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 » Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:25 am

Good morning, beasties! Today's Monday prompt is: WEEPING IN SUNLIGHT.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:58 am

Commander Moon stands front and center in the Miramar ready room.

"Okay, Jester. Roll the footage on Jester."

Jester whips about and skids his voice through gravel. "But I'm a co-instructor! I did seventy-three air-to-air combat missions in 'Nam. I've got a Purple Heart!"

"Let's just hope you don't have any Purple Prose. The lights, Lieutenant Commander."

The lights go out. A screen drops down. Commander Moon taps the screen with his pointer. "Eyes up front, people. Let's see what this flygirl's got."


SwiftPotato wrote:Baseline 250 here. Title: Funeral Notes

After the funeral, while the sun soaks our skin like rain, I wrest the notes of her perfume from her lips: vanilla-brushed honeysuckle, fresh lily of the valley, and sugar spilled on ivory piano keys. I don’t think she expected to be caught so soon, at the edge of the cemetery, but who wouldn’t notice a red dress at their mother’s funeral? Who wouldn’t notice a woman who smelled of sweet death?

She vanishes behind a mausoleum as someone touches my arm.

“Time to go, Benjamin,” my wife says softly. Her eyes search mine for nonexistent tears. My eyes search for the woman with the flower-sweet perfume.

#

I find her again at my wife’s funeral. We huddle, cold, beneath an umbrella that wards off the rattling downpour. She tells me she smells of fresh-cut birch, fougère, and warm flannel sewn with woodsmoke thread.

“Are you Death?” I ask.

She laughs and leaves the umbrella’s protection as my father touches my arm. He, like my late wife, seems to wonder where my tears are. Perhaps I should’ve left my umbrella at home. Isn’t it hard to tell rain from tears?

#

When I find her at my father’s funeral, she tells me the notes of her perfume without prompting: black coffee, a curl of earthy patchouli, sunlit metal, and a cinnamon roll from my favorite coffee shop. She’s finally done with me. I smile. The knife on my nightstand, still crusted with my father’s blood, will be a relief.


Leah, callsign SwiftPotato (or Jester for this year :) brings us a dark tale of funerals and death. I commend you for your evocative descriptions, Leah. They are masterful, and I suggest everyone study them. The devil is in the details, and you have stunning scents that are odd for death, but vivid and provocative. Many are juxtapositions, unique scents to life, cast in shrouds of death. It keeps the reader off-balance in their placement, but evoke powerful imagery through scent memories. If it's not already, this will become your trademark, and a key element to your Voice that readers will crave. It's specificity and continuous swirls through the tale are not overdone in your case, so it is not purple prose. It is enchanting, your own unique writing magic. Keep casting this spell.

Now for some constructive comments:

You wrap this 250 in so much mystery, it is very hard to see what it's truly about. A serial killer living within the real world? Someone that's psychotic, visualizing death as a real person? Why does she breath perfume? If it's a death rattle with a last breath filled with images, why is there no auditory to cue us in? I am sure you know what is going on here, but you must give readers enough clues so they understand what's going on. Otherwise, you get to the end and instead of a payoff, there's just a "Huh?" A reader should get it in one read; they should not have to repeatedly read and finally shrug and walk away, because that will likely mean they will walk away from your future work. If you weave something as a mystery, that last line should make it crystal clear. That's the payoff for the reader taking their precious time to read your work.

Again, evocative writing. This is your superpower.

Commander "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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Tue Oct 27, 2020 11:27 am

Thanks, Moon! Appreciate the kind words and the criticism. :) I figured the mystery bit went funky, but I'm glad the scent descriptions came across well!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:53 pm

To all Top Gun challenge members: Don't forget you must meet the requirements for this month. This workshop year has extra incentive for the members. It's an elimination year, meaning if you miss, we still love you, but you are out for the year. So don't miss!

Too keep the thread uncluttered, please privately notify our Keeper of Records, SwiftPotato. Just once at the end of the month that you've met each of the requirements, like this:

For October, 2020:

1. I wrote one original short story or novel chapter of 3000 words or more.

2. I did one (or more) KYD exercises.

3. I submitted one story (or more!) to a respectable market.

And of course, at the end of each quarter include that you've submitted a story to Writers of the Future!

Two of you earned full edits on your WotF submissions this quarter. This is based on your last ranking in the Contest. These must be submitted to me no less than thirty days before close of the quarter. Please try to keep these stories at 5K or 6K max--I spend many hours on each one.

Happy flying!

Commander "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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:22 am

Three days to the end of the month, folks! Get those reports in my PMs! If I got no report, you won't be on the roster! If you're still writing, get 'em done! I believe in you!

Moon - how often would you like the roster posted this time? I was thinking the first of each month to keep us all accountable, but wanted to double check with you first.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Oct 28, 2020 5:43 pm

Commander Moon stands front and center in the Miramar ready room.

"Okay, Jester. Roll the footage on CCrawford."

The lights go out. A screen drops down. The commander taps the screen with his pointer. "Eyes up front, people. Let's see what this flygirl's got."

CCrawford wrote:Here's my baseline 250:


All Creatures Bow Eventually


Joe Dullahan wiped engine grease on his jeans, then slammed the hood of the old Buick shut. “Should get you back to town.”

The old man in the driver’s seat nodded his thanks. “What do I owe you?”

Blood. Joe gritted his teeth and forced a smile. “No charge. Working on my karma.”

The old man smiled. “Thank you again.”

Joe crossed behind the car and slid into his pickup.

He’ll stop at the four-way, the voice crackled. Last chance.

Joe slammed the heel of his hand into the steering wheel. “Shut up!”

The voice laughed. Can’t fight who you are, Dullahan.

Joe eased onto the road behind the Buick. “I can try.”

A few hundred yards down, the Buick sputtered and died.

The old man stood shakily on his cane. “I’m sorry, this old car...”

Joe waved a hand. “Don’t mention it. Let me take another look.” Smoke poured from the hood. “This is beyond my help. Let me give you a ride into town.”

The old man sagged with relief. “Thank you.”

Joe helped the old man into the passenger seat and crossed to the driver’s side.

The voice sighed. All creatures bow to nature eventually.

Joe slid into the driver’s seat. “Have you eaten? There’s a burger joint in town.”

“I don’t want to be a bother.”

“No bother. I need to eat, too.” Joe cranked the truck.

The old man smiled. “That would be wonderful.”

You don’t eat burgers, Joe.

Joe put the truck in drive.


Excellent work here, Crystal. Reads smooth as silk. No heavy blocks of exposition and description, zero saidisms, not even one dialogue tag, just clean dialogue with solid action beats. It's natural sounding dialogue and because of your beat placements, you always know who is speaking. I recommend that all of our challenge beasties study your dialogue. This is how it's done.

Love the voice speaking to him as well. You don't explain it, it's just there, and creeps in more and more, getting creepier each time it interjects into his thoughts. Will he resist the urge? This is his heart's desire in this piece. The problem is his nature. Will he beat it, or succumb? Your title is the clue.

Some constructive comments:

This is a great example of a 250-word vignette. I find little fault in it, and much to commend it. But there is usually something we can improve:

1. The title doesn't have much sizzle. I think this is because it ends in the adverb "eventually." It weakens it. Something in the line of "Animal Nature" would work better. If you remember the Super Secret, Title is Your First Hook. So make it a good one. It should entice the reader into your story.

2. Buick. I would have liked the model of Buick in the opening, or even the year. It would have helped set the era of this story. I saw no period cues--the story could have occurred along any roadside in the decades since Buick was made. Specifics make stories real. It would have only cost a word or two to have set the stage with this simple trick that would have locked in your time period. Time period is one of the questions readers ask, so establishing it immediately in any story is part of SET. YOUR. STAGE.

In conclusion, great job! You may not know it, but this is a giant leap forward from when you began this workshop. This 250 is *crystal* clear, not bloated with descriptions that might be beautiful, but weigh down the story and slow your pacing. If you can keep this up in your longer works, you have the power to win this contest, and to sell your stories to pro markets. This vignette shows why you are in Top Gun. This is all pro, and pro is the highest praise I give.

Keep up the great flying, pilot.

Commander "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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby CCrawford » Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:19 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Commander Moon stands front and center in the Miramar ready room.

Excellent work here, Crystal. Reads smooth as silk. No heavy blocks of exposition and description, zero saidisms, not even one dialogue tag, just clean dialogue with solid action beats. It's natural sounding dialogue and because of your beat placements, you always know who is speaking. I recommend that all of our challenge beasties study your dialogue. This is how it's done.

Love the voice speaking to him as well. You don't explain it, it's just there, and creeps in more and more, getting creepier each time it interjects into his thoughts. Will he resist the urge? This is his heart's desire in this piece. The problem is his nature. Will he beat it, or succumb? Your title is the clue.

Some constructive comments:

This is a great example of a 250-word vignette. I find little fault in it, and much to commend it. But there is usually something we can improve:

1. The title doesn't have much sizzle. I think this is because it ends in the adverb "eventually." It weakens it. Something in the line of "Animal Nature" would work better. If you remember the Super Secret, Title is Your First Hook. So make it a good one. It should entice the reader into your story.

2. Buick. I would have liked the model of Buick in the opening, or even the year. It would have helped set the era of this story. I saw no period cues--the story could have occurred along any roadside in the decades since Buick was made. Specifics make stories real. It would have only cost a word or two to have set the stage with this simple trick that would have locked in your time period. Time period is one of the questions readers ask, so establishing it immediately in any story is part of SET. YOUR. STAGE.

In conclusion, great job! You may not know it, but this is a giant leap forward from when you began this workshop. This 250 is *crystal* clear, not bloated with descriptions that might be beautiful, but weigh down the story and slow your pacing. If you can keep this up in your longer works, you have the power to win this contest, and to sell your stories to pro markets. This vignette shows why you are in Top Gun. This is all pro, and pro is the highest praise I give.

Keep up the great flying, pilot.

Commander "Beastmaster" Moon


Thank you so much for your constructive criticism and for your comments... it feels really good to know I've made noticeable progress. I can feel that my writing is getting tighter (thanks in huge part to the crit you did of my story last quarter, and the KYDs too, of course), but it's different to know that others can actually notice the improvement. This just motivates me to keeping working hard so I can keep growing and improving!
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V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM

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

Postby empressed » Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:18 am

Wulf Moon wrote:
“What are the requirements? Simple. Act like the pros you are. Fulfill your missions. Prove you are the Right Stuff. Win honors and respectable sales for yourself and your teammates. Here is the bare minimum you must do:

1. Write an original novel chapter or a short story each month of at least 3000 words.
2. Do one full Kill Your Darlings Exercise each month, preferably on one of the Monday prompts.
3. Enter Writers of the Future each quarter with a story of your choice, new or revised, but make it your best.
4. Submit at least one story a month to a respectable market. (I’ll ask SwiftPotato to post a new Respectable Market List, and ask Super Secret alumnus Ryland to help her.)

[/b][/i]



Hey, Moon. I'm in the midst of KYD-ing my novel and I'm not sure I'm going to finish before the end of the month, let alone get a chapter written. However, I've written over 3k in flash fiction. (I don't know why, but I'm getting swamped with flash fiction notions.) Is that sufficient for your 3k requirement?
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Oct 29, 2020 6:11 pm

empressed wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:
“What are the requirements? Simple. Act like the pros you are. Fulfill your missions. Prove you are the Right Stuff. Win honors and respectable sales for yourself and your teammates. Here is the bare minimum you must do:

1. Write an original novel chapter or a short story each month of at least 3000 words.
2. Do one full Kill Your Darlings Exercise each month, preferably on one of the Monday prompts.
3. Enter Writers of the Future each quarter with a story of your choice, new or revised, but make it your best.
4. Submit at least one story a month to a respectable market. (I’ll ask SwiftPotato to post a new Respectable Market List, and ask Super Secret alumnus Ryland to help her.)

[/b][/i]



Hey, Moon. I'm in the midst of KYD-ing my novel and I'm not sure I'm going to finish before the end of the month, let alone get a chapter written. However, I've written over 3k in flash fiction. (I don't know why, but I'm getting swamped with flash fiction notions.) Is that sufficient for your 3k requirement?


Hi, Victoria. Looks like you're doing what Candice did, following the workshop requirements on the side until I started the new year and she could squeeze in the door. Since you're not officially enrolled, please do make your own call. The important thing is that the requirements give you added impetus to push yourself beyond what you might normally have done.

That said, Top Gun members this year know they have to write "a novel chapter" or a "short story each month of at least 3000 words." Plus a full KYD exercise. Therefore, many flash stories would not qualify, even though I love a good flash. This year's goal is to create WotF winners ... or to sell short stories to respectable markets. Three thousand original words and up gets the current challenge beasties into a good word count where they can do stronger world building and deeper short story plots. It's why I set that requirement.

I've run the workshop for two years now. This is the start of the third. Each year, a challenge beast that's been enrolled in the Super Secrets Workshop has won Writers of the Future (and we've had many finalists!). This year, it's going to be two. That's my goal. To do that, the challenge is harder, but the rewards will be great! Anyone that follows along can accomplish amazing things. In fact, I know they have. How? Because they write to me and tell me so.

You do the same. I am proud of you for taking the bull by the horns, just like Candice did. Both of you have also taken my online master classes. Those give you special advantages, and you can only know that if you have been there. Which you have! Keep up the good work, Victoria.

This is the way. Anyone here will tell you so. So will the Mandalorian.

Commander "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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby empressed » Thu Oct 29, 2020 6:36 pm

oookay. The next two days will be harsh. LOL
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Oct 29, 2020 11:10 pm

In the Top Gun classroom, Jester kills the combat footage and flicks on the lights. Commander Moon stands to the side of the screen at a wooden lectern.

"Gentlemen. Ladies. Top Gun was created to teach ACM. Air Combat Maneuvering ... Dogfighting. That was some of the best flying I've seen to date. You're the elite, the best of the best. But some of you just did it better."

He fixes his cold steel gaze on two in the front row. "Lieutenant RSchibler, Lieutenant Crlisle, please stand."

Both rise and stand at attention.

"Congratulations. Each of you locked radar and hit your target. You are to be commended. Lieutenant Schibler, for taking down AaN's UPON A ONCE TIME anthology. Lieutenant Crlisle, for taking down LTUE's PARLIAMENT OF WIZARDS anthology. These are "respectable sales," or I would not be in one of them. Well done. Just remember, at the end of the day, we're all on the same team. Dismissed."

Hollywood leans forward and whispers, "Gutsiest move I ever saw."
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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Oct 30, 2020 4:00 am

Congrats, you two!!! That's awesome!!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby zeeteebeez » Fri Oct 30, 2020 4:56 am

Always great to hear when pack members/wing mates get a win!

Congrats to both of you!
Z.T.

7x HM

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Oct 30, 2020 1:26 pm

Our first month is about to end! One day left to meet the monthly requirements of the Top Gun SUPER SECRETS Workshop Year!

You will only have two days to privately message SwiftPotato (AKA Jester this year), with the requirements form I posted earlier. She will post the Top Gun Roster on the third of each month. Don't make her hunt you down, because she's an ace, and she has heat seeking missiles that lock on target! If you do miss a month's requirements, you will need to contact me and plead your case to stay in, and it better be serious or your name will be dropped from the roster. Sorry, this is Top Gun. You knew what you were signing on to when you joined the class.

I'm adding some friendly competition this year. The next roster (titled October 2020) will be ranked based on Q3 Volume 37 results (our baseline this year), with #1 being finalist, #2 semifinalist, #3 silver hms, etc. Ties will be broken by comparing results from Q2. So please, for this year, start putting your latest results in your signature line if you haven't done so already. Jester needs this data to rank the Top Gun Board.

There will also be special commendations under your name. That's right! Each time you get a sale notice from a *respectable publisher,* as primarily defined by the upcoming posted list, you'll get your sale listed under your name as "Special Commendations." It's a way to celebrate one another's victories this year. So the two commendations I just listed above will be the first to go into the Top Gun Board. Be sure to notify me when you take down a respectable target.

Jester, I'll go over this with you soon, but I'm under deadlines. Thank you for all you do! wotf009

Finally, here's an opportunity for any challenge beasties and onlurkers! wotf001

First, DO take the Writers of the Future Free Online Class. It's a tremendous FREE resource. You have taken that, right??? https://www.writersofthefuture.com/writing-workshop/

Second, I teach a master class on how to write prizewinning stories, with particular emphasis on how to win Writers of the Future. With one client winner, two workshop winners, and several workshop members becoming finalists, in addition to all those getting their first sales and highest honors since they took my Super Secrets workshops, my teachings get results. If you'd like to up your game and do the same, two openings just occurred in this sold out class. That's because some were taking the class twice to get the information again, but when we added my Howling Plots master class, they asked to switch to take in new knowledge. Happy to oblige! And that gives you an opportunity to get in on a sold out class before it sells out again. The master classes include Fyrecon Online Convention registration as a bonus, so they really are a phenomenal deal. Anyhow, letting you guys know first before I post publicly. Those two spots won't last long--this is the second time this class has sold out. Both classes cover my methods, but "How to Write Winning Stories that Take the Gold" is primed to help you win big contests like Writers of the Future. Here's the link. https://www.fyrecon.com/master-classes/ ... -workshop/

That's it for today! Stay tuned as I wrap up the Kill Your Darlings 250 word vignettes critiques! And Top Gun pilots, get ready for the start of our Super Secrets review via "Muzik Man" analysis from Deep Magic Fall 2020! I shall post the assignment on Monday so read up now!

Commander "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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Sat Oct 31, 2020 5:57 am

Last day of the month, folks! Get those reports in! I'm on eastern time, so I won't be staying up down to the wire, but as long as I see the message in the next couple days, I'll roster you. Friendly reminder that I will not chase you down. Get those words on paper and those submissions in! Good luck, folks! And to those who have already completed requirements for the month, well done!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:34 am

Commander Moon stands front and center in the Miramar ready room.

"Okay, Jester. Roll the footage on AJZach."

The lights go out. A screen drops down. The commander taps the screen with his pointer. "Eyes up front, people. Let's see what this flygirl's got."


AjZach wrote:A Drive for Blood

“You’ll feel a little pinch. OK, just hold that right there,” Jennifer said, pressing a cotton ball onto her patient’s arm. She stuck the labels onto the vials of blood. “OK. You’re good to go here.” Jennifer packaged up the sample for testing, all except for one vial, which went in the pocket of her scrubs.

Jennifer had been pouring the vials into her coffee thermos in the break room.

The other girls had come back from their coffee break. Jennifer reached for her thermos and took a sip, only to realize it was coffee. She swallowed the bitter liquid and looked down at the thermos. It was the same as hers but along the bottom, in faded sharpie was the name: Trish.

“Oh Trish, I got our thermoses mixed up.”

Trish was retching into the sink.

Jennifer felt the cold hard stares of the nurses.

Jennifer grabbed her thermos from Trish’s hands and bolted for the door. She got in her car. The supply of blood she had in her thermos might last a few days if it had to, but she would need more soon.

Jennifer drove to the corner store. There was a poster on the door.

“Blood Drive: Looking for Volunteers, Please Apply.”

Once in her car, she called the number on the poster.

“Yes, hello, I’m calling about the blood drive.”

Jennifer ended the call and leaned back in her seat. She sipped from her thermos. Everything would work out perfectly.



AJZach gives us a very fitting title for her piece. "A Drive for Blood." It's one of those great titles that appear to mean one thing, but by the end of the story, you realize those same words mean something else. "A Blood Drive" as her choice would not have been as effective. She thought about her title, chose her words carefully. And that's a Super Secret: "Title is Your First Hook." Many new writers just slap a title on like it's for a manila file folder, something bland and easy to organize in a drawer. You did not make this error, AJ. Well done!

Some constructive comments:

1. This opens without context. Yes, it comes up at the end of the second sentence, but it's a talking head at first. No narrative lead into where they are, what that pinch is, who it is about, etc. All these things are questions your reader wants immediate answers to before they can settle into your story. True, some writers do open like this. I believe it's a mistake. Fortunately, you don't leave us wondering for long, avoiding what could have been a classic blunder in new writer stories. You know you need to get this in, and are forgiven because you did so quickly. :)

2. Subject matter. It's never good when an editor writes back, "This feels familiar." Yes, I've had that happen. It means they've seen it before, so much so, it's like your story is echoing someone else's story. That means the scene does not feel original, or it has been done to death. In this case, I am reminded of scenes with Tilda Swinton from ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE. The vampires were constantly trying to get thermoses filled with the "good stuff." Plenty of other stories and movies built around this same premise of getting blood from blood drives and hospital lab techs. If you hope for your story to rise to the top, your idea must be original. If you hope to win WotF, you need to dazzle Dave and the judges with

something

they've

never

seen

before.

3. Some passive sentences in here, like these:

Trish was retching into the sink.

There was a poster on the door.

Whenever I'm about to type *was*, I stop and ask myself if it's really necessary. There's usually a more active way to phrase the sentence. Like: A shiny poster hung from the door. Blood Drive.

4. Unnecessary details. There are lots of ways aspiring writers drive to the story, and it's not just in the openings. Often they describe details that slow the pacing down because they are walking their characters around like Barbie dolls, hop, hop, hop. So for this sentence: Once in her car, she called the number on the poster. Is it really important that we know she got back in her car? Did she leave it in the first place? You didn't say she did. So she could have just as easily seen the poster from where she parked her car. Instead of adding an unnecessary detail, you could have used those extra words to get in a good punch about her desperate need, creating more depth to this vignette.

5. Read your work out loud. This is fairly well written, but it should flow off the tongue. Instead, it's got some chop to it. Reading out loud exposes the chop. Don't let a program do this for you. You need to both speak the words and ear the words at the same time to learn this. Technological cheating will never train you to get this right.

We conclude with the positive. The 250 works. We have a character in a setting with a desire and a problem of fulfilling that desire. We even have a fail, and conclude on a way to pursue her need (desire) again. This cycle she's going through will continue. Because she has A Drive for Blood.

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

Postby AjZach » Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:44 am

Thanks for the critique Wulf!
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:31 pm

Hey folks! Sorry for the minor break in routine, but I'm posting this week's prompt early since I won't be around tomorrow. Today's Monday prompt is: INVISIBLE NOOSE.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:10 am

Commander Moon stands front and center in the Miramar ready room.

"Okay, Jester. Roll the footage on GlibWizard."

The lights go out. A screen drops down. The commander taps the screen with his pointer. "Eyes up front, people. Let's see what this flygirl's got."

GlibWizard wrote:
Dragon Bait

The village children were disappointed by the dragon hunter. She was dressed in homespun as road-weary as her face. Her short knife looked as useless as Trond and Osmond’s sharp sticks.

The village adults were disappointed because Erikson had killed the dragon two days before she arrived, but she did not lower her fee. “He was feeding a mate. When their eggs hatch, your livestock will die first. Then your children.”

Trond and Osmond followed her when she walked into the forest. She was carrying meat.

As she walked, the dragon hunter walked made small chirping noises and whistles. Sometimes she stopped and listened. The boys fell over each other then, wrestling for balance. She looked back and sighed.

“What is the meat for?” asked Trond.

“The queen. She won’t leave her eggs. I grew up watching dragons,” said the hunter. “Sometimes I brought them food.” She chirped again.
Something answered.

A dragon nested under a fallen tree. Her eyes were focused on the meat.

The dragon hunter lifted it up.

Trond was beside her. The dragon’s hard lips parted, revealing a fleshy pink tongue that quested forward, reaching out. The dragon skipped the meat. It strained toward Trond. When the small boy realized his danger it was too late to do anything but jerk his head up, wide- and wild-eyed, to look at the woman who fed dragons.

She did not look at him. She plunged her knife into the soft fleshy folds exposed by the dragon’s stretch.

---


GlibWizard gives us the tale of a dragon hunter in 250 words, and actually covers a lot of ground in that amount of space. She employs nice visuals in her writing, like "dressed in homespun as road-weary as her face" and "fleshy pink tongue that quested forward." We have a character, in a setting, with a problem--finding the dragon's mate--so the engine is in place. All good!

Some constructive comments:

1. This piece feels more like an excerpt from a larger tale, instead of a carefully crafted vignette focusing on your heroine's Heart's Desire in a tight, emotional scene. Unlike the other workshop members that have been working on Kill Your Darlings Exercises for a year or more, this likely is your first. So they have an advantage on you, having done this before. I'll explain again briefly, and then encourage you to review the exercise steps at the end of Book One in the very first post on this thread.

KYD, as we call it, is composed of several steps. Step one is to get the story out of you by writing a 1000 word or so flash story in stream of consciousness style. Get words on paper. Step two is the cutting and reduction phase, reducing what you have to 500 words. This teaches cutting and editing, getting rid of the unnecessary fluff. Step three is stopping. Step three is analysis. Step three is a search for the beating heart within the piece, the emotional aspect you can build this vignette around. It's not about cutting, it's about shining a light on a poignant moment, and then redesigning your scene and choosing potent words that get that emotional moment portrayed in 250 words or less. Think of your 250 as a window peering into the soul of the story you wish to tell. You are capturing its essence.

2. You heroine is never named. To keep calling her the dragon hunter actually distances us from her. She is portrayed as a title, not a person. We are never truly friends with anyone if we don't know their name. You want your readers to befriend your heroine, hopefully even fall in love with her. But without a name, it's hard to form the Reader/Hero bond. Another part of the Reader/Hero bond is making your reader like your protagonist so they care about them obtaining their Heart's Desire. In this tale, she's simply doing a job, with no indication as to what motivates her to do this job that might make us feel for her.

3. Trond and Osmond should have been identified as soon as you named them. Adults, children? From the village? Or are they her apprentices? We have no idea of age until the middle of this, when we find out they are boys. That's too late. If your reader made a wrong assumption, they have to toss it when they come to the word "boys." Just follow the rule that when you introduce a character, give some description and context so your reader can form basic image or idea of who they are. Yes, even in a vignette. Especially in a vignette.

4. "Said the hunter." "Asked Tron."

That's the old way the old writers did it. The modern method of tagging is name first, then said. So it would be "the hunter said." It's a hard habit to break if you've written like this for years. But it's important to be current with the times, and not have a single thing detract from your writing with editors and judges.

5. Passive voice.

Her eyes were focused on the meat. Try this: Her eyes narrowed, focusing on the meat. It's active voice, even written in past tense.

Here's another. She was carrying meat. Try this: She carried a fresh haunch of goat. If you can create the space, this would be even better: She carried a fresh haunch of goat, blood dripping to the ground.

6. The piece is completely visual. Work in other sensory details for a richer reader experience.

7. No Heart's Desire.

We haven't a clue what's in it for the dragon hunter. Why does she do this work? What does she hope to gain? When she was young, she studied dragons, fed dragons. Why does she hunt them now? There isn't a single emotional clue. She's just doing her nine to five in this piece, with a quick stab at the dragon at the end to save a boy.

Had you built up a relationship with that boy, our breath might have caught as the dragon hunter saw her new friend about to be eaten. Make your reader have a reason to care.

8. Full circle ending.

The best endings come full circle, echoing something from the beginning, but revealing how it changed through your protagonist's journey. It's like tying a bow around your package. This needed something special at the end to give the piece some meaning. Instead, your vignette just ends with an action, as if the director called out, "Cut!" Focus on meaningful endings.

I conclude with the positive. You are brand new to the Super Secrets Workshop, and I assume this was your first attempt at a KYD exercise. It's a good first attempt, and shows you know how to tell a story. I am hitting these hard to give each of you things to consider working on in your short stories to make them stronger. Figuring out where we are weak and working on those weaknesses is how we win.

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

Postby GlibWizard » Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:00 am

Thank you for the thorough critique. I appreciate your time and I'm going to go check over my work in progress for these errors... wotf009

In hindsight I see clearly that I cut out a synopsis and not a heart, especially comparing it to the 1000 word version. I'm looking forward to hitting this exercise again with November's prompts.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:52 am

GlibWizard wrote:Thank you for the thorough critique. I appreciate your time and I'm going to go check over my work in progress for these errors... wotf009

In hindsight I see clearly that I cut out a synopsis and not a heart, especially comparing it to the 1000 word version. I'm looking forward to hitting this exercise again with November's prompts.


Don’t feel bad. The first time a writer does this exercise, they usually try to tell the same tale they told in the 1000 word version in 250 words. That doesn’t work, and the exercise will not train you in finding the beating heart In your stories and focusing everything around it if you do that. A vignette is a powerful scene or moment that you are shining a light on. Find the emotional power source in your tale and rewrite, focusing exclusively on that. I suggest you do it with this very piece. Why? I’ve given you some clues in my comments as to ways you could have focused on your dragon hunter’s driving force.

Carry on, pilot. This is Top Gun. Make your craft roar.

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:14 pm

Commander Moon stands front and center in the Miramar ready room.

"Okay, Jester. Roll the footage on Henckel."

The lights go out. A screen drops down. The commander taps the screen with his pointer. "Eyes up front, people. Let's see what this Kiwi's got."


Henckel wrote:Baseline 250 - Negotiations Guaranteed

Inventory Manager, Aggie Vate’s mug read: why spend ten thousand when you could get the same for two. She sipped her steaming coffee, then placed the mug beside the holographic projector on her desk.

“I can buy uranium for one fifth that price in the Gliese System,” she said. “Two thousand or no deal.”

Kevin, the supplier’s Customer Support Officer, stared back at her through the projector. “But you’d have to go to Gliese to get it.”

“While I’m there” —Aggie leaned close to Kevin’s image— “I’ll buy extra then sell it off to your customers.”

Kevin’s cheeks billowed then deflated. “Can you cut me a break? I’m new here. My boss will fire me if I make a loss.”

When Aggie didn’t reply, Kevin pressed on.

“I got this job because the last guy misspelled a client’s name on the invoice. The company is hard core about guaranteed quality service.” He said the phrase like an advertisement. “The company fired him then refunded the clients order, apparently standing by their guarantee.”

Aggie raised both palms. “I understand. Thank you for your honesty.”

Aggie paid top dollar for the uranium, including an administration line item earmarked for Kevin’s account.

Once the order was delivered, Aggie contacted Kevin’s manager. “I wish to report fraud within your organization. I expected better from an organization that guarantees quality service.”

When the conversation ended, Aggie ordered herself a new coffee mug. The inscription read, why spend ten thousand when you could get the same for free.


Henckel gives us a story about galactic negotiations. It's a dog eat dog world out there, and inventory manager Aggie Vate has fur in her teeth! Nice work on the dialogue, Henckel! This is professional, it flows, and it's a noteworthy difference from your earlier work. It's good to know when we advance in something, and this certainly shows it. This was a Super Secret we worked on--Write Smart Dialogue--and it's obvious you applied the lessons. Well done!

Some constructive analysis of your flight patterns, flyboy:

1. Title is Your First Hook

The title doesn't quite work for me. This is because the company guarantees the sales experience, not the negotiation experience. You also want it to hook your reader. A better title would be: Getting Mugged.

2. Likeable protagonists

What Aggie does is not very nice. She takes advantage of company policy, sets up the salesman to lose his job, and celebrates it with a new mug at the end. For a short piece like this you can get away with an anti-hero; this 250 is much like a jape (especially if you use my title suggestion!). But in short stories and novels, protagonists do need redeeming qualities, even though they are flawed. This is how the Reader/Hero bond is formed, so that your reader gets emotionally involved with your protagonist so that they will want to read your story. We have little to make us bond to Aggie. She's a cutthroat negotiator, proud of it, and just put a man out of his job through deception. The right way to get away with undesirable protagonists like this is to redeem them at the end, but this vignette offers no redemption. Advice to take seriously in your longer works ... like your submissions to WotF.

3. It's a pretty big quote to put on a coffee mug, but I've seen worse. :)

4. Unique, original idea.

If a story can be told in our time, with our current technology, simply setting it in space will not be enough to take it over the top. My good friend, Jerry Oltion, is the master of taking ordinary human problems and setting them in the future, on the moon, in a rocket, etc. (He's the most published writer in Analog, and he won a Nebula for ABANDONED IN PLACE.) But even though his stories are about down to earth problems, almost all have some technology or twist on physics and science that if you removed the science element, the story would fall apart. Good science fiction explores the human condition, but it also explores science in some way. It's built atop it. We get some stories submitted to Future SF that are barely in the future, and it's obvious the writer did zero science research to base their SF story upon. I have either rejected them outright, or in the rare cases I really like the story (or the author), I send them back and tell them they need to get some solid science in the tale. Good science fiction demands it. Tossing in a hologram projector or selling uranium is not enough. And a future interstellar society that sends out for screen printing on ordinary coffee mugs? You're not going to impress an editor at a pro SF 'zine with that. Or a contest that has the likes of Larry Niven and Dr. Gregory Benford judging it. Just saying. :) Which is a shame, because there is a real demand for good quality science fiction, within this contest, and within the SF publishing world. If you can do it right, your work will be in high demand. I know we do these 250s as exercises, and it's tough to get deep science setup into them. But they are meant to train us for our larger work. So do think about how much research goes into your science when you do write science fiction. Original ideas in SF are rare, but when you come up with one, editors will take note. They are hunting for good SF.


We end on the positive. It was clear you were writing SF by the second line, and that's a Super Secret! Genre Cue Up Front! Your dialogue was excellent, we always knew who was talking, and there were no silly saidisms, he said dramatically. You even broke a dialogue sentence properly, inserting an action beat which increased dramatic tension. You focused on a scene, keeping it on target, which a vignette must do. And you came full circle with your ending, and gave it an interesting twist. That's satisfying.

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:30 pm

GlibWizard, one other thing I forgot to mention. You had an error in your 250:

As she walked, the dragon hunter walked made small chirping noises and whistles.

Mistakes like this happen when we rework a sentence, and leave artifacts from the old sentence within it. This is why I say to read your stories out loud. Your eyes can be tricked when you proofread, but when you both speak the words and listen to them, errors like this are amplified and you can catch them.

A nice editor will give you a few passes on simple mistakes like this in a short story. Dave is nice, he has said he will overlook a few. But if mistakes like this occur on every page, a story will be swiftly rejected. No editor has the time nor the desire to read through a manuscript laden with textual issues. And in something so short as flash or a 250? It must be flawless because the error has nowhere to hide, no pages of error free writing to negate it out.

For professional writers, the objective is perfect text. Reading your work out loud, as tedious as that may be, will help you catch these errors.

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:17 pm

And that concludes our baseline Kill Your Darlings 250 Exercise submissions!

I do this at the start of the year to examine where each of you are at, and to give you something to focus on in your writing that might be holding you back. It's my way to quickly get eyes on your work, and to give each of you specific counsel. May it help give you an edge to see your name in lights at the top of our TOP GUN Wall of Fame by the end of the year!

ASSIGNMENT:

Select an item from the counsel given that you suspect is a critical issue in your longer work. Ask your writing partner to confirm its validity. Then, write down what you are focusing on, tell your partner or critique circle as well, and post it in your workspace so you don't forget about it. Do not take that note down until your writing partner confirms that you have mastered the issue.

____________________

As your workshop commander, I like to reward excellence in craft when I see it. It's no easy thing to post your work publicly, and to submit to an intense public critique. Well done, challenge beasties! While I enjoyed all of your 250s, one deserves special commendation.

Lieutenant CCrawford, for performing a near perfect 250 maneuver, you are hereby awarded a first two pages review of your Q1, Volume 38 submission to Writers of the Future by Commander Moon. You know how detailed these are. Congratulations on your excellent performance! Please provide it to me before the end of the month.

On another note, the Super Secrets hit 400,000 views today. I've been noting two thousand to three thousand views many days. We have many onlurkers! Make your squadron proud and show them how it's done!

Dismissed!

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

Postby CCrawford » Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:22 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:

Lieutenant CCrawford, for performing a near perfect 250 maneuver, you are hereby awarded a first two pages review of your Q1, Volume 38 submission to Writers of the Future by Commander Moon. You know how detailed these are. Congratulations on your excellent performance! Please provide it to me before the end of the month.


Commander "Beastmaster" Moon



Yay! Thank you!
v35: Q4 - HM
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:51 pm

Thank you, Wulf! All excellent advice. wotf009

I particularly like the title you suggested. "Getting mugged"... and yes, it would have been an excessively long phrase to have written on the mug. ha! ha! ha!

Also your comments on ensuring my sci fi elements are integral to my story were great. I'd totally missed that.

Lastly, I completely agree with your comments about having a likable MC with redeemable qualifies. I read a fantastic story recently where the author nailed this in the first two paragraphs. The MC accidently stood on some flowers and then stepped back off of them so he could apologies to the flowers. Felt like a solid "save the cat" moment. wotf007
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
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(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
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(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Nov 02, 2020 5:25 pm

Henckel wrote:Thank you, Wulf! All excellent advice. wotf009

I particularly like the title you suggested. "Getting mugged"... and yes, it would have been an excessively long phrase to have written on the mug. ha! ha! ha!

Also your comments on ensuring my sci fi elements are integral to my story were great. I'd totally missed that.

Lastly, I completely agree with your comments about having a likable MC with redeemable qualifies. I read a fantastic story recently where the author nailed this in the first two paragraphs. The MC accidently stood on some flowers and then stepped back off of them so he could apologies to the flowers. Felt like a solid "save the cat" moment. wotf007


wotf001

I’ll be posting the assignment on that story tomorrow, actually. Was going to be today but I’ve been outside painting the house before it rains! Or snows!

Complete your first read of “Muzik Man” everyone. Our Super Secrets analysis on it is about to begin!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:40 am

Henckel wrote:Thank you, Wulf! All excellent advice. wotf009
Lastly, I completely agree with your comments about having a likable MC with redeemable qualifies. I read a fantastic story recently where the author nailed this in the first two paragraphs. The MC accidently stood on some flowers and then stepped back off of them so he could apologies to the flowers. Felt like a solid "save the cat" moment. wotf007


Thanks, Christopher! My wife said as soon as Muzik Man did that, she immediately fell in love with him. Note how quickly I created the Reader/Hero bond in that story.

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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:00 pm

Top Gun members, do post your results here as you get them!
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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby CCrawford » Wed Nov 04, 2020 4:36 am

I got a SHM again!

This was a revision of my previous SHM, but I did some deep changes to the story before resubmitting, including changing the opening, clarifying the heart's desire, changing the climax, and adding two whole scenes. My revised version was actually double the length of the original (first version I'd submitted was only just over 3k words). I resubmitted this one instead of one of the new ones I wrote last quarter because I thought it was my strongest story after revising. But still got the same result... So at least I didn't make it worse, I guess?

I've heard some great results for this quarter from others who haven't posted here yet... Congratulations to everyone!!
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM


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