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

Postby StarReacher » Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:15 pm

Thanks for the feedback, Moon.

It's always great to improve my craft, bit by bit.

The new 250 challenge will reach you by midnight. wotf007



Wulf Moon wrote:
StarReacher wrote:250 Word Dialogue Rewrite Assignment

One lingering question I have is my use of questions. I debated changing the prose in the opening sentences to avoid questions, but I like to avoid using a lot of "he felt", "he wondered", etc. types of statements because it seems to yank a reader out of the story. I tend to ask myself a lot of questions in my head, so that is the way that seems natural to me. But maybe I'm just weird that way. wotf001

Does it work here, or is there a better strategy I should be employing? Thanks!!

Lucas stared at his patient, baffled by his questionable decision to save her. Had a century of wear and tear affected his logic circuits? Had the trigger of lost memories in his AI software stirred a wisp of lingering human consciousness?
“I'm Lucas, the pilot of this shuttle. Do you remember your name?”
“Where are we going?” Her glance bounced around the small cabin, flitted past the blinking life support machine, and back to him.
“Somewhere safe where you can continue to heal. You've been in a coma for two months.”
“I was trying to kill you.” She pawed at the sheet as though feeling for a gun.
“Yes. Shall I call you Ms. Assassin or do you have a preferred alias?” Lucas had the illogical urge to laugh. The emotion caught him off guard.
“Harper, if it makes a difference.” Her eyes flickered to the bandages. “What have you done?” A look of horror slid up her face.
Lucas gazed at the ceiling to avoid her eyes. “You weren't much to look at. Damaged beyond the skills of most humans. I did the best I could under the circumstances.”
“I don't understand.” Harper's hands explored the synthetic replacements. “You saved me? Were you programmed as a doctor?”
“Yes to the first question. No to the second.”
“So, you didn't see me before the explosion?”
Lucas cocked his head to the side. “You mean while you were aiming a gun at me?”
“You run faster than I expected.”


And we conclude the Ping Pong Dialogue Exercise, Phase 2, with StarReacher's vignette. She asks a question before she begins, so let's answer it. You are correct, StarReacher. Saying "he felt" or "he wondered" or "she questioned" or "she said irritably" is stating the obvious. Good dialogue implies all of this. Bad dialogue explains everything and describes feelings and annoys readers. We can see all these things in the dialogue. We don't need them explained.

As for Q&A Ping Pong, it certainly works, and is the easiest way to do it. However, if you do it for too long, it appears gimmicky, and readers will spot it. So you balance it out with other tricks, like action beats or narrative. You've done some of this in your vignette, which helps balance it out.

I like your premise here, a robot or cyborg saving someone that tried to destroy him. That makes for an intriguing opening, and an odd couple relationship for certain! I would read on, were this the opening of a larger tale. You've hooked me with the question of why Harper tried to kill him, and why Lucas would save her. I also like Lucas being caught off guard by his emotions. Has he become unstable over time? We don't know, but it would be fun to find out. You've got some interesting things to explore here.

Some constructive criticism:

It would be better not to open with this statement: ...baffled by his questionable decision to save her. That's the fun part about reading the dialogue, it gets revealed there! Don't let the air out of the ball before we get the chance to bounce it around for a bit.

When you answer a question with a question, it throws off the exchange. We expect an answer. She doesn't have to answer, of course, but replying with a question that seems a non sequitur throws us out of the tale:
“I'm Lucas, the pilot of this shuttle. Do you remember your name?”
“Where are we going?” Her glance bounced around the small cabin, flitted past the blinking life support machine, and back to him.


There's a few other spots where these small paragraphs and answers given don't seem directly chained to the last. You want it all to connect, you want it all to flow cohesively. I realize Harper is coming out of a coma, that there will be disorientation, but it feels disjointed in places. Like this one:
“Somewhere safe where you can continue to heal. You've been in a coma for two months.”
“I was trying to kill you.”


It seems odd to blurt this out, given the situation. It certainly doesn't follow the preceding statement.

Again, this has good potential for expanding out with a bit more scene setting before the dialogue begins. And your last line pops, always good. Well done!

So that's the end of the exercise! Thank you all for participating. I found it interesting that many of these could make great in medias res openings. In fact, if they lend themselves to do so, why not go to Phase 3 of this exercise, and build a short story from them? You've discovered a way to hit the ground running with active dialogue. Not many stories by aspiring writers open like this--they usually spend pages upon pages setting up their tale before anyone ever speaks! This is another tool that can make your story stand out as unique. And editors, including Dave, are always hunting for unique.

Happy writing!

Beastmaster Moon
2017 - R (Q4)
2018 - R (Q1), HM (Q2), R (Q4)
2019 - SHM (Q1), R (Q2), SHM (Q3), HM (Q4)
2020 - HM (Q1), HM (Q2)

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

Postby CCrawford » Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:25 pm

East Asia SF 250:

Convergence

Hualing stared out the windows of HuangTech Tower at the glistening Yangtze below. She still marveled that she worked here, a chance to put good into the world.

Behind her, Jiang sighed over sketches on his digitable. If he couldn’t show the Board some viable new tech by next week, he and Hualing would be out of a job. “Take a look?”

Hualing swiped her handheld and hit Speak: “Yes, boss.” A lifetime with apraxia, and swiping words still frustrated her. She scanned Jiang’s sketches, swiped again. “Photovoltaic cells will not withstand such heat.”

Jiang’s head thunked to the digitable. “I’ll start fresh tomorrow. I’m sorry, Hualing.”

Hualing pulled her Converger from her pocket—metallic rings which translated emotional fluctuations into visible spectrums, stimulating parallel emotion in a recipient. As of last night, it transmitted, but she hadn’t fully tested it.

She handed Jiang the receiver and swiped. “Wire goes over ear. Please try?”

Curiosity washed over Jiang’s face. He slipped it on.

Tangerine excitement and electric blue trepidation danced between them. Hualing focused. A curtain of emerald confidence undulated from her to Jiang.

Jiang’s eyes widened. “If the Board discovers you built this here, they’ll claim it’s HuangTech’s.” He pressed the receiver into her hand. “Go. I never saw it.”

Hualing had no desire to start a tech venture. She just wanted to design, to put something good into the world. She swiped. “Make together?”

Jiang raised a brow. “Are you sure?” When Hualing nodded, he smiled. “Okay. Together.”
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, ??

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

Postby oishisushi911 » Fri Aug 07, 2020 8:00 pm

Assignment: Positive East Asia SF (250 KYD)

Amiko in Mask Needs a Win

Two minutes until Face-Off, virtual broadcaster Amiko removed her anonymous Obake ghost mask and secured sensors to her skin. “We don’t have time.”

Baku, her elephant-lion robo-pet, clawed the tatami flooring in disagreement. At the lobby drink machines, high school girls in uniform teased a busty, black rose, Lolita teen.

Amiko wavered. Another missed debate and the agency would freeze her assets.

“Don’t give me that look.” She donned her crow beak mask to become Tengu Amiko. “I can’t save every bullied teen.” She shimmered into the virtual space of Heaven’s Garden.

#

Amiko’s opponent flashed cuff links, dazzling the crowd. “Reality isn’t a pathologized, body-sculpting popster recycling faces.” Cuff Links scoffed as Tengu Amiko slid behind changing drapes. “Where’s your authenticity, schizo?”

Now in fanged fox mask, her Kitsune Amiko persona grinned. “I have multitudes, each appearance despised. And yet we persist.”

“But do you matter?”

Baku trumpeted a warning. Kitsune Amiko unhooked an ear sensor. Haters booed. Her ranking dropped.

Hearing a “Go kill yourself!” from the lobby, Amiko shivered. Months earlier, Baku pumped pills from her stomach.

She went AFK.

“Disqualified,” the announcer proclaimed.

Wearing her single-horned Oni mask, she chased off the uniforms.

A girl whined. “Mr. Lolita’s fake. Top to bottom.”

Oni Amiko raged. “Doesn’t matter.”

“No doctor’s approval. Can’t harass us real girls in the toilet.”

“Apologize!”

“Gomen-nasai.” They fled.

Baku nuzzled Lolita’s hand. “He devours nightmares.” Oni Amiko offered the Kitsune mask. “Cover me?”

Kitsune Lolita connected. They shimmered into the Garden.
R.J.K. Lee
2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs; 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 1 pending
Progress on Goal of 100 rejections in 2020: 72 rejections, 22 pending, 94 total submissions
Keep writing, revising, submitting! Don't break the circle!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:29 pm

StarReacher Wrote: Thanks for the feedback, Moon. It's always great to improve my craft, bit by bit.

It's not bit by bit, StarReacher. I've been watching. It's leaps and bounds.

Carry on.

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: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby C.A. Tedeschi » Sat Aug 08, 2020 9:05 am

Wulf Moon wrote:There is a secret here. Some call it their muse...

Moon's SUPER SECRET #14: Do not overthink your story!

You already have stories within you. You stuff yourself with the raw materials to make them every day of your life. You just have to get out of the way and let the fat lady sing...because she's beautiful, and she can do magic.


~Beastmaster Moon~


Sticky golden nugget of wisdom.
"You've come a long way to be where you are right now, might as well relax. Life ain't a destination, it's not even a journey. It's an arrival." C.A. Tedeschi

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Aug 08, 2020 11:24 am

Thanks to all that did the positive future East Asian 250 prompt! These were posted here, and also sent to me privately. It's been wonderful seeing how far everyone has come since we began this challenge. Monday will have a fresh prompt for you. I encourage all to keep doing 250 exercises--the full course, no shortcuts! The prompts are provided for this purpose, and I've noticed those doing them are seeing strong results in their craft. Keep up the good work!

A good number of you have membership in David Farland's Apex Writers. He just asked me to be the guest speaker this Tuesday, August 11th, 7 pm Mountain Time, 6 pm PAC. Get your questions for the interview posted to the new website early. See you there!

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

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:33 am

Happy Monday, beasties! Today's Monday prompt is: MOUNTAINEER AT THE END OF THE WORLD.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:41 am

Thank you for posting the Monday prompt, Keeper of Records!

I'm going to give our challenge beasties a bonus prompt this week as well. Choose one, choose both, but if you wish to advance quickly I highly recommend the full KYD on Monday prompts. You will also have an abundant supply of story ideas to build from in a pinch! Several of my published stories came from 250s that begged me to expand them. Our own Beastie Emeritus disgruntledpeony had a WotF 4th place finalist come from the 250 she did in this workshop. <pinching thumb and forefinger together> She came *this* close to winning with it. The system works!

There's a reason for today's bonus prompt. Those of you in the know will know why. Do keep it under your hat.

BONUS MONDAY PROMPT: PRECOGNITION.

Have at it!

Latest news from Fyrecon is that both of my new master classes are 25% full. Don't forget you get Fyrecon Online covered as a bonus with your master class registration. There's going to be some great panels to enjoy, and readings by some of your favorite authors! The founders of Fyrecon are great friends of WotF--in fact, I met them at the WotF workshop in Hollywood! For those of you that took "How to Write Winning Stories That Take the Gold," the LTD Prizewinner Plotter is now available. Not only is it a great tool to help you generate prizewinning stories, it's a great analyzer to help you figure out why a story might not be selling. I trust you remember how to obtain this bonus item.

Finally, for those of you that are members of David Farland's Apex Writers, I'll be the guest speaker tomorrow. I'm going to talk about overcoming adversity, signals of a breakout moment, podcasts and narration, and Dave wants me to go over some of the many contest wins that I've enjoyed. I think he wants me to spill my secrets, and I'll be happy to oblige. See you there!

Will we hit one quarter of a million views on this thread by tomorrow? That's amazing considering we've only been doing this workshop a year and nine months. Thank you to all, in the workshop, in the Forum, and those reading the Super Secrets from the outside!

More Secrets to come! And a brand new exercise that I think will really help.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon

"Put fire in your writing or put your writing in the fire!"--Wulf 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 » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:43 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Thank you for posting the Monday prompt, Keeper of Records!

I'm going to give our challenge beasties a bonus prompt this week as well. Choose one, choose both, but if you wish to advance quickly I highly recommend the full KYD on Monday prompts. You will also have an abundant supply of story ideas to build from in a pinch! Several of my published stories came from 250s that begged me to expand them. Our own Beastie Emeritus disgruntledpeony had a WotF 4th place finalist come from the 250 she did in this workshop. <pinching thumb and forefinger together> She came *this* close to winning with it. The system works!

There's a reason for today's bonus prompt. Those of you in the know will know why. Do keep it under your hat.

BONUS MONDAY PROMPT: PRECOGNITION.

Have at it!

Latest news from Fyrecon is that both of my new master classes are 25% full. Don't forget you get Fyrecon Online covered as a bonus with your master class registration. There's going to be some great panels to enjoy, and readings by some of your favorite authors! The founders of Fyrecon are great friends of WotF--in fact, I met them at the WotF workshop in Hollywood! For those of you that took "How to Write Winning Stories That Take the Gold," the LTD Prizewinner Plotter is now available. Not only is it a great tool to help you generate prizewinning stories, it's a great analyzer to help you figure out why a story might not be selling. I trust you remember how to obtain this bonus item.

Finally, for those of you that are members of David Farland's Apex Writers, I'll be the guest speaker tomorrow. I'm going to talk about overcoming adversity, signals of a breakout moment, podcasts and narration, and Dave wants me to go over some of the many contest wins that I've enjoyed. I think he wants me to spill my secrets, and I'll be happy to oblige. See you there!

Will we hit one quarter of a million views on this thread by tomorrow? That's amazing considering we've only been doing this workshop a year and nine months. Thank you to all, in the workshop, in the Forum, and those reading the Super Secrets from the outside!

More Secrets to come! And a brand new exercise that I think will really help.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon

"Put fire in your writing or put your writing in the fire!"--Wulf Moon


Any genre specifications on this one, Moon?
Z.T.

5x HM

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:59 pm

Good point, Zeet! Science fiction if you want the Secret benefit! :)

BONUS MONDAY PROMPT: PRECOGNITION.

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 Retropianoplayer » Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:36 pm

Beastmaster,

Do you wish us to post the KYD FLASH PROMPT challenges here in the Forum, as we previously did?

Or do you just wish people "in the know" to post them here in the Forum?

Clueless here, lol, as to how to proceed.

Best,

Retro wotf009
"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 SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 10, 2020 8:14 pm

Retropianoplayer wrote:Beastmaster,

Do you wish us to post the KYD FLASH PROMPT challenges here in the Forum, as we previously did?

Or do you just wish people "in the know" to post them here in the Forum?

Clueless here, lol, as to how to proceed.

Best,

Retro wotf009


No, Retro. These are regular prompts, where you choose to do them on your own for your personal benefit. And profit. And glory. And cheeseburgers.

No posting these ones here. I'm sweeping these halls clean. Cheeseburger? It's still hot.

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 Retropianoplayer » Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:55 pm

Thanks, Beastmaster, for your swift response. No Coke. Pepsi, lol.

Speaking of "swift," Swift Potato, I finished my KYD FLASH PROMPT this evening to the BONUS PROMPT: PREMONITION (this is for August).

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.

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Tue Aug 11, 2020 3:49 am

Got you, Retro! By my record you're already at 12/12 - nice job!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:19 am

250,003 Views as of this post!

We hit one quarter of a million views on the Super Secrets today! So cool!


Thank you to all of you challenge beasties, Forumites, lurkers, and everyone inside and outside that’s sent me a note saying how much the Super Secrets have helped them. I am happy the hard work we have put in to this project is paying off!

If you’d like more Super Secret updates, please go to my website and JOIN THE WULF PACK! Membership pops up in 20 seconds. http://www.driftweave.com

Keep writing! Q4 is the hardest to win. Work on creating your very best!

And Apex Members from this group? I’ll be talking about you tonight on Dave’s Zoom interview. See you there!

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 Wulf Moon » Wed Aug 12, 2020 10:00 am

1900 views in 24 hours. Somebody is reading about what you beasties have accomplished. Don’t stop now! Dave said Q4 is the hardest to win. On Vol. 35 Q4 that I won in? He said there were four finalists that he felt any one of them could have been first place winners. Obviously, there’s only room for three, and one of those was the Golden Pen winner. It just shows you how tight it is at the top, and tightest ever in Q4. You wonder why I hammer on the little details in my critiques? Now you know. When a win hangs on the razor’s edge, even the smallest details matter.

Don’t be in a hurry to submit, and I advise you to write two or three this Q and pick your best. You have time. This is what we train for. PUSH!

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 Wulf Moon » Thu Aug 13, 2020 3:58 pm

SUPER SECRET #45: SET. YOUR. STAGE.


You challenge beasties are aware that a story opens with a character, in a setting, with a problem. Super Secret #15, right? <INSERT SCRATCHING RECORD SOUND HERE> Actually, as the Super Secrets progressed, we added an element that's missing from this equation that every writer can recite by heart. It's really 1. A Character. 2. In a Setting. 3. With a Heart's Desire. The Problem comes after we know what the protagonist wants. As we've already discussed, Heart's Desire can change as the story progresses, but a want of some sort has to be there in the opening. In Star Wars, all young Skywalker desired at the opening was to go to Tosche station to pick up some power converters. After his aunt and uncle were torched? "I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father."

But before you get to the big stuff, the stage must be set. For some reason, aspiring writers have a very hard time setting the stage. Either they try to put too much in, and the story gets bogged down by tedious details, or they put too little in, and the reader has no idea of place, time period, genre, character description, environment, tone. Characters materialize out of thin air, or the the story opens in a vacuum, with no setting whatsoever, just talking heads.

A professional director sets the stage that they place their players upon. They put a great deal of thought into it. They don't clutter the stage, they place just the right amount of items to give the impression of the world and environment their players live within. The costumes of the players are also carefully selected, because, as Mark Twain said, "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society." First impressions count, and how a player is garbed can tell you if they're an elite socialite or an angry rebel before they even open their mouths as they step into the spotlight. And yet, aspiring writers often neglect to give even one item of clothing to their poor characters, or one feature that we can remember them by, and we the readers are forced to read about naked, nebulous marshmallows through the entire tale.

Don't be that guy. Nail your openings. Hook your reader from the starting line with a vivid description of your character and the environment they exist in. Show us their heart from the start. Make us fall in love with them. Make us SEE the world they live in. Grounding your setting and your character in the opening lines will make or break your story. Gray voids and talking heads will make an editor drop your story like a rock.

Instead, set your beautiful stage. Make your audience oooh and ahhh as the curtain opens.


ASSIGNMENT: How do you open your first scene?

This will be a set of assignments. They are critical, and I trust you will participate in all of them. But here's your first. I want you to open up "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler," in Writers of the Future, Vol. 35, p. 225. Not because it's the greatest opening that's ever been written, but because I know it and can tell you what I did and why. But you first. It will be good for you, promise!

Before you even start reading the story, how did I hook you?

Next. What I was doing in those first three paragraphs? Was the protagonist a marshmallow, or did she have defining characteristics? What did you learn about her in the first sentence? The second? The third? Was there a hook in this very first paragraph? Was there a second hook at the end of the first paragraph, that made you want to read the next? In one simple paragraph, how many essential character details did you learn?

In the second paragraph, what did you learn about Dixie's health? What original idea came into play? Who does Dixie have for a friend? What other players in this tale are foreshadowed or described? Go back to paragraph one. Did you already get a sense of her mom and dad's personalities? Now back to this second paragraph. What cued genre for you? How quickly did you get an overview of Dixie's world? Was it too much, too little, or just enough to set the stage so you were grounded from the start without bogging the story down?

Third paragraph. What do you discover about Dixie's spirit? What's her opening Heart's Desire?

Final question. In those first three paragraphs--less than one page--what essential story elements got covered? Did you have any problem visualizing Dixie, her world, her companion, her spirit, and her opening Heart's Desire?

Jot down the answers to these questions for yourself. Then, post a summary of your answers here, and if you learned anything from your analysis.

After posting, pull up your opening for Q4 and give it a cold hard look. Better yet, get your beta readers to read this post, and have THEM give it a cold hard look and tell you how you're doing. You will not pass first reader Kary, let alone get a full read from Dave, if you don't nail your opening.

This is Q4. You are going for the gold...in the hardest quarter of the year. I'm trying to help.

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 Retropianoplayer » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:20 pm

ASSIGNMENT: How do you open your first scene?

This will be a set of assignments. They are critical, and I trust you will participate in all of them. But here's your first. I want you to open up "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler," in Writers of the Future, Vol. 35, p. 225. Not because it's the greatest opening that's ever been written, but because I know it and can tell you what I did and why. But you first. It will be good for you, promise!

Before you even start reading the story, how did I hook you?

Next. What I was doing in those first three paragraphs? Was the protagonist a marshmallow, or did she have defining characteristics? What did you learn about her in the first sentence? The second? The third? Was there a hook in this very first paragraph? Was there a second hook at the end of the first paragraph, that made you want to read the next? In one simple paragraph, how many essential character details did you learn?

In the second paragraph, what did you learn about Dixie's health? What original idea came into play? Who does Dixie have for a friend? What other players in this tale are foreshadowed or described? Go back to paragraph one. Did you already get a sense of her mom and dad's personalities? Now back to this second paragraph. What cued genre for you? How quickly did you get an overview of Dixie's world? Was it too much, too little, or just enough to set the stage so you were grounded from the start without bogging the story down?

Third paragraph. What do you discover about Dixie's spirit? What's her opening Heart's Desire?

Final question. In those first three paragraphs--less than one page--what essential story elements got covered? Did you have any problem visualizing Dixie, her world, her companion, her spirit, and her opening Heart's Desire?

Jot down the answers to these questions for yourself. Then, post a summary of your answers here, and if you learned anything from your analysis.


The title hooks us: Obviously, the setting is the Moon. But what is a Super-Duper Moongirl? Does she have super powers? Moon Dawdler could be her canine friend, but we don't know, because of Dawdler? Could the animal be AI? We don't know, but we're intrigued. We read on.

First Paragraph: Character established. Setting established. Character description established, including age, and what she likes. Last sentence, "the tubes." Okay, we have a handicapped sympathetic young tween. What's wrong? Why the tubes? We go to next paragraph.

Second Paragraph: Dawdler is a MedGe robodog, looks like a Doberman, breathes for the two of them. Daisy calls him Moon Dawdler, so this establishes an emotional connection between the two – he's more than a mechanical object; he's her friend, she loves him.

Third Paragraph: Mars. It's her dream, Daisy's Heart Desire. Her physical therapist is working on it. Will she get there? We don't know. But now we're rooting for her. The author has let the reader bond with the MC – we feel for her, we want her to succeed. We read on.

Final Question: Daisy's world is on the Moon, with her companion Dawdler, her spirit tells us she's a dreamer, but knows her limitations. Most important, she rises above her handicap in action and spirit. We want to know more. The reader will finish this story to the end, one way or the other.
"Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love" - Rule 306
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby AjZach » Fri Aug 14, 2020 8:25 am

Assignment:

The title is the first hook. It sets idea that we will be on the moon, and makes you wonder what a moon dawdler is.

First Paragraph: We know age, some physical features, and some of her preferences (colour). We know she wears a cape, so that's intriguing, and then the tubes which are the next big hook.

Second Paragraph: We learn about the robodog which explains her health, and is her friend. We get a picture of her world, on the moon and the things she can do there. We get a small view of her parents, and the foreshadowing of some rich dude that runs the place, and has his sights set on Mars, and so does Dixie.

Third Paragraph: Dixie would like to see Mars, and she isn't letting anything hold her back.

Final question: We know our setting, our main character, and her heart's desire. We have some idea of other characters and problems that may come from the rich dude.
R, R, R, R, HM, R, HM, HM, R, ?

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:06 am

Good work, Retro and AjZach! To the rest of the challenge beasties, keep those Intro exercises coming! There's more work on this one, and it's a vital need for the group.

In case you were wondering why I invited all of you to do positive future East Asian 250 vignettes, Future SF where I'm an associate editor is doing an open call on this theme until September 30th. Pay is 8 cents a word, sweet spot is 5,000 words, but we accept up to 10K. Please don't send yours to me, but if you received my private encouragement, you might have a shot. Here's the link to review guidelines and directions as to how to submit. As always, focus on your Q4 first, keep your eye on the prize this quarter. End of the Contest year is in six weeks!

http://future-sf.com/submissions/
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 C.A. Tedeschi » Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:18 pm

AjZach wrote:The title is the first hook.



I found another sticky Golden Nugget of writin' wisdom! Every word transposed to print is important in the conveyance of knowledge and emotion. The title is our first opportunity to intrigue the reader.
"You've come a long way to be where you are right now, might as well relax. Life ain't a destination, it's not even a journey. It's an arrival." C.A. Tedeschi

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Aug 14, 2020 4:01 pm

Hey folks - if you're looking for some learning this weekend, Moon told me about this free, online con! Take a gander if you've got a minute! https://www.whenwordscollide.org/program.php
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:47 pm

Some nice news today. Future Science Fiction Digest, where I work as Podcast Director, is now a SFWA qualified market! This is no small accomplishment! Check out what we do at www.future-sf.com !
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 RSchibler » Sat Aug 15, 2020 11:10 am

The title is the first hook. By the end of the first paragraph we know the characters name, age, personality, appearance, and a critical detail - tubes. More, we know something about her mom and dad from their preferences. Some of these are not just informative, they're further hooks. Why is she wearing a cape? What tubes? By the end of the second paragraph, we have a clear speculative element, more delightful personality from Dixie, as well as more insight into her problem - a medical condition of some kind that makes it difficult to breathe. In the third paragraph, we have more of Dixie's voice, backstory, and a goal - she'd love to see Mars. So, in less than a page, the reader is firmly grounded in Dixie's head and voice, a hint of her problem without it being confusing. There's a hint of her environment, enough for the reader to settle into the genre.

She's got a problem, as any 12-year-old who can't breathe on their own would, but there is a hint (hook) at the end of the third paragraph that her problem goes beyond that. "One step at a time ... and look where that got me so far!" implies that Dixie is coming from somewhere, and she's not there yet.

I think the important takeaway for me, here is, how grounded we are in those "opening elements" in three paragraphs. It's not just a matter of introducing a character in a setting with a heart's desire and a problem, it's important to ground your reader firmly in those things, so they aren't confused and their only questions are those that can be answered by reading on. Wulf sets up a question, and answers it immediately - the tubes are for breathing. He promises the reader that all will become clear. He also makes other story promises here - Dixie will be fun to story with, there's a dog with nifty gifts by her side. The reader is grounded and hooked, reassured the writer has laid down a good tale for them.
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V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, P, P

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

Postby Henckel » Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:21 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Some nice news today. Future Science Fiction Digest, where I work as Podcast Director, is now a SFWA qualified market! This is no small accomplishment! Check out what we do at Future-sf.com!


WOW! that really is a big deal. Congratulations. wotf009
(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 StarReacher » Sat Aug 15, 2020 3:41 pm

Opening Scene Assignment

The opening provides an incredible amount of information with the title as the first hook. You know there is some sort of heroine on the moon, even though we are not sure yet what a Moon Dawdler is. The first paragraph identifies Dixie, her age, impatience to be older, a sparkly personality, and her love of red. We know she lives with parents who don't always agree on everything. We also get the hint of a medical condition with the reference to "tubes." In the second paragraph, we learn Dixie needs medical intervention to breathe and that her companion, a robot dog, is a breathing machine. Her parents, working for “some rich dude that’s about to head the first mission to Mars”, foreshadows complications. Space Keds is our first hint that this is science fiction, quickly backed up with her robot dog and the resort on the Moon, which grounds us in the genre. By the third paragraph we know that Dixie has an unbreakable spirit. She’s come so far with her medical progress and now wants to see Mars. By the end of the first three paragraphs we have a character, in a setting, with a problem. Everything has been clearly and vividly laid out for us.

This exercise emphasizes for me just how much you can cram into such a small amount of text. Specific details anchor the reader using a minimum number of words.
2017 - R (Q4)
2018 - R (Q1), HM (Q2), R (Q4)
2019 - SHM (Q1), R (Q2), SHM (Q3), HM (Q4)
2020 - HM (Q1), HM (Q2)

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Aug 15, 2020 6:54 pm

Excellent analysis, Becky and StarReacher. I think both of you used the term "grounded" and that's exactly what the opening of a story should do. The reader needs the lay of the land. They need a clear picture of who the protagonist is, and whether they're worth investing not just their time, but their emotions upon. They need an idea of genre, so you cue that up immediately, you don't leave them wondering. They need a sense of time. They need a name. They need a basic description of the protagonist, just enough to cue up a good image of them. In short, they need the stage set, just like in a play, so when the curtain goes up, they know what kind of a show they're about to get.

It's a pro skill to be able to introduce all of these elements swiftly, and in an enjoyable way that creates anticipation of what is to come. Practice the skill. Nail your openings.

Great job, both of you!

Still looking for more...there's seventeen of you in this group.

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 CCrawford » Sat Aug 15, 2020 8:18 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:[ASSIGNMENT: How do you open your first scene?

Before you even start reading the story, how did I hook you?

Next. What I was doing in those first three paragraphs? Was the protagonist a marshmallow, or did she have defining characteristics? What did you learn about her in the first sentence? The second? The third? Was there a hook in this very first paragraph? Was there a second hook at the end of the first paragraph, that made you want to read the next? In one simple paragraph, how many essential character details did you learn?

In the second paragraph, what did you learn about Dixie's health? What original idea came into play? Who does Dixie have for a friend? What other players in this tale are foreshadowed or described? Go back to paragraph one. Did you already get a sense of her mom and dad's personalities? Now back to this second paragraph. What cued genre for you? How quickly did you get an overview of Dixie's world? Was it too much, too little, or just enough to set the stage so you were grounded from the start without bogging the story down?

Third paragraph. What do you discover about Dixie's spirit? What's her opening Heart's Desire?

Final question. In those first three paragraphs--less than one page--what essential story elements got covered? Did you have any problem visualizing Dixie, her world, her companion, her spirit, and her opening Heart's Desire?

Jot down the answers to these questions for yourself. Then, post a summary of your answers here, and if you learned anything from your analysis.



The title immediately hooks--introduces the character (and raises curiosity about her, as well as about what a "Moon Dawdler" is), and also gives us an idea of the genre.

The first three paragraphs seamlessly introduce everything we need to know about the character, the setting (including the story's unique tech and scenario), and important backstory. It's all done through the character's voice, which is vibrant and interesting and conversational, so the information all emerges naturally as part of the narrative. By the end of even the first paragraph, we know a little about her beliefs, her parents' personalities, and the first paragraph ends with another hook -- the tubes. In the second paragraph, we learn more about Dixie's health via her explanation of her dog (and also how important the dog is to her, that it's more than a medical device), as well as more about the setting and Dixie's parents. In the third paragraph, we get a deeper glimpse at Dixie's adventurous spirit and her determination, and some of what she's accomplished so far. Her opening Heart's Desire seems to be to see the Mars base one day, or in a more general sense, to achieve things others would think impossible. By the end of these three paragraphs, we have a really solid feel for Dixie, the setting, the tech, and Dixie's personality and spirit... as well as foreshadowing of later conflict in her mention of Moon Dawdler's job of keeping her safe.

This really makes me think about my Q4 entry, and I'm realizing I can make my first few paragraphs work a lot harder than they currently are.
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, ??

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

Postby oishisushi911 » Sun Aug 16, 2020 3:22 am

Assignment: How do you open your first scene?

First hook was the title: Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler. An interesting character (Moongirl) with something that sounds strange and I want to know more about (Moon Dawdler). I also know I’m in for a ride with a strong, stylish voice with the use of “super-duper” and “amazing”, so definitely a story worth giving a shot.
First paragraph. First sentence: name. Second: age. Third: something she’s excited about (turning 12 soon; birthday). We’re given enough about her clothes to start drawing her in our heads. We also get to start looking into her relationship with her family. We also get enough of the main character’s attitude to start liking her (she picked her own clothes and is proud of it). The clothes also lead into the hook at the end of the paragraph (the cape hides the tubes—we want to find out why there are tubes and why she’d want to hide them and whether this is SF or medical-focused memoir).

Second paragraph. Immediately answer the last paragraph’s hook but introducing Moon Dawdler and explaining how he helps her breathe. More excellent voice that helps us get immersed into the main character and her language (duh, double duh, doing his blinkies and sniffies). More genre cues first started with first paragraph’s mention of the tubes: MedGen robodog, we’re on the Moon, airlock, Moonbase Resort, first mission to Mars. Introduced: Moon Dawdler, Mom, Dad, and rich dude. Moon Dawdler’s protective, and that character is used to give us an overview of the entire setting, just a quick run through with the action linked to Moon Dawdler protecting her. In the first paragraph, Mom’s picky/controlling/judgmental and Dad’s loving/adventurous/fun. In the second, we find out their work is here on Moonbase Resort.

Third paragraph. The hook about Mars at the end of the second paragraph is immediately answered here by giving us her Heart’s Desire: she wants to head to Mars next. The genre details are fleshed out with the fact that she’s the first girl on the Moon. She’s presented as a never give up young heroine who we can root for. She got over the trouble in her past with the physical therapist, and she’s more than happy to keep pushing onward. More voice and character language helps immerse us deeper in her perspective (That’s a whole nuther world, look where that got me so far!).
Plenty of elements provided in the first three paragraphs: genre, setting, main character, support character, family relationships, possible villain (rich dude), heart’s desire, voice, character strengths (never gives up), character flaws/weaknesses (can’t breathe on her own, perhaps not entirely confident showing off her weakness since she wants to hide those tubes). For me the story opens with a strong focus on character voice, which is biggest hook for me in this story, but that focus is still backed up by strong setting and genre details, and promises to further develop heart’s desire and family relationships. The writer also showed that hooks/promises will be fulfilled as several hooks provided, even the title’s hook, were answered quickly.

For me, a big lesson here is to make sure everything is leading into everything else. Make sure it’s all tightly woven together. One character’s use of clothing can lead into the genre hook, which can lead into the side kick character, which can lead into the main character’s weakness, to the setting, to the heart’s desire, and so on. Answer hooks quickly, and immediately provide more and answer those. Not everything in full, but enough that movement is created, so that us readers don’t slow down and get bored. This opening actually lacks action, but it still provides that forward thrust by linking everything and moving through to provide more promises and more answers.

I'm considering several stories for WotF Q4, but my two strongest candidates have openings that made sure to jump immediately into the action. A third story I'm considering was less pushy about getting the action in the reader's face. Reviewing "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" makes me realize it is less about that action, and more about the forward momentum provided by hooks/promises/fulfillment.
Last edited by oishisushi911 on Sun Aug 16, 2020 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:10 am

Wow, OishiSushi911, I'm impressed at the broad range of your critique. Even narrowing it down to every sentence. These are exactly the kinds of critiques I received in the past when I posted my screenplay on The Black List – everything is scrutinized, strengths, weaknesses, character, plot, action.

It's no wonder you do the type of work you do! You excel at it.

Well done!

Best,

Retro wotf009
"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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