moon's Super Secrets" is the most enjoyable and accessible."--Rebecca E. Treasure, Writer
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Henckel
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Thu May 28, 2020 2:41 pm

Assignment for Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET #43: "Write smart dialogue!" Moon exclaimed emphatically.

Everett bailed his twerp-brother up in the corner of the train yard. A week had passed since the shooting and Cole hadn’t come clean.
“I wasn’t even there,” Cole said.
“Don’t lie to me.”
“I was in the house taking a wiz.”
“But, you were at his house.”
“It was an accident.”
“Bullshit! Accidents like that don't happen unless you're playing with guns. Normal people don't do that. Only idiots play with guns—and criminals. You're lucky Seth isn't dead and you're not in jail.”
“I know… I’m sorry.”
“Whatever. Just keep your nose clean.”
“You going to rat me out?”
“No. Come on, you can buy me a burger.”
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – pending
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???


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