Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

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

Postby JVAshley » Wed May 15, 2019 4:44 pm

Wow! Thank you both for the refresher and summary.
I need to read back over the lessons. Some I remember the substance better than others, and I need to hunt for the two SUPER SUPER SECRET ones I stored for a refresher.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby chuckt » Wed May 15, 2019 6:15 pm

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

Postby preston » Wed May 15, 2019 6:41 pm

This is all great stuff, Wulf, and very helpful knowledge. I sure learned some stuff. In the same spirit of giving, I can perhaps add a little bit to all of this. I've read every WOTF volume multiple times, and have studied all the stories looking for commonalities. As a result I've come up with about seven items which are present in almost all the winning stories. Here, in no particular order, are the seven things that appear in WOTF winning stories.

1. An inventive, unique, creative trope. A new twist on an old idea. Something different. IMHO, this is the single most important element. Judges have said multiple times that originality is a must!

2. A strong hook. This hearkens to Wulf's tip #15. Don't start with someone waking up. Don't start with stale exposition. Start "en media res" and deliver your very best stuff asap. Make your story accessible and readable.

3. Polished prose. One or two errors are fine. Three or four will be forgiven if the story is fantastic. But the readers for this contest can tell very quickly if they are in the hands of someone who knows the tool of their craft. Your prose can be lyrical, or transparent, or clever, but it should be as free of errors as you can possibly make it.

4. A Satisfying Ending. Every time I finish a WOTF story, I marvel at how the author has managed to satisfy the reader. KD and Dave have both discussed endings and how important they are. A satisfying ending is one which involves a catharsis, a change in character, the solving of the main dilemma facing the MC, and done in a way that's inventive, unexpected and packs an emotional punch. Stories with upbeat endings are far more common in the WOTF books than dark endings.

5. A well-structured plot. Slice of life stories, meandering musings, and unfocused narratives do not appear much in the WOTF books. Instead we find well-plotted stories with try/fail cycles, an easy-to-identify conflict that escalates from the MC to the world around them, unexpected twists, characters that move and change both physically, geographically, and emotionally. There must be a story with a beginning, middle, climax and an end.

6. Vivid and Interesting setting. Look at the settings in the WOTF books and you will be amazed at their creativity, imagery and detail. Your setting should be as creative, original and inventive as possible. Specific and accurate. Should appeal to all the senses, touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing.

7. Strong believable characters. This is all about "voice" and "POV." The characters are real and vividly imagined. They are interesting people who we are able to identify with because the author has written the internal dialogue that is needed in a well-balanced story.

Now all of this is pretty much exactly what Wulf has written above, but it was something I put together before winning the contest. Funny, I shared it with another finalist who had also put together a list of "elements" in wotf-winning stories. His list and mine were almost exactly the same, with a few tiny minor variations in the way we worded it.

I think for me the problem was, while I had the recipe, I could never put it all together. I'd write a story and it would have elements 1, 2, 4, 6 & 7, but were missing 5 # 3. And of course, every variation of that. The trick is getting all these elements into one story! Which is really hard!

So, hope that helps. And thanks for the tips, Wulf! My favorite is #28. It's both so easy and so difficult!

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

Postby Helge Mahrt » Thu May 16, 2019 12:22 am

Thanks for sharing, everyone! This thread's a goldmine :)
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby chuckt » Thu May 16, 2019 1:08 am

Great Preston! Thank you very much.
36 R,R,R, Pending

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

Postby JVAshley » Thu May 16, 2019 4:41 am

preston wrote:The trick is getting all these elements into one story! Which is really hard!

Amen to that! wotf005
Thank you all for sharing!
Now, to practice being a good student. wotf024
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Thu May 16, 2019 8:13 am

JVAshley wrote:
preston wrote:The trick is getting all these elements into one story! Which is really hard!

Amen to that! wotf005
Thank you all for sharing!
Now, to practice being a good student. wotf024

seconded lol! And thanks for the tips Preston! Very kind wotf009
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu May 16, 2019 11:03 am

Thank you, Brittany, for sharing what's working for you with our challenge beasts. It was very nice of you to take the time for such a thorough answer. Glad some of these Super Secrets are helping. I hope others will also weigh in. It's important, not just to help the group, but to help ourselves by ruminating on the subject for a bit.

Rebecca, thank you for putting up the Secrets list. I see there is an overlap on one--know thy judge--but that's okay. I do have a destination with these, but some are needs I see currently and make a Super Secret for, and it bears repeating that you must know what your judge or editor is looking for and what they consider good writing. That was Dave's secret to winning so many contests in his younger years, and it's a good one, one hardly anyone thinks of because it takes some sleuthing. The great thing with Dave as judge is that he puts out his Tips, he does articles on what he looks for in every WotF book's intro and elsewhere, he has abundant novels to read to see his style (you'll understand why he talks about "world building" and "big worlds" folks!), and he conducts seminars you can attend to figure out exactly what your writing needs, because in the right seminars and workshops, you can ask him! Seriously, go take his workshops if you have the means, he's got a good one coming up next month at Fyercon. Take his online courses or buy his writing books if you can't. He's a top shelf expert in writing, the guru editor to top names in the industry, and you can get one on one time with him! He's the judge, the only guy who can put you into the finals. By any means possible, find a way to go sit at the feet of this master and learn. You want to win. He's teaching. Shave some years off your learning curve. Get your win sooner by taking lessons with this writing coach.

Preston, good list, buddy. I recommend everyone interested in improving their writing print it out. Some of these things are coming up--trying to release all of this in measured doses. I especially appreciate #3, polished prose. Error-free prose is vital. Your manuscript will likely survive one typo, one repeated word or missed quotation mark, etc., but if the count becomes a count, its over. This contest discovers the best of the best, and the best of the best--pro writers--turn in professional, publishable stories and manuscripts. This is why I have asked those of you I have invited to get a critique so far, to send me your very best, as free of typos and such that you can make it. You should be sending me what you would be sending to Dave...and I am finding many are not careful enough about submitting error-free manuscripts. This will be a FAIL, even with a great story. Good call, Preston! And thanks again for posting your list.

Here's the good news. You took this challenge--to commit to writing four FRESH stories, not rewrites--because you knew you could push yourself to do it, or needed to push yourself to do it. Either way, it likely means you've already been employing many of these skills. You don't have to fret about doing them all, because you are already doing MOST. But there's one or two you must be weak in, or your story would be hitting higher marks, or getting to the bullseye of the eight finalists, or even passing the four judges for the win. Use these Secrets to figure out what your blind spot is. Use a partner with more skill than you to help you find your blind spot. And then fix it. Do better. Write more. It all comes through understanding...and writing.

As Brittany said, lightbulbs will happen.

Light 'em up!

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

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

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Mon May 20, 2019 3:43 pm

I’ve just crossed 14k of new material, which is not going to WOTF but to F&SF Mag. But still a new story. Sort of.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon May 20, 2019 5:03 pm

Corbin Maxwell wrote:I’ve just crossed 14k of new material, which is not going to WOTF but to F&SF Mag. But still a new story. Sort of.


Much success with that story. F&SF is a great pro market with good readership.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon May 20, 2019 5:06 pm

So, Brittany shared which SUPER SECRETS helped her the most, and why they did so. Anyone else want to share what's helped their writing before I post more?
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue May 21, 2019 8:21 am

Well, I liked Brittany's tennis coach's quote: "Practice doesn't make perfect--perfect practice does." DELIBERATE practice. FOCUSED practice. Practice is writing. But FOCUSED practice? That's practice where we are actively engaged in improving our skills. That's trying to turn in our best, recognizing that the next thing we write is going to likely be better than the thing we wrote before--if we engaged in FOCUSED practice. If we are trying to grow, and not just turning something in for the sake of saying we entered every quarter. When I hear people say they got their story in early, and their next quarter's done too, unless you have some event that's going to keep you from submitting that quarter, why? Write to win. If you have time to write more than one story a quarter (and the ultimate goal for all of us should be to get to the level of writing a story or chapter a week), you should be selecting your pick of the litter for the dog show, because you want to WIN, not just say you enterred.

WIN may sound commercial. It may sound crass to those that wish to be *artistes*. But WIN is important. It is a marker. It means you are finally writing stories of high enough caliber that editors are now willing to pay you for them. In writing, this is how you show your work. This is your art show. Writers of the Future is a beautiful prestigious art gallery and you want your work hanging on that wall. So, like any good artist, you target that gallery, focus on the artists they are showing, and you work your hardest to level up and present to the owners your very best portfolio to get in those doors. You don't hand them drawings you did in grade school. You show them works that are so good, they won ribbons, they got you accredited with various professional societies, they appeared in another known gallery. And then you show them what you just made, your latest and greatest, and how you have always longed to show in this gallery, it's been a dream of yours. And if you have worked to create your best, and you show them your best, you just might have a chance. Writing is like that. Winning this contest is like that.

Remember: if it's an important gallery, someone else has that same dream, and is trying with all their might and focused effort to get showcased on those same walls. Someone with blue ribbons and prestigious art school training and accredited by some famous society of peers. They are doing everything, just like you, to get their work to a level that will meet this owner's discriminating tastes and be accepted. You have to want it more. You have to work harder. Because this is YOUR dream.

And it won't end once you win WotF. So it's good to learn this now, while the playing field is a bit more levelled. Listen to what Dave said today in his Tips: "I also sometimes hear new writers talk about how tough it is to write professionally. They’re correct. Writing crap is easy. Writing at a level where you are competing against the best writers of today, can be hard. But it can also be very, very rewarding."

Writing crap is easy. We aren't talking about churning words for the sake of bumping word counts. We're talking about becoming one of those *best writers of today.* That takes focused practice. That takes turning in our BEST work.

Which is why I have created these SUPER SECRETS. Use them. Pick one you sense you're weak in and really work on it until you feel you've got it mastered.

Because someone else already is. They are most likely right next to you, on this challenge list. Because that's why they're here...

All the beast,

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

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

Postby TimE » Tue May 21, 2019 10:46 am

I like my Q2 entry a lot. Feels my best entry yet. I don't think my Q3 attempts are crap, but if my Q2 entry isn't good enough then it doesn't seem worthwhile completing and entering my Q3.
The Q3 I'm struggling with effectively continues the style of my Q2 (very different story). Perhaps I should try something completely different rather than 'practise' the same style.
mmm.... thinks...
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Tue May 21, 2019 11:22 am

TimE wrote:I like my Q2 entry a lot. Feels my best entry yet. I don't think my Q3 attempts are crap, but if my Q2 entry isn't good enough then it doesn't seem worthwhile completing and entering my Q3.
The Q3 I'm struggling with effectively continues the style of my Q2 (very different story). Perhaps I should try something completely different rather than 'practise' the same style.
mmm.... thinks...



You should keep in mind that just because you don't win doesn't mean your writing wasn't necessarily good enough, only that the needs of the contest weren't met by your piece. Your Q2 may not have exactly what they want, but a subsequent entry might. You just have to keep writing your stories and keep sending them out. That's why you write for yourself first; you write because it makes you feel good and because you cannot not write regardless of publication.

When you're at your lowest in life, and still write, then you know you're a true writer.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Tue May 21, 2019 11:32 am

preston wrote:This is all great stuff, Wulf, and very helpful knowledge. I sure learned some stuff. In the same spirit of giving, I can perhaps add a little bit to all of this. I've read every WOTF volume multiple times, and have studied all the stories looking for commonalities. As a result I've come up with about seven items which are present in almost all the winning stories. Here, in no particular order, are the seven things that appear in WOTF winning stories.

1. An inventive, unique, creative trope. A new twist on an old idea. Something different. IMHO, this is the single most important element. Judges have said multiple times that originality is a must!

2. A strong hook. This hearkens to Wulf's tip #15. Don't start with someone waking up. Don't start with stale exposition. Start "en media res" and deliver your very best stuff asap. Make your story accessible and readable.

3. Polished prose. One or two errors are fine. Three or four will be forgiven if the story is fantastic. But the readers for this contest can tell very quickly if they are in the hands of someone who knows the tool of their craft. Your prose can be lyrical, or transparent, or clever, but it should be as free of errors as you can possibly make it.

4. A Satisfying Ending. Every time I finish a WOTF story, I marvel at how the author has managed to satisfy the reader. KD and Dave have both discussed endings and how important they are. A satisfying ending is one which involves a catharsis, a change in character, the solving of the main dilemma facing the MC, and done in a way that's inventive, unexpected and packs an emotional punch. Stories with upbeat endings are far more common in the WOTF books than dark endings.

5. A well-structured plot. Slice of life stories, meandering musings, and unfocused narratives do not appear much in the WOTF books. Instead we find well-plotted stories with try/fail cycles, an easy-to-identify conflict that escalates from the MC to the world around them, unexpected twists, characters that move and change both physically, geographically, and emotionally. There must be a story with a beginning, middle, climax and an end.

6. Vivid and Interesting setting. Look at the settings in the WOTF books and you will be amazed at their creativity, imagery and detail. Your setting should be as creative, original and inventive as possible. Specific and accurate. Should appeal to all the senses, touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing.

7. Strong believable characters. This is all about "voice" and "POV." The characters are real and vividly imagined. They are interesting people who we are able to identify with because the author has written the internal dialogue that is needed in a well-balanced story.

Now all of this is pretty much exactly what Wulf has written above, but it was something I put together before winning the contest. Funny, I shared it with another finalist who had also put together a list of "elements" in wotf-winning stories. His list and mine were almost exactly the same, with a few tiny minor variations in the way we worded it.

I think for me the problem was, while I had the recipe, I could never put it all together. I'd write a story and it would have elements 1, 2, 4, 6 & 7, but were missing 5 # 3. And of course, every variation of that. The trick is getting all these elements into one story! Which is really hard!

So, hope that helps. And thanks for the tips, Wulf! My favorite is #28. It's both so easy and so difficult!



2. A strong hook. This hearkens to Wulf's tip #15. Don't start with someone waking up. Don't start with stale exposition. Start "en media res" and deliver your very best stuff asap. Make your story accessible and readable.


As to not starting with someone waking up, I'm not so sure that's a hard rule. So I have this to say:

When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world. His hand rose and fell softly with each precious breath. He pushed away the plastic tarpaulin and raised himself in the stinking robes and blankets and looked toward the east for any light but there was none. In the dream from which he'd wakened he had wandered in a cave where the child led him by the hand. Their light playing over the wet flowstone walls. Like pilgrims in a fable swallowed up and lost among the inward parts of some granitic beast. Deep stone flues where the water dripped and sang. Tolling in the silence the minutes of the earth and the hours and the days of it and the years without cease. Until they stood in a great stone room where lay a black and ancient lake. And on the far shore a creature that raised its dripping mouth from the rimstone pool and stared into the light with eyes dead white and sightless as the eggs of spiders. It swung its head low over the water as if to take the scent of what it could not see. Crouching there pale and naked and translucent, its alabaster bones cast up in shadow on the rocks behind it. Its bowels, its beating heart. The brain that pulsed in a dull glass bell. It swung its head from side to side and then gave out a low moan and turned and lurched away and loped soundlessly into the dark.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue May 21, 2019 12:23 pm

There are exceptions to every rule. I just advised someone in a critique to keep such an opening, IF they did some changes to justify it. But opening with a character waking up is a well known new writer mistake. Do this at your own peril. And I'm not the only one saying it. Here is one of Dave's Tips that comments on it, because he has seen this problem in this very contest many times:

"Powerful Openings

Is your opening powerful? If not, why not?

I’ve been judging a huge writing contest this week, and had literally a couple hundred stories that came close to placing as finalists. These stories were good, the writing beautiful, but the story itself was often flawed—and usually in the opening.

You see, in a short story, every scene must be needed. Every paragraph, every sentence, should be vital. There should be no deadwood.

Think of your scenes as links on a chain. If one of those links is rusty or broken, the whole chain is weak.

So how do you break the story early on? The most common way is to have a character traveling to a meeting. Maybe John is driving down the freeway to the most important meeting in his life, or Urcyk is climbing a mountain pass to reach the temple that his mentor is in, or Glom 38 is landing his ship inhabited only by biological organisms—no hope of sentient life at all.

The question is, does the character need to be in a vehicle thinking, instead of doing something?

A similar problem occurs when your character starts out asleep and wakes up. Boring.

What’s even worse is when your character has been running and finds himself sitting on a log, wondering how he had gotten himself into this terrible predicament.

Your story begins when you have a character (likeable or not), in a setting (interesting or not), with a problem (and it darned well ought to be a doozy). My mentor Algis Budrys said that as a rule of thumb, if a writer doesn’t have that by page two, then the story most likely isn’t sellable. He’s right. The stories that do well in my competition are the ones that grip me from the first page to the last.

Remember, the first link in your chain must be strong. Then make sure that every other link is just as formidable. Oh, and the ending link: it needs to be stronger than all the rest."
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Tue May 21, 2019 12:42 pm

But what does everyone think of the quoted paragraph? Is it hurt by having the main character start by waking up?
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Tue May 21, 2019 1:28 pm

Corbin Maxwell wrote:But what does everyone think of the quoted paragraph? Is it hurt by having the main character start by waking up?


I can't remember which of Dave's tip emails it was in, but he said something along the lines of you can prove him wrong and go against his tips. Heck, there are hundreds of ways to do it "right"--but there are a lot more to do it wrong. He's just giving general advice. Same with Wulf. The general advice is that opening with a wake-up scene is less powerful. Generally.

But you'll find plenty of good books that seem to negate this rule. The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which you quote here, is a Pulitzer Prize winner. He was inspired to write it when he was at a hotel, watching his son sleep, and imagining what the world would be like in fifty or a hundred years. You can feel that in his writing. Maze runner also opens with the MC just waking up.

There are ways to do it right.

There are many more ways to do it wrong.

At least, that's what I've understood from the tips I've read...
Brittany Rainsdon
R-SHM-HM-R-HM-R-F-F-HM-HM

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

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

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Tue May 21, 2019 1:46 pm

Of course in Maze Runner that would be absolutely necessary to the story given the story world.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




SF x 1
HM x 10

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

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Tue May 21, 2019 1:51 pm

thegirlintheglasses wrote:
Corbin Maxwell wrote:But what does everyone think of the quoted paragraph? Is it hurt by having the main character start by waking up?


I can't remember which of Dave's tip emails it was in, but he said something along the lines of you can prove him wrong and go against his tips. Heck, there are hundreds of ways to do it "right"--but there are a lot more to do it wrong. He's just giving general advice. Same with Wulf. The general advice is that opening with a wake-up scene is less powerful. Generally.

But you'll find plenty of good books that seem to negate this rule. The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which you quote here, is a Pulitzer Prize winner. He was inspired to write it when he was at a hotel, watching his son sleep, and imagining what the world would be like in fifty or a hundred years. You can feel that in his writing. Maze runner also opens with the MC just waking up.

There are ways to do it right.

There are many more ways to do it wrong.

At least, that's what I've understood from the tips I've read...


A fellow Cormac McCarthy fan?
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




SF x 1
HM x 10

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

Postby TimE » Tue May 21, 2019 11:35 pm

Corbin Maxwell wrote:
TimE wrote:I like my Q2 entry a lot. Feels my best entry yet. I don't think my Q3 attempts are crap, but if my Q2 entry isn't good enough then it doesn't seem worthwhile completing and entering my Q3.
The Q3 I'm struggling with effectively continues the style of my Q2 (very different story). Perhaps I should try something completely different rather than 'practise' the same style.
mmm.... thinks...



You should keep in mind that just because you don't win doesn't mean your writing wasn't necessarily good enough, only that the needs of the contest weren't met by your piece. Your Q2 may not have exactly what they want, but a subsequent entry might. You just have to keep writing your stories and keep sending them out. That's why you write for yourself first; you write because it makes you feel good and because you cannot not write regardless of publication.

When you're at your lowest in life, and still write, then you know you're a true writer.


Thanks for responding. As per your post in the other thread - I don't want to spend 18 months on the same story - only to get an 'R', but perhaps like you with that story, I'm sure I have the basis of a good idea.
My post was in this thread because Wulf's reference to posting every quarter - or not.

And as you and Peony wrote - keep writing.
5*R 2*HM - I thought I was getting closer, but perhaps not.
CWA-Debut Dagger shortlist. https://thecwa.co.uk/colours/ (Still trying to find my genre - but perhaps it scifi!)

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed May 22, 2019 9:55 am

Hey, gang. I feel the need to remind everyone this is a topic I set up for a challenge. The challenge is a simple one. Write a fresh, new story for each of the four quarters for Volume 36. There's another challenge going on for sending whatever you wish in each quarter. Dustin Adams originally founded that challenge, and it's a good one.

But if you are here, it's because you liked this idea and chose to sign up for my challenge. There's a list. Some said they came in late, but would do three fresh, and so I included them by making a 3 in 4 challenge. The point is, and I've made it before, if you're commenting here, you signed up for the challenge. If your name isn't on the challenge list, you didn't sign up. So I ask again that comments by non members of this challenge be sparing--there's plenty of room in the forum boards to make your own topic. Commentary here should be motivated by cheering the runners in this challenge on. Like Preston's wonderful post. Like Brittany's. One or two have dropped out of the challenge by sending in an older story or not submitting, and that's fine, life happens and choices must be made. But this challenge, and the member commentary, is for those still on the course, and for those cheering on the runners, even if they can no longer run in it.

I seriously do not have time to back up and defend the challenge, nor the value of the tips I'm sharing--especially to those not in the challenge. Especially on a tip as obvious as don't start your story with a protagonist getting out of bed in the morning. Nor do I appreciate commentary that questions my motives for writing. Take it somewhere else. Make up your own topic with your own tips. But please stop hijacking mine.

I do wish you all the very best in your writing. Now let me get back to sharing with those that took this challenge the tips I promised to help them improve their writing, and yes, to hopefully win this contest. I have many more, and I know they and many others would like to hear them. This is, after all, Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge. I promised writing tips that helped me over the years, and you don't have to like them or even agree with them. The members of this challenge have appreciated them, and have been writing me privately asking me to keep it up.

And before I see more comments like "I was only doing this because..." Please. Just don't. We all have better things to do, and I have a promise to keep to the challenge members.

All the beast,

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

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed May 22, 2019 10:54 am

And in fulfilling my promise AND in returning to the discussion we were originally on:

Moon's SUPER SECRET #29: Help your subconscious to ENGAGE.

You have a monster under your bed. He's a wild and superintelligent monster that has all kinds of weird appendages, and when he crawls out from under the bed, he can spray your room in neon colors and make aliens tap at your window and turn your sheets into drum heads that bang out primal tempos. When you were younger, he hid the password to your school locker, he stripped you naked and kept you from knowing it until you walked into class, he gave you levitation powers so you could float like a balloon over your house. My monster is a siren--she makes movies for me every night, and develops a unique soundtrack to each one, and then torments me with wisps from those theme songs when I awake and try to gather them to me.

All of this happens every night as we sort through the meaning of the prior day. The monster? The siren? The muse? That's our subconscious, and it's the most powerful tool a writer has, because it creates the stuff of dreams. It's where your best writing comes from. Lots of writers know this, and have all kinds of tricks to switch off their analytical mind, their critical mind, so that they can invite this superintelligent monster to come out and play. Because when he does, when a writer gets out of its way, magic happens on the page.

So how do you get the subconscious to go to work for you? It's inside of you, so the methods you employ must be unique to you. But rest assured you have this critter inside of you. Every night, without scripts, without production crews, without musicians and orchestras and sound engineers and actors and actresses, you are creating wildly imaginative technicolor movies. This happens because your conscious mind is no longer keeping it in check, and look what it does when it's let loose! So how do you let it loose during the day? You're going to need triggers. External stimuli that make your subconscious salivate every time it hears the sound.

For me, it's a literal sound I've trained my subconscious to engage with. Before I begin my writing session, I fire up the teapot. When I hear that whistle blow, it's like a gun going off at the racetrack, and my mystic stallion rises up and says, "Let's run!" The external stimuli really helps me, and I drift into a deep dreamspace as I do my tea ritual and settle with the warmth and aroma into my office. I give myself permission to let go of the real world...and dream.

David Farland, our dear contest judge, does meditation before he writes to get into that secret mental space. He teaches it too, so I shall leave that discussion to him.

But here's some other things that might help you get the monster out from under your bed and dance you a merry jig.

1. Dedicated writing space. This is your dreamspace. It can't be filled with bills and the phone ringing with those collectors of those bills. It's for dreaming up your muse, and dreaming up stories. Surround yourself with power totems in that dreamspace. They can be the obvious awards on the shelves and certificates on the walls, copies of things you've had published, even personal rejections that have meant a lot to you. They can be pictures or art--I have a couple of power paintings I've done above my work station. Fittingly, one is of an eagle in a stoop titled, "Focused." But my favorite totem at eye level at my desk? When I had lunch at Surrey Writers with Terry Brooks, I picked up his place setting sign and asked him to pen a message to spur me on. He wrote: "Okay, Moon. Get busy and WRITE!!!" It's a good totem, and I always look at it when I start. I also surround myself with books. My office is filled with books from my favorite authors, and all of my many interests. It gives me comfort.

Okay, most of us can't build a shack for our dreamspace like Piers Anthony did. We simply don't have the yard, don't have the room in the house. But we can hide all the stuff that's pulling us away from dreamspace. Remove things that will make your analytical mind want to engage. And for the love of writing, SHUT OFF YOUR PHONES AND MESSAGE SYSTEMS! Fastest way to kill a dream is to have the phone ring. You can do this. Forward to a service or silent message recorder. I mean it. Don't even let the answering machine click when it goes on. It will pull you out of dreamstate.

2. Routine. A writing routine is the best friend you've got. I'm lousy at it, I'm a burst writer, idea generated. But there is power in doing a thing every day like clockwork. The routine becomes automatic, and when writing becomes automatic, your subconscious climbs out from under the bed. Because it doesn't like to work, it likes to party, and you've made writing so automatic, you don't have to think about sentence structure and dialogue anymore. It's just happening, and the subsconscious doesn't have to back away. It ENGAGES when things are free and easy. Routines make that happen.

3. Time you write. Believe it or not, you have a perfect Brainergy time. The time when your brain works best, when the synapses are doing happy dances to the flamenco. Find your best Brainergy time. If you're a morning person, write then. If you're a night owl, set up your schedule to write then. Make it easy for your brain to fire, because when that happens, the monster comes out to dance.

4. Write your million words. Yeah, whether Chandler said it, or Sturgeon said it, everybody knows the more you do something, the better you get at it. And when you get really, really good at something, you cross that elusive threshold from apprentice to master. Master is where it's at. The true craftsmen are there, the people that create things so beautiful and out of this world, we whisper things like, "Genius. Meastro. Prodigy." Indeed, they had some talent. But they honed that talent razor sharp by thousands of hours of practice, until it became effortless. And when a thing becomes effortless, the master pushes in new directions, because they can. The subconscious just eats that kind of fuel up, because it's so easy for it to come out and play, and the artist has just given it all the muscles through tremendous practice to make fresh leaps and bounds. Write until it becomes effortless. Then watch what happens. Every pro knows this.

5. Write full time. Okay, that's virtually impossible in the beginning, but it should always be your goal. The sooner you can find a way to write full time, the sooner will you develop the skills to write automatically, which will allow your subconscious to jump out from under the bed and take you on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, because prim and proper Mr. Analytical is no longer hogging the wheel. And if you can't write full time--bills must be paid--reduce your expenses so you don't have to work as much. Then, use that freed up time to write.

6. Music. This works for some. They fire up theme songs from LOTR or Braveheart and it stirs their inner beast and out from under the bed he comes. Most will tell you it can't have lyrics in it--the words engage the analytical mind. So if music works for you, find your dance mix and dance your heart out. Okay, write mix. You get the point. As a side note, I can't write and listen to music. My mind already makes music from any external sounds it hears (if you've watched the movie August Rush, you'll know what I'm dealing with). But when I do watercolor, for some reason it works, and I can listen to New Age music and it puts me into that Zen dreamstate and I'm swirling colors and melding images effortlessly.

7. Aroma. Incense has long been used in religious ceremonies to help induce a meditative state. Realtors love having smells of fresh baked cookies or apple pie in the kitchens of their open houses to stir up scent memories of hearth and home. And who hasn't walked by a burger joint and caught the scent of broiled meat and not felt a sudden hunger pang? Sometimes I do believe these places are blowing that scent your way intentionally, that it's in the design, because the masterminds know that scent can trigger a hunger response. If I can think of it, I'm sure they can, and have. Well, we can use the same trick to lure that psychadelic monster out from under the bed. Incense is too cloying for me, I don't like choking as I write. But I used to use a diffuser with essential oils, and the right ones really made me chill and told my subconscious it's a sunny day, come out and play. I love the smell of lavender, but beware, it's soporific, and you don't want to get drowsy, just calm and meditative. Escents Aromatherapy has some nice mixes, and their Rejuvenating mix with bergamot and grapefruit are good stimulating scents for me. Alas, I don't use a diffuser anymore because the scents are really bad for cat's lungs. I just open the bottle now and take a whiff. It's Pavlovian conditioning, and it works for me.

8. Favorite foods. This one is dangerous. Because we spend a lot of time sitting on our butts, and conditioning our subconscious to come out every time we eat a donut will not be good for our health. But I know a judge in this contest that stocks up on their favorite foods when they begin a writing project. Comfort food. Food that makes them happy. Because when they're happy, that monster under the bed likes to come out and party.

9. Exercise. Yeah, I did this one to counter #8. I know other writers that won't begin their writing session without a morning walk or run. When they're done, they've got their body in the right state to relax and let the visions flow. Me? Because of my back, I'd just be in greater pain for the rest of the day, and having a gremlin gnawing at my spine is the wrong kind of monster I want to bring out. But for some this works really well.

10. Alcohol. Just say no when writing is involved. Lay off the barleycorn. Jack London and many others have proven it's a crutch, and ruins many a good writer. Same goes for recreational drugs.

11. Reading. Read, the night before your writing session, from a book on the topic of your current work in progress. As you sleep, your subconscious is going to come out from under the bed and build a jazz band out of that material. Or a horror movie. Or a swirling Van Gogh. You won't know it. The monster rarely tells you much of what kind of production he created in the night--the conscious slides a curtain over his stage and says, "Get back under the bed! We've got the real world to deal with today." But he'll leave you presents. Watch what happens to your writing when you give your subconscious the right toys to play with the night before.

12. Shower. Don't ask me why this works. But it does. For many. Something about the combo of heat and steam and circulation? I dunno. But when I get blocked in my writing, I go take a shower, and suddenly, the answer appears and I rush back to my writing--sometimes dripping wet--and ideas are flowing like a fountain where the earth was dry and cracked before. This has the added benefit of making us smell good and feel clean--good for the ego, and this too can stimulate the subconscious.

We are all unique. Find whatever works for you. Ring that bell and get your technicolor monster to leap out from under the bed on command. He's got the magic in him. Train him to splash it all over your work in progress.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon
Last edited by Wulf Moon on Wed May 22, 2019 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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

Postby storysinger » Wed May 22, 2019 4:31 pm

1. Got that one already and it is my comfy hideaway. One laptop is so dedicated to writing it's never connected to the internet. The other one only comes on when researching a topic for a story, or checking emails.
2. Routine. That's a hard one there. I have so many irons in the fire I seem to be busy all the time so I write when I can.(Almost every day)
I'm putting together an article to submit to a newspaper and need to have it done in two days.
3. From noon on works well for me and I get most of my work done in a timely manner.
4. Write 1,000,000 words. That's going to take some time but I have it as a goal.
5. Well one thing that changed recently was I contacted some self-publishing companies and I'm compiling names and will study them all before committing. By this time next year I hope to have an income from selling stories.
6.I too work in silence because I always have a beat going on inside that keeps me self-motivated. Playing guitar, writing songs, and entertaining humans is where I already have my 10,000 hours in and I am able to zone into the moment and create happiness. Now I have become devoted to learning the craft of writing. I have a lot to learn.

Thanks for the help Wulf. It is much appreciated.

Write on!
HM-1
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed May 22, 2019 7:33 pm

storysinger wrote:1. Got that one already and it is my comfy hideaway. One laptop is so dedicated to writing it's never connected to the internet. The other one only comes on when researching a topic for a story, or checking emails.
2. Routine. That's a hard one there. I have so many irons in the fire I seem to be busy all the time so I write when I can.(Almost every day)
I'm putting together an article to submit to a newspaper and need to have it done in two days.
3. From noon on works well for me and I get most of my work done in a timely manner.
4. Write 1,000,000 words. That's going to take some time but I have it as a goal.
5. Well one thing that changed recently was I contacted some self-publishing companies and I'm compiling names and will study them all before committing. By this time next year I hope to have an income from selling stories.
6.I too work in silence because I always have a beat going on inside that keeps me self-motivated. Playing guitar, writing songs, and entertaining humans is where I already have my 10,000 hours in and I am able to zone into the moment and create happiness. Now I have become devoted to learning the craft of writing. I have a lot to learn.

Thanks for the help Wulf. It is much appreciated.

Write on!


You're welcome, Storysinger. Great idea to have a dedicated computer or laptop. Social programs are so hard to shut off. Even email. I can't get rid of that mail symbol, and it pops a number up when a new message comes in. It's REALLY hard to ignore. It might be the publishing contracts I'm waiting on! And it's not, and my muse got up and walked away because I was distracted instead of listening to her. : )

Don't sweat the million words. I think it's fascinating Rebecca is tabulating it so she can actually chart her progress. It will make a cool article one day. But it's good to remember it's just a number to represent a fact: we have to write A LOT to gain the skills necessary to write professionally. Because to sell something, we have to meet or beat the caliber of work other writers are producing, and the ones selling have written A LOT. So just dig in and keep writing. Whether you count the words or not. And in time, it will add up to A LOT. And then things start happening.

Cool on your music. Sounds like you've done a lot of performances. Wish I was closer, I'd love to listen in. Are you on Facebook?

Oh! If you want to learn Indie publishing, or traditional, doesn't matter, it's all covered at Superstars Writing Seminar. Aside from attending the WotF workshop--nobody can top that one--it is the best place to learn from the best how to self publish or traditional publish, how to design cover layouts and blurbs, how to get an agent...it's all there. Kevin J. Anderson and David Farland and Rebecca Moesta and Eric Flint are all founders of this event, and they're also WotF judges. If you can find a way, it is THE writing con for speculative fiction writers. Check it out. And if any of you wish to attend, use my code that gets you $100 off. WMOON. And yeah, full disclaimer, I'll get my fee covered if enough use that code. It's still the best writing con you will ever attend. You'll just have to trust me on that. Get there if you can.

All the beast!

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

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

Postby Helge Mahrt » Thu May 23, 2019 12:17 am

storysinger wrote:1. Got that one already and it is my comfy hideaway. One laptop is so dedicated to writing it's never connected to the internet. The other one only comes on when researching a topic for a story, or checking emails.


I hope you're backing up that laptop which is not connected to the internet. If you don't please, please, please start now! (And just backing up to a USB/hard drive which you keep in the same location is only half a backup)
R, HM, R
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby chuckt » Thu May 23, 2019 3:44 am

We were lucky enough to get to visit EB White's Maine farm a few years ago. He had a shack down by the water's edge where he wrote. Personally, I don't know how he wasn't distracted by the gorgeous view but I guess that's what worked for him. The current owner still had his "shack slippers" there. My youngest daughter got to try them on.
36 R,R,R, Pending

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

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Thu May 23, 2019 7:22 am

Latest updated list
THESE ARE OUR RUNNERS!!!! LET'S CHEER THEM ON!!!! wotf024 wotf024 wotf024

Full Challenge
-----------------

MWStallings Q1-F Q2 wotf017
Milominderbinder Q1-F Q2-F
Alicia Cay Q1-F Q2 wotf017
JVAshely Q1-F Q2-F
DoctorJest Q1-F Q2-F
Disgruntledpeony Q1-F Q2-F
TimE Q1-F Q2-F
AnikeKristen Q1-F Q2-F
Vsutherland01 Q1-F Q2-F
AjZach Q1-F Q2-F
jpayne1138 Q1-F Q2 wotf017
Storysinger Q1-F Q2-F
Dragonchef Q1-F Q2-F
LittleRed Q1-F Q2-F
Megan Q1-F Q2-F
ChuckT Q1-F Q2-F
BrandiJ Q1-F Q2-F

The Three Quarter Challenge
----------------------------------

thegirlintheglasses Q1-F Q2-F
RShibler Q1-C Q2-F
SCAFontaine Q1-F Q2-F
Michealjwyantjr Q1-C Q2-F
KDJulicher Q1-C Q2-F

jpayne1138, Alicia Cay, MWStallings--I'm still missing Q2 for? Did you guys sub? Also as Q3's come in, I'll try to keep up, but uh, sometimes I'm slow guys ;)

And I'm putting this up but combing through the threads today to add those who joined late. Give me today but if I miss it, message me privately and I'll be sure to add you here.
Last edited by thegirlintheglasses on Sat May 25, 2019 9:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Thu May 23, 2019 8:07 am

Wulf Moon wrote:And in fulfilling my promise AND in returning to the discussion we were originally on:

Moon's SUPER SECRET #29: Help your subconscious to ENGAGE.



12. Shower. Don't ask me why this works. But it does. For many. Something about the combo of heat and steam and circulation? I dunno. But when I get blocked in my writing, I go take a shower, and suddenly, the answer appears and I rush back to my writing--sometimes dripping wet--and ideas are flowing like a fountain where the earth was dry and cracked before. This has the added benefit of making us smell good and feel clean--good for the ego, and this too can stimulate the subconscious.

We are all unique. Find whatever works for you. Ring that bell and get your technicolor monster to leap out from under the bed on command. He's got the magic in him. Train him to splash it all over your work in progress.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon


There are probably others like me who are chasing kids, have work, or just squeeze writing time whenever they can--and it can be really hard to entice that fantastic beast to come out to play. For me, I try to take ANY quiet moment and let myself imagine. I remember when I was little, we'd go on 24 hour cross-country car rides to visit family...and I'd imagine characters chasing our car and hopping along the landscape--running along telephone poles--or whatever. Who? What? Why? It was a long time to keep myself occupied...

But I still engage my creative side whenever I'm doing otherwise mindless things: dishes, laundry, dusting, sweeping, mopping. Ways to make those things easier, how those things will change in fifty years, if that was all I was allowed to do. Last summer, I got a story idea when we were building bunk beds outside in the bright sun and I imagined what would it like to never see the sun--to grow up underground. I paid attention to the things I would miss (about the sun) so I could call them back when pen hit paper. I think paying attention to details can bring authenticity to stories...

When I'm in the pickup line for my kids, I pull out the latest anthology and read. I bring scratch paper and pen with me everywhere. Jot down ideas (for plot or cool tech). Paper stays by my bed too. Sometimes ideas come hard and fast and if I lose them, they're gone.

But once I've latched onto an idea, I just start writing in those snatches of quiet time. Inevitably I don't get very far before a kid needs something. It may only be 200 or 300 words... But once it's down, I have it...then my subconscious marinates on new twists and turns so that when I get back to writing, I have several paths I could take. Sometimes the path surprises me. Sometimes I leave loose ends that I can use later--or erase if I don't end up needing them (because every word needs to be important). This method keeps the suspense for me because I don't know exactly how it will "fall" in place. But leaving those the different paths and ideas gives my subconscious the opportunity to use those loose ends and tie them nicely FOR me as the story rounds out. It just "happens," if that makes sense??? When I first employed this method, though, I had to do a LOT of rewriting--figure out where the story went sideways--and the go back to banging my head against the wall until it just clicked. It usually comes much easier now. Shrug. There are stories I still have a hard time finishing.

Also, at risk of sounding weird, I'm going to add bathtime (kinda like showering) for bringing in the muse. In college, we had a hot tub in our apartment complex and my nursing buddies and I would bring our printed off notes and quiz each other in the hot water and bubbles. So fun! My husband and I do not own hot tub. But we have a nice soaker tub that I ADORE. So after sitting in the bath for a few minutes to relax, my mind wanders. I keep a notepad there too. I relax and then... writing happens... but maybe my getting writing done then has less to do with my subconscious and more to do with my husband taking charge of the kids for an hour. wotf019 wotf019 wotf019

Also, I cannot write with music on--but music (even music with words) can give me a story idea...

And I write at night. If I have an idea I NEED to get down, it's the only extended time I can put into writing. So it waits until the world is asleep. Then I can enter mine. wotf013
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu May 23, 2019 10:59 am

chuckt wrote:We were lucky enough to get to visit EB White's Maine farm a few years ago. He had a shack down by the water's edge where he wrote. Personally, I don't know how he wasn't distracted by the gorgeous view but I guess that's what worked for him. The current owner still had his "shack slippers" there. My youngest daughter got to try them on.


I didn't know that about E.B. White, Chuck. But it does show the value of dedicated creative writing space, if you can afford or find it. Artists have studios--same concept. I had a public one in our village on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands. It was great for meeting tourists and selling my work and teaching classes...and pretty lousy for getting work done. Interruptions--especially in watercolor where you have to move fast before the paper dries--are really tough to work with, and to get back into that creative Zen space where your muse comes out to play again.

Just a side point on Charlotte's Web. This was back in high school, my Freshman year. I took up Forensics and wrote my own story to read. At my first meet, I listened to a beautiful girl that read a portion from Charlotte's Web. As she read the lines, "Some pig. Some pig," *everyone* started bawling in that room. It was the best narration I had ever heard. Well, one wasn't crying. The judge. She scowled at this girl and said, "You read with too much emotion." I couldn't believe it. This girl had accomplished the impossible. She had made a room full of boys and girls in competition cry from her reading. And the judge had the gall to call her out on it. It was nasty.

Then my turn came. I read my story. As I sat down, the judge gave me her "I wish caning chidlren was legal in our country" look.

"Who did you say was the author of that story?"

I said my name.

"It says here on the roster that's also your name."

"It is. I wrote this story."

"That's impossible. There's no way a child your age could have written that story."

"Well, it's true. It's my story. I wrote it."

"It can't be. *Tell me* where you copied that from." This, in her Gom Jabbar Bene Gesserit voice.

"I didn't copy it. I wrote it."

"Well, you must be lying, boy. You plagiarized that story." And she pulled out her pen and slashed it down my score sheet like a saber.

I was mortified. Every kid in that room stared at me. Perhaps they were wondering if I was indeed a liar. But they were probably just thanking their lucky stars another kid was being immolated, instead of themselves.

I told my Forensic's coach what had happened--again, this was my very first meet--and she knew that coach's reputation and had it out with her. She told her it was absolutely my own story, and that I had already won many awards for my writing in various competitions, including this story I had read. That coach still wouldn't believe her, told her I must be a plagiarist, and stood by marking my reading with the lowest score possible. My coach told me she had done her best, said that judge had a reputation of lowballing to raise her kids' scores higher, and it was a dirty practice. She was fuming, said there was no way I could win now, but said I had done my best and told me not to let it get me down.

At the end of this regional meet, we went to the awards ceremony. That girl that made the room cry? She didn't survive the judge's lowballing, alas. And she quit Forensics after that--I never saw that girl at meets again. But there were six ribbons given out that day for readings, and as they called out the sixth place winner, I was shocked to hear my name. My judge made a fist, pounded it forward, and hissed, "Yes!" We discovered later the other judges had given me virtually perfect marks.

That dirty judge would be my nemesis for years to come--she was also her school's debate coach. She held her team out of the Middle Border Conference one year just so my partner and I couldn't beat them--because I had beaten her team in every meet up to the big one. By that time, I just pitied her--she was an annoyance, but could no longer humiliate me.

About four years later, I met my wife-to-be in another state. We got married, and about three years into our marriage, I told my wife about this wonderful reading I had heard from Charlotte's Web, how this girl had made the whole room cry, and how the judge had been cruel to her in front of them all.

My wife choked. "That was me!" And then she said, "Were you the boy that read that story that the judge called a liar and said he couldn't have written it?"

"Yes. That was me."

And we both said, "I can't believe it. We were both in that same room as kids!"

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


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