AlexH wrote: zeeteebeez wrote: JVAshley wrote:
Just in case, I'll say it was in the same range as your HM. So, maybe I stand a chance at a possible HM. Thank You, AlexH. Now, I can begin twitching with a purpose.
I do enjoy a good pillow fort.
Unless I'm mistaken, an HM essentially means your opening was promising enough to deserve a deeper look. So length probably doesn't have much to do with HM-ability.
I do believe Mr. Farland has read them to the end though, which excites me: http://davidfarland.com/2017/05/got-honorable-mention/
"First-passes" have been announced occasionally, which I think means the opening was promising. I got a first-pass, but it didn't turn into a HM.
Heh, thanks for sharing this link to Dave's tips, Alex. You shared one where I do believe Dave talked about my entry for that quarter, and my heart sunk when I read it back then. You see, I had gotten to the point with the contest that I felt I had to throw curve balls in order to win, things so out of the ordinary that if successful, they would catch Dave's eye as being totally unique and propel my story to the top. I started writing a lot of experimental pieces in all spec fic genres, and they all placed at various levels. In this quarter, I wrote a story in first person. I withheld the fact that the good guy had been turned until the shocking reveal at the very end. I told it in a very literary style, rich with descriptive language and a historical setting. I certainly felt it worked. And then, Dave wrote his piece as he was judging. I can't say for certain he wrote about my story, but that story hit every one of his markers. In my heart, I still believe he was talking about my entry. Here's what he wrote:
"The story may have plotting problems. Very often I’ll have a story whose concept is good and the writing is beautiful, but the plot just doesn’t work. Usually it has a good opening (that’s why I got hooked), but perhaps the middle of the story is weak, or the ending doesn’t quite pan out. I got a beautiful story last week, told in first-person. But the plot only worked because the author withheld information from the reader. Does the story work? Well, only if you don’t think about it too much. The author’s style and tone were exceptional in many ways, but I’m not sure that it should win the contest. I wasn’t even sure if it should be a finalist. So when plotting your story, make certain that its plot is logical, that it builds with each try-fail cycle, and that you have a powerful ending that leaves the reader thinking and emotionally moved."
For Dave, if he was talking about my story, it was well written, but failed. I thought it worked, he did not. But I didn't leave it there. If you look over in my SUPER SECRETS topic, we recently did an exercise called KILL YOUR DARLINGS. Well, this was one of those stories I applied the exercise to. I took that 10,000 word story, gutted it down to the essential scenes, deleted the others, and kept my good guy...well...good! Three thousand words when I was done. And I sent the story to a pro paying anthology from Third Flatiron and sold it. That story? "War Dog." It went on to win Critters Readers Choice award for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story of 2018. Over two thousand people from around the world voted in those awards. They liked my revised story.
Did I make a mistake throwing Dave a curve ball? No. He loves original ideas, and if you can execute one truly original idea perfectly, you will win this contest. Did I make a mistake starting a story in first person in historical fantasy, only to make it what I would define as surrealistic horror by the end? Probably. I took it that Dave said as much, tossed my trick ending, but kept the original idea and much of its execution. And it sold. I did this also with another story where I had Dave's critique from a semifinalist where he told me to "kill my darlings." And that story was just published in DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019.
Why bring this up? No reason, except you quoted one of Dave's blogs that felt like he was writing about me, and it had great impact on one of my stories. I do believe if you get advice from a bestselling writer of Dave's caliber, and listen to it, you can see your weak spots and craft a story that hits the professional mark, instead of just missing it. It's also why I encourage all to try to get to one of Dave's classes, or do some of his online courses, or go see him and learn from him at the Superstars Writing Seminar. Dave was trained by the best, Algis Budrys. He knows what he's talking about.
That's the kind of writer you should be learning from. And if you can't afford any of that, guess what? It's okay. Author Services at this very moment is working on bringing you online classes on how to write a winning short story from David Farland, Tim Powers, and more. Stay tuned!
All the beast!