Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

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

Postby chuckt » Sun Jun 16, 2019 3:56 am

250 exactly.

The stars should be blurry streaks. Instead, they twinkled back. The warp bubble had collapsed.

“Lee! What the hell happened?” Allison asked over the comms.

“We’ve dropped out of warp.”

“I’m at the Nomura tank.”

Lee made his way to the tank. The Nomura wouldn’t respond to Allison. Dark colors swirled about its body.
Lee recognized one of the color patterns on its skin. Herd, the Nomura’s own family group. When his people first colonized New Ceres, they were astounded when they discovered the Nomura could manipulate spacetime to travel to breeding grounds on the second planet. They eventually learned how harness this power to drive their ships. This trip was the first test flight out of their system. But this Nomura had dropped them out of warp in the deep of space.

* * *

He wasn’t hungry anymore. The food had been gone for months,

Allison died. It hadn't been pretty. Lee wasn’t going like that. A deliberate engine feedback would do it. He himself into the command chair. Navs were still set for their destination: the Cashus system. He changed the destination to home. New Ceres. A symbolic act without the Nomura.

Lee froze when he felt it. He pushed over to a port and saw. The stars were streaks again.

* * *

“Gods, that’s the Odyssey!” the controller yelled. “Odyssey, Please respond.”

Lee was too weak to answer. He gazed outside. Dusk had almost given way to night and the distant stars brightened and twinkled around his home.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby chuckt » Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:54 am

Pretty sure you were kidding about the Haiku, but just in case. :)

Starship lost in space
Its engine stopped and quiet
Kismet brings it home
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby RSchibler » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:55 am

My word count says 249. I'm fairly certain I lost more than I gained from this exercise, frankly. But I did the work. wotf009

Dying of the Light

It was not a grand death.

The old man stared from Sol Invictus Station toward fading solar brilliance. "That just won't do."

He stepped over prone figures with his blood-splattered cane. They should not have tried to stop him. They'd called the star a dwarf, him a maniac. He'd make it right.

"Grampa Sal," said a small voice. "What will happen first?"

He smiled and lifted Dorah. She understood. Before she'd understood the dream, she understood him. "First, a streak of light, whoosh. Then silence. Then," he whispered, "boom!"

She giggled. Yes, he could see she understood. Something so beautiful should not fade. He typed the final command. Dorah's tiny fist slammed onto the button.

Whoosh.

Silence.

BOOM.


The station shuddered. Protesting waves screamed into emptiness. Dorah cheered. Sal grinned, triumphal tears dripping.

"So fast. Will it reach us?"

"No. We're far away." But as the nova spread, he wondered. Dorah cringed. He drew her closer. He had not wanted her to be afraid.

Matter and light raged toward them. He set Dorah aside and pulled up his calculations. Had he missed something?

No, the shields had failed. Beyond his control.

Dorah whimpered. Tears of a different sort boiled away before they could fall. He'd chosen wrong. Fury befit a star, but she shouldn't have died this way.

It was not a grand death.

He sank to his knees. She toppled into his arms. Together they fell.

Whoosh.

He held her close. "Rage, rage, against the dying..."

Silence.

BOOM.
Trying to refute entropy with words.

Vol34: R, HM, R
Vol35: HM, R, R, HM
Vol36: R, HM, HM, pending

ALWAYS available for critiques. PM me.


https://www.flametreepublishing.com/A-Dying-Planet-Short-Stories-ISBN-9781787557819.html

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

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:24 am

Got my 250 here. Will post critiques on the 500s once I have time. (I did not like this cut. The effort to balance the bones of the story with the poetic prose needed to keep the theme killed my interest in the prose by the end.)

#

Cousin Coyote Meets Mother Torment, 250 word version

Coyote slipped into Mallory’s skin as the man traversed Devil’s Creek. Boots squelched through russet-red clay. Wind sang through tangled catclaw bushes, carrying the honeyed scent of acacia blossoms.

Coyote missed having a body. This was the perfect night for a run.

Mallory shivered. “You’re supposed to ask before entering.”

You’re supposed to invite me on hunts. What are we after?

“Don’t know. Tracks like a bear, but bigger.”

They found the beast at sunrise--twenty hands tall, shoulders broad as a carriage. Patches of fur clung to knotted flesh. One hind leg ended in a ruined stump.

Oh, my. Our friend is being consumed by a pain spirit.

"How do we stop it?"

Allow me. Coyote took control of Mallory’s body and approached the beast. “Noble spirit! Call me Cousin Coyote.”

The bear nodded respectfully. “I am Mother Torment.”

“Why claim this creature?”

“It gave itself over to escape a hunter's trap.”

“You've run your host ragged.”

“How do you keep yours so pristine?”

Coyote preened. “I take a gentler approach. Shared consciousness, touch of light possession.”

Mother Torment growled. “Not the same. This body feels things. Reminds me of being human.”

Coyote shuddered. His own memories of humanity were ancient and weather-worn.

Gods, he wanted to live again.

Mother Torment's eyes blazed. “Join me. We can burn together.”

Coyote shook his head. “It’s an addiction. You’ll want another body, and another...” Even so, he yearned to claim Mallory's body for himself. All it would take was one… simple… push.
Last edited by disgruntledpeony on Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:28 am

[quote="RSchibler"]My word count says 249. I'm fairly certain I lost more than I gained from this exercise, frankly. But I did the work. wotf009

Becky,

It depends on what one was trying to gain.

Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby RSchibler » Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:24 am

Wulf Moon wrote:

Becky,

It depends on what one was trying to gain.

Moon


Of course. My feeling was, though, that cutting to five hundred really focused the story and made it more powerful. This exercise didn’t feel, to me, like it made the story better in the same way.
Trying to refute entropy with words.

Vol34: R, HM, R
Vol35: HM, R, R, HM
Vol36: R, HM, HM, pending

ALWAYS available for critiques. PM me.


https://www.flametreepublishing.com/A-Dying-Planet-Short-Stories-ISBN-9781787557819.html

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:25 am

Just a note: I haven't read any of your 250's yet. Well, except for Chuck's haiku. He did the extra credit that comes at the end of the entire exercise. Give that man a cookie. : )

The exercise is not meant to be pleasant. Nor will it likely deal kindly with your 999 Flash at this point. Becky is correct. Then again, what was the title of the exercise? Title reveals theme. Your title is your haiku, so to speak. It's the concentrated essence, the sample served at the wine bar, of what's inside the bottle. It's truth in advertising, your campaign slogan. Go back and read mine.

Like I said, all will be revealed at the end. But I will give you a tease. This is the method I used in 1996 for my entries in an international flash fiction contest, the first of its kind. The contest was the brain child of Dan Hurley, a writing celebrity known as The 60 Second Novelist. America Online was in its heyday, holding a virtual monopoly on internet chat rooms and social platforms, the genesis of that thing we call social media today. They asked entrepreneurs to submit proposals on ideas to expand their offerings to subscribers. I forget how many submitted their proposals, something under 1000. AOL's think tank accepted ten. The Sixty Second Novelist idea was one of those. Dan Hurley created a new member area in their platforms for writers. And later, a one year contest, where a prompt was given at the start of each week, and a story had to be written on that theme with 250 words or less. At the end of the week, a panel of pro judges selected the first, second, and third place winners. First place winners were collected over the course of the year, and those were judged for the grand prize and the title of Writer of the Year. There were 400-700 entrants *per week* according to their weekly awards' announcements. Many pro writers and editors were in that bunch--the contest was open to all. But in the end, like Highlander, there can only be one. One...out of some 25,000 to 30,000 entries.

The contest was their idea. This method was mine. And I learned far more from the method I developed than how to write 250 word vignettes.

You will too. If you keep doing it.

One thing is for sure. I would never have won the grand prize whittling a story down overnight and turning it in. I spent the entire week working on these, laboring over every word choice, making certain every sentence contributed to the prompt, which always became my theme. My stories were 250 words, no more, no less. And I made sure each of the words I chose to leave in counted, because in that small a space--and to win against 30,000--there is no room for error.

So I am surprised several of you did these overnight. I said you had until Friday. I would have never won week after week, nor the grand prize, had I been so cavalier. : )

Try again. You have until Friday. : )

Oh, and one other thing comes to mind. I have said for your short stories, don't labor and labor over them. Write them, give them a once over and make sure they're clean, and send them out. Don't rewrite them. That's true.

This exercise isn't about that. It's to teach you the skills so that when you do write a story, it will come out of you the right way from the get-go.

<The instructor raises his baton> Again! And this time, with feeling!

Beastmaster Moon
Last edited by Wulf Moon on Sun Jun 16, 2019 2:49 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:06 am

One other thing on my grand prize winner--and this all may sound like myopic navel peering on my part, but it's not. There is a reason for all of this, the *entire* exercise. I've read many of your WotF submissions now. You need this.

I had written and won with quite a few of these 250s in this Flash contest by the time I set about writing what would become my grand prize winner. And I began to wonder: Was it possible to get a reader so emotionally engaged in 250 words that they would cry by the end? I didn't know, but I set that as my challenge, and made a plan as to how I could accomplish this. I thought back on the toughest choice I made in my life, and chose the words that would key up tension and longing until the very last line, when I'd deliver the gut punching conclusion.

To make readers cry, I chose to write a story about a boy who could not cry.

Did it work? You know the answer. Many posted comments that week on how my story wrenched their hearts, that they were writing their comment with tears in their eyes as they typed. Even the judges for that week in their official winners' release said that for making them cry, I had won first place. And at the end of the year, you know what happened.

The knowledge I gained from the exercise not only helped me win the grand prize of that contest, it helped me win another contest years later. Got a guess? Yeah, Writers of the Future. Think about this. When I wrote my winning WotF story, I had 36 hours before the year end deadline. I pulled out a 250 from my drawer--that's right, a 250 in the form of a one page opening titled, "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler." And before I began, I asked myself the very same question I had asked myself twenty-two years before:

How can I make these judges cry ....

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sun Jun 16, 2019 2:59 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Like I said, all will be revealed at the end.


I would like to state, for the record, that I am much better at writing to assignment when I understand the purpose of said assignment beforehand.

Wulf Moon wrote:...I am surprised several of you did these overnight. I said you had until Friday. I would have never won week after week, nor the grand prize, had I been so cavalier. : )

Try again. You have until Friday. : )


I'm sorry, but no. I may have done this overnight, but I wasn't lazy about it. I agonized over those alterations for at least an hour, and none of them were made lightly. I legitimately don't think I can keep the full soul of the story I was trying to tell at 250 words, although I made the effort. There's too much--a historical setting, a speculative element, three characters that are each vitally important in their own way (even if Mallory spends most of the story unconscious), and a theme of tough choices (which I have been trying to match since the 999 version, whether or not I succeeded).

I don't have time to agonize over this exercise for days. I have crit trades to complete, my own Q3 to finish, twin dragons to care for, and real life social obligations to meet. I'm still invested in the idea of fresh stories every quarter this year--which is at the heart of all of this--but if I spend days agonizing over this I won't be able to put in the full effort toward my Q3, and that definitely takes precedence over this exercise.
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, ?

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

Postby RSchibler » Sun Jun 16, 2019 4:27 pm

I'm with Peony on this one. I worked hard for several hours this morning to cut the story down without losing its soul, and produced two different versions. I selected the best of those two and shared it here.

As for rewriting, I have neither the time nor the mental energy to do so. I have a novel to finish, a short story to polish and submit, kids to feed, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I’m swamped!

I took the time that I had and did the best that I could with that. I'm learning a lot from the exercise and giving it all the energy I can spare. And I'm deeply grateful.
Trying to refute entropy with words.

Vol34: R, HM, R
Vol35: HM, R, R, HM
Vol36: R, HM, HM, pending

ALWAYS available for critiques. PM me.


https://www.flametreepublishing.com/A-Dying-Planet-Short-Stories-ISBN-9781787557819.html

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

Postby chuckt » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:23 pm

I took another whack at it. It was a lazy day today. I had time and my plate is full for most of the week. Sadly, I still don't think it works as well as the 500. I like my Haiku better. :)

Lee couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The stars should be blurry streaks. Instead, they twinkled back. Then he realized. The warp bubble had collapsed.

“Lee!” Allison called over the comms. “The Nomura stopped warping. Get down here”

Lee made his way to the tank. He had never seen the Nomura this way. Dark colors swirled about its body.
Lee recognized one pattern: Herd. The Nomura’s family group. When Lee’s people first colonized New Ceres, they were astounded to discover the Nomura could manipulate spacetime to travel to breeding grounds on the second planet. They eventually learned how to harness this power to drive their ships. This trip was to be the first long distance test.

* * *

He wasn’t hungry anymore. The food had been gone for months.

Allison died a few weeks ago. It hadn't been pretty. Lee wasn’t going to go like that. A deliberate engine feedback would do it. He pulled himself into the command chair. Navs were still set for their destination: the Cashus system. He changed the destination to home. New Ceres. A purely symbolic act without the Nomura.

Lee froze when he felt it. He pushed over to a port and saw. The stars were streaks again. The Nomura, he realized, understood far more than they had thought.

* * *

“Gods, that’s the Odyssey!”said the controller. “Odyssey, Please respond.”

Lee, too weak to answer, gazed out. Dusk had almost given way to night and the distant stars brightened and twinkled around his home.
36 R,R,R, Pending

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:11 pm

Liz and Becky, of course you must meet your obligations in life. And I would never keep you from working on your Q3. This was an exercise, no more. Someone that is an advanced writer will draw less from the exercise than those needing more help in the practice of economy of words. I apologize on my response about the speed of your submitting your 250s. The smiley face at the end of the statements was meant to show it was said with good nature and a smile. I'm sorry if that didn't come across. These are your submissions to the exercise, and I thank you for your thoughtful participation in all three phases. I know it is hard work and time consuming--so is my taking the time from my obligations to share this with everyone, and to do critiques for all. : )

To all. We'll talk about the 250s as the week goes on, but I'd like to give other challenge members some time to to work on their 250s and get them in if they wish. As always, it's voluntary. Chuck, thanks for giving it another go. This is the hardest portion of the exercise--I should know, I did all three phases of this exercise just about every week for a year straight and learned much from it. I already shared a couple of the benefits I received in posts above, and there were more.

If you reflect back on the exercise, and its title, you'll recall the purpose: to learn how to kill your darlings. Killing your darlings is painful, as you've discovered. You make tough choices, and as the word count narrows in each exercise, the choices get even harder. Some things you cut away will critically weaken your story, but that's also good to know and be able to recognize. And some of those things you can't stand to cut? Sometimes you'll find a way to keep them in by saying the same thing with less words. If you train with this technique, really exercise your brain through it over a set period of time, you might discover, as did I, something amazing happens.

Your regular writing becomes tight. When you do your second pass, you'll find very little to touch up.

Because you leveled up.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby chuckt » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:26 am

Thanks Wulf. I understand Liz and Becky's angst. Time is tight right now. I may have a little more elbow room because I've got my Q3 in already. We all appreciate your willingness to help and I look forward to your comments.

Frankly, I don't like my 250. I just don't think it has an emotional impact. Maybe I'm wrong. I think everyone's 250 sounds choppy. But I wouldn't know what to do about it.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:24 am

chuckt wrote:Thanks Wulf. I understand Liz and Becky's angst. Time is tight right now. I may have a little more elbow room because I've got my Q3 in already. We all appreciate your willingness to help and I look forward to your comments.

Frankly, I don't like my 250. I just don't think it has an emotional impact. Maybe I'm wrong. I think everyone's 250 sounds choppy. But I wouldn't know what to do about it.


Thanks, Chuck. I do understand that it's crunch time. And I wasn't saying to rewrite the 250s already submitted--I should have been more clear. I was saying let them marinate through the week and think about those word choices so that you can be certain you're sharing your strongest work possible. Sometimes you do find a better way to say something, or a more accurate word choice, after you let the thing sit for a bit. That's what I used to do with these. These 250s are condensed and compact and take much thought, often painful sacrifices too, as you all have discovered.

We learn both through positives, and through negatives. Reshaping or cutting away some lines and words strengthened many of the submitted Flash pieces that went from 999 to 500 words. Cutting away too much--the 250--weakened them, of that I have no doubt. It's a side point of the exercise. A little tightening up can be good for a story (change that to *a lot* of tightening up for most novices). But over-editing can destroy a good story.

But the point of the entire exercise was to practice how to say more, with less. Not the macro, but the micro. If you are still bemoaning that you don't have a frog on the dissection table any longer, stop that! : ) You are missing the point.

Like I said, all will be revealed at the end. This was supposed to be your discovery, not me telling you what to discover. What you get out of the exercise, of course, is entirely up to you.

At the end, I'll sum up what doing these for a year did for me.

This is, after all, *Moon's* Super Secrets. You have your own, and you'll figure others out.

This one's mine.

All the beast,

Beastmaser Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:00 am

BTW, I'm reading for Issue 4 of Future Science Fiction Digest this month. It's a professional SF magazine and submissions are by invitation only. One of you in this SUPER SECRET challenge received an invitation because of the level of work I saw. Congratulations!

Keep writing fresh!

Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby einstein36 » Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:39 am

Sorry I am late to the party, but man, this challenge scrunched my brain up trying to get 250 words, but I did it:)...woohoo...

Star light, Star Bright

Steve Muchin laid on the bare cold floor of the engine room of the spaceship, his life ebbing out of him. Destruction all around him. The glaring red light through the porthole was getting brighter as the ship moved closer to the dying red star.
He touched the screen on his personal assistant as a picture of his wife, Summer, displayed on the screen. He ran his fingers down his wife’s picture. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were going to have our entire lives together.”
A guttural cough came out of him as he used the back of his hand and wiped away the blood seeping out of his mouth. “Damn Shaw-nee. Ever since the failed diplomatic negotiations with them, they have been attacking us. I can hear them roaming the ship looking for our weaknesses.”
He touched his assistant and turned it off. He slowly crawled towards a workstation as he pulled himself up. He typed in a few commands and a female voice started a countdown. He slumped back down and gazed over the engine room until he spotted a chest. He crawled over to it and opened it. He pulled out a beer and popped it open. He touched the screen on his assistant and the picture of his wife displayed.
“I will always love you my darling. Here’s to our son, Mark.” He guzzled down the beer as the last thing he saw the white light of the explosion.

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:12 am

Food for thought I shall leave you with for the day:

"The first law of success is concentration--to bend all of the energies to one point, looking neither to the right nor to the left."--Author William Mathews
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:46 pm

Wow! Catching up on everything. These are great--and some of those 500's really had some awesome punch. Cousin Coyote was a particular favorite, peony. Love the ideas there and I hope you develop that into a larger story. It begs to be written. Very cool.

Well done to you all! You've done more than me!!!! I wanted to do this exercise with everyone but I haven't had a chance (as we're nearing the end of Q3, I put all my efforts there. Summer and four kiddos make writing time extremely short. Usually only in the middle of the night lol.). I do plan to do this exercise after Q3 is done, so if anyone wants to join me on July 1st, I'll be up to exchange. We can tear our seedling stories to pieces together!!! Lol. Anyone?

Latecomers are welcome to exchange some flash with me at that time. Just send me a PM ;)

I will add this. Wulf reached out to me privately last year in late summer/early fall. We exchanged some pieces, talked shop. I was and am still very green with nothing published. At the time, he'd just sold another story and it was obvious he was further along in his journey--but he was still kind enough to encourage, give me a few tips and eventually, some exercises.

My second finalist (Q1) was a story developed while doing this first exercise. And while my Q1 story still wasn't a winner, my goodness, it felt pretty good to hit that mark. Wulf's got a method to his madness lol.

But I think it's good to keep in mind that some exercises aren't the skills we *all* struggle with as much as others. Mileage will vary. My tennis coach didn't have us hit a forehand all day (but she *still* made us hit forehands to keep the skill). She'd hone in on our weak backhands. Ill-timed volleys. Sloppy overheads. Or the day after a cruddy game of serves, she'd point us to the service line to practice so we wouldn't hand over another game by double-faulting. I've been told I'm good at sensory details and world-building...but brevity and plotting are um, not my strengths. This exercise hits on both my weaknesses because there is no time to discover the story. You have to know where you're going before you start... So the first time I did this, I struggled.

Disclaimer: I still struggle with flash. I will struggle with this challenge. Again.

So shout out to everyone working hard here. Life's pretty busy for all in Summer and the fact that you guys are putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, or whatever you use) is awesome. We are doing the work. I think we'll start to see some results.

Best of luck guys. Tighten those prose and get your Q3's in. I just sent mine out for critique. Didn't have the story idea until last week (I realized my other story was, um a novel, and I wasn't sending in a 17k monstrosity if I didn't have time to make sure every bit of it mattered). But I like what I have. Hope you guys are getting a handle on yours :)

We've got this!

Brittany

PS I'll be updating the list again. Don't forget to let me know where you stand so I can put some blood on the cave wall. ;)
Brittany Rainsdon
R-SHM-HM-R-HM-R-F-F-HM-HM

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

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

Postby chuckt » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:54 pm

Thanks Brittany. I put my Q3 in a few days ago. A fresh story.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby RSchibler » Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:04 pm

I just submitted my fresh Q3. I wrote two, picked the strongest, and polished it as long as I could. I'm heading to a conference at the end of June and want to focus on the novel and prep for querying (I HATE synopses), so it was time. Best of luck to all of you still working on your stories. I have one in my email inbox (I haven't forgotten!) that will be getting comments tomorrow. PM me if you'd like a critique.
Trying to refute entropy with words.

Vol34: R, HM, R
Vol35: HM, R, R, HM
Vol36: R, HM, HM, pending

ALWAYS available for critiques. PM me.


https://www.flametreepublishing.com/A-Dying-Planet-Short-Stories-ISBN-9781787557819.html

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

Postby RSchibler » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:13 am

Okay, completed most of my to do list earlier than anticipated. Some weirdo in a black mask messed up my plans, but what are you gonna do?

I took another look at my 500 and literally cut it in half, cleaned up the beginning, and am much happier with it than the other monstrosity I posted. Google Docs shows the word count at 248.

Dying of the Light, vignette

Whoosh.

Silence.

BOOM.


The light was dying, but he'd made it right.

The station shuddered as waves of protest screamed into emptiness. Six-year-old Dorah cheered and clapped. Sal grinned, triumphal tears weaving down wrinkles to drip into her hair. The white blossom burst outward, absorbing planets one by one.

"So fast," Dorah whispered. "Will it reach us, Grampa?"

"No," he patted her hand. "We're far away." But as the nova spread, he wondered. Had he miscalculated? No, he couldn't have. Dorah cringed away from the stunning brilliance, light obscuring all else. Her insubstantial frame shivered and he drew her closer. In this of all moments, he had not wanted her to be afraid.

They began to sweat, the inexorable press of matter and light raging toward them. He set Dorah aside--though she cried now--and pulled up his calculations. Had he missed a step? Slipped a decimal somewhere?

No, the shields had failed. A weakness beyond his control. They should have been far enough away, but there was no one left to pilot the station. He had seen to that.

Dorah whimpered. The temperature climbed past tolerance. He turned, tears of a different sort boiling away before they could drop. He'd chosen wrong. Grandness and fury befit a star, but she shouldn't have died this way.

He sank to his knees, held his arms out. She toppled into them and together they fell to the floor.

Whoosh.

He whispered, holding her close. "Rage, rage, against the dying..."

Silence.

BOOM.
Trying to refute entropy with words.

Vol34: R, HM, R
Vol35: HM, R, R, HM
Vol36: R, HM, HM, pending

ALWAYS available for critiques. PM me.


https://www.flametreepublishing.com/A-Dying-Planet-Short-Stories-ISBN-9781787557819.html

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

Postby chuckt » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:44 am

I do like it! Nice going. In a way, its a rewrite of the scene instead of just cutting words. I should look at mine again and see if I can do the same and tell the story from a different perspective that lends itself to less words.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:36 pm

chuckt wrote:I do like it! Nice going. In a way, its a rewrite of the scene instead of just cutting words. I should look at mine again and see if I can do the same and tell the story from a different perspective that lends itself to less words.


Now you're talking! Now you're getting the point!

And Becky? That last one? That was beautiful.

I'll be jumping in on these soon. But this is a good time to ask a question. What things, if any, have you learned from this exercise? Why did I have you descend into this alleged madness?

I had my reasons. What have you discovered personally?

All the beast,

Beastmaser Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:38 pm

And here's why I've had no time. Just went live today. http://future-sf.com/podcasts/super-dup ... l-podcast/
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Jun 19, 2019 1:05 pm

Here's a micro flash I did today. : )

As You Know, Bob
by Wulf Moon

"As you know, Bob, entering Writers of the Future every quarter not only increases your chances to win, it also teaches you to meet a writing deadline."
"Right you are, Bill! And you'll find the skills you learn writing a story for every quarter are skills you need to become a professional writer. It's win/win!"
"That's correct, Bob. And if you write a *fresh* story each quarter, you will push your skill level even higher."
"Of course, Bill. Why do you think I signed up for Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge?"
"Oh, that's right, Bob. I forgot. You're a WotF Forum member."
"That I am, Bill. And I signed up to write four FRESH stories for each quarter of Volume 36."
"You're a smart man, Bob."
"I'm a smart woman, Bill. And please, would you quit shortening my name? It's Bobbie."
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby chuckt » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:54 pm

Liz's second shot was an inspiration. Here ya go. I think this works better.

The stars twinkled at the ship. Indifferent. They should be streaking by.

Lee and Allison were in the tank room. Lee had his head in his hands. Allison was weeping. No matter what they tried, the Nomura would not re-form the warp bubble. Why had it stopped the ship, Lee had asked himself a million times. This was the first FTL flight with a Nomura out of the system and it appeared to be the last.

* * *

Lee wasn’t hungry anymore. The food had been gone for months.

Allison died a few weeks ago. It hadn't been pretty. Lee felt guilty over the relief he felt when she went. He decided he wasn’t going to go like that. A deliberate engine feedback would do it. He pulled himself into the command chair. Navs were still set for their destination: the Cashus system. He changed the destination to home. New Ceres. A purely symbolic act without the Nomura’s ability to generate the warp field. Then he got ready to initiate the feedback.

Lee froze when he felt it. He pushed over to a port and saw. The stars were streaks again. The Nomura, he realized, was waiting this whole time for the chance to go home.

* * *

“Gods, that’s the Odyssey!”said the controller. “Odyssey, Please respond.”

Lee, too weak to answer, gazed out. Dusk had almost given way to night and the distant stars brightened and twinkled around New Ceres.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby RSchibler » Thu Jun 20, 2019 4:44 am

Chuck - I think you took out some of your strongest lines in this last version. That's what was bothering me about my first try - it was skeletal. And Wulf said HEAD not SKULL.

For instance, the line "He felt a guilty relief when she went silent" sent chills down my spine and is altered enough in this version (and with more words and a double use of the "felt" filter) it doesn't have the same impact.

I also think the "tell" of "was waiting this whole time for the chance to go home" takes away the joy of reader discovery. Personally, I like the 250 you posted second, I think, best of the three. This last is a more complete story, I think, but it's lost the punch.
Trying to refute entropy with words.

Vol34: R, HM, R
Vol35: HM, R, R, HM
Vol36: R, HM, HM, pending

ALWAYS available for critiques. PM me.


https://www.flametreepublishing.com/A-Dying-Planet-Short-Stories-ISBN-9781787557819.html

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

Postby chuckt » Thu Jun 20, 2019 4:50 am

RSchibler wrote:Chuck - I think you took out some of your strongest lines in this last version. That's what was bothering me about my first try - it was skeletal. And Wulf said HEAD not SKULL.

For instance, the line "He felt a guilty relief when she went silent" sent chills down my spine and is altered enough in this version (and with more words and a double use of the "felt" filter) it doesn't have the same impact.

I also think the "tell" of "was waiting this whole time for the chance to go home" takes away the joy of reader discovery. Personally, I like the 250 you posted second, I think, best of the three. This last is a more complete story, I think, but it's lost the punch.


Thanks-I think I'll quit with that then! wotf011 Maybe an example of tinkering too much.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jun 20, 2019 12:10 pm

chuckt wrote:
RSchibler wrote:Chuck - I think you took out some of your strongest lines in this last version. That's what was bothering me about my first try - it was skeletal. And Wulf said HEAD not SKULL.

For instance, the line "He felt a guilty relief when she went silent" sent chills down my spine and is altered enough in this version (and with more words and a double use of the "felt" filter) it doesn't have the same impact.

I also think the "tell" of "was waiting this whole time for the chance to go home" takes away the joy of reader discovery. Personally, I like the 250 you posted second, I think, best of the three. This last is a more complete story, I think, but it's lost the punch.


Thanks-I think I'll quit with that then! wotf011 Maybe an example of tinkering too much.


Chuck, you were next in line on the 250 Phase 3 of this KILL YOUR DARLINGS exercise. Thanks for participating. You gave us three examples. There were some punctation errors in your first. Again, in such a small space, it jumps out. As it will to the keen eyes of the first reader and judge of this contest, even with a much longer work. This is why I say take your time, give it fresh eyes after your eyes are fresh again. We see better after we have backed off for a bit. And that's a tip to everyone entering this contest. You must send your best, and as close to error free as it can possibly be. A couple errors early on and a first reader could believe the entire ms is plagued with them and push reject. Don't let that happen. You do have control over that, at least.

I read Becky's comments after reading all three. Once again, she hits the nail on the head. When we tinker too much, we can destroy instead of enhance. It's like pulling out Jenga pieces. At some point, there's no support, and the whole thing collapses, both in the micro, and in the macro. And by telling instead of showing, you took away the best part of reading, which is filling in the dots ourselves. Instead, you connected the dots for us. When you get a connect the dot puzzle and someone has gone through and connected all the dots, how exciting is that puzzle? But that's the temptation in a 250. It can take less words to tell something than to show something, especially if the concept is complex. Figuring out how to share deep concepts with the reader through showing instead of telling--while using the absolute minimum of words--is challenging to learn, but a mighty skill when mastered.

I also felt your ending weakened over the course of these. I haven't gone back to find the exact reason why. But the final line should hit us like headlights. It should leave us with an emotional gasp. Those are the kind of stories we never forget. This story has the potential to do that, with a little work on how you set up your ending.

Something got stronger in these I need to commend you on, that I don't recall was in the 1000 nor the 500. You actually tell us they're on an experimental mission. These didn't leave us guessing on something like that, and it's vital info to your story. The reader needs to know it, and I would argue they need EXPERIMENTAL SHIP CUE right up by the start. The mystery isn't that they're on an experimental ship, it's why the Nomuras quit doing their thing. Keep your reader focused on that, not on wondering how they got here and what's going on and where are we.

Finally, you will note boiling a story down this far strengthened some concepts, and lost or destroyed others. This part of the exercise teaches both positives and negatives about editing.

Excellent alien concept! I love the way the Nomura communicate, and the idea of being able to travel through their genetic makeup faster than light. Lots to explore here in a bigger work. I've found taking things down to the micro like this often helps you see the macro. It isolates your concept as you bail on everything else.

After critiquing all, I'll go through what each Phase accomplishes. I have to go out of town Friday--sorry, doctor checkup--so it will happen on the weekend. Still curious to see what you guys discovered on your own from the entire process.

Thanks again for sharing!

All the beast!

Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jun 20, 2019 12:14 pm

Also, I said things in this WotF interview to help writers figure out how to write professionally and win this contest. I hope you got a chance to listen. Cheers!

https://m.soundcloud.com/writersofthefu ... ng-back-up
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon


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