Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:07 pm

AjZach wrote:Reporting my quarter 3 result: Semi-finalist!


Whoa, awesome job!!! And congrats!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby AjZach » Tue Oct 06, 2020 4:10 pm

SwiftPotato wrote:
AjZach wrote:Reporting my quarter 3 result: Semi-finalist!


Whoa, awesome job!!! And congrats!


Thanks!

Thanks go to Becky's help, and Wulf's for reading the opening. And of course the super secrets!
Vol 35: R, R, R,
Vol 36: R, HM, R, HM,
Vol 37: HM, R, SF,?

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

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:12 pm

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve popped in the thread here. Truth be told, I’ve felt a lot like a failure in being unable to keep up. Every time I looked at the thread for about six months, I’ve felt guilty. I thought at the start of the year I’d be able to hack it. But life changed.

At the end of Q1 I had some health news that threw me and I mean REALLY threw me. Even as a nurse, I had to put a lot of effort into research and study to make sure I knew about the procedures/tests, and then keep notes and follow through with doctors and haggle with insurance. I spent the first few weeks in an absolute daze, my creativity spent, and my energy drained. I felt like a ghost.

Luckily in Q1, I’d already done a lot of work on my subs, and was able to finish. But it’s because I was ahead. I limped along in Q2, still trailing on ideas from previous quarters I hadn’t quite fleshed out yet—and near the end, I finally got the news that things were looking good health wise. I was thinking I could catch up, get my creative energy back, start running with the rest of you...

But then Covid hit, and productivity took a major blow. I have 4 kids. 3 in school. And for a while, only 1 functioning computer. Any time I could work on the computer was at night—which had been fine in the past—but now I was the teacher and the teacher can’t take a nap in the middle of the day. Plus I already HAD to stay up to make lesson plans/packets and figure out how to teach my kids. I was running on empty and I had to get to a point where I felt okay with saying, this isn’t my time:

Writing is important but my health is more. My kids are more.

And I’ve had to be okay with that, learn to give myself grace. So my goals changed. I haven’t subbed elsewhere in ages. My last two subs (Q3 and Q4) are re-subs from over a year ago.

But here’s what I learned. When times are good, don’t be lazy, don’t put off what you can do now, be present. Focus and learn and do the work. Because sometimes life throws a curveball and you have to sit out for a while. Sometimes longer than you’d like and much longer than anticipated. Save up creative energy and ideas (those 250s) so they can be pulled down from the shelf when nothing else seems to come to mind. It’s okay to re-sub but SUB! Keep your friends close. They’re willing to help you.

I feel incredibly rusty. Trying to write a 250 for me now is much harder. But I know I can do it. We now have 3 functioning computers. We are figuring out our groove for school and while there have been a few blips on my health journey, I feel confident where I stand.

I want to thank those who’ve reached out and said kind things. Who’ve offered and given critique at the very last moment—because that’s how I roll lol. I’ve really grieved not being a part of the community and challenges this year. I love this pack and am so proud of it!!! LOOK AT THOSE RESULTS!!! Gosh, you guys are impressive!

I’m going to try to start fresh, build up my muscles so I can run with the pack as hard as the rest of you. I scored some honorable mentions this year, Q3 is my first semi finalist. We shall see what Q4 brings.

I may have lost some time, but I haven’t lost hope.
I hope no matter the results, none of you have either.
Brittany Rainsdon
R-SHM-HM-R-HM-R-F-F-HM-HM-HM-SHM-HM

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

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

Postby CCrawford » Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:19 pm

thegirlintheglasses wrote:I may have lost some time, but I haven’t lost hope.
I hope no matter the results, none of you have either.



Thank you for sharing your story! Congratulations on your results this quarter. I'm so glad you kept at it. You're an inspiration, for sure!
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, ??

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:41 pm

We totally get it, Brittany. I've always said health and family come first. You had your priorities straight, and have done amazingly well in spite of it all! When we have both physical and psychological leeches draining us, it is difficult to think creatively, let alone find the time to write. Take care of yourself and your family. We know you will keep on submitting your work and writing to the best of your ability, as you are able. (And I know you have a great shot at Q4. I've seen the story.)

That's the wonderful thing about writing. It's like getting on a bicycle. Once you've learned how to work one, no matter how long it's been, you always know how to ride.

All the beast!

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

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

Postby Henckel » Wed Oct 07, 2020 12:53 am

SUPER SECRETS' JOURNEY ASSIGNMENT #1

250 Vignette at the start of the workshop: Under-galactic Railroad

The kerosene lantern cast a sickly dandelion glow over the swamp and the teens. Adelaide, the star-born slave with her de-clawed fingers and tracker bracelet, huddled in the bottom, of the Jon Boat trembling. Her arms splayed over the sides and her head dangled as if proclaiming gratitude. Presided over her, with puffs and plumes of swollen defiance, was Lee—a machete tight in his grip.

Around them, frogs croaked like middle-aged men conspiring in backwater bars. “We few know better than the rest,” the frogs agreed, their voices as belligerent as Lee’s own father. “And we will force those who disagree to follow us until they know we are right”.

Resolve hardened inside Lee’s throat. He chopped the machete through Adelaide’s forearm, burying the blade an inch deep into the aluminum boat. A wicked clank echoed through the dark, satisfying the frogs into momentary silence.

Adelaide shuttered and collapsed into a heap—her alien fur and barbed tail convulsing.

By morning, Adelaide would be put into stasis. By the end of the week, she will have passed through four safe-houses. And by month’s end, she will have arrived at the spaceport. By the time she reaches her homeworld, more than twenty people will have contributed to her escape.

Lee discarded the girl’s severed hand, as he’d been ordered, but not the tracker. That, he stuffed deep into Adelaide’s pocket.

He may not have had the power to refuse his dad, but he had the power to stop the under-galactic railroad.



250 Vignette at the end: Sensational Punishment

Sorry, this story is currently with Daily Science Fiction, so I can’t post it here.



The differences between the stories and what I’ve learned.

I didn’t participate in the 250 KYD Bonas Challenge this past year, but I still managed to write a few 250 flash stories. And I learned a lot!

In my first story, I spent too much time on set-up and description. I added a single character action and then told the readers the consequence of the action. While the story was complete in my mind, it wasn't explicit in the story. My scope was too big. I needed MC to have more than a single action. I needed to cut redundant details e.g. frogs croaked like middle-aged men conspiring in backwater bars. While this would have been detail in a longer version of the story, it was unnecessary in flash and ate my valuable work count that I could have put to better use.

In my new story [Sensational Punishment (not shown)] my story takes center stage. Setting gets a solid sentence that also provides context. Each word pulls double duty. Each sentence and paragraph is a measured and logical ‘next step’ from the previous. I tried not to allow too much poetic or flowery language to interrupt the story’s flow. My new story contains a complete beginning, middle, and end. My MC has a clear desire, goal, conflict, obstacle, weakness, three distinct T/F cycles, a climax, denouement, metaphors, juxta positioning and a seriously twisted premise (yes, all this in a flash). Also, this story targets a single specific emotion (voyeuristic curiosity).
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – pending
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Wed Oct 07, 2020 3:50 am

Brittany, the fact that you were able to get any stories in at all this year is so impressive. I don't know how much it does or doesn't mean coming from me, but I've never once felt like you should be ashamed for not being able to do the challenge. Like Moon says, health and family first, always. I'm sure I speak for others as well when I say that all we wanted was for you to be all right (and to keep on telling stories)! Much love to you, and can't wait to see what you write from now on. :)
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby Dragonchef » Wed Oct 07, 2020 6:10 am

Brittany - You struggled with all that and still got a Semi-Finalist spot?
There is no doubt that you truly are a ROCK STAR!!! I seriously doubt I could have achieved it while crying in my chicken soup.
We hope you are feeling better now, or at least getting there. Do let us know if you need anything.
R = 5
HM = (Q4v36)
SHM = (Q3v32, Q3v37)
SF = Zip
F = Zero
WINs = Zilcho
website: https://soggybritches.com
wotf013

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

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:31 am

Guys, I really appreciate your kindness. I wasn’t going to put anything here but Wulf told me I should do an end of year report like the rest... “Own it” —So I am.

And guys, you are OWNING this contest! Gahhh! I’m dazzled by those results.

ALSO I was reading through your new 250s and I am Swoooooooning! Becky, I am in particular love with yours. At 250, it still feels like a complete story which is sooo hard. And that last line? Gorgeous!

Perhaps you guys don’t see your improvement, but guys, it’s obvious to me. Great job and congratulations on a fabulous year!
Brittany Rainsdon
R-SHM-HM-R-HM-R-F-F-HM-HM-HM-SHM-HM

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

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

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Wed Oct 07, 2020 8:03 am

CCrawford wrote:I'll be brave and go first (unless someone beats me to it while I'm typing this)!

Here's my initial 250 vignette from the start of the workshop:

Setting Stars

The portal snapped shut as Balac stepped over the bodies. Orchid-scent wafted toward him. Home.

He took in the overgrown vines and drooping flowers, and the joy of return soured in his gut. Finally, retirement, after years of investing his singularly-destructive magic to a greater cause... but this wasn’t the future he’d imagined.

“You’re home.” Mala’s violet eyes found him but her smile quivered at the edges. She sank into a chair, winced, then glanced away. “I hate for you to see me like this.”

“You’re beautiful.”

“Never looked worse,” she huffed, “but better than you.”

A glimpse of her usual spark. “What can I do?”

“Plants need tending.”

Balac kissed her forehead and slipped outside.

“Mind the purple one!” she called.


Balac knelt, careful not to crush anything important, and began stripping weeds. The soil crushed into in his knuckles and fingernails felt oddly satisfying – unlike what usually covered his hands.


Dual stars slipped past the horizon, tinting the world green. Balac’s knees popped as he ambled toward the last flower bed.

The purple orchid stood proud despite weeds attempting to strangle it, so much like Mala herself. As Balac weeded and watered, the plant seemed to straighten and its violet petals deepened to a richer hue. Balac swore he even heard it let out a little sigh –

Something clattered inside the house.

Balac rushed inside to the slumped form on the floor. “Mala!”

Watery, violet-gray irises peered up at him. “Now we’ll have plenty of time.”


And a recent 250 from a few weeks ago (based on the Locked in a Box prompt):

Processing Required

My purgebox pulsed red in my palm as a screen blinked to life on the side of the Processing building. A stern-looking woman stared back at me. “Name?”

“Kylan Rogers.”

A metal tray flipped open on the door and a blinking disc clanked into it. “It will buzz when you’re next. Have payment ready.”

The sense of rejection and failure I’d tried to purge that morning, only to find the box full, churned in my stomach. The reset on my box would deplete most of my remaining credits. I’d have to skip a few meals this week. But what choice did I have? I couldn’t just carry these feelings around all week; I’d be useless.

The door to the Processing Center clanged shut behind a young woman. I caught a glimpse of her as she rushed past me, enough to see splotchy skin, red eyes, tears.

I called after her. “Were you here for Processing?”

She turned back and worried her lip between her teeth. A purgebox pulsed burgundy in her palm. “Been full for two weeks. I keep making appointments, hoping my credits will have come through...“

A reckless thought burst into a gallop in my mind. “Take my turn.” I shoved the disc at her. “I’ll pay for you.”

Her fingers closed around the disc. “You’re serious?”

“Absolutely.”

Her shoulders relaxed with an exhale. “I’m Lara.”

The churn in my chest eased ever so slightly at the relief in her eyes. I smiled and held out my hand. “Kylan.”




Comments/Comparison of the two:

Honestly, I don't notice as many changes as I might have hoped. I did manage to focus in on a more singular moment in the newer one, whereas I was attempting to condense a full story down into just 250 words at first. My original 250 started at the beginning and then kind of skimmed down to the end of the original story, rather than really isolating the "heart" of the story. But this moment in the newest 250 occurred about halfway through the original flash draft, and is a pivotal moment for the character, though I'm not sure I managed to fully convey that all that well. But still, practicing the 250s to get the focus on the "beating heart" of the story (isolating that pivotal moment) has really helped me in writing my stories overall. It's been a very helpful tool, and one I plan to keep practicing!


I love this story too. I think I breezed over it the first time, came back again today and realized, you’ve layered a lot of depth into this Second story. Purging emotions and finding relief in empathy and kindness. It isn’t a gut punching last line, but I think you’ve conveyed a very heartfelt scene that does punch. Well done.
Brittany Rainsdon
R-SHM-HM-R-HM-R-F-F-HM-HM-HM-SHM-HM

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

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

Postby CCrawford » Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:02 am

thegirlintheglasses wrote:
I love this story too. I think I breezed over it the first time, came back again today and realized, you’ve layered a lot of depth into this Second story. Purging emotions and finding relief in empathy and kindness. It isn’t a gut punching last line, but I think you’ve conveyed a very heartfelt scene that does punch. Well done.



Thank you so much!!
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, ??

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

Postby AjZach » Wed Oct 07, 2020 12:58 pm

250 Comparison:

Start of the year:

My 250 titled "Tricks, No Treats" word count 256

Aaron ran after the group. Kevin was with his friends. Kevin never paid attention to him, and they liked to tease.

“Wait!” He yanked his candy higher. They had gone into the trees. “Mom said you had to stay with me.”

Aaron continued down the path, looking for his brother. Aaron found Kevin’s hat the path.

“Kevin?”

There was a trampled down bush. Aaron followed the crushed branches off the path.
Aaron reached a clearing. Kevin’s bag of candy was lying in the centre of it.

“Aaron,” the wind whispered.

There was a crashing movement in the bush. Whatever had taken Kevin was coming for him. Aaron ran up the hill. It was running behind him. He hit the path. Whatever was behind him was gone

Aaron ran through the woods until he saw his brother’s friends.

“Something happened to Kevin!”

“There’s something in those woods alright,” said Steven. “It couldn’t catch you.” He steered Aaron back towards the woods.

Aaron did not want to go back. Whatever had gotten Kevin was going to grab him too.

They were in the forest when Aaron felt something grab his arm. Aaron jumped in the air. He cried out.

“Maybe that was too much,” Kevin said. “Don’t tell Mom. She’ll take away the car.”

How dare they scare him. Aaron silenced his tears. He planned his revenge. He should hide that toad he found in Kevin’s bed. And he would tell Mom, for good measure.

End


A new 250 based on the voices in the cave prompt:

A Shadowy Scene

Gillian set her flashlight on a nearby rock and pulled out her brushes. She was alone, but an unearthed skull was too exciting for her to sleep. She brushed away the rock. There was a large crack on the skull, caused by a fall or a blunt weapon.

Gillian heard a whisper behind her in the darkness. It was unintelligible, more like a hiss. She returned to her work. Just her imagination.

A shadow appeared on the wall, silhouetted by her flashlight. Gillian looked around but there was no one else in the cave. The whispered words grew louder, becoming distinct but of no language that Gillian had heard.

Two men were silhouetted, one held up a weapon. The whispers grew frantic and Gillian watched in terror at the struggle. The hammer swung and one man sunk to the ground.

Gillian scrambled to find all the brushes and slip them back into their case. She jumped at a angry whisper behind her. In the flashlight beam she could see a man leaning down from the rock ledge. She saw him in the flashlight beam reach with his hand and felt cold fingers trail down her back. She wrenched her head around but could see nothing.

The hand reached forward again and gripped her arm. She snatched at the flashlight before the invisible arm pulled her down the stone to the dark unexplored corner of the cave. The long dead man only became more real as the darkness closed around her.

End

Between the two, I'm sure I have done better in the second. I tried in the second exercise to pick one moment in the story, rather than tell a shorter story, but it is really hard! You need so much background. That is still something to improve on. I know that I have learned a lot this year. I still find it difficult to look critically at my own writing. Thank you to Wulf Moon for this year's exercises and to the group for the support!
Vol 35: R, R, R,
Vol 36: R, HM, R, HM,
Vol 37: HM, R, SF,?

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

Postby oishisushi911 » Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:48 pm

YOUR SUPER SECRETS' JOURNEY ASSIGNMENT #1:

250 Vignette at the start of the workshop: Art and Child Theft
My hands melt three rocks, salty with typhoon and tears, while trees sway and creak. I make figurines (fox, tanuki, their hybrid) that match my daughter’s, what she made years past. I’m delaying sneaking in Otetsumi Suites.
No joint custody. Visits wouldn’t be enforced. Court favored my ex, Kumiho’s assets, victimized scenarios, race, and influence. It didn’t matter that she can change shape or my young one loves me.
I draw my stun gun.
“Don't pull that. I know karate.”
An anorexic elementary schooler resembling my daughter intrudes. Black curls, blue eyes, an Asian-Caucasian mutt. Her fighting stance looks legit.
“Mister, you okay?”
“My daughter’s kidnapped.”
“Family drama. Me too. I’m running away. Too many selfish idiots. That’s growing up. Hey, I’ll help you.”
“Why?”
“You look sad. Plus, I need a couch.”
“Thanks.”
I tug her sleeve to the park’s edge.
Crossing the street, she hesitates.
“You don’t let alone.”
“Never.”
She pulls away, screams for help, and flees.
Cheap shot. I’d fallen for the false face.
Security charges. I zap them.
Bolting inside, I grab the elevator. Teeth bared in the corner, she’s transformed: taller, curvier, furry ears, bushy tails. We ascend.
I display the family of rocks.
“What our kid wants.”
Kumiho sniffs them.
“We bury failures to build a richer burrow. That’s our way forward.”
“Tsumi deserves more.”
Eyes wet, she leads on.
Hallways lined with rocks, Tsumi crafts real scenes. She stills her magic to wave. Our hands reach for peace.

250 Vignette at the end: Interrogating the Latest Delinquent
Prison coordinator Ronald Weston reached through the cell bars and took the teenage runt’s small hand. He squeezed his gnarled fingers around her scratched copper coin skin, as if the info might drip from her as oil from a used rag. Pressing against the metal, he shared an honest tidbit to better engage the target. “I don’t want to be here either. Juvie is a joke.”
Her straggly black ringlets quivered. A tired smile cracked her face. “Let me out.”
The handlers had warned him she was a beast, but she was as fragile as anybody. Clamping tighter around her wrist, he intruded upon her memories.
Younger, the runt sang with a friend, a coal-skinned girl with a messy top knot. Same girl a client paid Ronald to mind-wipe years ago.
The girls laughed at sand mice.
Men in boots honked, tossed them into a truck’s cargo bed, then cruised into a ravine. Dust devils circled a thrumming warehouse. Ronald tried to follow them inside, but they pounced on him.
The runt dug her nails into his arms and hummed. A low half cadence then sprightly ascensions of false hope. Sounds the top knot girl had left festering in him returned.
The hum crescendoed into a shriek.
Ronald wheezed awake.
Cuts covered his mottled arms beneath the shredded shirt.
The cell bars twisted open into the hallway, steaming and misshapen.
In the shower, soap didn’t help. Vibrations trembled through Ronald. Two voices festered in him now. Another failure to fix.

Differences between the two
The first one (from October 2019) is packed with dialogue and provides plenty of opportunities for the reader to get overwhelmed or confused. Too much going on, which tends to be something I love to do, but will continue to land me with rejections until I work past it. In terms of outlining a story, it’s not bad. But as a vignette trying to reach that kernel of emotion, it needs to cut out the excess and use the extra words to touch on that one moment containing the emotional heart I can develop the longer story around. The second one (from September 2020) does a better job of trying to stick with the single moment--when Ronald tries to get inside the runt’s mind but fails--instead of trying to cover more than one try/fail. I also made sure any use of dialogue was carefully introduced in the second one, so as to avoid confusion and not waste precious word count. I think several of my KYDs from this year show an excellent struggle to reveal a single focus or single turning point, rather than trying to squeeze everything in there. It is a difficult balance, because if you cut out too much world building and characterization, your story will be boring and flat, but if you crowd in too much, it will be a beautiful painting very few are willing to swim through. It's a struggle to pack in just enough hints of necessary backstory early on so editors don't give more feedback like "be more open from the outset about the information & backstory that would've helped us understand what was happening," while also not allowing the story to get dragged down in excess.
R.J.K. Lee
2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs; 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 1 HM, 1 pending
Goal of 100 rejections in 2020: 89 rejections, 21 pending, 110 total submissions
Keep writing, revising, submitting!

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

Postby zeeteebeez » Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:45 am

250 comparison:

First 250:

Jhoon’s lies protected. Disguised.

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

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

“Sure about this?,” Jhoon asked.

Shokhad nodded.

“Smugglers are liars.”

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

Rhakti rocked back and forth, excited.

“What is it?”

“Olemic oil. An Ezrian souvenir, apparently.”

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

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

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

A door opened.

“Hands up!”

Jhoon spun. The vial tinkled to the floor.

“Is that my Oil?”

Inhale.

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

Exhale.

She’d been played.

The smuggler snorted.

Shokhad had been played, too. Told him so.

The smuggler punched. Shokhad dropped.

He approached Jhoon. Her heart thumped.

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

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

The man raised an eyebrow.

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

Jhoon turned. Rhakti stood behind her! Stood!

“What? How?”

Rhakti shrugged. “The oil I guess?”

They left quickly with the oil and token.

Jhoon smiled. Time for some new lies.

new 250:

(No title, as I’ll probably be expanding on this one and don’t want to waste the title I have in mind)

My brother, Julian, stands at the city gates of Archen, caressing his Book of Truths. A mindless habit. He has changed much since that day we met the Book Wizard and his intelligent truth books. It’s not so much the hint of grey in Julian’s black beard, but the hatred in his eyes. A reflection of the chaos within Archen.

The streets echo with the sounds of rioting. It is dusk but the city glows an ominous orange from blazing fires. Madness.

“Leave with me,” I say, choking on smoke.

“Oh, Marc! You’re so righteous! So much better than us.”

“Julian, I have no part in this! I just want my brother back.” I remove my book from my satchel and hand it to him. It is not sky-blue like his, but also not the burnt-orange of his enemy's. Black, trimmed with gold, as it always has been.

I almost see my brother again.

But he hands it back, setting his jaw. “No, I fight for truth.”

“You don’t! The book's magic shows us what we want to see! It cares not for truth, only that we read. Truth is dead!”

“I’m sorry.” He walks away, clutching his book.

A hot tear courses down my nose as I exit the city gates. The Book Wizard waits for me. I give him my book. He whispers an incantation. Now it's only paper. No more intelligent magic.

I say one last goodbye to Julian, trapped in his web of non-truths.

Thoughts:

Well, let's just say I got exactly what I was looking for out of this year. My writing has improved by leaps and bounds and I hope it's evident in these 250's. I liked my 500 version of the first story, but my 250 didn't condense the story around the "beating heart," just made it choppier.

One of the things I've learned this year through Moon and the rest of the pack is how to "set the stage" in a better way. I used to jump into a story in a way I thought was en media res, but without anything to ground the reader in who my character was and where the character was, the reader could easily feel lost. It's something I've worked a lot on and I hope I've internalized it.

250's are tough because you really have to ditch a lot of the context, but hopefully my new 250 shows enough of the conflict and the character's goals to be coherent.

I guess this might not be the last post of the 2020 contest year, but I do want to express some gratitude to Moon again, and the Wulf Pack. I've made some friends this year, and I owe a lot of my progress to Moon (of course) but also some of my new writing partners. They've taught me things both directly, and indirectly by allowing me to read their work. I'm sure some of the forumites who are great about offering crits can attest to how helpful it can be to look at other stories through a different lens.
Z.T.

6x HM

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Oct 08, 2020 6:15 pm

I have now read each of your 250 comparisons from the start of the year, and at the end. Excellent! If anyone else in this challenge is posting to this exercise, now is the time. I'll be writing my concluding comments tomorrow on your wonderful achievements in Year Two (one more quarter will still be coming in!), and then, ASSIGNMENT: I'll be asking you to post a brief summary of what you learned from the year, what you achieved in your writing, and the benefits you've enjoyed from being a challenge beastie in the Super Secrets Workshop. So look back over your writing and where you were a year ago. For some of you, this is your second year in the workshop, so go all the way back and comment on where you were when you started, and where you are at now. This is YOUR writer journey. And this will be your final exercise.

Year Three is about to begin. I will not be doing an open call this time like it's been in the past. I think membership would double! I love you all, and am impressed with all of you, but seventeen members with all the assignments to comment on was certainly challenging for me to keep up with. Plus all the line-by-line edits to those that met the quarterly challenge requirements. Plus all the bonus things I did to reward excellence. In Year Three, I will need to scale this workshop back so I can focus on my own work as well.

How do I do this? I came up with a simple answer--let the contest decide for me. To be in Year Three, The Volume 38 Super Secrets Workshop, you have to have met all the challenge requirements of Year Two, proving you might be capable of meeting the tougher requirements of Year Three. And you must have earned a Silver HM or higher in the Volume 37 year. Which is interesting, Volume 37 isn't over, we are still awaiting Q4 results. So there's still a chance if you don't make the cut, you could still get back in the workshop. This will be like Exile Island in Survivor. If you make SHM or higher in Q4, Vol. 37, AND you met all the quarterly requirements in Year Two Vol. 37, I invite you back in. You've earned it.

It's going to be another exciting year. Requirements will be challenging, A STORY OR NOVEL CHAPTER A MONTH, AND A 250 KYD A MONTH, but they are designed to help you reach the professional level that could land you in the quarterly eight finalists and your win. As always, Super Secrets alumni are free to comment here and to cheer on those running with the bulls. You are part of our pack.

There are two I am making exceptions for. I'll post my reasons later. For now, focus on your final assignment. Bonus if you can nail the most important item in your writing you've discovered you need to work on. Double bonus if you can nail the one thing you've improved in the most.

It has been my pleasure to work together with all of you. You are an amazing group of writers. We've had a phenomenal year.

All the beast!

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

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

Postby StarReacher » Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:25 pm

thegirlintheglasses wrote:Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve popped in the thread here. Truth be told, I’ve felt a lot like a failure in being unable to keep up. Every time I looked at the thread for about six months, I’ve felt guilty. I thought at the start of the year I’d be able to hack it. But life changed.


So glad to hear from you! Going through all that you have and still managing to pull out an HM is amazing! And you are right that your health and family come first. I do understand both of those from a personal standpoint, having had my own issues at the beginning of the challenge. I was also fortunate that things turned out well for me.

As a home schooling mom I feel your pain. Any writing you get done should be seen as a huge success. Hang in there and know that we are all rooting for you.
2017 - R (Q4)
2018 - R (Q1), HM (Q2), R (Q4)
2019 - SHM (Q1), R (Q2), SHM (Q3), HM (Q4)
2020 - HM (Q1), HM (Q2), SHM (Q3), P

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

Postby StarReacher » Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:51 pm

Sorry I am just getting this in. For some totally bizarre reason, I thought today was the deadline. Apologies.

My first 250:

Soulmates

Instead of death, the electroshock device delivered a pathetic, tongue-tingling buzz. Karzen Waters, unemployed factory sweeper, sagged against hotel glass separating him from lurid drone advertisements and congested airlanes. He stuffed copper coils, sabotage evidence, down the heating vent. The weapon floated in a sticky pool of fake blood.

“Mr. Waters, I know you’re still alive.” Ms. Parva, Soulmate Corps’ humanoid agent, pounded the door.
A drill whined.

Karzen hid behind the sofa.

The door crashed.

Ms. Parva’s stiletto heels clicked on the concrete floor. “You can’t deceive me.” She tossed furniture aside.

“The gun is defective.”

Ms. Parva presented another weapon. “Try again.”

Karzen’s knees buckled. “I’ll destroy the neural port.”

Ms. Parva jabbed his chest. “We’ve discussed this. The charges only destroy organic tissue.”

Fleeing to the bathroom, Karzen crammed himself into the laundry chute.

“We’re on a schedule, Mr. Waters!”

Karzen’s hips clung like stubborn kidney stones. A powerful vacuum suctioned off his loafers. Shredded his trousers. Above his head, wood splintered.
Copious, lubricating sweat finally freed him. He plummeted, screaming, into foul-smelling linens and lacy lingerie. Stunned, he waited.
In the corridor, heels clicked like giant pincers. Ms. Parva’s eyes glowed. She proffered another weapon.

“I can’t do this. Keep the money. I won’t tell anyone.”

“Your soulmate already complied. Room 232. Shall I incinerate her neural remains?”

Remembering their last intimate embrace, Karzen blanched. Without Leylah, he was nothing. Desperate, he placed the barrel on his tongue, closed his eyes, and squeezed the trigger.


My new 250:

Hitler (Clone 36) and a Priest Take a Motorcycle to Heaven

Adolph Hitler, better known as Clone 236 at the Happy Vegan Weiner factory where he worked night shifts, hunched over the handlebars of his antique 1943 BMW R75 motorcycle and roared down Heaven’s gleaming streets.

“Slow down, you idiot, before you get me killed!” Bouncing wildly, Monsignor Elderberry clutched rosary beads with one hand and white-knuckled the vibrating sidecar with the other.

“You said you wanted to wind up here one day!” Hitler had to raise his voice to be heard above the spluttering engine.

“Not before my time.” Monsignor Elderberry snapped. “And I never dreamed of getting kidnapped and dragged through a filthy portal to arrive at the pearly gates.”

“Kidnapped is a strong word,” Hitler said, annoyed. “I promised to bring you back. And you didn’t complain when we stopped for that all-you-can-eat buffet.”

“A man can’t be asked to starve himself to death.” Monsignor Elderberry adjusted his robe to hide barbecue sauce stains.

“What about that Swedish massage in the hotel?”

“My nerves are shot. A man my age needs relaxation.”

“You’re forty-six.” Hitler glared at his companion. “And you wanted to stay up all night gambling in the casino.”

“Only to find sinners to convert.”

“You’re supposed to be helping me atone for my--” Hitler broke off his tires hit a river of oozing honey.

The cycle skidded out of control and stopped at a soaring iron gate. They had arrived.

Thoughts:

First, a huge thanks to my son for giving me the prompt for this difficult 250. I had asked him to give me a person, a place and a genre. He had a certain devilish gleam in his eyes when he gave me: Hitler, Heaven, and SF.

Thank so much to Wulf for taking my writing to a whole new level. I'm not sure if it shows in these examples, but I certainly have a stronger grasp of structure, which has always been my greatest weakness. In this particular case, I tried to give a sense of the character before I thrust him into the scene. This was extra difficult (but maybe more fun) because of trying to tie Hitler and Heaven into a story format and make it SF as well.

Overall, my confidence in my writing abilities has soared. And I've seen the same leaps in this group. What a pleasure to have been part of the Wulf Pack! Fingers and toes crossed for everyone for Q4.
2017 - R (Q4)
2018 - R (Q1), HM (Q2), R (Q4)
2019 - SHM (Q1), R (Q2), SHM (Q3), HM (Q4)
2020 - HM (Q1), HM (Q2), SHM (Q3), P

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:54 pm

YEAR TWO, VOLUME 37, SUPER SECRETS WORKSHOP CONCLUDING COMMENTS BY WULF MOON

We come to the end of Year Two of Wulf Moon’s SUPER SECRET Writing Workshop. I have done open call over the past two years, letting anyone in the Forum join that was willing to do the work and accept the challenge requirements. This past year, which coincides with the WotF Volume 37 Contest year, we had additional requirements. Two fresh original stories of 3000 words or more per quarter, with at least one being sent to a respectable market. While I hoped the other would be a submission to the Writers of the Future Contest, this past year, you could submit a rewrite if you wished. There was also a bonus challenge where you could sign up to create one 250-word Kill Your Darlings Exercise per month. Several signed on to that as well, and I firmly believe it’s how some achieved such phenomenal progress.

What changes did I implement in Year Two to help you succeed? Well, I asked you to double your writing output with the two fresh stories. I noted many were not sending stories out to other markets in the past year, so I required you to send at least one story per quarter to a respectable market to develop your submission skills and take that step into the world of doing the work of pro writers--not just writing new stories, but sending them to market. But the most important change I made? As I edited quarterly entries over the previous year, I realized some were not learning fast enough. We had a good talent pool, but some were thinking they were applying the Super Secrets when their writing clearly showed they were not. How could I make it easier for the lessons to sink down past the gray matter permafrost and take root in good soil? I decided in Year Two, I’d focus less on writing new Secrets, and more on creating challenging exercises to give you hands on experience with the points. You are all to be commended--there were many exercises and it’s not always easy to share your work openly where others will read it and your beastmaster will critique it. You stepped up to the plate, you got your work in on time, and we had some amazing samples of how to apply the lessons. I just had an English and Creative Writing PhD in my “Howling Plots” master class. She said she had never heard any of these things taught in all of her years of college courses, and she said it made so much sense. Well, you challenge beasties just shared in a year long master class that you’d be hard put to find taught at any university. You did the exercises. You applied the lessons to your writing. You reaped the rewards.

Let’s talk about those rewards. Ryland took the challenge to send a fresh story to market every quarter and put it on steroids--he set the goal of submitting one hundred times to markets for the year, and he’s getting close. I love seeing writers push themselves to step outside their comfort zones, and you are to be commended, Ryland. Leah applied the Secrets and pounded the pavement and not only won Writers of the Future, she garnered herself two additional pro sales! Rebecca did similar, made her first pro sale, another pro-pay sale, and will have a story published in the Superstars anthology along with Year One challenge beastie Liz! Speaking of Superstars, two of you from Super Secrets earned Superstars scholarships this year, both Rebecca and Liz. Those are coveted scholarships--the best submit applications because it’s a top writing seminar in the country and worth a thousand dollars! Well done, challenge beasties! Others made their first sales, got incredible personal rejections from the editors of pro zines, and proved they could develop the skills necessary to submit their work. I am very proud to see so many of you now working at building your sales and careers. That was my goal for teaching the Super Secrets this past year, and there is no greater reward for an instructor than in seeing the lessons applied by their padawans to become powerful Jedi.

You doubt that? Do you not see what you have done? Realize this. You challenge beasties are submitting stories each quarter to the most prestigious writing contest an aspiring writer can enter. This is an international contest combing the Earth for the best stories from the best new writers out there. Thousands enter every quarter. Each quarter, only four hundred from around the world write at the level of expertise necessary to earn a certificate. Only fifty from around the world master their craft to the level of silver honorable mention and above. Only eight make semifinalist. Only eight make finalist. Only three win. We had seventeen members in our workshop this past contest year. Among them, a quarter had to drop out due to health and life pressures. Every one of us had to deal with COVID-19 and the fallout to our lives. And yet look at the results from such a small writing group!

We’ve had two winners come from Super Secrets to date, and I’ve seen some incredible stories by challenge beasties for Q4--it’s not over yet! We’ve had finalists several times, including Liz Ticknor that took her KYD exercise she created in this very workshop, turned it into a full story, became a finalist and was told by Joni she made fourth place, just one point away from winning! In this last quarter, almost everyone that stayed in our challenge got honors! Some of you got honorable mentions for the first time, others got their first or second silver HMs, and two of you earned semifinalist! Think of that. Only eight are given out around the world, and two from this little workshop--Brittany and AJ--earned semifinalist awards and a personal critique from NYT bestselling author David Farland! I count FOUR SILVER HONORABLE MENTIONS and TWO SEMIFINALISTS in Q3, Volume 37, from this little Super Secrets Workshop of writers. Guys, I was in Wordos, arguably the best spec fic writing workshop in the country (four contest judges came from it, including Dave!), and we never had a quarter with WotF results like this! And we had Hugo, Nebula, and Stoker winners critiquing our stories! This is just us, guys, our little wulf pack, working as a team to help one another succeed. All of you deserve a round of applause for what you’ve accomplished, and like I said, it’s not over yet. I’ve seen many of your Q4s. You have made nothing short of miraculous progress, and it’s because you took this workshop serious and did the work. WELL DONE, CHALLENGE BEASTIES!

It has been my honor to help you succeed in Year Two of my Super Secrets Workshop. I am so proud of your success. I wish we could continue on, but you are all challenge beasties and you have formed bonds that will carry you forward and give you the power to take down your prey. Stay the course and you will continue to succeed. You have all you need to win, both here, and in the writing world beyond. As you graduate with honors, remember that once a challenge beastie, always a challenge beastie. You are Wulf Pack, and I hope each of you will continue to cheer on members here for Year Three, share your knowledge and wisdom, critique for members, and please, if you haven’t already, join my Wulf Pack Club at driftweave dot com so we can keep in touch. That goes for you lurkers as well, we love you too! Ryland also set up a group that Super Secrets alumni can join to keep networking together. Take advantage.

Finally, it would remiss of me not to thank my Keeper of Records, Leah Ning, SwiftPotato, speediest of all root vegetables. Without her, I couldn’t have kept track of so many. With her, we had a smooth and stellar year. Thank you, Leah. You make our Wall of Fame shine, and are a shining example to all.

I also must thank Becky, RSchibler. She sacrifices much time to give anyone that asks a critique. And not just here, in the general Forum as well. She and Leah both deserve a round of applause.

And now it’s your turn. I ask each of you to look back on your year, or for some, two years in this workshop, and share what helped you the most. Tell us your trials, tell us your achievements. Tell us what you plan to do with the knowledge you have learned. This is your final ASSIGNMENT. Please post by Sunday evening. On Monday, I start Year Three.

To your futures!

All the beast,

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

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

Postby zeeteebeez » Fri Oct 09, 2020 7:38 pm

Final assignment:

I’ll keep this brief, since I already mentioned some of this in my last post. My biggest takeaway is the importance of setting a scene properly. Ground the reader in the setting, give each character you introduce some description for the reader. I tended to sprinkle this in stories here and there, but I was being too subtle.

In many ways it was a strange year. I was writing more than ever, and I knew I was getting better, but I had my worst stretch of contest results ever. But I pin part of this on trying new things and taking risks. I know My writing is at a completely different level than 1 year ago, and I’ve got high hopes for q4.

As far as successes, I’ve had some personal rejections, but more than anything I count my time in the pack and forming friendships with Moon and other members of the challenge as my main win. I’ve improved so much already and expect that to continue as the pack continues to run together.

It doesn’t stop here. I’m on a journey to keep improving regardless of “wins.” I’ll celebrate the wins when they come but my main goal will always be improving and writing better stories.

Thanks again to Moon and all my friends in the pack!
Z.T.

6x HM

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

Postby CCrawford » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:01 pm

FINAL ASSIGNMENT:

So, you know your writing has grown when you look back at your Pre-Challenge-Year contest entry and go, "This thing is a mess! Did I really submit this?" Lol

What I learned through this workshop:
Thank you so much, Beastmaster Moon, for everything I've learned from you this year! I've seen my stories grow leaner and meaner, my prose more polished, and I am no longer stumbling along in the dark with my stories hoping I get something right. Now I *know* the things I need to work on, even if I've not yet perfected all of them. In particular, I think the KYD exercises have been transformative for me. I have always been a wordy writer. I trim thousands of words in editing just on a regular basis. But after doing KYDs for several months, I've realized that I was still being too easy on myself. I've learned how to go beyond basic trimming to really coding meaning into as few words as possible. I'm still honing this skill, but I *get* it. Now I can look objectively at my writing after letting it sit for a bit, and see all the flab. Taking things down to the "beating heart" and building them back up in KYD exercises has trained me to do the same with longer stories. Holding the whole story in my mind while also trying to figure out what the heck I was really saying with it (what its "heart" is) has ALWAYS been a struggle for me, but after this year, I finally feel I'm getting better at that. This has CHANGED MY WRITING LIFE. For real.

Your critique of my story last quarter was super helpful as well. It showed me that -- yet again -- I wasn't holding myself to a high enough standard. I sent what I thought was an edited, polished story. After your feedback, I trimmed another THOUSAND words from it. It was better for it, but I'm not sure I ever would have seen how much flab it still had slowing it down if not for that. It got an HM in Q3... I plan to revise it yet again because I've learned even more since then, thanks to this workshop, and I think I can do even better now.

What I achieved in my writing:
The first-ever story I applied the Super Secrets to (my Q1 story) got my first-ever SHM. I never would have written that story without this workshop -- it was one of those stories where I could feel myself leveling up as I wrote it. It pushed me. I don't think I had the necessary knowledge or skill to write that story before that point. And thanks to even more things I learned here since then, and the feedback of fellow challenge beasties, I revised it yet again after I got the result from Q3. I can tell my writing is growing, because now when I look back on stories I wrote previous quarters -- even the ones that got certificates -- I don't feel like I'm guessing at what needs to be improved, anymore. I can see it. Figuring out how to execute those changes is sometimes a different beast altogether, but hopefully I'm still growing in that aspect, too! I have entered the contest a total of 9 times so far. I somehow got an HM my first try (Q4 of v. 35). I got 4 straight R's for vol. 36. But in the 3 quarters so far since I've been in the challenge, I have gotten a certificate every quarter -- 1 SHM and 2 HMs. (My Q4 result for this year is still pending, of course.) But I'm no longer floundering, trying to figure out what I accidentally did right in my first submission. I have an understanding of what made that story strong -- as well as its weaknesses -- and a strategy to keep improving, even though I still have a lot to grow in! I also learned how to find markets to submit to, and how to format a story so that it looks professional. And I pushed past my fear of submitting to markets and lobbed a whole slew of baby krakens out into the deep this year.

Other benefits from this workshop:
So many people I'm so glad to have met! I have to give a special thanks to Becky, who critiqued the story that got my SHM -- it would have been a much weaker story without her input. Seriously, she helped so much! And to Chris, who partnered with me early on and read nearly every story I wrote this year and checked in for accountability regularly... thank you! So happy to have you as a writing partner now! And Liz, who read and critiqued a couple of my stories and gave amazing insight that helped not only with that story, but with my approach to future stories as well. And Ryland and the Wulf Pack chat... many of them helped with feedback and ideas on my drafts, and helped me get unstuck on the revisions of a couple of stories... plus the moral support and encouragement in seeing all of the others pushing forward toward goals.

Short stories are a struggle for me... my brain likes to spin out sprawly ideas that are better suited for novels. But I did this challenge because (1) I really want to win this contest. Ha! and (2) I wanted to hone my craft and write tighter, better stories with better prose, and really understand what I'm doing rather than feeling like I'm stumbling around. This workshop absolutely met that expectation, and then some. Especially the KYDs... honestly, I didn't expect so much growth from those. The concept made sense when I read it but wow... actually doing them made a huge difference in how I view my stories. It was the epiphany I didn't know I needed. Lol.

Also, the Set Your Stage secret was hugely helpful... combining all the important opening elements into the first few paragraphs (or even the first sentence) was a light-bulb concept for me. Now I try to brutally KYD my openings, as well. Still getting the hang of it, but I expect every sentence to be pulling its weight now!

I still have a lot to learn, but I'm very happy with the progress I made this year, and hopeful for even more progress moving forward.

Thank you, Beastmaster. I am proud to be part of the pack.
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, ??

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

Postby StarReacher » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:09 pm

FINAL ASSIGNMENT:

In addition to the tremendous amount of growth in my writing (particularly structure) via the super secrets, I’ve increased my productivity and submissions. Beyond WotF, I had 8 submissions (between four stories) to respectable markets in 2019. This year, beyond WotF, I already have 17 submissions (between 11 stories).

That number will increase before the end of the year as I get more stories back out. This is a weakness of mine that I have been working on. While Ryland puts my attempts to shame wotf001, I do plan to at least triple my numbers next year.

Part of writing more and being accountable puts you in a groove where you feel compelled to write even after you get that next submission sent off. The habit of daily writing gets easier. And suddenly the blank page is not so much of a big deal anymore. The 250’s are wonderful for putting in your back pocket for when you need to work on a new story and don’t have any new ideas. In the past, I’ve had a box of notecards with little blurbs of story ideas. The 250’s super charge this technique with the bonus that more intentional effort has gone into the exercise. When I pull those up, I have a firmer grasp on what the story might be.

Another invaluable benefit to being part of the Wulf Pack was the community. I genuinely care about my fellow writers and their future successes (continued successes in some cases!) The recommendation to look for a writing partner was hugely beneficial. Although everyone has your back, your writing partner is there to make sure you dust yourself off and get back to your writing desk when you start to get discouraged. A good writing partner does more than provide comments and critiques. Once he/she has read enough of your writing, you develop a level of trust and an insight into how that person work and their styles. Warning, you might wake up in the morning having dreamed about their characters wotf019. Yes, this has happened twice!

I also want to give a shout out to Ryland for motivating me to write more flash pieces and get those out as well. I wrote zero flash pieces in 2019. I have written three so far in the past few months.

Next year, I will be pushing myself even harder. More submissions. More stories.

Wishing everyone another amazing year ahead!

Best,
Angela
2017 - R (Q4)
2018 - R (Q1), HM (Q2), R (Q4)
2019 - SHM (Q1), R (Q2), SHM (Q3), HM (Q4)
2020 - HM (Q1), HM (Q2), SHM (Q3), P

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:28 am

Before I go into my final assignment, I want to thank both Moon and the other beasties. Moon, you've dedicated an incredible amount of your time to helping us succeed - and for you, many of us are just strangers you met over the internet. Thank you for that, and thank you for drawing me out into the open when I PM'd you to ask if I could join! Fellow beasties, I have to thank you too, because I was a total forum noob and you all were so kind and welcoming to me! Y'all helped make this thread a fun place to be. So, thanks for being awesome!

Final assignment:
With what I've learned, I'm going to keep pushing to get published in bigger and bigger places. I'm super proud of where I've been published so far - Arley Sorg of Locus posted a picture of a zine cover with my name on it the other day, holy crap! - but improvement is about pushing yourself to do more. So I'm going to work harder and listen more and write better until I bash some doors down. So far it seems to be working - I'm being held at four different markets right now, and though I don't expect acceptance at any of them, a girl can hope! (You'd think being held would be fun, but no...no. I am a giant ball of stress.) I've also used both critiques and personal rejections to make a list of "advice to never get again" so I can refer to it while writing in hopes of killing weaknesses until I don't have any anymore! (Because that's totally realistic...ha!) It is, at the very least, helping some, because I rarely get the same comments from Charlie anymore.

What I've learned: I worldbuild too late in the story to be useful or grounding to the reader. I establish character things like name and gender too late in the story when I write in first person. I economize words a little too much on my first drafts, so I need to fill in more details. KYD is super valuable for a lot of people, but I struggle to hit 250 words in the first place! I need to work on longer, stronger denouements because I don't leave enough room for the reader to feel rather than spoon-feeding the theme to them. I need to work on adding layers and subplots to my stories. And finally, I need to write a dang novel. I've started working out what sorts of characters and plots will be in it, but I need to finish doing that too. :)
Other benefits? I ended up in an absolutely stellar critique group. I don't know where I'd be without them. Crying a lot probably, also maybe a little more unhinged than I already am, and I most certainly wouldn't have made my third sale without their help. Y'all know who you are. Thanks for existing, thanks for being hard on me, thanks for all the laughs, and thanks for being you. I feel as if I'm in the presence of giants every time I talk to any of you. :) I've also been super accountable as part of being in the workshop. In the first quarter, Moon offered me a critique. He told me to write my two stories and send him the strongest in the last month of the quarter. That meant writing a story a month instead of two in a quarter. But I realized I could do that once I'd done it, so I kept doing it. So I've actually been doing a story a month all year, and it's been incredibly helpful! It means I get seen more often by editors and maybe they'll know I exist that way. So that was pretty cool too!

Anyway, I've basically written a novel, so I'll end it here. Thanks, Wulf Pack, for being super cool people and working so hard! And thanks, Moon for being around for us and teaching us. Y'all are the best!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby AjZach » Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:47 am

Final Assignment:

I have been in the super secrets group two years now. At the beginning, I was still really learning how to write. Over the last two years things have definitely improved in my writing, when I started getting HMs and then the SF result! I have also gotten some personal rejections.

Where I think I have grown the most is in my story. I am writing rough drafts that are cleaner and with a more complete story from the get-go. Probably because I started outlining and had some idea where I wanted to go with a story. I am also finding ways to put in more setting. I still get comments asking for more, but it's something I am learning and I know I have improved on. My stories also have more tension in them. My climaxes often fell a bit flat, now the stakes are higher.

I still am struggling with my first pages, trying to get in all the information needed (without an info dump) while still maintaining reader interest is a frightful balance. It really seems to depend on the story, sometimes I'm getting it right, other times, not so much. Other things like character voices, will be an ongoing thing to work on.

Thanks Wulf Moon and the group! Best of luck to everyone in quarter 4!
Vol 35: R, R, R,
Vol 36: R, HM, R, HM,
Vol 37: HM, R, SF,?

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

Postby Peter Glen » Sat Oct 10, 2020 4:41 pm

Thanks Moon. Since discovering the forum and the SUPER SECRETS, I've learned that everybody needs a Beastmaster. Someone to keep them headed in the right direction; to lead by example. I've also discovered how great it is to run with the pack, and would like to thank fellow Beasties for the support and ongoing friendship. Thanks too to Leah for maintaining the records; and Ryland for starting the critique group on discord.

Before joining the pack, I'd already been writing for fun for several years. Now, I still write for fun but have an added goal of becoming a pro. Here, Moon has generously shared a path for all new writers to follow if they wish to become professional. Practicing all of the SUPER SECRETS, I've learned that breaking into the industry is hard, very hard. But with the rejection comes steady reward: HMs and my first SHM; personal feedback from top magazine editors; and, best of all, learning how to improve my writing craft.

Before joining the pack, aside from the WotF contest, I might have submitted two stories a year to one market. This year, I've made almost 30 submissions to multiple markets (from a pool of 12 stories) and all thanks to SUPER SECRET #36: RELEASE THE KRAKEN.

In total words written, I'm close to 300K (+60K so far this year in flash and short stories and would be more if the lockdown didn't kill my writing routine).

Following the advice contained here, my writing has improved. Along with the SUPER SECRETS, some of the gems shared by pack members have had a great impact on the way I write (3rd person close, avoiding weak words). While all secrets have their impact, I think that SUPER SECRET #45: SET. YOUR. STAGE. is a real rocket in the pocket.

Thanks again Moon, and happy writing and GL to all reading this thread! wotf009
HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, SHM, ?

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

Postby Henckel » Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:54 am

Final assignment:

Here’s a brief summary of my key learnings over the past year.

. KYD – I found so much value in this exercise. It helped me find the heart of my story. Once I knew that, I knew what fat to trim. It also taught me to carefully consider the words to tighten my prose.

. Release your Kraken – The discussion on pro and semi pro markets was great. It helped me understand the difference in the markets, to analyse which are right for me, and which are reasonable steppingstones to get where I want to be.

. Wulf’s post a few weeks ago re his publication in Deep Magic. While this wasn’t a Super Secret, I found it tremendously valuable. It pointed out that nearly every person published in that magazine with him was an award-winning author (Hugo, nebula, WOTF, etc). For me, this context (knowing the calibre of competition in this a pro publication) was so valuable. It told me, I shouldn’t look at my story and think, “My story is pretty good, I’ll submit and see it they bite”. Instead, I should be in the mindset of “My story is pretty good. But I need to make it flawless if I want it to have a chance.” …Flawless if the key. Not just good. Not just tight. But, flawless.

. Humor – This is an area of uncertainty for me. Many readers have highlighted this as one of my primary strengths. Maybe so. But, in the past year, I discovered that I also use it as a crutch.

. Evaluating ideas – I’ve always felt that writing a story based on a weak idea is a waste of time. The problem is knowing which ideas or weak, which need a tweak, and which just need dropped. Over the last year, I’ve developed my own little technique based on heart of my story (KYD exercise) and Orson Scott Card’s MICE quotient. The result is that I’m not wasting countless months trying to figure out why I can’t make a story work.

. Personal crit from Wulf – Wulf’s crit represented more than the views of a fellow aspiring writer; it represented qualify feedback from tried and tested professional writer and editor. Wulf’s feedback took lessons that I’ve known for ten years (lessons that I thought I was applying correctly) and showed me a better way within the context of my own writing. This was valuable beyond compare.

. Wulf Pac Community – I’ve made fantastic Wulf Pac friends over the last year and even paired up with an amazing crit partner. We all keep in contact, watch out for each other, and encourage each other. This is more than writing, this is friendship.

Thank you, Wulf Moon, for your time and sharing your expertise over the last few years. I’ve really appreciated and enjoyed this and am looking forward to next year!
wotf009
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – pending
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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

Postby officer » Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:12 am

Since discovering this thread and joining the group a year ago, I've written 50k words across 11 stories. I'm proud of most of them. Prior to those, I had only written one short story before, which wasn't speculative.

There's no doubt I could have written as much--or as widely--without committing to two fresh stories per quarter. My WotF results fail to represent the progress I've made since then, but that's okay; I know how far I've come. I'm out for Year Three but looking forward to lurking and cheering for those who continue!

While I haven't sold any stories, I've had three held in second rounds (at Clarkesworld, Apex, and Deep Magic). I mentioned The New Yorker as a top reach market earlier this year. They usually don't respond at all (to me or anyone else), but I got a personal R from their fiction editor! Like many of you, I've also gotten some really helpful feedback from Charlie; we and the SFF genre are lucky to have him!

There are some incredible people on here--both as writers and as friends. Our virtual relationships, unchanged by the pandemic, have been rare sources of stability and positivity in these troubled times.

Through crits, I've realized my strengths and weaknesses. And I've been able to learn lessons big and small from Moon and fellow beasties. My drafts need fewer revisions, as I'm internalizing these lessons and the super secrets. In fact, I recently shared a near-first draft with my crit group due to a deadline, and they found it more polished than stories I had revised to death before. I've definitely settled into a style and rhythm I like.

I've improved to the point of being able to complete the novels I wanted to write, which is why I joined this group in the first place--to build those skills. I may not be ready to sell one yet, but at least I feel comfortable writing it.

Thus, my plan in the coming year is to pivot to a novel. I'll first complete my remaining short works-in-progress and continue submitting those and my other stories to WotF. There's no doubt winning has great value. But ultimately, I like novels and generally longer works. I'll be happier refocusing my attention, especially since the audience I want to win over is reading novels. In a perfect world, I would be like Becky and write both in parallel, but I don't personally have the capacity for that! I will definitely try starting with a related short story, though. I can use to get early feedback, and who knows? If it sells, that will make selling the novel a bit easier.

Thanks, Moon, for leading us forward, and to everyone for being great friends and colleagues! This is a wonderful community, and I'm so proud of everyone's progress.

Cheers,
Ari
Last edited by officer on Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Sun Oct 11, 2020 5:34 am

Final assignment


Guys, you rock! I just want to amen it all.

This was not a good year for me. I’ve already cited the health/family reasons, so I don’t want to go into that again, but I do want to say thank you.THANK YOU!

This group reached out to me MULTIPLE TIMES during my struggles. You guys are a community of stand up people. From last minute critiques to any-time support, you guys really care—and that makes this group strong. You don’t want people to fall behind. Wulf has kept in close contact with me, encouraging as he can, and I cannot express what that has meant to me. And that lets me know he cares about each of YOU too! I know he is so proud of you. All of you.

Guys my finalist in Q1 V36 came from those super secrets—from a flash when Wulf was first teaching me how to kill my darlings. And my finalists came after a stretch of rejections and HM that were making me feel...down. I thought my first was a fluke. Like Others, I didn’t know what worked to make that one catch Dave’s eye. The second, I had a better idea—though admittedly I’m still learning—and it didn’t take me as long to muddle through a draft. Plus—I had enough time to get a personalized rejection, apply the info, and sub it to WotF just before the end of quarter because he’s told me to sub it elsewhere EARLIER in the quarter. I know this works. I know WotF results may not always reflect your progress but eventually they will. You have it in you because you are still here fighting! Because you ARE improving.

I am so excited to see where our pack members land in the future—wherever this writing world takes them. Because you will go places. You already are.

I’m still hoping to get where you guys got this year. I have to work some muscles. But I know I can.

My ‘successes’ this year mostly stem from the beginning. I had several personals from Charlie, Deep Magic, and Daily Science Fiction. I got a SF on my resub. I get a critique from Dave! I haven’t had that before! My current growth isn’t where I wanted to be at the end of the year, but looking forward, I’m glad I was able to accomplish what I did. I have work yet to do. And I’ll do it the best I can.

Thank you again for letting me run with the pack.

Sending socially distanced and acceptable hugs and/or fist bumps through the screen. ;)
Brittany Rainsdon
R-SHM-HM-R-HM-R-F-F-HM-HM-HM-SHM-HM

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

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

Postby storysinger » Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:21 am

thegirlintheglasses wrote:Sending socially distanced and acceptable hugs and/or fist bumps through the screen. ;)

Don't forget the elbow bump.

I may have had the worst Sept. of my life last month.

On the 3rd the virus invaded my house. My wife was back to normal in about a week but I'm just recovering my ability to think clearly again.
While being assaulted by the effects of the virus, hurricane Sally came calling and dumped thirty inches of water everywhere, shredding parts of our home and the community we live in. Now yesterday Delta dumped more rain on already saturated ground. wotf004
I'm ready to catch up on any assignment I missed as soon as I can. wotf024

I just finished reading the last few pages of this thread and here goes my final thoughts as a Pack member. I will definitely be a lurker in support of the next class though.

When Wulf offered his Super Secrets I was quick to join. I had gotten one hm in the contest and thought I must be a capable writer that just needed a little help to advance. What I got was a continuous stream of knowledge; the only cost for this offer was active participation. Becoming a member of the Wulf Pack was really cool. Sharing two years with all of you as we worked through all the Super Secrets was a once in a lifetime experience, and I loved every minute of it.

I'm sure my second hm was a result of lessons learned here on the forum. By doing the KYD's I learned to cut a lot of useless fluff from my stories and make them them more readable. I will be acquiring the Super Secrets Book as soon as it is published as part of my continuing education.

I feel that one of the things that slow my progress is a fear of proing out, as if. I performed all the challenges required for the past year. I wrote two stories each quarter and sent the best to WotF and the other to a pro paying zine. I did twelve kyd's and learned a lot about streamlining my work. I sent 250's and 500's as flash to zines. My production more than doubled, as did my rejections. It's all part of the learning curve.

I wish only the best for all my beastie-buddies. wotf008
Last edited by storysinger on Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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HM-V36/Q4
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:29 am

Final Assignment for Year Two, Volume 37, Super Secrets Workshop

Major apologies, I had too much I wanted to say and my final assignment goes a bit long. Yes, I definitely failed my KYD here. wotf012

I got everything I hoped from joining this workshop and more. After no writing in 2018, I’d say I was struggling in 2019; I was writing and submitting every quarter, but I wanted much more. So glad I found Wulf Moon’s Super Secrets challenge. Exactly what I needed to push me onward and give me the solid platform to persevere in years to come. True, I didn’t achieve anything amazing like an SHM, a publication, or Leah Ning’s major career progress winning WotF and then snagging at least 2 professional sales with many more to come soon I’m sure. I hope I don’t sound too jealous! I am excited to see everyone’s success; it motivates me to “stay the course” as Moon would advise us and continue to level up in my own ways. I’m so excited to read more work from all of you fellow challenge beasties in the future.

Participating in Moon’s Super Secrets challenge helped me level up in so many ways. The exercises with dialogue, openings, setting the stage, releasing our krakens, denouements, and discussions of secrets regarding voice, eight point plots, heart's desire, and so much more. I did get at least two fresh stories done every quarter. Glancing over my own records, I see that I finished 3 fresh stories in Q1 (2 submitted, 1 needs something), finished 2 fresh stories and almost finished 3 others in Q2, finished 2 in Q3, then finished 5 in Q4. Only two of the 12 finished stories were over 10,000 words (12,000 and 14,000). Every other fresh short story I finished was between 2500-7500. So, it’s certainly possible for me to produce a story every month, if not every story is a longer monstrosity. It also seems that the more I write, the more I want to write, so who knows what else I could do if I pushed myself further.

That brings me to Moon’s KYD exercise. Writing a 1000-word story draft (often with freestyle notes), then reducing it to 500, to a 250-word vignette, then expanding it back up to 1000 is such a useful process. I’ve developed most of my fresh stories in 2020 from that process. It hasn’t always gone perfectly, but it always helps me get closer to the core of my story and to explore the emotions more thoroughly. I will continue using this process throughout my writing career, on its own and paired with other approaches. I think it will help me a lot when I return to working on various scenes of my novels as well. In fact, I used some of these KYD exercises to explore facets of my novel worlds that deserved more attention. My Q3 HM winner was one such, from novel prelude KYD to 7400-word HM winner.

Honestly, I might have expected my Q3 to reach SHM, but I guess I’m just not quite there yet. Regardless, that story is going to make the novel it was based on so much richer when I dive back in to make new revisions (soonish maybe?) and with what was edited out of it in rewrites is still waiting for flash part 2. But revisions with feedback was the third and fourth point I wanted to bring up. The free critique from Moon was amazing. I paired that with smart feedback from my writing partner and learned quite a lot that I’ve used with stories finished since then. Managed to break my string of rejections at least. I've found I can't hold back the worldbuilding, it just flows, so being able to cut out all the baggage and excess has been a key element I've been working on. Also trying to establish the story just right, provide just enough grounding, without dragging my story down into too much worldbuilding is certainly a challenge.

Having fellow writers, especially a pro like Moon, say exactly what and where the story needs work, has enabled me to rapidly improve my skills. I want to thank all of you for your help with my stories--I've used everyone's feedback, mostly folks from the group, like Angela, Peter, Becky, Chris, Crystal, Zac, Emily, Alex, Ari, and also some thread followers like Candice, Ania, BlackInk, and LibrarianBarbarian.

And thanks for keeping track of us and providing the prompts, Leah. Sometimes just having that prompt appear pushed me to get back to writing.

I especially wanted to thank Angela for jumping in as my main writing partner this year. We really tore apart each other's stories, editing and rewriting like mad before every deadline! But it truly helped me consider a variety of ways to try and reach stronger storytelling while applying the Super Secrets.

I didn’t quite engage with everyone as much as I wanted, but I believe nearly every member of the pack helped me in some way, whether seeing their successes, having them help to inspire the group, receiving wonderful feedback and suggestions, or just having another writer listen. Having that kind of community is a must for a writer.

Okay, since Moon mentioned it, my goal of reaching 100 rejections in 2020. I’ve hit 105 submissions this year, 83 rejections (50 short, 29 flash, 3 poems, and 1 grant application) and 22 pending (16 short stories, 5 flash, 1 poem). For me, this was a wonderful way to start putting myself out there. I believe I was inspired to attempt this because of Moon’s challenge, readings we’ve done in relation to the challenge, as well as other talk I heard regarding rejection goals. It pushed me to keep writing and keep submitting, to keep my momentum. If a story was rejected, I was prepared to quickly find the next publication to send it to. I also knew I wanted to improve as I went a long, so I did take some of the rejections, look them over, and revise a bit before sending them back out. Some I sent to fellow writers to receive feedback. Several received feedback from the first readers or editors they were sent to and I tried to incorporate that as well. But I tried to avoid letting a story get stuck for too long. There are a few that I had to leave behind to revise later, but I managed to keep the momentum with most. Now I feel a constant, almost habitual, attention to the market and need to submit more stories! I think I just made my writing addiction worse!

And last, I wanted to mention the Pack Chat on Discord (paired with shared critique folders). It was great sharing our assignments and stories together on the Super Secrets thread on the WotF forum, and to know we were hopefully helping others process these lessons along with us. But I think it is also important for us to continue on in private as well. We’ve motivated each other a lot by sharing feedback, sharing ideas, reminding each other of deadlines or issues to watch out for, or just chatting about how we’ve been doing getting by with our busy lives. I hope we can all continue to do so in the future as best we can.

This was such a great experience. Thank you all so much for being part of it. It reminded me a lot of the KIDD intensive writing program I took at the University of Oregon of an undergrad. So much inspiration and friendship found in each other. Do let us know when you reach any successes, so we can read and applaud you. And do let us know if you have problems you need help with too!

Thank you so much for putting this all together, Moon. Truly inspirational. wotf009
R.J.K. Lee
2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs; 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 1 HM, 1 pending
Goal of 100 rejections in 2020: 89 rejections, 21 pending, 110 total submissions
Keep writing, revising, submitting!

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

Postby StarReacher » Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:28 am

Nicely put, Ryland. And once again, I am just so in awe of your submissions record. Look behind you. See that little speck off in the distance? That's me trotting along in your dust :)

Also, you reminded me of something I meant to say in my assignment piece.

After first trying to incorporate "a few" of the Super Secrets, I realized that this is not something that you can do halfway. Each one of those is critical in getting your story to a prize-winning status. And, yes, it is hard. You might make a million excuses to your writing buddies about why you can flaunt a particular element. You might say it interferes with your "voice." I disagree. STRENGTHEN your voice by adhering to Moon's principles. That of course includes KYD (that's kill your darlings to any newbies lurking around).

When I look at my "before super secrets" and "after super secrets" stories, I see where the faults lie. Now I know better. My stories are far from perfect but at least now I'm not stumbling in the dark as to why.

For anyone newly following this thread, do yourself a favor. Print out the Super Secrets list. Study them like you're about to take an exam. Then put them to use. Be Santa. Check that list twice. If you are naughty you will ignore parts of it because you think your story is miraculously better without them. But if you want your gift, recognition in the form of a certificate or higher, you will be on the nice list by applying everything that you have learned.

Moon is a wise sage and knows what he is talking about. Ignore his wisdom at your peril.
2017 - R (Q4)
2018 - R (Q1), HM (Q2), R (Q4)
2019 - SHM (Q1), R (Q2), SHM (Q3), HM (Q4)
2020 - HM (Q1), HM (Q2), SHM (Q3), P


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