Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

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

Postby disgruntledpeony » Tue Sep 24, 2019 6:10 pm

Officially entered my fourth fresh story for the year. wotf008
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 officer » Wed Sep 25, 2019 10:56 am

Moon, I am in for two per quarter! I just submitted my first entry to WotF today. It benefited immensely from your advice and everyone's comments on here. I've certainly grown as a writer. Thanks so much for inspiring us and promoting community!

My submission was longer, so my goal is to narrow focus to create shorter stories that still feel complete. Your proposed challenge should help me do that.

Cheers, and good luck to all,
Ari
HM, R, HM, R, ?

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

Postby storysinger » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:11 am

Welcome to the forum Ari. When I saw your name I thought an officer had joined us for mediation purposes. wotf003
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 DoctorJest » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:21 am

disgruntledpeony wrote:Officially entered my fourth fresh story for the year. wotf008

And the woots were enthusiastically given!
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 thegirlintheglasses » Wed Sep 25, 2019 12:56 pm

Nicely done guys!
Brittany Rainsdon
R-SHM-HM-R-HM-R-F-F-HM-HM-HM-SHM-HM

John Goodwin asked me to type up a blog post about writing my wotf entry around giving birth!
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:19 pm

Congrats on everybody logging in to finish off this Volume 36 challenge! Well done to all that make it! There's still time. Plenty of it! We'll party on the last day! Okay, on October 1st we'll celebrate success! Some of you may be writing up to 11:59 pm Sept 30th!

Um, don't do that. I have. The portal questions take more than a few minutes to fill out. My last entry that won was submitted at 11:56 pm. As Gollum said, "Too risky! Too risky!"

Congrats again to all. Take your time make sure you've got your submission error free and NAMELESS. Check those bylines! Check your properties! Check your headers and footers! This one is for the Gold! And I'll give you another tip, ABSOLUTELY FREE. You heard me. I'm not charging you this time! : ) Let your stories sit for a day or more when you're done. Don't rush it in. Let your mind clear. And then, read it out loud from start to finish, pretending you know nothing about the story, but are savvy readers, like Kary and Dave. Try to read it through their glasses. I posted a week ago Dave's 5 pages smell test. You know what he is focusing on and what he expects. Use the knowledge.

I hope that helps! Remember Project Runway, the designer show? As those contestants stapled hems and hot glued seams together at the last minute because they didn't have time to sew, Tim Gunn would simply say, "Make it work."

You have a runway show!

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 Wulf Moon » Fri Sep 27, 2019 7:50 am

Repetition is the mother of retention. We approach the end of this Super Secret Vol. 36 Challenge. As has been noted, it's my master class, not just on how to win Writers of the Future, but on how to write professionally, how to write stories that sell. I don't think I've ever taken a class or workshop where I agree with everything the instructor said, but I have always tried to glean from their years of experience points that will work for me. You see, the right tip that took someone years to discover can shave years off your trial and error process in discovering it for yourself. When I attend seminars and workshops, I am ever seeking that point of insight, even if I don't quite know how to apply it yet.

I have tasked one of the next challenge members to post the Secrets' list with the page numbers they appear on. It will make it easier to find them in this burgeoning thread. On October 1st, I think we should celebrate everyone's accomplishments. I'd like all those that met their respective challenge to log in that day that they met their 4 fresh original stories in all 4 quarters, or 3 fresh in 4 quarters for those that took that one. I really wish we had all the year end results in to see if anyone leveled up in their certificates or accumulation of them for the year, but we have no control over that, they're not in. But we can share with one another what we learned. Perhaps there was something here we never fully understood before, a Secret that we believe will change how we write for the better. Often, hearing how someone applied knowledge is even more important than the knowledge itself. Knowledge without understanding its application is pretty useless.

So share your insights with your fellow challenge beasties on October 1st. And guess what? To everyone that posts here that day that they fulfilled the challenge, I have a fulfillment gift for you. A special year end Super Secret that makes all the difference in my stories. It's unique to me, my secret ingredient.

And I'm going to give a vial of it to each of you that succeeded in this endeavor we shared in.

On a last note, to those that didn't make it, don't feel bad. Life happens. When I said, now five years ago, that I wasn't going to let a quarter go by without entering until I won or pro'd out, there were one or two I missed, best of intentions though I had. Circumstances beyond our control befall us all. Just get up, dust yourself off, and keep heading for your destination. Forward lies the prize.

I thank each and every one of you that participated in this challenge. I wish you abundant success in your writing, and I do hope I helped in some small way with that.

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 Wulf Moon » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:16 am

Oh, and I know many have watched this topic even though they weren't in the challenge. I also know many had quit entering, even had quit writing, and after reading this topic, started up again. How do I know? They've written to me privately over the course of this year. On October 1st, I invite you, beloved shy ones, to weigh in here as well. We'd like to know you're out there, and what you have found that's helped you.

We are all here to help one another. It's the mark of good human beings.

See you soon! Get those Q4s in, even if it's just a flash piece, or a longer Hail Mary written on the last day. You know my story. It was this quarter, last year. At this respective point in time, I still had not found a moment in that quarter to write, nor a clue what to write. I only knew I had asked my wife, going through health issues, to see if she could spare me being in my writing cave for a day and a half at the end of the contest year. Good thing she did. It's the only reason "Super Duper Moongirl..." exists.

You never know what power you have within you. And you never know what story you write that might be your power winner.

But you cannot win if you do not enter. And you cannot know your power if you fail to test it.

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 RSchibler » Fri Sep 27, 2019 11:04 am

I'll be back with a few thoughts about what I've learned, but in the meantime, I'm in! I did 3 fresh, one canned story. Thanks for the challenge and the camaraderie! Best of luck to all!
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 chuckt » Fri Sep 27, 2019 11:14 am

Wulf Moon wrote:
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.


Wow! Whether I do it or not, I applaud the offer. You've been so helpful and giving. It's very generous that you are willing to continue. And this is a great idea. Thanks Wulf.
36: R, R, R, SHM
37: R, HM, R, ?

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Sep 27, 2019 11:17 am

Hi all!

Without further ado, I present the master list of SUPER SECRETS, locations included. I have it sitting in a Google doc right now so I can keep up on it without having to scroll back to this page! AlexH kindly taught me how to direct link to specific comments and sent me the first 20 super secret links. Thank you for helping a forum noob find her sea legs! :) Page numbers provided for both ascending and descending orders in thread. Links will take you directly to the comment regardless of whether you're using ascending or descending.

Moon's SUPER SECRETS copyright 2019 by Wulf Moon.

SUPER SECRET #0: Proper manuscript format for the win! Improper manuscript format for the lose! - p.8 ascending, p.28 descending
SUPER SECRET #1: Enter EVERY quarter. - p.2 ascending, p.34 descending
SUPER SECRET #2: DON'T drive to the story! - p.2 ascending, p.34 descending
SUPER SECRET #3: Set the hook! - p.2 ascending, p.34 descending
SUPER SECRET #4: Pick a major emotion and make your reader FEEL it down to their core! - p.2 ascending, p.34 descending
SUPER SECRET #5: A story is a PROMISE. - p.3 ascending, p.33 descending
SUPER SECRET #6: Hint in your opening the grand vista of your world. - p.3 ascending, p.33 descending
SUPER SECRET #7: Private message for challenge members only. - p.3 ascending, p.33 descending
SUPER SECRET #8: Kill "as you know, Bobs" in your story! - p.3 ascending, p.33 descending
SUPER SECRET #9: Open your story with your protagonist. - p.3 ascending, p.33 descending
SUPER SECRET #10: Private message for challenge members only. - p.3 ascending, p.33 descending
SUPER SECRET #11: Triple check that your name is OFF your manuscript!!! - p.3 ascending, p.33 descending
SUPER SECRET #12: MAGIC UP FRONT! - p.3 ascending, p.33 descending
SUPER SECRET #13: DON’T OVEREDIT! - p.4 ascending, p.32 descending
SUPER SECRET #14: Do not overthink your story! - p.4 ascending, p.32 descending
SUPER SECRET #15: Open your short story with 1. A CHARACTER, 2. in a SETTING, 3. with a PROBLEM. - p.5 ascending, p.31 descending
SUPER SECRET #16: Read your story out loud. - p.6 ascending, p.30 descending
SUPER SECRET #17: Know thy judge! - p.7 ascending, p.29 descending
SUPER SECRET #18: Start your #%$@#%!& hero’s quest! We’re on the clock! - p.7 ascending, p.29 descending
SUPER SECRET #19: Mock-up your story! - p.8 ascending, p.28 descending
SUPER SECRET #20: Employ the 7 Point Plot model. - p.9 ascending, p.27 descending
SUPER SECRET #21: KISS. - p.10 ascending, p.26 descending
SUPER-DUPER SECRET #1: Take your reader on a *deep* emotional journey. - p.11 ascending, p.25 descending
SUPER SECRET #22: THINGS GET WORSE! - p.12 and p.14 ascending, p.24 and p.22 descending
SUPER SECRET #23: READ! - p.15 ascending, p.21 descending
SUPER SECRET #24: Study your judge! - p.15 ascending, p.21 descending
SUPER SECRET #25: For WotF, DON'T write a story in first person narrative! - p.17 ascending, p.19 descending
SUPER SECRET #26: Find your wise reader! Preferably, someone with more pro sales than you! - p.18 ascending and descending
SUPER SECRET #27: Private message for challenge members only. - p.18 ascending and descending
SUPER SECRET #28: YOU MUST WRITE. - p.20 ascending, p.16 descending
SUPER SECRET #29: Help your subconscious to ENGAGE. - p.21 ascending, p.15 descending
SUPER SECRET #30: Experience life, don't just read about other people's experiences. - p.22 ascending, p.14 descending
SUPER SECRET #31: Not too long, not too short. Your story needs to be jusssst right. - p.23 ascending, p.13 descending
SUPER SECRET #32: Deploy your MAGIC SWORD. - p.30 ascending, p.6 descending
SUPER SECRET #33: KILL YOUR DARLINGS: The Economy of Words Flash Exercise - p.33 for summary and tip; p.22-28 for exercise and critiques ascending, p.3 for summary and tip; p.14-10 for exercise and critiques descending
SUPER SECRET #34: A Climax Goes Big Badda Boom - p.34 ascending, p.2 descending

If there are any formatting changes I can make (or typos that need to be fixed) let me know! I'll do my best to keep this up to date in new comments as the thread continues.

I dedicated almost a full day to reading this whole thread when I was still lurking and it's really helped - hopefully this helps people new to the challenge and forums read through with a little more direction and intention.
Last edited by SwiftPotato on Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:30 pm, edited 6 times in total.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby einstein36 » Fri Sep 27, 2019 1:22 pm

Thanks so much, Wulf. It's these challenges that pushes one to become a better writer and to overcome obstacles. Like he said, it's just not writing to win the contest, but to write for life, to live one's dream....
Vol.36(Q3)-R
Vol.36(Q4)-R

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

Postby AlexH » Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:35 am

SwiftPotato wrote:Hi all!

Without further ado, I present the master list of SUPER SECRETS, locations included. I have it sitting in a Google doc right now so I can keep up on it without having to scroll back to this page! I'm still a little new to the forum, so if anyone knows how to directly link a comment rather than the whole page (if that's possible), let me know and I'm happy to stick the links in this list.

I'm not sure about mobile, but on desktop, the header at the top of each individual post is the link pointing to it e.g.: https://www.screencast.com/t/njTLv1QpK2v

I'll PM you the first 20 links - I have to go now but could send the rest later.

Oh, and this happened when I tried to search for posts by Wulf Moon, containing the text "super secret":

Image

I bet this is the only forum in the world where those words are 'too common'! wotf001
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 SwiftPotato » Sat Sep 28, 2019 10:13 am

AlexH wrote:
SwiftPotato wrote:Hi all!

Without further ado, I present the master list of SUPER SECRETS, locations included. I have it sitting in a Google doc right now so I can keep up on it without having to scroll back to this page! I'm still a little new to the forum, so if anyone knows how to directly link a comment rather than the whole page (if that's possible), let me know and I'm happy to stick the links in this list.

I'm not sure about mobile, but on desktop, the header at the top of each individual post is the link pointing to it e.g.: https://www.screencast.com/t/njTLv1QpK2v

I'll PM you the first 20 links - I have to go now but could send the rest later.

Oh, and this happened when I tried to search for posts by Wulf Moon, containing the text "super secret":

Image

I bet this is the only forum in the world where those words are 'too common'! wotf001


Thank you so much! I'll edit them into the post when I've got a minute :) that'll make it so much easier for everyone to find them.

Lol, that is hilarious. Maybe searching for "SUPER SECRET #" would help narrow it down? Wulf was pretty good about having that text just before each tip.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Sep 28, 2019 10:43 am

Heh, the phrase "Super Secret" is slumming it as a commoner in here under Search. Too funny.

Thank you, SwiftPotato, for offering to help with anything, and then immediately carrying out my wish. "Impressive. Very impressive. The Force is strong with this one." Well done! It's going to help so many people that might come in late to this but wish to read the highlights.

Speaking of the Force, I think it's portentous that your work on posting the page numbers where each Secret appears became our 1,000th reply on this thread! Holy Screaming Banshees, Batman!

We do have more than ten that want to take the next challenge. This one will be different. It's next level stuff, not just submitting here, but to other markets as well. It's why I'm having you write TWO fresh stories each quarter--pick your best for WotF, but the other must be sent out to a market of your choice (or something else, but the point is one story to WotF, one story to market EVERY QUARTER). Why? I know some of you are only submitting here. While this is absolutely the best market an aspiring writer can submit to, you must never put all your eggs in one basket.

This challenge will focus on leveling up from aspiring writer to pro writer, and all the things you have to do to make that happen. And yes, I'll still have contest winning secrets as well, but we've hit the main ones arleady. We are looking to our futures with this challenge.

Think hard. This is a voluntary bonus challenge, and I'm spending a lot of time on these, and if you sign up, I expect you to be serious about the concepts and that you intend to give it your best. That means progressing from perhaps only entering the contest, into submitting to other markets as well. These have to be markets of substance, meaning no zero or nominal pay markets. You sign up, you are not only saying help me learn how to win the contest, you are saying help me learn how to write professionally, how to submit professionally, and how to build a pro career. You see, that's what the WotF workshop is all about, and that's what I'm all about.

In fact, most courses you take have materials the instructor will be teaching from and will ask you to purchase. And then they charge you a fee, because they learned this information through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and they, like you, have bills to pay. No fees here, this is a friendship thing. But I will highly recommend you pick up a copy of the book HOW I GOT PUBLISHED AND WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY from Camden Park Press. Why? Because it's got tips from published writers on the very topic of what they did to launch their careers. Each author in the book (20 published authors) give you their 'lessons learned' from how they got published. Yes, I'm in the book. I tell you the secret that changed everything for me, and it's not just about Writers of the Future (but I spend an entire section on this vital contest). Martin Shoemaker, who also talks about Writers of the Future, tells you what changed everything for him, and how he almost gave up. And David Farland, our contest judge, tells you everything he did to win contests to launch his career, and yes, Writers of the Future played prominently in that story! The book is all about the secrets that worked for each writer, what often took them years to discover. I believe some of these tips will work for you, because you're likely at the same point in your career, about to break out to the next level. The book is only $4.99 in electronic. A trade paperback will also be available soon. Again, getting this book for the challenge is optional. But we're going to be talking a lot about tips and lessons learned inside, and I'll likely be referring to page numbers and probably have some assignments based on it. Here's the link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07YFCMJ5L?tag=

Again, when I make the call for people to sign up next week (this first call was for polling purposes), the challenge will be TWO FRESH ORIGINAL STORIES each quarter, 3,000 words or more. You should not sign up if you already have a hard time getting one story in, and are missing quarters. It just makes sense to reach that goal first. This challenge should be doable for you, and you should have a strong desire not simply to win this contest, but to become a professional writer. And it's double the fresh stories we did for Vol. 36. It's going to be challenging, but isn't that the definition of a challenge?

Choose wisely. This is next level stuff, but I do hope to see some of you in the challenge.

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 SwiftPotato » Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:39 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Heh, Super Secret is slumming it as a commoner in here. Too funny.

Thank you, SwiftPotato, for offering to help with anything, and then immediately carrying out my wish. "Impressive. Very impressive. The Force is strong with this one." Well done! It's going to help so many people that might come in late to this but wish to read the highlights.

Speaking of the Force, I think it's portentous that your work on posting the page numbers where each Secret appears became our 1,000th reply on this thread! Holy Screaming Banshees, Batman!



No problem. Yea, verily, I am the speediest of root vegetables.
Can't wait to take this next challenge! Thanks for putting this together! And for putting in the "must submit to other markets" stipulation...I'm definitely one of those people who's only submitting to the contest right now. And you're right, I totally shouldn't be doing that.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Sep 28, 2019 5:14 pm

SwiftPotato wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:Heh, Super Secret is slumming it as a commoner in here. Too funny.

Thank you, SwiftPotato, for offering to help with anything, and then immediately carrying out my wish. "Impressive. Very impressive. The Force is strong with this one." Well done! It's going to help so many people that might come in late to this but wish to read the highlights.

Speaking of the Force, I think it's portentous that your work on posting the page numbers where each Secret appears became our 1,000th reply on this thread! Holy Screaming Banshees, Batman!



No problem. Yea, verily, I am the speediest of root vegetables.
Can't wait to take this next challenge! Thanks for putting this together! And for putting in the "must submit to other markets" stipulation...I'm definitely one of those people who's only submitting to the contest right now. And you're right, I totally shouldn't be doing that.


Swift, we all start somewhere. And we level up from there. The WotF contest is great for teaching us to write stories and send them in to the contest. The problem is some never progress beyond, and there's a whole world of publishing outside this contest we should be submitting to as well. The contest can also be a great tool to let us know what stories to focus on as we send to markets--those certificates are no small thing to earn. Additionally, when you achieve semifinalist, you get a critique from David Farland. Following his advice can actually help you sell that story to another market--it did for me with my story in DEEP MAGIC right now. Finally, if you win the contest, you will attend a workshop that will focus on sending your short stories and novels out, and give you much advice on becoming a professional writer. Might as well get started now, there will be no pussyfooting there! : )

Becoming a professional writer is, after all, the point of this contest. It was designed to help aspiring writers get a leg up in what can be a difficult industry to break in to. Hopefully, sharing some of the things I learned at the workshop and elsewhere can help others keep reaching for the stars. That's my plan!

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 » Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:13 pm

Moon's SUPER SECRET #34: A Climax Goes Big Badda Boom

What is a story? Generally speaking, a story is about something or someone messing with a hero's world, and they decide they're going to do something about it and get their world back. It's that simple.

But it's never that simple, or we wouldn't have much of a story. Often, our hero discovers he's in over his head, and that smoke he smelled is really just the tendrils of a fire about to consume his entire building. He fights his way outside and discovers it's not just his building ablaze, it's his whole street, his whole city, even ... his whole world. The higher the stakes--they can be internal, external, or hopefully both--the more dramatic that final climactic ending will be for your reader when the hero either puts out the fire or gets consumed by it.

One of my favorite fun movies is THE FIFTH ELEMENT. In that movie, Korben Dallas has to leave his not so glamorous life as a cab driver and fall back on his prestigious military training to save the world from certain doom. A being called the Shadow is about to consume their world, and with the aid of a perfect being named Leeloo, Korben must get elemental stones of power from a diva on an interstellar cruise ship, bring them back to earth, and figure out how to make them work to defeat Shadow or the world goes Big Badda Boom.

That's a climax. It's a do or die moment where the hero must use the magic sword or elemental stones or potent knowledge gained from his quest to defeat the person or thing that's been screwing around with him. If that person or thing is big enough, a wrong call won't just make a really bad day for our hero, it will make a really bad day for the world. Or the universe--we are science fiction writers here.

And there's an important element in virtually every climax. A climax should include a TOUGH CHOICE. Our hero cuts the green wire, he saves the day. Our hero cuts the red wire, antimatter missiles launch and planet Zoltar goes poof. And yeah, it's the Xeno's day care world, it's filled with their sweet little babies. Or puppies. Or critters that look an awful lot like kittens. Either way, it's going to be a tearjerker if our hero screws up.

Here's another easy example. A hobbit named Frodo is going to see his whole world come under the power of darkness if he doesn't take the ring of power to Mount Doom and destroy it. After a quest fraught with peril, Frodo finally gets there, and he must choose. He thought all along he would just toss the One Ring into the lava and the ring's power would be undone. But now that he's standing there, it's not so simple. He realizes he does have a choice, and this ring is precious to him, and why should he destroy it? Surprise! He does not destroy it, and had Gollum not bit his ring finger off and danced an unhealthy jig, their world would have been a very different world indeed.

But here's a problem in many novice writers' stories. They don't make it clear their hero had options to choose from or was even tempted by taking an easier way out, now that he discovered something so powerful, it could defeat the thing screwing around with his formerly comfy life. Often, new writers send their heroes straight to their climactic destinations without a moment's pondering, not realizing that we've got to believe their hero would take such a plunge, and that we readers want to be in their shoes not just to watch what the hero does, but to explore what we might choose in that same situation.

So give your hero a tough choice. If you can make that choice so high it will cost them dearly, or even cost their world dearly, all the better. It should not be readily apparent what your hero will choose. By the time they get to that climactic moment, if the stakes are big enough, and if the choice is still undetermined, your readers are going to be on the edge of their seats, afraid of either outcome.

Build your climax to a crescendo, but the choice your hero will make at the end is best if it comes as a surprise. That's how you create suspense, with uncertain outcomes. The world doesn't have to blow up, but the stakes should be so high, your reader should gasp for breath as the choice is made and a monumental tragedy is avoided. Or, if you're writing a tragedy, your reader should gasp at the enormity of the hero's failure.

Either way, give us Big Badda Boom.
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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Thomas Woodward
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Thomas Woodward » Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:51 pm

Just submitted my Q4. Thanks to Wulf's challenge, I wrote two new stories this year, for which I am grateful.
5x R
8x HM
2020 Superstars Writing Seminar scholarship award recipient

"No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure." — Ernest Hemingway

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:34 pm

Thomas Woodward wrote:Just submitted my Q4. Thanks to Wulf's challenge, I wrote two new stories this year, for which I am grateful.


Happy to hear that, Thomas. Best of success on those, and in the stories to come.

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

Postby chuckt » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:20 am

Okay! Completed the challenge. 1 new story each quarter of 2019.
36: R, R, R, SHM
37: R, HM, R, ?

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

Postby storysinger » Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:42 am

I have entered four fresh this year. I'm sure next year will be even better. Thanks for the challenge you set before me Wulf.
Congrats to all who succeeded with this endeavor. wotf010
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.
D.R.Sweeney

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

Postby CCrawford » Mon Sep 30, 2019 1:25 pm

I've been a total lurker, but I just submitted my 4th fresh story of the year! :) I'm ready to be a lurker-no-more, though. ;) I'm prepared to jump on your challenge sign-up when it launches, even if I *DO* have to write a story in the delivery room to make Q1. Let's do this!!! wotf009
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 JVAshley » Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:26 pm

Done!
4 Fresh Stories in 36
Thank you for the SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge, Wulf and all the care and support you have given to help us all get there. 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 Megan » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:38 pm

I'm in with my 4th fresh story for the year!

Thank you for this challenge and for all the tips!
HM—2, R—1, V36 Q2 pending

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

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:53 pm

I literally submitted a few moments ago! I wrote a bunch of new stuff in it today. Changed some things I had. I am happy with my creation. Now... quarter ONE!!!!
Brittany Rainsdon
R-SHM-HM-R-HM-R-F-F-HM-HM-HM-SHM-HM

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

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

Postby AlexH » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:43 am

I made it with 4 fresh stories this volume. The quarter I entered a flash felt like a cop-out at the time, but with hindsight, I'm glad I kept the run going.

To respond to your request, Wulf, I'll add to my post from a few pages ago on my learnings. It was only a month ago, and I'm amazed how much I've learnt since.

I mentioned emotion (Secret #4 & Super Duper Secret #1). I haven't figured out how to do it well consistently (I seem to do it without trying in my best stories), but exercises in Don Maass' book on emotion are helping.

I also think an original idea is important for WotF, so for future submissions, I'll edge towards what I think is my best idea, even if I think the story isn't quite as good. I feel I made the wrong choice this quarter, but I left my decision too late. To be completely honest, I was very tired at the start of this month, so picked the story I thought was easiest to get right! In the end, it probably wasn't the easiest...
wotf001

Something I've learnt in the past month... It wasn't one of the secrets, but it's something I think Wulf mentioned on a podcast, and other forum members have too. I felt I was ploughing a lone furrow with my writing since I got serious about pro-level publication. Even when I could access the forum, I was scared to mail people for critique swaps in case I didn't have anything constructive to say, but I've realised I was wrong.

In the past month, I've realised how important it is to find your tribe!

I found a flash fiction critique group on Facebook, and that's been super helpful. Not only don't I feel alone, but I'm receiving amazing critiques on my own work and enjoying helping other writers. This forum is another great tribe. So to any lurkers, join! Getting involved does make a difference. If you can't login due to password issues, e-mail Martin L. Shoemaker with your username and e-mail address.

Most important is a combination of things. I've always felt I can write stories suitable for WotF as a market, as many of the stories are amongst my all-time favourites. I struggle with figuring out what other markets want, but I recently submitted a story I thought was most appropriate to a very competitive pro-market based on what the editor said. And it's the first story I've got into that market that's under consideration! It was also critiqued by the flash group I mentioned. I think the story comes full circle (Secret #27), gets worse (#22) and (I hope) I managed to aim towards one major emotion, amongst some other Secrets. It can't be a coincidence!
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 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:10 pm

Annnnnnd, it's a WRAP! Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge for Vol. 36 officially closed! With 37,283 views to date! What was it, and how did we do?

The challenge was to write four original FRESH STORIES for the Volume 36 WotF contest year, submitting one each quarter. Additionally, some wanted to submit a previously written story, so they took a separate three fresh, one canned challenge. The point of the challenge? To break free of the habit of rewriting and rewriting the same old story and create something new. The benefits? You tell me! I know what many have written in private to me, and what many have written here on this topic. How did I personally benefit when I started submitting fresh stories to this contest instead of reworking my old ones? I found my winnner, and I believe I could have never written it in such a short time frame (a day and a half last year at the end of the Volume 35 year) had I not been pushing myself to write fresh stories. I had developed the mental muscles necessary to generate knew ideas, and the skills to execute them. I created stories faster, and they were coming out of me cleaner, needing minimal touch ups before sending them in. I grew as a writer by pushing myself to create from a blank page and to meet the deadlines of this contest, and it was my belief if I established this challenge, others might see the benefits and grow from it as well.

In addition, I promised tips to help you create stronger, more professional stories. These tips were things I learned from submitting to this contest for twenty-five years. They are also things I learned directly from Algis Budrys, the original contest coordinating judge, when I took his course on writing. No one understood story better than AJ (his nickname). David Wolverton/Farland would tell you the same--AJ was his mentor. I've also included insights from things I learned from my mentor, Dean Wesley Smith, and from my agent, Donald Maass. And I've pointed you to books and references that helped me along the way, like WRITING TO THE POINT by Algis Budrys, and THE TEN PERCENT SOLUTION by Ken Rand. And I've shared a few points from the three masters that taught at the Writers of the Future Workshop. But make no mistake: these SUPER SECRET tips are not a mere parroting of the words of masters of the craft--they are my unique take on things that I developed to help me progress, based on what I learned over the years. I have endeavored to boil down the essence of all the advice into fun, easy to understand articles.

Finally, I offered critiques to as many challenge members as I was able. When that wasn't moving fast enough--there were many challenge members--I opened up a writing exercise called KILL YOUR DARLINGS where any of the challenge members could enter a story and end up with two critiques to help them if they took the challenge. Many did, including some that weren't in the challenge but wanted to be a part of the exercise. I was happy to help, and was very impressed with the stories all of you that partook wrote. You have much potential, some of you just a sale away from becoming professional writers yourselves. Well done!

So as we wrap up this challenge, we go back to the year's beginning, with beasts uniting in a cavern, bonfire blazing, names signed in blood on the cold stone walls. I light the bonfire again, and see the power of commitment combined with Herculean effort has etched some names permanently in the stone, glowing with uncanny radiance. Some of our comrades may have fallen along the way--such is the case in battle. But today, we honor those that survived and earned the title of SUPER SECRET CHALLENGE BEASTIES! I am sure this is a partial list, and I will update it if you post your results to the topic. To all those that met their challenge quota, I have a special gift for you: my secret ingredient that makes stories unique. Membership has its privileges. Crossing the finish line should as well.

That said, congratulations to all that participated! Please share anything you learned from the challenge, anything that helped you grow as a writer, and any good results you saw, such as contest certificates. We still have one quarter's results to wait for, so the jury is still out. But we'd still like to hear what might have helped you grow as a writer.

As for the next challenge, I'll post particulars soon. And there will be a week or so to sign up for it. But for now, we finish this one up. Share your thoughts! And I still have one last secret to share for Volume 36 to wrap this set up!

Thank you for participating in my challenge. I hope it helped, not only toward winning this contest, but more importantly, toward helping YOU become a better writer.

ALL THE BEAST!

Beastmaster Moon


Moon's SUPER SECRET Four Fresh Original Stories Challenge Masters, Volume 36

disgruntled peony
chuckt
storysinger
JVAshley
Megan
AjZach
DoctorJest


Moon's SUPER SECRET Three Fresh, One Canned Stories Challenge Masters, Volume 36

thegirlintheglasses
TimE
RSchibler
SCAFontaine
michaeljwyantjr

Moon's SUPER SECRET Four in Four Lurkers that Quietly Fulfilled the Challenge and Told Me After : )

(You had to do all four fresh to make this honorary list. I know there are more, so sound off in the topic and I'll add you.)

CCrawford
AlexH
Retropianoplayer
StarReacher

WELL DONE ALL!
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

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

Postby AjZach » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:32 pm

Thanks for the challenge Wulf Moon!

I completed 4 fresh stories in four quarters.

What I took from these tips primarily, and what I'm still trying to implement, is outline, at least to make sure I have the 7 point plot model in place before I start writing, rather than trying to make sure they are there after I finish my story.
I tend to just get an idea and start writing, letting the story take me where it wants to go. So now, for some of my new stories that I'm starting this quarter is to get the idea, do some research so I have ideas of where the story could go, and fill in the 7 point plot model as well as I can before I start writing. I'm still leaving myself open for better ideas or changes I might want to make over time. I guess I mostly want to have some idea of how I want my story to end, before I get going.
R, R, R, R, HM, R, HM, HM, R, SF,?

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:33 pm

And SUPER DUPER THANKS to SwiftPotato and AlexH for creating the clickable Super Secret Decoder Ring above! AWESOME!
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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