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

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Jul 03, 2020 4:47 pm

empressed wrote:Wish I could attend, but pandemic, blah, blah, blah. Any chance you'll offer this in the future?


Re: pandemic: it's going to be taught virtually, if that changes your ability to attend. :)
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jul 03, 2020 5:13 pm

StarReacher wrote:Yippee!! I'm in the Master Class!!

(I did have trouble registering . . . took 4 attempts and the threat of magic spells . . . but well worth it.)


Awesome, StarReacher! Welcome to Top Gun! This Master Class is going to be filled with the Wulf Pack, the Best of the Best! wotf013

I'm going to have to play "Ride Into the Danger Zone" at the opening!

START. YOUR. ENGINES!

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon

***Only three spots left! Maybe. It's been awhile since I asked, but StarReacher got in! Here's the details for the ONLINE class. Catch it before it fills, because it's about to! https://www.fyrecon.com/master-classes/ ... -workshop/
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.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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

Postby empressed » Fri Jul 03, 2020 7:30 pm

I'm in! I had problems when I looked into earlier, so I figured I was too late anyway. Glad I was wrong and thanks for letting me know it's virtual, Wolf! "See" you there. wotf013
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby BeeW » Fri Jul 03, 2020 7:39 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:
StarReacher wrote:Yippee!! I'm in the Master Class!!

(I did have trouble registering . . . took 4 attempts and the threat of magic spells . . . but well worth it.)


***Only three spots left! Maybe. It's been awhile since I asked, but StarReacher got in! Here's the details for the ONLINE class. Catch it before it fills, because it's about to! https://www.fyrecon.com/master-classes/ ... -workshop/


I can't seem to find what time it runs... or through what software... I'm trying to figure out if it's at a time I can do.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 7:59 pm

BeeW wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:
StarReacher wrote:Yippee!! I'm in the Master Class!!

(I did have trouble registering . . . took 4 attempts and the threat of magic spells . . . but well worth it.)


***Only three spots left! Maybe. It's been awhile since I asked, but StarReacher got in! Here's the details for the ONLINE class. Catch it before it fills, because it's about to! https://www.fyrecon.com/master-classes/ ... -workshop/


I can't seem to find what time it runs... or through what software... I'm trying to figure out if it's at a time I can do.


It’s not listed on the website for some reason, but I was told that it’s 2-6:30 pm Mountain Time.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:15 pm

BeeW wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:
StarReacher wrote:Yippee!! I'm in the Master Class!!

(I did have trouble registering . . . took 4 attempts and the threat of magic spells . . . but well worth it.)


***Only three spots left! Maybe. It's been awhile since I asked, but StarReacher got in! Here's the details for the ONLINE class. Catch it before it fills, because it's about to! https://www.fyrecon.com/master-classes/ ... -workshop/


I can't seem to find what time it runs... or through what software... I'm trying to figure out if it's at a time I can do.


The Master Class will be a Zoom group chat. To all attending, please be sure to update your Zoom program to the latest version. You do their updates in settings, I believe.

Date is July 18th, 2020. Time is 2 pm to 6:30 pm Mountain Time. 1 pm to 5:30 pm Pacific Time. Four hours, plus breaks, so there will be some room to visit with attendees.

Do let me know if you're attending, Bee. It's almost sold out and I'm trying to keep track. I hope you can make it!

Empressed! I'm Impressed! :) Glad you made it in!

Looking forward to seeing many of you there! Let's send you each home with new equipment for your labs to make fresh baby krakens!

Beastmaster Moon

***That means there *might* be two spots left. Like I said, there were three or four openings left last time I asked, but two of those were filled today. Here's the info! https://www.fyrecon.com/master-classes/ ... -workshop/
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.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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

Postby empressed » Sat Jul 04, 2020 10:38 am

Here's hoping! Still haven't received my receipt, so my nails look uneven again. LOL. Hoping that's because of the holiday weekend. I haven't been able to attend a writers conference in a few years, so this is exciting. wotf010
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Jul 04, 2020 11:50 am

empressed wrote:Here's hoping! Still haven't received my receipt, so my nails look uneven again. LOL. Hoping that's because of the holiday weekend. I haven't been able to attend a writers conference in a few years, so this is exciting. wotf010


I'll message the chairman of Fyrelite and Fyrecon, Victoria. I'll do my best to make sure you get in. Hate to see you nibble those nails down to the nub. wotf015

See you there!

Only one or two spots left...

Beastmaster Moon

Here's the info on the SUPER SECRETS Master Class at Fyrelite Online! https://www.fyrecon.com/master-classes/ ... -workshop/
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.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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

Postby empressed » Sat Jul 04, 2020 12:01 pm

You are AWESOME. Thank you so much! (With many more deserved exclamations that I can't bring myself to type.) wotf019
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby empressed » Sat Jul 04, 2020 12:19 pm

BTW, I've looked at a few of your exercises in this thread (got a story or two out of them), but I've never seen where you sign up and jump in. Is there a good place to start? What are the rules/expectations? If I have to read every response to understand, I won't do it and I want to.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby empressed » Sat Jul 04, 2020 12:29 pm

BTW, Just heard back from the Con. They're sending me my info. Thanks for the help! Going back to read this thread's original stuff and see if I can understand what I'm missing.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Sat Jul 04, 2020 12:52 pm

empressed wrote:BTW, I've looked at a few of your exercises in this thread (got a story or two out of them), but I've never seen where you sign up and jump in. Is there a good place to start? What are the rules/expectations? If I have to read every response to understand, I won't do it and I want to.


Empressed, do you mean how to jump in as part of the official Super Secrets challenge? If that's what you're asking... He held an open call last year with a deadline for entry, and a challenge we had to complete to be officially rostered and entered. But the exercises are posted publicly for others to follow along if they wish. We're in the final quarter for this year's challenge... but if he decides to do it again, I'm guessing there will be a similar open window of time for a new group of Challenge Beasties to jump in!


If not what you were asking, sorry! (I answered anyway. Lol)
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Jul 04, 2020 1:48 pm

Empressed, what CCrawford (Crystal) said. :)

Glad Fyrelite got you signed in to my Master Class. Told you I'd do my best!

As for Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge (this thread), this is a free workshop and challenge I hold for WotF Forumites that wish to join. I state the requirements before the start of the new contest year, and prospective members let me know they wish to join, making a commitment to meet those requirements. The assignments you see being posted are by the enrolled members. I close the enrollment so that we can begin, and so I can focus my efforts on those that signed up to do the work. This year, there are seventeen that enrolled. As you can see, having seventeen challenge beasties produces many comments and exercise assignments for myself and the members to keep up with.

May I suggest you go to the very first post I made that started it all? There is a Table of Contents there with each Super Secret hyperlinked to get you to the area it is posted in the thread and discussed. I recommend reading each Super Secret (I need to update the TOC with the latest), and if you want to go deeper, read the accompanying discussion. I highly recommend you read the Kill Your Darlings exercise, and everyone's results from each phase. They are very creative, and reveal the benefit. Elizabeth Ticknor actually turned her KYD result into a short story, as I recommend you do with them. It took fourth place in a recent WotF quarter. Most of my stories began as KYD pieces I expanded. It's a tool I created to see the heart of a story, and to build up from there.

We'll be discussing the system in the Master Class. If you can familiarize yourself with some of the Super Secrets and concepts, you'll be at the head of the class!

I do ask everyone attending to read "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler," my WotF winner in Volume 35. I'm going to be using it as a sample to teach the makeup of prize-winning stories, and I'd hate to spoil it for you if you haven't read it yet. If you don't have it, you can get it at Galaxy Press, Amazon, or even read it or have me read it to you for free at Future Science Fiction Digest, Issue 3.

Did you know there are FOURTEEN essential elements to a prize-winning story? Well, there are! All to be revealed...

Beastmaster Moon

***Note to those looking on. My SUPER SECRETS Fyrelite Online Master Class *might* have two spots left. Like I said, there were three or four openings left last time I asked, but two of those were filled yesterday. Here's the info! https://www.fyrecon.com/master-classes/ ... -workshop/
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.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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

Postby StarReacher » Sat Jul 04, 2020 4:02 pm

empressed wrote:Here's hoping! Still haven't received my receipt, so my nails look uneven again. LOL. Hoping that's because of the holiday weekend. I haven't been able to attend a writers conference in a few years, so this is exciting. wotf010


I think that the receipt is automatic. I got mine within minutes of enrolling. Maybe check your spam folder. It took me 4 tries to get the system to accept my payment, but I did get a screen, finally, saying that I had been enrolled. The sign up page has a contact email address as well as their FB page, but I would think that they might not check until Monday because of the holiday.

Looking forward to seeing you in class!
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:32 am

Happy Monday, beasties! Today's Monday prompt is: INSANITY OF VANITY.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:38 pm

storysinger wrote:A few alterations and here's the result.

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 an inn?"
A stoop-shouldered old man rounded the end of the bar and, loosening his dagger beneath his apron said, "I am Ajai and this inn is my pride and joy, I'll hear no more of yer tripe, be civil or be gone."
"Whoa now, hear me out, I want to rent your inn and all of your customers."
"And why would you want to do that?"
"The menagerie I manage needs a place to practice before entertaining the king next week."
"The king himself eh? What proof have you of such an arrangement?"
"My partner follows with the laborers at a slower pace than the show, she has the paperwork."
"Well, for a show fit for a king I can be patient, as long as you deliver on your promise."
"You have my word that every part of the evening will be filled with entertaining action."
"My, my, you do make it all sound so exciting, I'll spread the word and fill the seats."
"See that you do my good man and I will see that you are the main course, um, attraction at the celebration feast."
"Is there anything about your show I can glorify as an added draw to help fill the seats?"
"Hmm, the show does shed light on certain elements of rare exotic cuisine experienced by very few people."
"I'm practically bursting from anticipation, please carry on."


We return to our expanded 250's created from the twelve line Ping-Pong Dialogue Exercise. With the expansion, I gave you permission to add beats and tags and exposition, seeing if you could improve on them.

Don, in this one, you did not. Your original actually read better, and was more memorable. This lost a lot of its original energy, but as a fellow crash dummy I say, "That's why we do these tests!" :) My best advice, and one you should stick to your monitor? A PERIOD IS YOUR FRIEND. Write that down. Post it up where you can see it. Work on it every time you write.

You are joining many sentences through commas. What you end up with is run-on sentences that lose all dramatic power. I'll give you just one example, so I don't beat a dead horse. You'll see it, and you can fix the rest. Here goes:

You: A stoop-shouldered old man rounded the end of the bar and, loosening his dagger beneath his apron said, "I am Ajai and this inn is my pride and joy, I'll hear no more of yer tripe, be civil or be gone."

Better: A stoop-shouldered old man rounded the end of the bar. He lifted the edge of his apron, loosened a dagger from its sheath on his belt. "I am Ajai," he said, "and this inn is my pride and joy. I'll hear no more of your tripe. Be civil or be gone."

Note your original sentence. You told that entire structure in one long, run-on sentence. Even your dialogue was part of that one sentence. Break it up, practice proper social distancing between some of your statements. When a person writes long, compound sentences on and on in a story, readers will quit. It's exhausting to the eyes, and it spoils dramatic tension. Short sentences read fast. They are easy on the eye. Long sentences read slow, and must be beautiful or interesting or important to entice the reader to put in the effort. Especially is this so with today's reader, used to getting their information in blogger-sized bites.

I turned your compound sentence into five sentences. See if it reads snappier, and is easier to understand. One could argue you do not need the "he said" tag, but I read it out loud, and the tag actually gives it nicer pacing.

Also, don't be afraid to drop in action beats. Too much ping-pong dialogue can become wearisome as well. It's good to indicate motion, thoughts, and character tells that let us know what's going on internally when something is being said. We get clues to read off of and gauge your characters' inner feelings, just like in real life.

In all of this, practice makes perfect...if we're doing perfect practice. I hope this provides a guide.

See you soon in my master class, Don! Thanks for being a part of this challenge!

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.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:42 pm

To all. Just some cool writing advice by Mark Twain.

"The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
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.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:21 am

zeeteebeez wrote:Dialogue to vignette:

Elias patted the rough granite-like snout of his stone-mule, Beau. It had been a long while since Beau’s last sanding. One more reason they needed to head back home. These superstitious Northerners had some ridiculous notions about stone creatures. Not to mention what they thought of Moon Whisperers.

Elias looked up at his Grandmother who sat in Beau’s saddle. “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.”

“School! What does school know? 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 this poster? There’s a bounty out for a Moon Whisperer.” Elias removed the poster from his pocket, unfolded it, and handed it up to Mozie.

“You trying to say this look like me?”

“Well, it’s an old lady on a stone-mule.”

“Old! What you trying to say, boy?”

“I can’t call you young can I? Lying would be disrespectful. Or was school wrong about that too?”

The thin skin of Mozie’s aged lips stretched tight in a big grin. “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.”

Elias smirked. “Yes... Grandmother.”


Another Ping-Pong exercise turned into vignette. Did Zeet use his 250 words wisely?

Yes! Note how he set the scene *before* his dialogue began, even defining foreign creatures with minimal description. There's just enough to code up an image in the reader's mind of what a stone-mule might be. Looks like it's made of real granite, and it's alive and can move! This also serves as a hook--what could these creatures be? And what's a Moon Whisperer? Mystery awaits us! Magic awaits us! Because we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

THIS is how to open scenes. We have a POV character and the supporting character in a scene, both named and identified so we know enough that we can visualize who is speaking and what their relationship is to the other...BEFORE they begin to speak. This is the number one problem I see in scenes by aspiring writers. No setup. No stage for the actors to step onto. No idea who is behind the voice speaking. People materializing out of thin air. Don't be that guy. :)

Some constructive comments. You missed a chance to code in an age reference right in the opening, and it would have been easy to do. You do get it in, but sooner is better than later. Watch this opening:

Young Elias patted the rough, granite-like snout of his stone-mule...

Why do that? It's an easy cue. You'll give us more, feeding us info as the scene goes on as to whether he's a little boy, a teen, or early twenties. But it's good to drop info like this in the opening, helping us to build our reader database for your characters, and your world. You never want your reader to back up when they later find out Elias is a woman, or an old man, and they had assumed otherwise in the beginning. You didn't do this, just making a point. :)

Note I added a comma.

You also got in a nice action beat, Elias handing the wanted poster up to Grandmother. Great use of dialogue, looks pro.

I would have liked to feel the swaying of the animals, the sense of forward motion. Your stone-mules aren't moving, although direction is indicated. It's your job to give us the full set of code, Zeet. We have to assume they are outdoors, and are in motion, based on the conversation as it progresses. Also, where's the sun at? High in the sky? Morning sun up? What's the environment like? Rocky? Desert? You definitely want to work these details in with a longer piece, if you could not fit it within the 250 word restriction.

I do hope you craft this into a story. It has much promise. These originated as exercises in dialogue, but yours actually would be a great opening to a story.

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.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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

Postby zeeteebeez » Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:33 am

Thanks Moon!

As always your comments are insightful. I can credit your previous help in establish characters and setting in a scene for how this turned out. Your pointers are most certainly helping me hone my craft.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:50 am

You’re welcome, Zeet. May you put the lessons toward your win! :)

Dave recently did a tip on fight scenes, but it’s his comments on what happens after the climax that I want you all to pay close attention to:

“The end of the battle. After your protagonist has won, you might think that your reader is feeling exultation and that all is done—but that’s not true. The most powerful emotions that are aroused are often brought forth after the battle is over. As the protagonist discovers what he has won, what he has lost, how he has changed, and how he has changed the world, the story can take dozens of turns that explore powerful emotional depths. Your protagonist might have to bury friends, show mercy to enemies, win the love of her life, and so on.”

This is denouement. This is resolution. Be sure your endings have these secret ingredients.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon. PS: Only two spots left in my Fyrelight Online Master Class next week! This is not a mere rehash of the Super Secrets. These are the Secrets I employed to win so many contests over the years (I’ve listed a few of my wins on my Facebook page). Attendees get my Super Secret TM draft tool to compose gold medal stories! Don’t miss this opportunity!
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.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jul 10, 2020 2:37 pm

oishisushi911 wrote:Dialogue Assignment Part 2: Ping Pong to Vignette

Rick Weston, human colony First Delegate, commanded the angry soldiers to stay behind in the lobby of the molter city hall. Ignoring his buzzing phone again, he plopped through the brackish stink of vine-smothered doors. He charged past the stone desk, skirted the central pool, and hefted his shotgun at Governor Manytides, who waddled naked amongst the waist-high ferns. Two hearts pumped on the molter’s bare chest, veins pulsing across rubbery purple skin.

“Saw what you monsters did"--Rick shoved the barrel close--"to my friend.”

“Beezle, sir? A misunderstanding.” The craterous, blackberry eyes dared Rick to fire.

“Ain’t no misunderstanding. It was murder.”

“There was no murder, sir.”

“We rescued Beezle, and guess what? He ain’t breathing.”

“Part of the process, sir. Breathing is difficult to observe when subjec--”

“Blood all over his chest after we spooked your pals.”

“I apologize, sir. Shedding a heart requires such spillage. Return Beezle to us. Forked Lightbeam will help him recover.”

“Keep talking, politician, and I’ll show you spillage. Your Forked friend is the instigator.”

The slippery plop of the door distracted the Governor. “Sir, Doctor Weston has arrived. Please speak with her first.”

“Melody?”

His wife appeared. Flashed him her stern, professional smile. “Stop harassing the locals. Beezle’s under my care. You’d know that if you answered your phone.”

Governor Manytides lifted clenched hands in greeting. “I explained it to him.”

“I doubt he understood.” Melody politely raised her fists.

Rick lowered his shotgun. “Okay. Governor. Doctor. We have a situation.”



Ryland has served up another vignette for our discriminating taste buds. He had twelve lines of dialogue. This time, he has 250 words. Let's see how he did as the Beastmaster circles his creation...

Wow. This baby kraken actually comes with an introduction. Ryland chose to use the bulk of his bonus to shore up the opening with some scene setting, and this was smart. His original was hard SF, and we got the basic picture through the ping-pong dialogue. But hard SF is...HARD. It really benefits from some exposition on environment, anatomy, technology, even social and political structure. BUT doing heavy world building in the opening *bogs* a story down (pun intended), creating the kiss of death (often found in editor's rejection code as "pacing seemed off.") Ryland carefully drops some details as he set the opening scene before dialogue began. Note how this is not static description--he feeds us the details through action beats as his protagonist moves through an alien city hall. We have here the elements of a great opening scene: a character, in a setting, with a problem...and I might add...motion. Motion is in medias res, or "into the midst of things." Well done, Ryland!

"...veins pulsing across rubbery purple skin." Nice, evocative description. Ryland feeds us just enough code for us to create an image in our mind of these aliens. You don't have to do a lot, but you do have to give your readers the code they need to see your vision.

Some constructive criticism:

Ignoring his buzzing phone again. Um, we never heard it go off before this. So just say something like: He ignored his buzzing phone...

The first line is a little clunky. Too much info. Try this: First Delegate Rick Weston commanded the angry soldiers to stay behind in the lobby of the molters' city hall. You can feed us that he's the leader of the human colony in another line. The following narrative sentences are a bit bulky as well. Compound sentences are your enemy, Ryland. You are trying to fit too much into each. I highly recommend reading your prose aloud if you are not already doing so.

You did pull off an em dash action beat mid-stride in your dialogue. Kudos on that, I was hoping someone would show how to properly do it!

"Sir." While it may be proper in a military setting with a subordinate, this appears to be an elected official. And it repeats so much, it's like a kid hitting the same key on a piano over and over. Season lightly. We get the point.

Melody politely raised her fists. No clue. That is not a universal gesture.

In conclusion, good energy, and great job of setting a scene in medias res. With a little tightening up, this would work not only as a vignette, but as the opening scene on a story. You drop us right into the action, while you are setting up the scene. A very good skill to know indeed.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon
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Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 4:12 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Some constructive criticism:

Ignoring his buzzing phone again. Um, we never heard it go off before this. So just say something like: He ignored his buzzing phone...
I wanted to emphasize that he was repeatedly ignoring his phone, so perhaps instead I should have written, "His phone buzzed for the tenth time today. Striding down the hall, he ignored it. He plopped through..."
The first line is a little clunky. Too much info. Try this: First Delegate Rick Weston commanded the angry soldiers to stay behind in the lobby of the molters' city hall. You can feed us that he's the leader of the human colony in another line. The following narrative sentences are a bit bulky as well. Compound sentences are your enemy, Ryland. You are trying to fit too much into each. I highly recommend reading your prose aloud if you are not already doing so.

You did pull off an em dash action beat mid-stride in your dialogue. Kudos on that, I was hoping someone would show how to properly do it!

"Sir." While it may be proper in a military setting with a subordinate, this appears to be an elected official. And it repeats so much, it's like a kid hitting the same key on a piano over and over. Season lightly. We get the point.

Melody politely raised her fists. No clue. That is not a universal gesture.

In conclusion, good energy, and great job of setting a scene in medias res. With a little tightening up, this would work not only as a vignette, but as the opening scene on a story. You drop us right into the action, while you are setting up the scene. A very good skill to know indeed.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon

Thanks for the critique! Glad to hear the motion of the story came across. Lots of good points. I wonder about a few things. First of all, compound sentences. I feel like I often see them used well in fiction, so when I read it, I often emulate it. When is it beneficial to use compound sentences? I have been reading my stories a lot more, using Word's reading function as another beastie suggested, but I may not always notice issues with compound sentences.

I think you may be right here, that the first sentence could flow smoother without the compound quality, though I keep getting feedback asking who is human, so I thought I should specify the human characters from the get-go. I'm trying to master introducing stories with non-humans, possibly no humans at all, since that seems to be something I like to write.

Also, great points about the overuse of "Sir". Maybe just once or twice to illustrate how polite the governor is in contrast to the delegate, and perhaps use Delegate or something less military, since Rick just left his soldiers behind. As for the raising of fists, I wanted it to show how Melody was also polite in return, as Rick should have been. I thought the "politely" would be enough to show that, but perhaps using an adverb was a mistake, as they rarely express as much as we think they do. Instead, "Melody returned the alien gesture out of respect."

Thanks again. Your comments are great. I did expand this into a short story already, but I plan to do a second story with it, and your points help this and other stories reach higher levels of quality.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:17 pm

storysinger wrote:Jenny let loose with a spit-slinging sneeze from dust raised by the mini-warehouse door. The eye-watering motes floated on sunbeams slanted across the room. With teary eyes and popping ears she said, "It damn well better be worth my time after all this."
Kelly, let loose a deep sigh and shielding his eyes with his hand said, "The letter from Pawpaw mentioned some kind of steel steed that he had bequeathed to me. Help me find it, ok."
"I'll be happy to help, since you seem to think there's some kind of treasure in here."
"Look, my grandfather was known to pack up and ride off for day's at a time, a steel steed is probably a motorcycle."
"You mean like this one? I watched a show about these things, it was some funny story about bikes called Fatboy's."
"Woah, that thing is like mint, he must've polished it like, yesterday."
"Cool, can I fix my lipstick in the mirror."
"Sure, but let me by, he said sit down, press the button, and enjoy the vibes, whatever that means."
"Come on now, you don't have to be so pushy, I'll move."
"Oh, sorry, it's just I want to try the machine out. Hop up behind me and let's see what happens."
"Ok, but I'm gonna keep my distance."
"Whatever, here goes"--he twisted the throttle--"This is for you Pawpaw!"
"Just think if he can see you from the other side Kelly, how proud he would be that you found his treasure."


Storysinger gave us a second 250, not based on his Ping Pong Dialogue sample, but obviously using the technique. I'll commment on this one as well.

It's got good energy, and the scene setting with the dust motes and sunbeams is really nice. You also teach those of us that haven't ridden bikes a bit about motorcycles, and that's cool--we come to stories to learn new things. Fatboys and steel steeds are great terms. A nice tale about a grandson inheriting not only a bike, but his grandfather's last wish for his grandson. Good work here, Don!

Some constructive criticism: "Spit-slinging sneeze" is odd and off-putting. Find a better way to describe the sneeze. You also have Kelly let loose in his next set, this time with a sigh. That's an echo. Don't repeat the same terms so close, or they bounce like an echo and readers hear it. Kelly should simply sigh, or breathe out slowly if you wish to prolong it. Always look for ways to describe actions more efficiently.

Where you said, "Woah, that thing is like mint...", that could have used a beat before it, discovering the bike. We really need to see them find it before they talk about it. Plus, the beat gives you a convenient place to tag who is talking again in a long set of ping-pong.

Your "Whatever, here goes..." The em dash break in the sentence is only for a break in a single sentence, not to drop into a second sentence. Therefore, this is how you would write that sentence: "Whatever, here goes." Kelly twisted the throttle, let the engine roar. "This is for you, Pawpaw!"

Here's another fix. You had one long, run-on sentence (and a possessive apostrophe S which was incorrect). Beware the run-on sentence! It should have been written with a period in there, breaking it up. Remember what I said. "The period is your friend." :) Here's the sentence, fixed: "Look, my grandfather was known to pack up and ride off for days at a time. A steel steed is probably a motorcycle."

I mentioned this to others as well. Don't try to stuff too much into one sentence. They become bulky, bloated things, winding boa constrictors that have swallowed a hog. Unless they are beautifully written, they fall to the ground like a lead balloon. You can find them by reading your stories out loud. When a sentence is hard to read out loud, you know it is too long. Don't cheat and have a program do this for you. You all need to hear the words in your ears, feel them spill from your tongue. A program reading to you will not teach you this. If you wish to shave some years off your learning curve, don't cheat. Read it out loud. Yourself. This was the #1 tip in Ken Rand's THE TEN PERCENT SOLUTION. I knew Ken.

He was right.

Good job on this, Don! This is a level up from the other. Cheers!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:52 pm

Peter Glen wrote:
Dialogue assignment Pt2 (I've written a new piece as the original was just for a demonstration)

A small, brown rat climbed out of the girl's coat pocket and scampered up to her shoulder. The alien notices the animal and struts up to his prisoner who is startled by the sudden attention. “Please don’t kill me. I’m not even carrying--”

“Oh, she’s a rat.”
“No, I’ve heard of rats. Rats are ugly, diseased creatures that smell like poop and eat worse. What is this creature that is so cute? It’s the softest little thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“Um, we do call them rats, honest, we do. She’s my pet.”
“Aren’t you a little sweetie? It seems that our database was wrong about you little guys. Goochie goochie goo.”
“Do you eat them? I hear you humans eat your animals. It makes sense to keep your food close.”
“No! She’s my pet. We don’t eat our pets.”
“Good, because I would kill you right now if you would eat this animal; it is too cute.
"Do you milk it? I hear you humans milk your animals.”
“No.”
“I thought so; it seems too small to suck. What name do you have for it? Sweetie? Cutie? Furry Cutie?”
“I just call her rat.”
“Okay, I will let you live. But, only because Rat needs someone to care for it.”


Peter Glen gives us a new 250. For those looking on, we've been seeding our pure Ping-Pong Dialogue exercises with some narration, action beats, and tags. Through this, the pieces get balanced out, and with some scene setting are able to be turned into vignettes.

We have here a cute tale that examines how humans treat animals through the eyes of an alien. The alien falls in love with the rat, and says some funny lines as he tries to understand the girl's relationship with it. The last line is perfect, driving home the humor within the piece, giving us good bang for our buck. I like it!

Some constructive criticism:

You have commingled past and present tense, and they make strange bedfellows. "The alien notices the animal and struts up..." should read "The alien noticed the animal and strutted up..."

Your em dash break is incorrect. You break a sentence with an action beat. Dropping in narrative to get his complexion in is no reason to stop the press. You would write this sentence set like this: The alien's words were as coarse as the texture of his skin. "What is this creature that is sniffing at me?” You could also give us an idea of what the alien looks like by adding one word. Like this: The reptilian alien's words were...

This sentence needs to be closed with a quotation mark: “Good, because I would kill you right now if you would eat this animal; it is too cute." I know this is an exercise, and we all make mistakes. But you can't make even one in a small piece like this. Even in a longer work submitted to WotF, you might only be excused two or three. And if you're in the final stack, Dave has said the decisions between finalists and those he separates out are razor thin. A handful of punctuation, dialogue, and spelling mistakes could be all he needs to tip the story out of the finalist selections. Which is a shame, because those things are the easiest to fix, and you could have stood in that final pile with your best foot forward. This is just a reminder to all.

Again, this is a cute vignette. Loved the ending line. Well done, Peter Glen!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:59 am

To add a further point on long, compound sentences filled with modifiers, here’s Dave on “10 Reasons Why I Reject Stories”:

“3. The author leaves no noun or verb unmodified. Sometimes when an author is struggling to start a story, he will try to infuse too much information into a sentence: “John rubbed his chapped, dry, sand-covered hands together grimly, and gazed thirstily over the harsh, red, crusty deserts of a deserted Mars.” I may put up with one sentence like that in an otherwise well-written story. You put two of those sentences together on the first page, and it really bogs a story down. Unfortunately, if you’re in a modifying mood, you might just start looking for reasons to add unnecessary adjectives and adverbs, and that will kill your pacing. People who do this on the first page of a manuscript will do it throughout. Very often these modifications turn into “purple prose.”

It destroys pacing. It’s the kiss of death.

And it’s now obvious I need to make this a Super Secret!

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

Postby Henckel » Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:38 pm

These comments have been great, Wulf.
Before you’ve posted each of your 250 crits, I’ve crit these myself and then compared our comments.
This has been an asset in helping me find my own blind spots: what I see v/s a pro.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (published @ Sci-fi Lampoon)
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – pending
(2020) V37 Q4 – ?

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

Postby Peter Glen » Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:54 pm

Thank you, Beastmaster! I will go back and study your notes on the use of the em dash break...I'm keen to use that one out in the wild :)

Wulf Moon wrote:This sentence needs to be closed with a quotation mark: “Good, because I would kill you right now if you would eat this animal; it is too cute." I


I'm glad that you picked up this one as I left the quotation mark off on purpose as I've always thought that dialogue from the same character but in a new paragraph was without a quote mark. Others have also noticed this in my writing recently, so it is good that now I can finally put the issue to bed.

Thanks again for your help! wotf009
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:02 am

Peter Glen wrote:Thank you, Beastmaster! I will go back and study your notes on the use of the em dash break...I'm keen to use that one out in the wild :)

Wulf Moon wrote:This sentence needs to be closed with a quotation mark: “Good, because I would kill you right now if you would eat this animal; it is too cute." I


I'm glad that you picked up this one as I left the quotation mark off on purpose as I've always thought that dialogue from the same character but in a new paragraph was without a quote mark. Others have also noticed this in my writing recently, so it is good that now I can finally put the issue to bed.

Thanks again for your help! wotf009


No, Peter, I apologize. You are correct. If the same speaker continues in the next paragraph, you do not use close-quotes. It just looked wrong to my eye. Still does. I think because it drops off abruptly and then restarts, it's just not working for me. Let me show you how I think it should be written:

You wrote:
“Good, because I would kill you right now if you would eat this animal; it is too cute.
"Do you milk it? I hear you humans milk your animals.”

I would write it like this, adding the lines together with a narrative sentence, making it all one paragraph:

“Good, because I would kill you right now if you would eat this animal; it is too cute." The alien reached out, scritched the rat’s head. "Do you milk it? I hear you humans milk your animals.”

Here is why what you wrote looks wrong in ping-pong dialogue. The sentences are moving fast, alternating between speakers. Suddenly, you break the pattern, dropping into the next one line paragraph with the same speaker. The rhythm is broken, so the ping-pong stalls.

Anyhow, here is the rule:

Multiple paragraphs of dialogue

Dialogue may stretch across paragraphs without pause. To punctuate, put a terminal punctuation—period, question mark, or exclamation point— at the end of the first paragraph. There is no closing quotation mark at the end of this paragraph.

Begin the next paragraph with an opening quotation mark.

Follow this pattern for as long as the dialogue and paragraphs continue. At the last paragraph, use a closing quotation mark at the end of the dialogue.

“He was my best friend. I told you that, didn’t I? And then he stabbed me in the back. Stole my wife and my future. I hated him for that. Still do. Hate him bad.

“But he’s been punished, yes he has. He went to jail for embezzling thousands. Not even millions. Just thousands. Serves him right, the petty crook. He’s just a petty man.”


This came from a great article on how to punctuate dialogue. It gives examples that are easy to understand. http://theeditorsblog.net/2010/12/08/pu ... -dialogue/
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:45 am

Wulf Moon wrote:Multiple paragraphs of dialogue

Ah! Now it is crystal. Thanks again ... and I like your idea on joining the two paras, it is much clearer that way :)
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby storysinger » Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:28 pm

As long as you keep teaching Wulf I'll be willing to learn.
Thanks for sharing your insight on my 250's and getting me back on the forum. I didn't enjoy being able to read without commenting.
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