Wulf 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 » Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:08 pm

Many thanks again. Yes, I need to learn to be careful with edits. Usually errors creep in when I decide to change things after my nuts and bolts edit and then don't subject the change to additional scrutiny.

The test flight information has been in there. Maybe it got dropped from one of the 250s? But Wulf and Becky are right in all their comments. This has been a great exercise. Thanks for framing it up for us Wulf.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:44 pm

chuckt wrote:Many thanks again. Yes, I need to learn to be careful with edits. Usually errors creep in when I decide to change things after my nuts and bolts edit and then don't subject the change to additional scrutiny.

The test flight information has been in there. Maybe it got dropped from one of the 250s? But Wulf and Becky are right in all their comments. This has been a great exercise. Thanks for framing it up for us Wulf.


Thanks for sharing in it, Chuck! I did this exercise--all three phases-- just about every week for a year. Once a week I'd get the prompt, write out my 999, cut it in half, and then cut that in half again. Then submit my 250 to Dan Hurley's 60 Second Novelist contest by the deadline. This was my system to packing big concepts in such a small space. And I learned much more than how to write 250 word stories from it.

Here's a bit on Dan Hurley. He was an interesting character--still is.

http://danhurley.com/
https://www.wired.com/1995/11/bakel/
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zADQkr_AFXM

Oh, I forgot to mention, your haiku was cool! Dan likened his "60 Second Novels" to haikus of peoples lives. You boiled down the entire essence of your story into that haiku. Very well done! I loved the concept of a death poem a Samurai would compose over the course of his life in the novel Shogun. Think of that, capturing the essence of an entire life in one haiku the warrior would whisper just before his last breath.

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 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:49 am

Wulf Moon wrote: 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?


Well, I noticed in my editing passes of my Q3 entry how I was able to cut easily. It helped me focus my exacto knife on the excess words, because of the focused process of sorting out what IS and ISN'T the story, I think. I ended up cutting way more than ten percent of the manuscript before submitting, something I usually struggle to do. I also suspect it will help the next time I write something fresh.

I appreciate the insight that I can tell a full story in 500 words- which means if I'm writing 4000 I'd darn well better need the 3500 extra ones.

Algis Budrys's book talked about how the *story* is not the *manuscript* - this exercise reflects that too. My little scene with Grampa Sal tells the story in the reader's imagination, but the only thing read is the climax. I know it made the story stronger. I even kinda like my second 250 attempt which is just a flash moment of the story.

wotf009
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM

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 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 1:21 pm

RSchibler wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote: 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?


Well, I noticed in my editing passes of my Q3 entry how I was able to cut easily. It helped me focus my exacto knife on the excess words, because of the focused process of sorting out what IS and ISN'T the story, I think. I ended up cutting way more than ten percent of the manuscript before submitting, something I usually struggle to do. I also suspect it will help the next time I write something fresh.

I appreciate the insight that I can tell a full story in 500 words- which means if I'm writing 4000 I'd darn well better need the 3500 extra ones.

Algis Budrys's book talked about how the *story* is not the *manuscript* - this exercise reflects that too. My little scene with Grampa Sal tells the story in the reader's imagination, but the only thing read is the climax. I know it made the story stronger. I even kinda like my second 250 attempt which is just a flash moment of the story.

wotf009


Wonderful, Becky. If you got all that out of one run with this exercise, imagine what would happen if you did this every week for a year! That's what I did--I'm not saying you or anyone else has to. I did all three phases *most* weeks (life happens) to create the perfect 250 to enter into that Sixty Second Novelist contest.

This exercise is different from simply critiquing your's or another's work. As it scales down, it forces you to concentrate on how to say the same with less. You are composing even as you are taking away. And yes, it forces you to enact more precise and vivid code in your readers' minds, so that you can accomplish more with less.

AJ, Algis Budrys, taught that the story takes place in the reader's mind, NOT on the page. That is a monumental concept, because novice writers don't grasp this at all. It's why they drive you to the story. They believe they've got to tell you everything, or you won't see their vision. News Flash! It's going to be the readers vision anyway--you can't beam your dreamstate into another person's dreamstate. They will visualize off what each word code means to them, within their psyche. You write "big dog," and one person will see a collie, another a German shepherd, another a rottweiller. You define it further and say your big dog is a collie, and one person will see Lassie, another a tri-color. In the end, unless it's a story about a Lassie type of dog, it's probably not important. You trust your reader. You as the writer say, "I'm going to set up the parameters, but have fun, let your brain run with it, I trust you."

You discover other tricks as well. You not only trust your readers to put their own code identifiers to your words, you can trust them to get a sense of your bigger world and issues without actually putting them on the page. The best way I can describe this is with another medium--film. In The Fellowship of the Ring, on the River Anduin you see the Fellowship paddle past the Argonath, those giant stone carvings of the kings of old. Later, where they make camp and the Fellowship breaks apart, they battle around mouldering ruins of an ancient culture. The filmmaker spends no time explaining an ancient empire of men once lived here and their domain has long since crumbled, no, he just scatters some hints of the bigger world and their cultural issues with broken statues and platforms. We get the point. A rich culture once lived here. Civliizations ebb and flow. Peter Jackson deftly shoves visual cues--movie coding--into his viewers minds, without going into the history of Gondor, flashbacks into the kings Isildur and Elendil, or worse, a narrator in voice-over cutting in: "And now our heroes stand in the ancient borders of Gondor, when the world of men had might and glory, but has long since faded away." He trusted his viewers, and we as writers should trust our readers, using minimal coding for maximum thrust.

The exercise, practiced regularly, doesn't simply teach you how to cut, although that is valuable. It teaches you how to code.

I am very happy you understand this. It's why I initiated this exercise. And I believe, if practiced regularly, will take some of you from HMs to Silvers, from Silvers to Semifinalists, from Semifinalists to Finalists---and ultimately to your win.

Aside from entering every quarter, and then entering FRESH stories every quarter, I can think of nothing in my years of writing that had a greater effect on advancing my skills. Indeed, my WotF winner was built in 36 hours from a 250.

It works.

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 Wulf Moon » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:07 pm

RSchibler wrote: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.


We have here Becky's second 250. This is why I said think about these before "submitting" them. As with your WotF entries, being first one entered in the quarter is not as good as being *best one* entered before the end of the quarter. This one is MUCH more powerful than the first 250. Well done, Becky. Minimum words, maximum thrust.

First, before I forget, I did so love this line in the first 250, but you of course had to cut it for this vignette. So it's not in this one, but remember the line if you expand out from here: "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." It's the essence of your story, said succinctly, so it creates great potency. It's your story's promise. Nice!

On this one, to utilize your 250 words better, you cleverly thought of a way to open inside the final moments of your original theme. So the event has already happened--Grampa has done his deed. Also, you've told us before the opening--in your title--that this story will be a tragedy. That's essential in tragedies, and you took care of this rule before you even got into your 250 words. Someone is going to die. We, the readers, have braced ourselves and are prepared. Very smart play there.

"The light was dying, but he'd made it right." It's a good opening. It's short. It's got punch. We'll suspend wondering who this is about for a moment, or what is taking place. It leaves us with questions, and the next couple of lines answer all of them emphatically--as best as can be done in such a short form. You give us six-year old Dora. It's not necessary to know she's blonde-haired, blue-eyed, scarred on her left cheek from chicken pox. Just a young girl, we've got it. And a grandfather with some crazy ideas he has apparently figured out how to implement. We don't even find out he killed the station crew until much later. That does have to be addressed at some point, and you did it with: "...but there was no one left to pilot the station. He had seen to that." That's actually more chilling than the dead bodies everywhere in the original 999 Flash. You found a way to code some approximation to that original scene without even writing it in this one. That's a great secret to have mastery over.

Because you stripped out your opening that was in the original 999 Flash, something else happened here. You got right to the point, down and dirty. This vignette focuses on the primary aspect of the entire story. Grampa's fanatic vision of making this star go out with a bang actually ended the life of his granddaughter. His focused fanaticism blinded him of the risks to what appears to be most precious to him--his granddaughter. Now, it's too late, and in the end, isn't it tragic that his saving a star from inglorious death caused inglorious death to the one he loved most. That stands out much stronger, because you chose to focus on those final moments. It was a choice how you were going to spend your 250 words, and figure out how to hint at other events that had happened but you had no room to include. You chose wisely.

I'm not saying this is a better *story* than your 500. But it's a much stronger scene of their final moments because everything in this piece is concentrated on those final moments. You can feel the vulnerability in this line: "Her insubstantial frame shivered and he drew her closer. In this of all moments, he had not wanted her to be afraid." What you have done is made us feel the intensity of the tragedy because there is little to clutter or distract from this moment.

This is the essence of a good vignette. Get in, get out, last line goes BOOM. Yours did, literally. : )

Finally, I commend you on doing a full circle story, very hard in this small a space. You repeated your opening, but in the end, the exact same lines meant something different. This is a SUPER SECRET I've shared with all of you, and you played it well. Congrats.

Thank you for doing the exercise, and for revisiting your 250. You didn't have to do that, but it's a great example of what our minds can do if we give them a little more time to mull over our choices.

Now I'll tell you what I did with mine after submitting my 250s to that contest. I would expand them back up, but this time, if I wrote it to Flash length, the Flash would be much stronger. Because I had focused intensely on what the story was really about. Building up from that knowledge made strong stories. Many of my 250s became scenes within larger stories, expanded of course, but the essence of the 250 was still in there. The opening of my WotF winner, "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler," is a 250 I had in a drawer that I later expanded when I was in a pinch with 36 hours to go before the year-end deadline closed.

You can make very strong stories from these. Because you made your mind focus intently on the code, what the theme of your story was actually all about, and how you could get that across to your readers with minimum words for maximum thrust.

All the beast,

Wulf 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 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:35 pm

einstein36 wrote: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.


Einstein, thanks for sharing your 250 word vignette. You weren't here for the other phases of the exercise, nor the original signup for the SUPER SECRET challenge, but no worries, I've got you covered on this 250. : )

Title does work for this piece, but it could be stronger. Your title should focus on what the story is really about. In this case, it's a story about a man far from home, saying farewell to what means most to him--his family. I loved the idea of having a last beer before the self-destruct sequence finishes. That's a great personal touch. I would question how a cooler with cold beer got in the engine room--you'd have to address that--but I like the idea.

No saidisms in this story, so that's also good. You can feel his regret as he ran his fingers down the wife's picture--another nice detail.

That said, there's not a lot of new here. We've read and seen a lot of spaceships blown up in movies. So even in a vignette, you have to have an edge. Give us something new and exciting. The last beer idea is new, but aside from that, we need more. And a strong ending punchline, with symbolism or poetic grace. Just a cheap example: The count descended. "Four...three...two..." He popped the top. Man, somebody had really shaken this one up.

Anyway, you've got the idea. Do go back and look over all three phases of the exercise. And focus on the prompt: A Tough Choice. If the tough choice is pushing the self-destruct, there should be a great deal of tension within him as he decides. Make us feel that choice.

Okay, everyone. One more to go, Liz's, and then this exercise is has come to an end. No more new posts to it please--last call was yesterday. Thanks!

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 einstein36 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:48 pm

Thank you...exercises like this really do scrunch my brain up, but in a good way :)…..Like you said, doing these exercises help improve one's writing and comes down to a polished lean mean story with a strong background and characters....
Vol.36(Q3)-R
Vol.36(Q4)-R

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Jun 22, 2019 11:45 pm

disgruntledpeony wrote: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.



So here we are with Liz's cut from 500 words to 250. You chose the same opening--it looks identical to the 500. It's a strong opening, we've already established that. Interesting character, in a vivid unique setting that includes scent, with a problem--Coyote would love to be in a mortal body and go for a run. This is the way stories should open. Both your 999 and your 500 were strong because of this.

This 250, of course, is weaker than the others. Partially, I believe, because you hung on to this strong opening. Giving you less space to develop the story elsewhere. The exercise tests you, and it's hardest at the 250 level. To make a strong vignette, I think you had to actually abandon that nice opening and come up with another, deeper into the story. Like this line:

They found the beast at sunrise.

That's a cool opener. If that was stand alone, nothing else for a first line, I'd read on, just with that opening. And you could take care of the possession issue right after, it's already there, it wouldn't be hard to add just a little to that to let us know the issue--Coyote likes possessing a fleshly body. Also, with the extra space, your theme could be developed a bit more. You've got good dialogue here, but it does read like a pretty fast ping pong session. And because of that, there is no reflective pause before your last line. There's no painful longing as he leaves Mallory's body, so it doesn't have that gut punch at the end you are aware Flash stories need.

So the problem with the 250 is that you tried to hold onto your entire story. But you had half the words to work with, so that can't work. Something's gotta give. And so your ending lost out to save your nice opening. A tough choice. : ) But it weakened this 250.

The exercise from start to finish takes you down to the nails and screws and lumber of a story. As you work with it, since you have less and less property to build your house, you figure out tricks to make it look like a house is behind the facade.You can even come up with magic tricks that make it appear an entire neighborhood, even a world is there, with the most economic play of code. The exercise forces you to do that, and the skills will serve any writer well outside of the exercise--especially when writing to markets with lower word count guidelines.

Anyhow, thank you for participating, Liz. I loved seeing your Coyote world, and your skill in storytelling. I would definitely expand out from either of your prior versions (my kaiju joke) and make this a bigger story. It has much to explore.

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 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:20 am

Many thanks to all that did this Kill Your Darlings: Economy of Words Exercise. I've completed all the critiques now, and enjoyed seeing what each of you came up with as the space you had to work with compressed. I'll write more about the exercise later, but now it's my turn to submit my 250 so you can see what spawned this, twenty-three years ago. This is not how I would do the 250 today--I would hope I have become a much better writer after two decades of practice. But this is the 250 that won first place in the weekly contest, and went on to place in the top 10 for the year the contest ran. It's not my grand prize winner, but it's a good example for this exercise. It's also been published in longer form, so I can spare it here.

Here's an excerpt from the contest results letter. It was originally titled "The Poet." Yeah, I hadn't mastered the potent title trick yet. That came later.

"Secrets" was the theme of Contest #17, and we had over 700 entries telling
it all! Here are the winners!

This week, our members laid bare their deepest, darkest secrets. Over 700
stories and poems about hidden lives and clandestine encounters were entered
in the contest.

There were tales of childhood fears, child abuse, incest and inner torments.
There were spy stories and addiction stories. And there were amusing tales
with surprise endings that left the judges rolling on the floor laughing.
Dwelling in the concealed areas of our lives brought out many painful tales.

The writers rose to the challenge, revealing for all to see those things we
spend our lives covering up. Our three winners, whose works will not remain
hidden in the recesses of the board, did an outstanding job of shedding light
on the subject.


FIRST PLACE -- "The Poet" by Moontrace

This touching remembrance of a successful poet son and his would-be poet
father leaves the reader with pangs of remorse at dreams unfulfilled. The
last line creates a rush of feeling that sets your heart on fire. For
seriously tugging at the judges heartstrings, Moontrace is awarded first
place.


And here is the the 250 word story, as originally written in 1996:

Subj: The Poet
Date: 96-01-20 14:06:14 EST
From: Moontrace

I couldn't tell him. Dad. It was always his dream, you know. He was
top salesman in his company, but it wasn't enough. Just those damnable
sing-songy poems.

When I'd come see him in his office, he'd toss a folder to
me. "Penned some new ones, kid. Read this one."

I'd read the poems, sweating to find something good I could honestly comment on. Then I'd smile,
because, hey, they were from his heart.

As a kid, I remember showing him the pieces I'd written. "It's good
son. But you won't make money with it. Trust me. You'd be a great
salesman. I can get you in."

When the New Yorker took my first poem, it was under a pseudonym. I
never told him. Couldn't tell him. Then the Atlantic. Then a publisher
bought my collection.

I never told him.

And here I was. Sitting by his side, holding his blue veined hand, the
oxygen hissing through pale green tubes at his nose.

"Michael, want you to do something for me."

"Easy Dad. Just sit back."

"Hell with the doctors! Now listen to me, kid."

I sat forward, hoping he'd ease back into the pillows. He didn't.

"All my life, the only thing besides Mother and you kids that meant
something to me were my poems."

"I know Dad."

He coughed furiously. "Take my stuff, kid. Send it out for me."

"I will Dad."

"They were good, weren't they?"

A hot tear coursed down my cheek.

"They were great, Dad."
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 Henckel » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:52 pm

Ooooh my goodness.

I'd love to join in this thread, but there are 28 pages! I just read through 3 and achieved nothing more than having my kids spill their dinner on me, the cat use my leg as a scratching post, and stubbing my wee toe. (ouch).

Anyone out their kind enough to give me an summary? Something about 500 words and a dr pepper? (I love Dr. Pepper)
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – ?

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

Postby chuckt » Mon Jun 24, 2019 2:41 am

Here's a good summary but some of it may not mean much without more explanation. My suggestion is to just look for the words "Super Secret No. ___" and read what Wulf says in that post and skip the surrounding replies. If your'e not clear what he means or want more, then add the replies for more context. It's good stuff.

RSchibler wrote:In case anyone is feeling a tad lost about which Super Secret is which, I have been keeping tabs:


#0: Proper manuscript format for the win.
#1: Enter EVERY quarter. With a fresh story.
#2: DON'T drive to the story
#3: Set the hook!
#4: Pick a major emotion and make your reader FEEL it down to their core!
#5: A story is a PROMISE
#6: Hint in your opening the grand vista of your world
#7: SUPER SECRET SUPER SECRET
#8: Kill "as you know, Bobs" in your story
#9: Open your story with your protagonist.
#10: Make sure your ending pays the reader a JACKPOT on your opening promise.
#11: Follow submission guidelines
#12: MAGIC UP FRONT!
#13: DON'T OVEREDIT
#14: Do not overthink your story!
#15: Open your story with 1. A CHARACTER, 2. in a SETTING, 3. with a PROBLEM
#16: Read your story out loud.
#17: Know thy judge!
#18: Start your *#&$^ hero's quest! We're on the clock!
#19: Mock-up your story!
#20: Employ the 7 Point Plot model
#21: Take your reader on a deep emotional journey.
#22: THINGS GET WORSE!
#23: READ!
#24: Study your judge!
#25: Avoid first person for WotF
#26: Find your wise reader. Preferably, someone with more pro sales than you.
#27: SUPER SECRET SUPER SECRET
#28: YOU MUST WRITE
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby SCAFontaine » Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:18 am

I'm in for Q3. Just sent it in, a fresh one.

I've been absent from the forum all of June (focusing on edits on my novel) and missed out on the awesome flash piece assignment, but it sounds like it helped.
I'll be sure to jump in on that next time!
3 x HM

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:28 pm

Congrats on subbing your Q3 and writing a fresh one, SCAFontaine! Henckel, I saw elsewhere you got yours in as well. That's how it's done, time after time like clockwork, until you win.

Less than a week now to submit to Q3, challenge beasties! You can't win if you aren't in. You have time, so make your time count!

BE SURE to go in now and take your name off everything, including headers and check your Properties too. Your filename as well. Nothing that reveals your name, because that can and will disqualify you. And you'll never know you forgot, you'll just get a reject.

Pity.

Don't be THAT guy! You are SUPER SECRET Challenge BEASTS!

Someone in this group is about to win. I predicted a couple of you at the start of the challenge would win before the end of the contest year. Believe...do the work...and make it so.

I'm rooting for all of you. And all of you challenge members have now gotten a chance to get a critique from me, because even if you didn't get an invite, everyone had the opportunity to submit to the Flash exercise if they had wanted to. May it help as you complete your Q3s and get them sent in.

I'll be writing up the SUPER SECRET on the Flash exercise soon. I have another podcast to finish for Future Science Fiction Digest. Deadlines.

Make yours!

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 24, 2019 6:43 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:BE SURE to go in now and take your name off everything, including headers and check your Properties too. Your filename as well. Nothing that reveals your name, because that can and will disqualify you. And you'll never know you forgot, you'll just get a reject.

Pity.

Don't be THAT guy! You are SUPER SECRET Challenge BEASTS!


Oh Crap!

(No, I didn't.) But you made me double-check. wotf004
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Henckel » Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:38 pm

chuckt wrote:Here's a good summary but some of it may not mean much without more explanation. My suggestion is to just look for the words "Super Secret No. ___" and read what Wulf says in that post and skip the surrounding replies. If your'e not clear what he means or want more, then add the replies for more context. It's good stuff.
[/quote]

Cool. Thanks for that. Searching for these posts will be a heck of a lot easier than slogging through every post on 28 pages Ha! Ha!
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(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:56 pm

Henckel wrote:
chuckt wrote:Here's a good summary but some of it may not mean much without more explanation. My suggestion is to just look for the words "Super Secret No. ___" and read what Wulf says in that post and skip the surrounding replies. If your'e not clear what he means or want more, then add the replies for more context. It's good stuff.


Cool. Thanks for that. Searching for these posts will be a heck of a lot easier than slogging through every post on 28 pages Ha! Ha![/quote]

It would be a good idea to put page numbers after each SUPER SECRET, so one could find where it was posted and the info I shared on it more quickly. If only we were so organized. : )

But if you're trying to follow the Flash exercises and what they're about, I initiated the KILL YOUR DARLINGS: The Economy of Words Flash Exercise on p.22, posted June 1, 2019. And they end here on p. 28. I'll make a SUPER SECRET encapsulating the exercise this week.

I hope that helps.

Cheers!
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 Henckel » Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:40 am

That would be sooooo helpful.
I'll have to check tomorrow. Got a cold and need to sllllleeeeep.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby chuckt » Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:41 am

Wulf Moon wrote:check your Properties too.


What do you mean by this Wulf? I am sure that if you look in the metadata of the file, you could see my name. Is that disqualifying? I've seen no mention of that. I never thought of trying to figure out how to get that off.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby disgruntledpeony » Tue Jun 25, 2019 6:48 am

chuckt wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:check your Properties too.


What do you mean by this Wulf? I am sure that if you look in the metadata of the file, you could see my name. Is that disqualifying? I've seen no mention of that. I never thought of trying to figure out how to get that off.

There's a way to remove that metadata. I'm not sure it's actually disqualifying, but I always clear it just to be safe.
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 » Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:43 am

disgruntledpeony wrote:
chuckt wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:check your Properties too.


What do you mean by this Wulf? I am sure that if you look in the metadata of the file, you could see my name. Is that disqualifying? I've seen no mention of that. I never thought of trying to figure out how to get that off.

There's a way to remove that metadata. I'm not sure it's actually disqualifying, but I always clear it just to be safe.


What Liz said. It's unlikely they will look there, but blind means blind. Scour your name off your manuscript and your file and your metadata. You can go to Properties in Word and change that, and I use a feature that Word offers when you save the file that searches for hidden data. You have to be careful with that feature, however. It will clean your headers and footers out, and you don't want to lose--ahem--your title and page number on each page. And this is the number one place one could mess up. Headers on subsequent pages from the title page look like this: Moon/ Super-Duper/ 2, Moon/ Super-Duper/ 3, and so on. It's really easy to forget to clean your name out of the headers.

Everyone should build a checklist they physically check off before submitting. This should be on the list.

Also, this is why I warn everyone not to be in a hurry to be early in. Often, letting a ms sit for a bit and looking at it with fresh eyes uncovers errors you were blind to before. Or, new information comes up during the quarter, like the fact that novice writers tend to start their stories with a wake-up scene. Or the bit we did on saidisms. Sometimes we can tweak our stories and pull some weeds to give them a better chance.

IF we know how to identify the weeds. wotf001

I've given you a chart to help. Actually, I think Becky made that chart. Thanks, Becky!

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 AjZach » Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:39 am

Submitted to Q3 with a fresh story

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

Postby Henckel » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:46 pm

For those of us not based in the USA, remember to change your document size and margins to US letter set the margins to 1 inch. If your settings are metric, then set to 2.5 cm.
Does this really matter? Na. Not unless you've got serious OCDs like me.


... Oh, but what does matter is spelling and termanoly. There are a lot of differences between usa English and UK English. Most of these, Ms word can identify for you. But then consider termanology. Ask someone from NZ what football is and they'll talk about soccer.... Order a lemonade in AU and they'll give you a sprite or 7up.... Order buskits and gravy for breakfast in UK and you might find yourself eating a chocolate chip cookie with goo on top. ..... (yes, my life is one continuous cultural conundrum after another.... It's a gift)
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
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(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:33 am

Henckel wrote:For those of us not based in the USA, remember to change your document size and margins to US letter set the margins to 1 inch. If your settings are metric, then set to 2.5 cm.
Does this really matter? Na. Not unless you've got serious OCDs like me.


... Oh, but what does matter is spelling and termanoly. There are a lot of differences between usa English and UK English. Most of these, Ms word can identify for you. But then consider termanology. Ask someone from NZ what football is and they'll talk about soccer.... Order a lemonade in AU and they'll give you a sprite or 7up.... Order buskits and gravy for breakfast in UK and you might find yourself eating a chocolate chip cookie with goo on top. ..... (yes, my life is one continuous cultural conundrum after another.... It's a gift)


All you have to do is flush your toilet and know everything is backwards where you live, Henckel. wotf001

Or are WE the ones backward....

Let's agree that the only sane people live Hubward, where everything is right as rain, no, left as rain, no, straight as rain.
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 Henckel » Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:21 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:
Let's agree that the only sane people live Hubward, where everything is right as rain, no, left as rain, no, straight as rain.



Who are you, that is so wise in the ways of science? wotf009
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – ?

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Jun 26, 2019 3:54 pm

Henckel wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:
Let's agree that the only sane people live Hubward, where everything is right as rain, no, left as rain, no, straight as rain.



Who are you, that is so wise in the ways of science? wotf009


A student of Terry Pratchett. wotf001
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 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 5:21 am

Great job on reading SDMG. I listened to it on the way home last night and finished it this morning on the way in. Frankly, I had doubts your voice could pull off a 12 year old girl wotf001 but you did it! The emotion at the end was particularly well done. wotf009

Are you guys gonna get your stuff on the podcast apps? I think that would help get it out there.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby LittleRed » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:44 am

Q3 entry in with new story.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby disgruntledpeony » Thu Jun 27, 2019 10:27 am

In with a fresh story on 6/27.
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 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:20 pm

chuckt wrote:Great job on reading SDMG. I listened to it on the way home last night and finished it this morning on the way in. Frankly, I had doubts your voice could pull off a 12 year old girl wotf001 but you did it! The emotion at the end was particularly well done. wotf009

Are you guys gonna get your stuff on the podcast apps? I think that would help get it out there.


As to Future-SF.com, if you're talking about Stitcher and Apple and such, I know some of these pick up off our RSS feed, but it takes a few days for their bots to recognize. I think others require our subscribing to their services, and we'd need to set up a Patreon to help support that. Remember, this is Future Science Fiction Digest's first year.

As to WotF, they have done audiobooks for WotF volumes. Just not ours for some reason. Audiobooks are very expensive to create--the going flat rate is $235 pfh (per finished hour). To recoup the production costs, you need to sell them in places like Audible. And to sell in Audible, you need to hire ACX certified narrators. So it's not cost-effective to produce these as audio stories to give away on a free platform. However, I think one as a sampler would be a very smart idea--assuming you had the audiobook to sell to that customer. Audiobook listeners tend to stick to audiobooks for their purchasing--little crossover.

As to whether or not I could read a story in the narrative voice of a twelve-year-old girl, yeah, I have a deep voice. Frankly, I worried about it too. But while at the Writers of the Future workshop, Scott Card talked about vocal methods for reading our work at Cons. He said a guy doesn't need to make up a woman's voice and speak in falsetto, he just needs to soften his reading and lower the volume a bit. You are suggesting the idea rather than creating the actual thing. I went up and thanked him after class, told him I'm a narrator, and said I would apply his advice. He was very kind and said, "Glad to help."

What he didn't know is that one way or another, I intended to be the one to narrate the podcast of this story, and he had just illuminated for me the way to make it work.

Glad you enjoyed. And John Goodwin posted that he hoped everyone would get a chance to listen to it, so here is the link again. Always happy if you wish to leave a comment there on the site. Cheers!

https://future-sf.com/podcasts/super-du ... 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 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:31 pm

And before I post the SUPER SECRET on the Flash exercises, can anyone identify what critical element was missing in my winning 250 that was in both the 500 and the 999?

Remember, the 250 was from 1996. After creating the 250 using the methods from this exercise, I came to see an essential element the story needed. When I expanded it back up into a Flash piece published in The Rose and Thorn, the expanded version had it in it. What was it? And why is it important?

Cheers!
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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