Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
Peter Glen
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Peter Glen » Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:37 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Congratulations on being a semi-finalist in the first quarter of 2015. The competition was tough, and your story had a lot to offer.
On the level of worldbuilding and writing alone, this was one of the strongest stories in the quarter—perhaps the very strongest. I so wanted to make it a finalist....


thanks for sharing ... feedback like this would fill the tank for me for at least ten years worth of writing!
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:35 am

Peter Glen wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:Congratulations on being a semi-finalist in the first quarter of 2015. The competition was tough, and your story had a lot to offer.
On the level of worldbuilding and writing alone, this was one of the strongest stories in the quarter—perhaps the very strongest. I so wanted to make it a finalist....


thanks for sharing ... feedback like this would fill the tank for me for at least ten years worth of writing!


You're welcome. Like I've said: there are unsung blessings of this contest. The Forum is one of them. The certificates are another. But next to winning, being a semifinalist is the best of all, because you get a critique from an NYT bestelling author on your work. Where else can a novice writer get such a thing without paying a lot of money? You can use the advice to find your weak spot, retool your story, and bring it up to a professional level where it can sell to professional markets. And yes, when you get a critique like that, it makes you realize how close you were to winning, and in a quarter where 2000 plus writers from around the world are submitting their best work, to be told your arrow hit that close to the bullseye makes you want to get back in line to fire off your next shot in the tournament. It tells you that you can win this...if you don't give up.

I firmly believe there is no better place for aspiring spec fic writers to be than in this Forum and entering this contest. The benefits are immense. Whether or not you win WotF. And those critiques from David Farland are worth their weight in gold.

I'll say this to all. Even winning one HM is a wonderful thing. It's a sign. The best aspiring writers in science fiction and fantasy are sending their best into this contest. When you get a certificate, your work is placing among the best in the world. Some of these writers are one professional sale away from pro'ing out, and some come from famous writing workshops! Like I was before I won! You guys were placing right along with me! The circle you are placing in is filled with sharpshooters! When you get a sign like that, you don't stop, you keep going. This is the Olympics of science fiction and fantasy, and each quarter is like a tryout for qualification. Keep collecting those certificates--they prove you were in the finals. And keep striving for the greater certificates--they prove how close you are to winning a gold medal, a silver, a bronze.

Ever watch the skiers in the Winter Olympics? They are winning by FRACTIONS of a second against the other competitors. Those that lose are still GREAT skiers--a slice here, a tuck there, and they would have been on the stage with a medal around their neck. This is why I say you have to learn all you can, write fresh, and turn in your best work, checking off all the things in your story those judges are going to grade you by. It's why I've said don't be first to turn in your stories. You might learn one critical element during the last month of the quarter that could get you that quarter second advantage on the slope that will win you a medal. In that final tier, Dave's work is very hard. They are all good stories. The winners need to be darn near perfect.

Keep perfecting your craft. Keep working toward the higher certificates. When you start getting those, you know your writing was within fractions of placing you on that stage. It is the sign you are creating professional work. You can sell professional work. Here, or somewhere else.

It is a worthy goal.

All the beast!

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

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

Postby LDWriter2 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:26 pm

Hmm, the deep emotional journey might be one of my problems. Certain people around here can tell you other problems, I always seem to forget one or three techniques I know. I work at the emotion as I see pros do, but how deep it goes is another matter.
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:50 am

LDWriter2 wrote:Hmm, the deep emotional journey might be one of my problems. Certain people around here can tell you other problems, I always seem to forget one or three techniques I know. I work at the emotion as I see pros do, but how deep it goes is another matter.


Did you get Don Maas' book THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION? It's deep, but it sounds like you need to go deep. There's exercises as well. Could be just the study you need to take your writing to the next level. In all stories, we have to care for the protagonist, deeply. That means that, though flawed, we identify with them, not just on an intellectual level, but an emotional one as well. Dave Farland talked about this. We have to like the main character. We have to care.

The writer's job is to make us care.

I highly recommend Don's book.

Best,

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

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

Postby LDWriter2 » Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:16 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:
LDWriter2 wrote:Hmm, the deep emotional journey might be one of my problems. Certain people around here can tell you other problems, I always seem to forget one or three techniques I know. I work at the emotion as I see pros do, but how deep it goes is another matter.


Did you get Don Maas' book THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION? It's deep, but it sounds like you need to go deep. There's exercises as well. Could be just the study you need to take your writing to the next level. In all stories, we have to care for the protagonist, deeply. That means that, though flawed, we identify with them, not just on an intellectual level, but an emotional one as well. Dave Farland talked about this. We have to like the main character. We have to care.

The writer's job is to make us care.

I highly recommend Don's book.

Best,

Moon



Not sure if I have ever seen it, probably heard about it here though.
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:58 am

And now I can tell you why I've been lax in posting SUPER SECRETS lately. I've been <gasp> writing them for someone else! Yes, I've been invited by an editor to share the knowledge of HOW I GOT PUBLISHED, AND WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY. This just happens to be the title of an anthology from Camden Park Press coming out this October! I just signed the contract yesterday. My essay is titled, "Never Let Go." I discuss a different angle I took to submitting to the markets two years ago that changed EVERYTHING for me. And of course I talk about the benefits of Writers of the Future for aspiring writers, and about this forum, and even about you guys here in Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! You're famous! Or infamous. Either way, YOU'RE SOMEBODY. : )

I'll let you know when the trade paperback and ebook are released next month. The editor said in her acceptance letter the things I wrote are just the things new writers need. Of course, I'll be back here with new Super Secrets soon. I promised you some good ones if you held on. They are coming! We are at the end of all things! Well, at least the end of this particular challenge. What did writing four FRESH ORIGINAL STORIES do for your skills this contest year? Will there be another challenge next year? Stay tuned!

Finally, my high seas adventure, "Weep No More for the Willow," debuts in DEEP MAGIC magazine today. This story was one of my semfinalists from Writers of the Future, and I attribute Dave's critique that came with the notification as the chief reason I sold this story. Want to see what he liked about it? You can pick up an issue for three bucks at Amazon if you're interested. I hope this encourages you to keep sending those stories you wrote for WotF out into the marketplace!

https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Magic-Fall- ... 317&sr=8-1

Less than three weeks away from the end of the contest year! Don't miss the deadline. And stay tuned for our grand SUPER SECRETS finale!

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

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

Postby storysinger » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:22 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Less than three weeks away from the end of the contest year! Don't miss the deadline.


Not gonna happen as long as my lungs keep pumping. wotf007
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HM-V36/Q4
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby AlexH » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:56 pm

Nice work, Wulf. As I was catching up on the Super Secrets a few days ago, I thought "this is going to be an e-book, at the very least."

Deep Magic isn't on Kobo, but I'll definitely get around to reading it soon.
35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM ?

Probably free for critique swaps, but double-check in case I'm away.

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:13 pm

AlexH wrote:Nice work, Wulf. As I was catching up on the Super Secrets a few days ago, I thought "this is going to be an e-book, at the very least."

Deep Magic isn't on Kobo, but I'll definitely get around to reading it soon.


Thanks for your kind words about the SUPER SECRETS, Alex. It's not an impossibility on that e-book thought. : )

I just collected up all my comments on the Kill Your Darlings Exercise, which will be SUPER SECRETS #33.

YIKES! 11,831 WORDS!!! Just on my direct comments on the topic, not even the critiques. Well, a lot went on in that exercise. How can I boil 11,000 down to 1,000? I guess that was kind of the point of doing the exercise. Just so you all know, I knew there was a huge amount of commentary on this point, why it's taken me so long to collect it all to boil down. And this isn't the only project I have going on.

My apologies. I have promised and I shall deliver!

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

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:04 am

John Goodwin, president of Author Services, set up an interview for me to talk about Writers of the Future on the BlogTalk show "Chatting with Sherri" this past January. My interview had over 45,000 live listens and downloads. Sherri's listeners continue to climb--she just had two programs in the past few weeks that hit over one million!

Me, I'll just be happy with one more listener--you! Come join the chat with Sherri on Tuesday, September 24th, at 1 pm Pacific Daylight Time.

BUT BEWARE! John asked me to remind everyone to get their stories in because they'll have LESS THAN ONE WEEK by the time this interview happens. And of course, for our SUPER SECRET Challenge members, this is the home stretch. Congratulations to all those that took the challenge and created FOUR FRESH STORIES this contest year! Or THREE FRESH STORIES if you took the 3/4 challenge. Even if they don't win (but I hope they do!), you have new, original works to send out to the markets, and that's always a good thing. As we say in sales, you can't sell from an empty wagon. Congratulations on increasing your product line with your new inventions! : )

I still have more secrets for you. If you've held off submitting that Q4, they are still coming. Might still be something in here that can help!

Here's the link to the chat. I hope you'll have a chance to tune in or download. I always throw in tips in my interviews--what's been working for me--and we always have fun! I'll probably talk about you guys at some point! Cheers!

https://www.blogtalkradio.com/rithebard ... ulf-moon-1
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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

Postby storysinger » Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:24 pm

That's cool stuff Wulf. I'll do my best to support your endeavors. My Q4 is close to completion and It will fulfill the challenge you set before me. Thanks for the help.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby JVAshley » Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:09 am

Soooo, close to getting my 4 fresh stories in in 4 quarters.
Thank you for upping the ante on the 4 in 4 Challenge, Wulf. It has helped move my writing process up a notch. wotf009
~ writing about the ethereal beauty of broken things ~

1x SF | 3x HM | 4x R

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

Postby CCrawford » Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:09 am

Wulf Moon wrote: Congratulations to all those that took the challenge and created FOUR FRESH STORIES this contest year! Or THREE FRESH STORIES if you took the 3/4 challenge. Even if they don't win (but I hope they do!), you have new, original works to send out to the markets, and that's always a good thing. As we say in sales, you can't sell from an empty wagon. Congratulations on increasing your product line with your new inventions! : )

I still have more secrets for you. If you've held off submitting that Q4, they are still coming. Might still be something in here that can help!



I didn't find this board in time to officially be part of the challenge, but I was doing it anyway -- I've submitted a fresh story each quarter and am working on editing the new on for Q4. Thank you for this challenge... since I found this several weeks ago, I've been following your tips (all except the secret ones for challenge members) and they've been helpful! I'm totally a lurker (sorry!) but I appreciate all the help and advice you've been giving!
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, ??

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:34 pm

CCrawford wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote: Congratulations to all those that took the challenge and created FOUR FRESH STORIES this contest year! Or THREE FRESH STORIES if you took the 3/4 challenge. Even if they don't win (but I hope they do!), you have new, original works to send out to the markets, and that's always a good thing. As we say in sales, you can't sell from an empty wagon. Congratulations on increasing your product line with your new inventions! : )

I still have more secrets for you. If you've held off submitting that Q4, they are still coming. Might still be something in here that can help!



I didn't find this board in time to officially be part of the challenge, but I was doing it anyway -- I've submitted a fresh story each quarter and am working on editing the new on for Q4. Thank you for this challenge... since I found this several weeks ago, I've been following your tips (all except the secret ones for challenge members) and they've been helpful! I'm totally a lurker (sorry!) but I appreciate all the help and advice you've been giving!


Thank you Storysinger, Julia Ashley, and CCrawford. It means a lot to me, and I thank you for your kind words. Writing all the SUPER SECRET posts, doing the exercises with the members, and critiquing stories behind the scenes each quarter for the challenge members has taken a tremendous amount of my time. My wife knows how much time and keeps telling me, "Why are you doing this? You have your own writing to work on." She's right. I do. And she's a good wife, trying to protect me. But you know what my answer to her always is? "I just don't feel it's right to walk away from the contest without helping the others. People always talk about once they're at the top, they'll pay it forward. Why can't we pay it now? We all have something that can help somebody else. I think I can help some of them with what I know now." And guess what? Many have written publicly and many more privately, what you, CCrawford and the others, just wrote, saying how much this challenge has helped them, even if they aren't a member. One even told me their story wouldn't have earned finalist were it not for this challenge and the tips shared. That warms my heart. Time is precious, so is hard won knowledge, and knowing my labors have not been in vain for some have made the sacrifice all worthwhile.

My wife keeps asking me, "Are you going to keep doing this? You have to finish the novel. You promised it to Don." (Don Maass, who repped me in the past and wants my current work-in-progress). Well, she's right about that, too. She's looking out for me. And my answer to her is, "I haven't decided yet."

Because I know the next level my SUPER SECRET challenge needs to take for the next contest year. And some aren't going to like it. Not at all. But I know it's where we all need to be, and then some. The thing is, this challenge has been voluntary. Following any advice I give is entirely up to you. I have never said this is the only path, and anyone that's actually been a part of this challenge knows this. You take the challenge, you liked the idea, and wanted a little accountability to help you reach a goal. Nobody forced you to join. And just maybe, like those above, you like the fact that you have three or four fresh stories from the contest year, and perhaps you wouldn't have written those without this challenge. That, too, makes me happy.

So here's a secret John Goodwin told me, president of Author Services. I respect his opinion--he's watched a lot of new writers go through his doors, and he knows the ones that have made it after the contest is over and all the applause and accolades die down. John told me to become a professional career writer, you have to write full-time. Period. You see bestselling authors putting out two or three books a year? Or those massive tomes that are still the equivalent of a couple books a year? How do they do that? They write full-time, and a chapter a week is nothing for them.

Well, it's not likely most aspiring writers are at that level yet. Most of us have no way to support ourselves and our families if we "gave up the day job" and said "I'm a writer and I'm going to write full-time now!" Myself included--real life has real bills. But if it's our desire to become a professional writer, writing full-time should be our destination. To get there, we need to keep leveling up. And that means upping our game, creating more time to write and then writing during that time. And yes, we need to be creating fresh stories, and I will continue to promote that in this challenge, because I know it works.

So here's the deal. If I do this for the Volume 37 year starting October 1st, I'm going to up the challenge. I'm assuming less will join, which might give me more opportunities to critique one story from each member over the course of the year. If you join the challenge, it means you like what I've been saying so far, and would like to hear more. If you don't like it, please don't join. Please don't post "I'm out" or such things. I'm only polling to see who wants in. And this will be harder, so I'm giving you some time to think about it.

I'd be looking for ten members that believe they would benefit from writing two fresh stories each quarter for the Volume 37 year. The challenge will require those stories to be 3,000 words or longer. I have nothing against flash--I've won some great contests with flash--but this is a challenge meant to push one's abilities toward that goal of one day writing full time, if we aren't already doing so. If you join, it's because you like what we're doing here, are volunteering for a little extra push, and you want to cheer the other members on in reaching their challenge goal.

You can let me know here, or in private message. And then I'll decide whether to go ahead with another challenge.

So....the challenge would be to write TWO fresh stories each quarter, 3000 words or more. You can pick one of the two to submit to the contest, or submit something else in your inventory you've been working on, I don't care. The point of this challenge is to write more fresh original stories--double what we did for Volume 36, but no commitment to submit a fresh story this time (but you'll have at least two new stories to choose from each quarter!)

Again, I'm only interested in who's in. And then I'll make my decision.

All the beast,

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

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

Postby Retropianoplayer » Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:13 pm

Count me in.

Permission to come aboard the USS. WULF MOON, Captain?

Captain's Star Date 092119 - WOTF winner Wulf Moon has requested ten recruits to join him – his one-year mission to ensure two fresh stories each successive quarter of the 37th Anthology Year. It is my belief Wulf is realizing the greatest emotional satisfaction known to humans – to feel appreciated.
It is one of the greatest attributes of self-sacrifice to do this when we all know in this day and age of endless bills, and life's trials and tribulations, time is a huge and limiting constraint.

All the best,

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

Postby TimE » Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:31 am

My entries to Q1,2 & 3 were all new. R, R and I’m expecting another R. At the moment, there’s no chance I could write 2 a quarter – which isn’t that big an ask. I really liked my Q2, my critiquers really liked my Q2, September C.Fawkes didn’t offer much criticism for the sample of it she read but WotF rejected it. I was going to go back to crime writing, but quickly remembered most crime books bore me to read. I’ve been reading scifi and fantasy and enjoying them. I have a few ideas but none seem good enough. None compare to Mara’s Shadow or Poseidon’s Eyes. I want every entry to be better than the last entry, but not knowing why entries are rejected – I can’t get past rejecting my own ideas at the moment. I’ve reached a full stop in writing and it’s probably the case that the longer I go without writing, the less likely I am to return – but then I’m enjoying reading loads. Come to think of it - I started writing Crime because I thought so much of it was poor and I could do better. Can't say that about the Scifi and Fantasy I'm reading. mmm.. yeah. A good thing about not writing is a get more reading done.
Some HMs More Rs - I keep thinking I'm getting closer, but perhaps not.
CWA-Debut Dagger shortlist. https://thecwa.co.uk/colours/ (Still trying to find my genre - but perhaps it's scifi - and perhaps it's not)

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

Postby zeeteebeez » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:46 am

TimE wrote:My entries to Q1,2 & 3 were all new. R, R and I’m expecting another R. At the moment, there’s no chance I could write 2 a quarter – which isn’t that big an ask. I really liked my Q2, my critiquers really liked my Q2, September C.Fawkes didn’t offer much criticism for the sample of it she read but WotF rejected it. I was going to go back to crime writing, but quickly remembered most crime books bore me to read. I’ve been reading scifi and fantasy and enjoying them. I have a few ideas but none seem good enough. None compare to Mara’s Shadow or Poseidon’s Eyes. I want every entry to be better than the last entry, but not knowing why entries are rejected – I can’t get past rejecting my own ideas at the moment. I’ve reached a full stop in writing and it’s probably the case that the longer I go without writing, the less likely I am to return – but then I’m enjoying reading loads. Come to think of it - I started writing Crime because I thought so much of it was poor and I could do better. Can't say that about the Scifi and Fantasy I'm reading. mmm.. yeah. A good thing about not writing is a get more reading done.


There are uncountable reasons a story could receive an R. Maybe you’ve forgotten to take your name out. Maybe the sff element isn’t present enough. Maybe it starts too slow, a conflict not being introduced quickly enough. Etc. etc.

The good news is that it’s all about the beginnings. I know this challenge thread is all about new, fresh stories, but I might suggest giving your beginnings a spruce up and resubmitting, rather than quitting. Most of my R’s have been modified into HM’s, but that’s where I stop. I think there’s value in trying to fix an R, but less value in trying to make an HM anything more than that. Time better spent on a new story.

But, as I said, if you’re at a point where writing isn’t happening, just take a look at your opening. Read every opening in the latest wotf volume, take notes, then refresh the opening of your favorite story you’ve already written. Remember to start it with a hook, ideally something that triggers big emotion in the reader, and bring the speculative element right up to the beginning. If you’ve intrigued the first reader, and they want to know more, you’ll get an HM.
Z.T.

6x HM

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

Postby TimE » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:19 am

Thanks Z.T.
My first 4 or 5 entries had all been placed in comps on the Writer's site Scribophile - all got R's in here. One was placed when Anton's Rose story wasn't - Anton has won WotF with one of his Scrib winning stories. So hopefully, they have hooks etc.
But it's that uncountable reasons that's the problem. I've read and re-read the WotF annuals I have - and the stories vary enormously. It seems my variations are misses.
Emotion is something I should do more with. But at the moment my interest in writing is waning,
Some HMs More Rs - I keep thinking I'm getting closer, but perhaps not.
CWA-Debut Dagger shortlist. https://thecwa.co.uk/colours/ (Still trying to find my genre - but perhaps it's scifi - and perhaps it's not)

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

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:17 am

TimE wrote:Thanks Z.T.
My first 4 or 5 entries had all been placed in comps on the Writer's site Scribophile - all got R's in here. One was placed when Anton's Rose story wasn't - Anton has won WotF with one of his Scrib winning stories. So hopefully, they have hooks etc.
But it's that uncountable reasons that's the problem. I've read and re-read the WotF annuals I have - and the stories vary enormously. It seems my variations are misses.
Emotion is something I should do more with. But at the moment my interest in writing is waning,

I'm curious--do you also submit stories to other markets, or just here/on Scrib? In my experience, the more places I send something, the more rejections I get, but the more likely I am to make a sale. (I do know that wouldn't be easy for everyone--it certainly isn't easy for me. I've also experienced emotional lulls from rejections that threatened to stop me writing in the past, so I definitely feel for you, and I hope you're able to make it through the slump.)

Also, it's important to note that just because you're struggling doesn't mean you're not improving. Different readers/editors have different opinions. I had a story I don't think would ever get more than an R here (Dave apparently hates stories with healing magic) sell at a different market.
Last edited by disgruntledpeony on Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells

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

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

Postby storysinger » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:23 am

Wulf Moon wrote:So....the challenge would be to write TWO fresh stories each quarter, 3000 words or more. You can pick one of the two to submit to the contest, or submit something else in your inventory you've been working on, I don't care.

I do like the freedom to use inventory.
I would be happy to join your next challenge.
Once I submit my Q4 I will be less than 10,000 words from reaching 300,000 words saved. I actually have passed that milestone already but some stories were lost to a hijacked computer that I refused to ransom. It was nine years old. wotf017
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby TimE » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:33 am

Hi DP.
A Scrib friend has pushed me into submitting my Q2 entry to other places. One rejection, waiting on another. Other than that - not really considered it before. Apart from WotF in the last year or so, I'm much more of a novel reader rather than s/s, so I haven't read anything of the other places.
Some HMs More Rs - I keep thinking I'm getting closer, but perhaps not.
CWA-Debut Dagger shortlist. https://thecwa.co.uk/colours/ (Still trying to find my genre - but perhaps it's scifi - and perhaps it's not)

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

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:46 am

TimE wrote:Hi DP.
A Scrib friend has pushed me into submitting my Q2 entry to other places. One rejection, waiting on another. Other than that - not really considered it before. Apart from WotF in the last year or so, I'm much more of a novel reader rather than s/s, so I haven't read anything of the other places.

That's fair. It's not easy to put oneself out there like that, but it can provide a broader perspective. Some places give personal rejections (although the advice those give can sometimes be contradictory; I usually try to take their comments into account for future stories rather than endlessly editing the ones I've already written, these days).

I was thinking about things yesterday, and realized that the advent of the internet has really helped to make short stories a global market--but that also means the competition is global, which is wonderful but also a bit sobering.

As far as sci-fi/fantasy versus crime writing, you said prefer reading sci-fi/fantasy over crime. Do you enjoy writing one over the other? (Also, if you enjoy writing both you could try combining the two genres. Nothing wrong with that.)
If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells

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

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

Postby AlexH » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:05 am

I'm in for 2 a quarter. I thought you were going to say 3, so 2... EASY! ;)
35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM ?

Probably free for critique swaps, but double-check in case I'm away.

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:44 pm

AlexH wrote:I'm in for 2 a quarter. I thought you were going to say 3, so 2... EASY! ;)


Heh, I *was* going to say three fresh in each quarter, Alex, but I worried some might set their hair on fire and run into the hills screaming. wotf001

Two is a more reasonable goal, which is what we should always set for ourselves. It's double what we just did over the past year in this challenge, so it is indeed a push. And I know everyone's circumstances are different, so if anyone already feels too much pressure in their life PLEASE DON'T TAKE THIS CHALLENGE. wotf007 This is a voluntary challenge that I want people to think seriously about before signing up. Count the cost.

And yes, I think seven have signed up so far in the past 24 hours since I made the polling query. I will say again for emphasis, this is a voluntary challenge. You join,it means you have the circumstances to push yourself, you have come to have fun, and you are here to cheer your challenge beasties on in meeting this writing goal. You do agree to write two fresh, original stories in each quarter of the Volume 37 calendar year, each 3000 words or longer (unless you're having a baby, then you get a quarter off--I've already had one ask about that. Not everyone can do a Brittany and write their story in the delivery room! Heh!) And you agree to enter a story into the contest every quarter, that goes without saying. But it doesn't have to be one of these two. If you believe you've got a trunk story or a former submission that you think with a little tweaking might upgrade to higher honors or the win, the challenge doesn't restrict you from giving it a try.

But I personally believe you're going to find your winner in those fresh stories, not the least reason being because that's where I found my winner. You take the challenge, I will assume you have a similar mindset, or why come here? Invest your precious time in what you believe will work for you. If you like my coaching methods and you have the circumstances, wonderful, join the team.

You have a week to think on it. Again, I'm only interested in the aye's, not the nay's. I have to figure out if I'm doing this. Please post here or in PM. Thank you and don't miss your Q4! Eight days left! I'm going to post my final secrets for the year now. Cheers!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:18 pm

Moon's SUPER SECRET #33: KILL YOUR DARLINGS: The Economy of Words Flash Exercise

(This SUPER SECRET was a series of writing exercises that took place inside this topic starting on p. 22, posted June 1, 2019. They end on p. 28. This post is the summary, but if you'd like to see the application of this Secret, go back and enjoy the great writing by the members that engaged in this exercise. It will be worth your time. There is also an analysis of how to craft a solid flash fiction story.)

Have you ever read slush? You know, those piles of stories submitted to a magazine, each with an author behind them hoping to get published? I have. I've also read stories I've personally asked award-winning writers to submit to the pro magazine I work at. There is often a world of difference, night and day, from slush stories, and those written by professional writers. That difference? One is a sleek, streamlined candy-orange Porsche, and the other can be, well, to be kind, less. Okay, it looks like Mater the Tow Mater in the Cars' movies. Yes, Mater has his own special charm, but you have to see past all that rust and swinging boom and tow cable and dangling hook. When you're an editor hunting for sleek Porsches that can go from zero to sixty in three seconds, thrilling your readers with a sound of fury ... a sputtering, oil dripping Mater just isn't going to cut it. Sorry, Mater.

New writers have a problem. They think they're submitting a Porsche to an editor, usually with every story they submit. Some even include letters about how this story is the greatest story ever written, and the editor would be a blind fool not to buy it (not a smart idea). But the editor isn't wearing rose-colored glasses. He actually has bought Porsches, Ferraris, and Peugeots, lots of them, and he instinctively knows their look and the sound of their engines, first listen, first glance as they pull up to his showroom. Mater the Tow Mater, charming though he may be, is not what the pro editor will consider for his showroom floor.

So how do we fix up a rusty tow truck when we're still in that stage of thinking this story is our baby, and we believe all babies are beautiful babies, especially ours? We have to change our mindset. We have to quit believing Mater the Tow Mater is a Porsche. We have to quit slapping on a paint job to cover the rust, stop ourselves from trying to install a Porsche engine into a tow truck body, and resist painting a detailed Porsche black stallion insignia on the rusty truck's hood.

Instead, we need to learn how to create a high performance Porsche. From the ground up.

You see, that's all the editor is going to buy for his showroom.

And this Kill Your Darlings exercise is how I learned to do just that. One warning before we begin--if you are a minimalist writer, these exercises will not help you. There are two types of writers: those who put too much in their stories, and those who put too little. Most new writers put in too much, everything AND the kitchen sink. If your critique friends have been saying things like "purple prose" and "stick to the plot" and "too much description," then these exercises are for you.

Okay, we now go back in time. In 1996 I was a member of 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. 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 winning entries were judged for the grand prize and the title of Writer of the Year. There were 400-700 entrants *per week* according to the weekly awards' announcements. Many pro writers, reporters, and editors from around the world were in that bunch--the contest was open to all. But in the end, like the Highlander, there can only be one. One...out of some 25,000 to 30,000 total entries.

I won the grand prize. In fact, I had two stories in the Top Ten. Want to know how I won, and how it relates to this topic? BEHOLD: The Kill Your Darlings Exercise.

The prompt for one week in that contest was "secrets." I thought about my characters and what that secret might be. In this case, I distilled something out of my own life--I thought about my dad. He was a Realtor, and he expected me to follow in his footsteps and build on his success. But I wanted to be a speculative fiction writer, and that did not sit well with him. Many years later, and in the irony that goes with life, Dad decided his true calling was poetry, and he penned hundreds. They were the Mater the Tow Maters of the sing-songy, rhyming poetry world. But he was so proud of them, I had to sweat to find something good I could commend him on when he handed them to me. Okay, I could plagiarize this thing in my life for a scene, fair game. But where to find the conflict? Because all good stories must have powerful characters, and they must also have potent conflict. I found it in the prompt, which became the theme of my story, "Last Words." The son in my story had a secret. He had become a famous poet. And he had never told his dad, because he knew in doing so, he would diminish his dad's dream. And then I upped the stakes. I put the dad on his deathbed. Last call. If the son wanted to get his dad's recognition for his accomplishments he had kept in secret, this was his last chance.

These are big concepts to fit into a 250 word maximum story! How could I take these huge, bulky concepts and make a gleaming prototype that would win the sprint? Simple. I wrote the story with as few words as I could. It came in around 1,000. And then I started cutting. I got it down to 500. I thought, "There's nothing left to cut." And I was right. I had to figure out how to code the concept of that bigger story without actually putting it on the page. This involved selecting sharper opening images, employing symbolism through setting, and selecting words and phrases that said much with little. I got that story down to 250 words. And it won first place for the week, which earned me $25. And then that particular story took Top Ten in the year-end finals.

I entered that weekly contest most weeks for the year it ran. And almost every week I entered, I won first, second, or third place. Against an average of 550 entries a week! This is the method I used, and by the end of the contest year, I walked away writing more powerful, streamlined stories. With less words. I know the skills I learned helped me make my next pro sale. Two years later, I sold "Seventh Heaven" to editor Dean Wesley Smith in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2 anthology by Pocket Books. And the exercise has served me well down to this day. My winning story I wrote in a day and a half for Writers of the Future? It was based off a 250 word opening I had written many months before.

Here's the three phases of the exercise.

PHASE ONE: Write in free flow around a 1,000 word flash story based on an emotional prompt. Work it around a strong emotional theme, and here's a few prompts: betrayal, abandonment, despair, envy. In the exercises in the pages within this challenge, I gave the members the theme "tough choices." That's a good one to start with, because virtually every good climax you can think of comes down to a tough choice.

PHASE TWO: Now cut that story down to 500 words. Yes, you heard me, half. You'll likely discover something interesting. You can actually tell that same story, perhaps even a stronger one, with half the words. This exercise mostly involves cutting excess baggage. Pretty words, but you have to kill your darlings. To keep this ship afloat, precious cargo has to go overboard.

PHASE THREE: Cut 500 words down to 250. Yes, you heard me, half. This is the hardest part of the exercise. Because now you have no cargo on your ship, and it's still sinking. You've got to toss the anchor, empty the storage chests, dump anything that isn't vital to keeping the ship afloat over the side. You'll figure out you can't tell the whole story. So you find your vignette, some tight emotional scene within that story that will shine light on a powerful moment within. It can become a highly charged scene, often centered around the climax where all that emotional tension explodes. But it can just as easily focus on a beautiful moment, and make sparkle one breathtaking facet on a diamond. Phase three taught me how to code. How to fit potent ideas into minimal space, hinting at larger issues without them even appearing in the vignette. It's a good skill to learn. And it's not about cutting. It forces you to rethink your story, to find its essence, and to create big concepts with potent word choices.

PHASE FOUR: Just kidding! There's only three phases, you can stop here. But you could boil that 250 word vignette down to a haiku after this. In the novel SHOGUN, the samurai would compose a short poem throughout their entire life that they would recite at the moment of their death. Precious words, the very essence of something they had found exquisitely beautiful in their lives. It's a lovely thought. If we can develop similar skills in our prose, our writing will become as streamlined and powerful as a high performance Porsche.

As always, this worked for me. Your mileage may vary. If you think it has merit, give yourself one week to do all three phases. You will find it challenging at first, because you have to develop the skills to do this. Do it again the next week on another prompt. It gets easier, and like me, you may find these streamlining skills stay with you, enhancing your regular stories and novel chapters. I have made several of these vignettes into full blown stories. I found that once I boiled a story down to its essence, it lodged in my subconscious like a sequoia seed, waiting to germinate into a mighty tree. For instance, my story just published in DEEP MAGIC, Fall 2019? That's from that weekly contest back in '96. It originated from a 250 word vignette of a Spanish captain awakening from a dream about a mermaid, wondering if it was real, and finding a crystalline statue of her on his map table. It has grown from potent seed to published story, and now into the vast workings of a novel.

This "kill your darlings" exercise taught me how to build a Porsche from the ground up. It may just do the same for you.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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

Postby TimE » Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:21 pm

disgruntledpeony wrote:
TimE wrote:Hi DP.
.

I was thinking about things yesterday, and realized that the advent of the internet has really helped to make short stories a global market--but that also means the competition is global, which is wonderful but also a bit sobering.

As far as sci-fi/fantasy versus crime writing, you said prefer reading sci-fi/fantasy over crime. Do you enjoy writing one over the other? (Also, if you enjoy writing both you could try combining the two genres. Nothing wrong with that.)


Yes, I enjoy writing scifi/fan over crime. My 2nd HM was a Scifi Crime story. I've said before, that it's odd my 2 HM's have come from stories which I've known had problems. My first was a story I submitted on the last day just to get something in. It dumped info way too much. My 2nd was the crime story which I thought hung together so badly, I wouldn't allow my normal critiquers to see. It was way too much squeezed into a few words and one which I've since been working on as a novel. I should get back to it, but novels take so long and my enthusiasm has dropped.

I have had lengthy feedback from an agent for a novel before now.
I guess I should look at other short story markets more, but while I've bought a number of WotF books, I don't want to subscribe to Asimov.

I agree with not endlessly editing and resubmitting a story. Something can be technically polished but still not appeal.
Some HMs More Rs - I keep thinking I'm getting closer, but perhaps not.
CWA-Debut Dagger shortlist. https://thecwa.co.uk/colours/ (Still trying to find my genre - but perhaps it's scifi - and perhaps it's not)

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

Postby RSchibler » Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:07 am

I really waffled about whether or not to take this on. I love a challenge, and writing fresh stories this year not only improved my craft, but it's gotten easier to write fresh stories. I have a novel I need to finish, though, and so I had to really take a step back and look at my life to decide if I can do it. I know I CAN do it, I just didn't know if I SHOULD. The thing that decided me was this: if I achieve my dream of a writing career, working on several short stories to a deadline while finishing a novel will be the rule not the exception. So yes, I'm in. Let's do this!
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, P

ALWAYS available for critique. PM me.

Stories in:
A Dying Planet, 2020
Hold Your Fire, 2021
Upon A Once Time, 2021
2020 Writers of the Future Superstars Scholarship

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

Postby DoctorJest » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:02 am

I'm already in for Q4 now, which will give me a few days to play with this exercise. I'll plan to pick it up tomorrow morning and see what shakes loose.
WotF: R:0 / HM:7 / sHM:3 / SF:0 / F:0
In for Q4.v37!
Currently taking a breath ahead of Q1.v38...

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

Postby einstein36 » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:52 am

It was these challenges that helped me pare down my latest entry into this quarter....I think it helps move the story along and make it flow smoothly.
Thank you Wulf..:)
Vol.36(Q3)-R
Vol.36(Q4)-R

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:58 pm

Thanks for answering my polling question for interest in the new challenge idea. There's been a lot of interest, here, and in PMs.

And thanks for the kind words you've posted about the current challenge and how it's helped you. I discovered in PMs it has helped many that weren't even listed as challenge members. Thanks to all that sent those messages. It's good to know the Super Secrets are encouraging people in their writing, even if they aren't in the challenge.

I've got an interview this Tuesday, September 24th at 1 pm PDT Pacific Daylight Time on Chatting With Sherri. It's an internet BlogTalk program you can listen to live, or download later. When John Goodwin set this up in January, I had 45,000 listen to the show! This time, we're going to be talking about the workshop week, the gala, and everything that's happened since I returned home. That's the plan! I always try to throw in tips for aspiring writers, so you might find a tasty treat!

Here's the link: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/rithebard ... ulf-moon-1

Thanks for listening! If you miss it, it's stored for download, normally available by the following day.

All the beast!

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


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