Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Workshop & Challenge!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Feb 10, 2020 4:59 pm

Great work on answering the questions, Wulf Pack! I have read the answers on every single one, and have enjoyed them all. Retro even gave us some bonus movie advertising budget info. : ) Do catch up if you haven't answered yet...marines, we are leaving! : ) Leah, if I failed to congratulate you on your second big sale, it's because I was going nuts trying to get the Mike Resnick tribute podcast done (it goes live at Future-SF.com on Wednesday, Feb 12th, or listen now as a Patreon supporter). Well done, Leah! Things like that don't happen without doing the work, and that includes studying the Secrets, writing fresh stories *regularly*, and sending them out like clockwork. Congratulations on reaping the rewards of your hard work!

Back to our regularly scheduled program. Why did I have you do the career path assignment? Most of us are just happy if we can get a personal rejection! Here's why. If you wish to become an apex writer, YOU must put the ape in apex. YOU have to become the 800 pound gorilla. How do you do that? By building up your writing muscles with smaller, reachable goals, but always with your eye on the future targets. Know what kind of writer you desire to be, map out the path like Dave did, and then look at the next plateau just above where you're at right now and ask yourself: What do I imagine that kind of writer does each day, what kind of habits does she have in place to attain and hold that position? When you figure that out, ask yourself about your own habits...and what I am trying to achieve with you here in this workshop/challenge. In truth, meeting the challenge goals I've set for you serve one purpose--to help you develop the skills necessary to become a professional writer. How far you take that is up to you...it's your career path, and you choose what you wish to define as success in the short term, and in the long term. But after analysis, set reasonable, reachable goals so you don't get discouraged, and build your writing and career skills.

Matthew, thank you for being the first to check in on the panel you picked for sharing with the group (while at dinner I had the Pack cite one by one the panel that they found most helpful, and gave them the assignment to make a report for those of you that could not attend.) I'm glad you shared this one. I agree with the philosophy, and I've been working on that very thing: many eggs in different baskets. Selling short stories. Freelance editing in both fiction and nonfiction. Voice acting. Sound engineering for podcasts. Multiple income streams to keep you floating so that when one thing isn't on fire, another is. It's great advice for those looking to work full time in the industry, and something to build toward.

It is true. Writers of the Future only has twelve slots a year. You must diversify and plan for a writing career, and Matt's advice is correct. Winning WotF is not the end game, it's only the start. The goal is to become a pro writer. Even if you don't win WotF, you will learn how to become a pro writer here if you really want it.

It is the purpose of this challenge. That, and to give you a pack of wolves to run with that have the same objective. I hope you form lifelong friendships here and continue to lift one another up as you reach new plateaus.

More reports to come! Do comment on what you enjoyed in each--those from here attending Superstars kindly agreed to write these to encourage you and to help you get the best from the best! It's nice to know you appreciate their efforts.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY of 2019.

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:41 pm

mrtevebaugh wrote:SUPERSTARS SUMMARY
Hey all, Wulf asked me to put together some notes on one of the sessions I attended at Superstars writing seminar last week. So here you go.

Lots of Eggs in Lots of Baskets - Dan Wells


Thanks so much for sharing some of what you learned there. I’m a big fan of Wells’ serial killer series. Interesting to hear it does so well in Germany. I think the many eggs in different baskets is a point a friend made to me last year, and maybe heard in a Wells conversation before on a podcast, but it definitely ties in with the recent career plan assignment and also a good reminder to continue submitting to other markets.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:00 pm

Thank you, Matthew, for your spot-on intellectual objectivity from the Seminar you attended.

One of the Apex writers is Stephen King. We know him as a superstar, a master at his craft, his books turned into multimillion cinema features. (IT.)

It wasn't always that way. A few years ago, our family visited beautiful Maine to attend our son's Masters Diploma graduation from University. We went on the Stephen King coach tour and learned a great deal about this man. He was dirt poor, lived in what resembled a trailer home, his office was a cubicle, and one of the publishers at the time told him outright his work was garbage, he would NEVER be a real author, they didn't like CARRIE at all, and was particular disappointed in his endings. On one of his works, the editor, agent or publisher (I forget, it's been a few years) told him his story was too long and either he trimmed it, or forfeit the deal. For one deal, Stephen got excited when he thought it was a few thousand dollars. He almost fell over when he found out it was considerably more than that. He taught in a local high school. We were shown the sewer which inspired IT, we saw the statue of Paul Bunyan, we stopped in front of his home with its gargoyles and wrought-iron fence.

I don't think it would ruin any spoilers to say the town Derry, Maine is really Bangor. King loves his community, he's a down-to-earth kind of guy, and takes enormous pride in his community. For half the year, he's down in his summer home in Florida. The sewer system in Bangor is a real thing, and you wouldn't want to get lost down there. Overall, the tour was great and we enjoyed it.

My point: Here is a guy who literally had NOTHING and, through sheer grit and determination, became an Apex Writer. My second point: Overnight success usually takes fifteen years, lol.

Best,

Retro

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:36 pm

Hi all. I've been off line for a while, but now I'm back in black (Actually, I'm wearing cream colored shorts and a blue checkers short-sleeve button up shirt... but I'm bound to spill dinner over it in a few min. Then I'll wear black).

Anyway, just to briefly catch up:
    Contrads to SwiftPotato for your publication! That's awesome.
    To all of you who attended Superstars: I'm jealous and sulking. Don't ever talk to me again. (Just kidding. I'd love to hear all about it).
    I'm behind in the assignment. I'll do that in the next day or two. Looks like some super good answers so far.
    I'm an idiot and completely incapable of keeping track of y'alls names v/s your user names. If we're not already friends on FB (I think there are still a few of you left) then send me a friend request. Always delighted to catch up.
    I've completed my Q2 sub today (minus a few min editing on denouement). Next up (for my other story this quarter), which I intend to completely make up as I go along, because I ain't got a clue. But, through the grace of an ice cold energy drink and perhaps a beef and bean burrito, I will persevere.
Good times.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (published @ Sci-fi Lampoon)
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – ?
(2020) V37 Q2 – ?

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby crlisle » Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:44 pm

This forum rocks! I have just finished KYD for VITAL FLAW and will be submitting it for publication after submitting it for editing. It turned out great! I had to ask my husband what vital flaw meant, but once he explained it, the story arrived and was written. I am aiming for children's science fiction magazines.
Q4 36 R
Q1 37 pending
Q2 37 submitted
Sci Fi Lampoon, "My Ten Cents"

"Never give up. Never Surrender." - Galaxy Quest

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:51 pm

I’m getting better at sending work out! I now have five pieces pending a response: one short story at WotF for Q1, three short stories at other paying markets (BCS, Clarkesworld, and Strange Horizons), and one flash at FFO. The flash was based on Blood Suckers, rejected by Flame Tree then sent out again. I plan on sending at least five more out, maybe more, once I have time later this week. Have to deal with day job work deadlines and attempted freelancer visa renewal first...
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2015-2019: 4 HMs, 9 Rs

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:03 pm

When trying to send work out, I did notice I have an issue with disorganized folders. It’s something I’ve meant to go fix with my DJing folders as well. I didn’t realize how much of an issue with the writing it was until trying to sort out which revisions of my Honorable Mention stories were the latest. I ended up leaving the HMs to untangle later.

Any particular suggestions from the group on best approach to organizing folders with drafts (for flash, shorts, novels, poetry), submissions, critiques, research, study of the craft, etc.? I think I’ll continue to centralize everything in an an online drive I sync to with a backup on two external drives. I’m just rethinking folder and subfolder organization as that got a bit out of sync when I started focusing on only using my online drive last year, paired with extensive use of Scrivener for drafting.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby zeeteebeez » Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:58 pm

Back from an exhausting vacation. Developed the seed for one of this quarter's stories while driving.

oishisushi, not sure if I'm qualified to give a suggestion, but what I do is title each submission something like storynamewotf.doc. Then when I go to submit to another market I will pull that file up, edit it to match the new market's submission guidelines, then resave under a different file name, like storynamefsf.doc, and so on. So my drafts usually are just something like shortstory.doc until it's finished, then it gets renamed. I tend to be an organized chaos type of person, never super tidy, never too disorganized, so that works well enough for me.

Career map assignment:

1. Do most writers map out their career path, or do they simply “follow their heart?”
- Follow their heart

2. Why might it be good to map out your career goals?
- Setting goals can provide you more direction. If you know your destination, you'll waste less time meandering on roads to nowhere.

THE NEWBIE

3. What is usually the goal of new writers?
- Become published. Somewhere. Anywhere.

4. If they can’t get traditionally published, what other route is there?
-Self-publishing

THE PROVEN WRITER

5. What is a “proven writer?”
- Someone who has sold a few short stories to a few different respectable market editors, or a couple of novels.

6. Why do publishers seek them?
- They know how to do it. They have proven they have the ability.

7. How do you become a proven writer?
- write, write, write, until you've sold a few.

8. How can Writers of the Future help you with this? How did it help David Farland?
- That's one big sale down. Dave's wotf win, along with others, was enough to convince editors that he had what it took.

9. What three areas must you prove yourself in?
- Consistency, quality, market appeal

THE MIDLIST

10. What is a midlist author?
- An author who is taken seriously based purely on their previous work, but receives no special consideration in publishing after selling.

11. What things should a midlist author be doing to “up their game?”
- Work on increasing quality to potentially win awards, and market appeal to generate a bigger audience

LEAD AUTHOR

12. What two ways does Dave list as to how an author reaches “lead author” status?
- Awards/Gaining a large following

13. What bonuses do publishers give their lead authors?
- Extra marketing push

14. How many books do you usually have to write and have success with before publishers will start considering you as their lead author?
-five to eight

SUPER LEAD

15. What is a “super lead” author?
- An author who has no need for such common things as a "day job"

16. How does the publisher grow the super lead’s base?
- $$$. Marketing. Promoting their books all over the place, for a long time, in special ways

17. Name some super lead authors and the kind of fan base we’re talking about.
- Dan Brown, Robert Jordan to name a couple that weren't mentioned as "apex." Brandon Sanderson I would say falls into this category, though I suspect he's well on his way to Apex

18. What happens with movie producers when your books sell at these levels?
- They begin tripping over themselves to offer you movie rights. As Dave says, at certain levels it's just stupid for them to NOT make the movie

19. When you get a blockbuster movie made from your book, what happens to your base?
- Your audience widens

APEX WRITER

20. What is an “apex writer” and who put the ape in apex?
- I think of Apex writers as the people that average people recognize, even if they haven't read their books/seen their movies

21. Do you become an apex writer by being a hobby writer?
- You do not
Z.T.

5x HM

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:05 am

Hey Wulf Pack. Anyone up for a crit swap? Mine is sci fi just under 7k.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (published @ Sci-fi Lampoon)
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – ?
(2020) V37 Q2 – ?

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby TimE » Wed Feb 12, 2020 5:27 am

Henckel wrote:Hey Wulf Pack. Anyone up for a crit swap? Mine is sci fi just under 7k.


I've got nothing to swap just yet, but I'll take a look if you were happy with my last crit of yours.
5*R 3*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: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Wed Feb 12, 2020 6:37 am

Henckel wrote:Hey Wulf Pack. Anyone up for a crit swap? Mine is sci fi just under 7k.


I'll swap! I have a story written but want to read through it at least once more before sending it over; I'll have it ready later today or maybe tomorrow. But I should be able to read your story in the next day or two!
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:09 am

Thanks TimE and CCrofofd! I'll take you both up on your kind offers and repay the favor whenever your stories are ready.

Just flick me an email christopher.heneckel (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll send it over.

I really appreciate your help.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (published @ Sci-fi Lampoon)
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – ?
(2020) V37 Q2 – ?

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:13 pm

Zeet, Thanks for your answers. I do believe Brandon Sanderson is an Apex writer. He just hasn't had a movie made from his books yet, but I've got to believe that is coming.

As we await the other reports from our members that were at Superstars, here's something to consider. The power of finding your Tribe and working as a wolf pack. We here are such a pack, but once upon a time, I belonged to another. Wordos--probably the most powerful speculative fiction writing group in the country. You can read about it here: https://www.writersofthefuture.com/one- ... s-cluster/

Also, I'd like to ask all of you a favor. I did a tribute podcast for Mike Resnick from the stories he wrote for us at Future SF. It's free, it went live today, and it directs listeners to the GoFundMe page for his widow. Would you please go to my Facebook wall and share on yours? Thanks for remembering Mike and all he did for the SF community, and for aspiring writers. Here's the link to my post: https://www.facebook.com/10002185413266 ... 867707912/

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY of 2019.

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Wed Feb 12, 2020 6:42 pm

I took Dan Well's class on "Creating Character Arcs" and it was awesome. Not only does he sound just like he does on Writing Excuses, but the information was amazing. It just helped me finish off my Q2 submission.

Basically, he walked the class through the Three-Act Structure with an emphasis on the internal character journey. The first things to understand about your story are the following:

1. The Lie The Character Believes (they know something is wrong, but they don't know what)
2. The Normal World (which reinforces and empowers the lie, establish early)
3. The Thing the Character Wants (which is wrong)
4. The Thing the Character Needs (which is right, but harder or hidden from the character)

The structure is as follows, broken into sequences/scenes:

Act One: Central Conflict and Main Tension (ie Plot Conflict and Emotional Conflict.)
1. Introduce Character, lie they believe, normal world, wants and needs. Ends with Inciting Incident
2. Show character reacting to inciting incident and ends when they choose a way forward. Hammerlock (an incident that forces the character to act)

Act Two: Character tries to solve plot conflict/Tension is will the character get what they want
3. Characters work toward goal and ends with a milestone, either a major (but not ultimate) victory or defeat.
4. Shows the first serious effort toward achieving the goal, building toward character confronting something (twist, disruption, failure) meaningful to character arc and emotional plot. Ends with Midpoint.
5. Slow story with angst or pep it with action or expand with side characters and plots. Deepen or widen the story. Doesn't relate directly to the main characters arc, making it difficult to do well. Mushy Middle. Ends with character action and/or a dance break.
6. Resolves acts main tension, probably ends in failure. Ends with the revelation of the thing the character needs, character understanding of their true needs, instead of what they want. Reveals the truth of the lie the character believes. All Is Lost.

Act Three: Reversal or narrowing of focus in act two: Character solves plot and emotional conflict.
7. New decision to get what they need, and struggling with that decision. "I know what I have to do I just don't know if I have the strength to do it". New skills that make her a better person. OR in a tragedy, the character decides to continue to pursue the thing they want at the cost of the thing they need. Ends with narrowing of focus.
8. Climax (end of sequence, act, and story) everything should tie together. Triumph and satisfaction. Display of personal growth. Can't say it, character is action, we have to see it. Completes both conflicts in a single moment.

Then, he discussed theme. Theme is not something like "love" or "truth" because those are relatively fixed ideas. Theme is something like "love conquers all" or "truth is relative". It's helpful to identify your theme early in writing, so you are writing toward that goal, creating a stronger character arc. Every character should relate to the theme in some way.

Finally, he discussed symbols. Characters are action, their choices are revealed by action, but some choices are difficult to show via action (revelations, realizations), so symbols can be used. Start with a feeling and create a symbol to cause that feeling in the reader, and each time you use it change it slightly to demonstrate choices and change.

Then we as a class explored a few movies to really hammer home the point, which I found delightful and really helpful. I'll close with the analysis of "Mulan".

Mulan

Theme: You'll bring honor to us all
Lie that Mulan Believes: She can't bring honor to her family by being herself
Normal World: Matchmaker ceremony/devalued as herself
Mulan Wants: to be someone else (so she can bring honor to her family)
Mulan Needs: to accept herself (so she can bring honor to her family)

Symbol: her hair/cherry blossom
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: P, P

ALWAYS available for critique. PM me.

https://www.flametreepublishing.com/A-Dying-Planet-Short-Stories-ISBN-9781787557819.html

2020 Writers of the Future Superstars Scholarship recipient

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:12 pm

Thank you for your comments on Dan Well's Story Arcs, Becky. Very detailed. Well done!

I think inciting incident is very important and often overlooked by new writers. They spend too much time developing character and world development in Normal World, and fail to get to the inciting incident, which is what drives the plot. It's why we read openings and they seem boring and we say, "Nothing is happening." That's because we fail to introduce the inciting incident, also called catalyst, that propels the hero to take action--what Dan calls Hammerlock. Something bad has entered and is screwing up our hero's world, and they cannot sit idly by and watch their world get destroyed.

Keep working to get to that point in your stories, all. Today's reader has little time and attention span, alas. There might even be a Super Secret on this point. It's called Start Your !@#$#%# Quest! :)

Thanks again for your report, Becky! Much appreciated.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY of 2019.

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:42 pm

Henckel wrote:Thanks TimE and CCrofofd! I'll take you both up on your kind offers and repay the favor whenever your stories are ready.

Just flick me an email christopher.heneckel (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll send it over.

I really appreciate your help.


I might be up to critique. I have started using a shared google drive to exchange critiques with a few others. So I have one flash and a short story I’m critiquing there now, but I can look at yours next. Also, if you don’t mind, I could use a third pair of eyes on a short story I just shared to that folder before I send it back out (it was just rejected by Clarkesworld).
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2015-2019: 4 HMs, 9 Rs

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:23 am

zeeteebeez wrote:Back from an exhausting vacation. Developed the seed for one of this quarter's stories while driving.

oishisushi, not sure if I'm qualified to give a suggestion, but what I do is title each submission something like storynamewotf.doc. Then when I go to submit to another market I will pull that file up, edit it to match the new market's submission guidelines, then resave under a different file name, like storynamefsf.doc, and so on. So my drafts usually are just something like shortstory.doc until it's finished, then it gets renamed. I tend to be an organized chaos type of person, never super tidy, never too disorganized, so that works well enough for me.


Thanks for the advice. I like it. I'm often changing my story titles, sometimes every single draft, and I find collecting them in a single scrivener project the easiest, but then it becomes a mess when I started to create several doc or docx files to send out to WotF or others. And I have noticed that it is difficult to have a single template as some markets have different expectations.

It's actually quite similar to issues I've had with DJing. Need to control the chaos enough to make it useable, and more likely to support creative success, instead of a sprawling mess that leads to sqaundering the large number of works (or tracks) available.

I've managed to scatter my stories into google drive, dropbox, one drive, scrivener, and three hard drives, so I'm going to have to reign that sprawl in a bit.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:14 am

I'll add to this that I name my file, and follow with a number, like this: Red Baron 3.docx, Red Baron 4.docx, etc.. Anytime I've written something substantial and fear the power outage reaper, I save it with a new number. At the end of the day, I upload the latest numbered version to my cloud storage. I don't auto save to the cloud--if something gets corrupted, it's going to overwrite the safe file you store there, and you've lost it.

In addition, if I'm sending out to critique, I send it Red Baron 4 RJKcrit.docx so my original doesn't get mixed up in swaps. And when I was sending to WotF, I sent it as Red Baron 4 WOTF.docx. Editors don't like all the numbers on files, and they hate long file names. Try to keep them short, but I use the numbers--aside from checking saved dates, it's the easiest way to tell latest version so you don't mess up.

Do read guidelines carefully--some systems don't accept .docx, so you have to save and send in .doc. Submissions usually take an hour for me--each one is different, and you have to read how they want your manuscript submitted like a hawk or you'll have an immediate strike against you, sometimes a fatal strike. OFF WITH THEIR HEAD!

Happy hunting...

Beastmaster Moon P.S. to all: Don't forget to comment on each Superstar panel comment as they come in. Your fellow challenge beasties went to a lot of work on those, and commenting on something that hit home for you shows you appreciate the time they took on it. They are doing this as a kindness for you since you could not be there.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY of 2019.

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:35 pm

RSchibler wrote:I took Dan Well's class on "Creating Character Arcs" and it was awesome. Not only does he sound just like he does on Writing Excuses, but the information was amazing. It just helped me finish off my Q2 submission.


Thanks Becky! A question: Do you think that the main character arc needs to reflect the plot or is it something that can be used to build emotional complexity into a story along side main story objectives? (coming from a pantser trying to get a grip on plotting out a story beforehand).
HM, R, R, R, R, HM

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:08 pm

mrtevebaugh wrote:Genre diversity can be a boon, but has drawbacks. It can be really helpful if a particular genre dries up, but also means your backlist isn't as long for readers that are only interested in particular genres.

Ideas for diversification: Hit more genres, foreign rights, translations, self-pub, game tie-in fiction, game reviews, video games, audio books, audio shorts, and many more. Also Mark Leslie said with companies like Draft2Digital, you can get your e-books and audio books into library systems where you can get paid per checkout on apps like Hoopla.

Back to Dan. He said just look for things you love and want to do more of.


Thank you for sharing this! I am trying to focus on writing in one primary genre, but I occasionally get a passion project in a different genre, and I know variety is more suited to my brain... it was encouraging to see that I'm not totally ruining my career by writing in multiple genres. Lol. Also, I like the suggestions for diversifying, and the thought of just figuring out what you love and doing more of it. Thanks for passing this on!

RSchibler wrote:I took Dan Well's class on "Creating Character Arcs" and it was awesome. Not only does he sound just like he does on Writing Excuses, but the information was amazing. It just helped me finish off my Q2 submission.

Basically, he walked the class through the Three-Act Structure with an emphasis on the internal character journey. The first things to understand about your story are the following:

1. The Lie The Character Believes (they know something is wrong, but they don't know what)
2. The Normal World (which reinforces and empowers the lie, establish early)
3. The Thing the Character Wants (which is wrong)
4. The Thing the Character Needs (which is right, but harder or hidden from the character)


Thank you for sharing this, Becky! I've focused on internal character arcs with a Three-Act Structure when writing novels, but for some reason I have a really hard time making my brain translate this same concept into short stories. Any tips on that would be much appreciated!
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:01 pm

Peter Glen wrote:
RSchibler wrote:I took Dan Well's class on "Creating Character Arcs" and it was awesome. Not only does he sound just like he does on Writing Excuses, but the information was amazing. It just helped me finish off my Q2 submission.


Thanks Becky! A question: Do you think that the main character arc needs to reflect the plot or is it something that can be used to build emotional complexity into a story along side main story objectives? (coming from a pantser trying to get a grip on plotting out a story beforehand).



He talked about the plot conflict VS the emotional conflict. Sometimes we talk about this as external v internal conflict, too. He also talked about the theme of your story weaving all the way through the story. Every character should relate back to it and the conflicts run parallel, so yes, I think it helps to have it be a part of the main plot or at least related to it in order to develop a tight, compelling story. Dave Farland even says that a story doesn't need a theme, but that those which have strong themes stay with us longer. To me, that suggests it's what he's looking for, and probably what most editors are looking for. Powerful, compelling, with staying power.
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Postby RSchibler » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:03 pm

CCrawford wrote:
Thank you for sharing this, Becky! I've focused on internal character arcs with a Three-Act Structure when writing novels, but for some reason I have a really hard time making my brain translate this same concept into short stories. Any tips on that would be much appreciated!


Same thing, just shorter. During the class, I was overlaying the Three-Act Structure on top of Algis Budrys' 7 Point Plot in my head. Intro, Try-Fail Cycles, Climax, Denouement. There's a lot of overlap there. I mentally used the three act structure to inform the 7 Point Plot. I hope that makes sense and helps!
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:16 pm

RSchibler wrote:
CCrawford wrote:
Thank you for sharing this, Becky! I've focused on internal character arcs with a Three-Act Structure when writing novels, but for some reason I have a really hard time making my brain translate this same concept into short stories. Any tips on that would be much appreciated!


Same thing, just shorter. During the class, I was overlaying the Three-Act Structure on top of Algis Budrys' 7 Point Plot in my head. Intro, Try-Fail Cycles, Climax, Denouement. There's a lot of overlap there. I mentally used the three act structure to inform the 7 Point Plot. I hope that makes sense and helps!


I'm going to try overlaying them on paper because doing it in my head isn't working, lol, but yes, that helps! Thanks wotf008
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:43 pm

RSchibler wrote:He talked about the plot conflict VS the emotional conflict. Sometimes we talk about this as external v internal conflict, too. He also talked about the theme of your story weaving all the way through the story. Every character should relate back to it and the conflicts run parallel, so yes, I think it helps to have it be a part of the main plot or at least related to it in order to develop a tight, compelling story. Dave Farland even says that a story doesn't need a theme, but that those which have strong themes stay with us longer. To me, that suggests it's what he's looking for, and probably what most editors are looking for. Powerful, compelling, with staying power.


Great! thanks again. I must admit, both of my qtr stories are light in this area, so will need to consider this carefully :)
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Postby RSchibler » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:56 pm

At the risk of tooting my own horn, I will say that this past year I started focusing on the internal journey of my MCs instead of the external and I got 2HMs, a SHM, and my first pro sale. It’s the emotional element that is compelling, I think, in stories. Even Jack Ryan and Jason Bourne have internal character arcs in their stories even if it’s “afraid to fly ——> sleeping on plane”. Best of luck to all.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:26 pm

We were asked to interact with Superstars comments. Becky, your class is spot on. It matches pretty much with the material in The Screenwriter's Bible.

Examples: "Somewhere in the first 10 or 15 pages of your script (or earlier), something should happen to give your central character a goal, a desire, a mission, a need, or a problem. I like to call this event the Catalyst, although it's often referred to by others as the Inciting Incident."

I know in short stories, this needs to happen by Page 2.

Continuing on, "A good Catalyst and/or Big Event, besides giving the central character a new problem or desire, will often reveal something of the main conflict or story premise. It may raise the central dramatic question (or obligatory question) for that film . . . "Thus far, we have discussed the Catalyst, Big Event and Crisis. There are four additional major turning points that you'll want to apply, making seven major plot points in all. I call these The Magnificent 7 Plot Points. They are the Backstory; the Catalyst, the Big Event, the Midpoint (sometimes called the Pinch), the Crisis, the Showdown (also called the Climax), and the Realization....."The beginning (Act 1) of a screenplay ends with the Big Event. The middle focuses primarily on the conflict and complications. The central character emerges from Act 1 with a desire to do something about the difficult situation created by the Big Event. Her action will likely fail, forcing her to take new actions. There will be many setbacks in Act 2, as well as some breakthroughs or temporary triumphs.
The long middle section (Act aa2 of a three-act structure) usually focuses on a rising conflict (rising action). Your reader will lose interest in a conflict that is merely repetition; for example, when the central character and opposition character fight, then fight again, then fight again, and so on. Strong subplots that crisscross with the main plot will help you avoid repetitive conflict because they will create more complications that ratchet up the main conflict. Thus, the conflict builds or intensifies....At the Midpoint (or Pinch) of the story, about halfway through, another major event occurs. The central character often becomes fully committed .. . Gone with the Wind's midpoint is when Scarlett O'Hara makes her famous vow before intermission: I'll never go hungry again." The Midpoint can also be the moment when the motivation to achieve the goal becomes fully clear, or the stakes are raised.....As you know, the Climax or Showdown follows on the heels of the Crisis. Often, someone or something spurs the character on to the Showdown. The goal is on the line, including the theme or movie message and/or some important value. ..

Up until now, we've discussed the Outside/Action Plot and the Inside/Emotional Plot. Plot is the structure of action and emotion. . . Plot grows from character because everything starts with a character that has a goal. Since the goal is opposed, the character takes action. The resulting conflict culminates in a crisis. Will she win? Will he lose? Will he grow? Will she decline? The answer to those questions determine the kind of story - the kind of plot - you're writing.....First, let's look at some examples of goal driven stories . . .The character wins, The character loses, The character sews the seeds of his own destruction, The character grows by doing the right thing, The character grows up, The character learns, The character fails to learn, The character declines."

Bottom line: A great deal of what Becky was taught is viable in screenplay form.

Best,

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:31 pm

1. Do most writers map out their career path, or do they simply “follow their heart?” We follow our large coronary arteries. We focus on our immediate hurtles, such as getting published” when we should be focused on our longer term goals for being in the business.
2. Why might it be good to map out your career goals? So you know where you want your career to go, have a plan to get there, and will have started your journey on the right track and not on the Jersey turnpike (which, as well all know, is the road to hell).

THE NEWBIE
3. What is usually the goal of new writers? Publishing.
4. If they can’t get traditionally published, what other route is there? Become an exotic aerobics dance teacher... (that’s Latin for “self-publish”)

THE PROVEN WRITER
5. What is a “proven writer?” A writer who writes regularly and the quality of their work is consistently publishable.
6. Why do publishers seek them? Publishing is a business. Investing in an author that can pull off a single story is a high-risk investment. But investing in an author that constantly, consistently delivers is a far better option.
7. How do you become a proven writer? It’s not about who you know, it’s about … No, wait. It is about who you know. Or rather, who knows you. In particular, editors and publishers. And the best way to do that is to catch their attention by winning contests, submitting to their magazines, and winking at them from across the smoky bar in some shady red-light district.
8. How can Writers of the Future help you with this? How did it help David Farland? Winning WOTF teaches you about the business. It is a recognizable credential to have on your resume. It is an unspoken pinky promise offer by WOTF and offered to the Editors and publishers, which promises them that this scraggly unshaven inbasul sleeping on the concrete outside their building can actually write.
9. What three areas must you prove yourself in? We must consistently produce high quality prose and build an audience. (Personal note: the tasks of consistently delivering high quality prose is invigorating. But, the mere thought of building an audience is terrifying. Seriously, just reading this has raised my anxiety levels).

THE MIDLIST
10. What is a midlist author? A writer who can sell their work to editors. A person who publishers will know, but aren’t going to roll out the red carpet for.
11. What things should a midlist author be doing to “up their game?” Continuous improvement. Always improve your writing and increase your audience size.

LEAD AUTHOR
12. What two ways does Dave list as to how an author reaches “lead author” status? They have a larger audience and have won more awards.
13. What bonuses do publishers give their lead authors? They start to dig in their pockets for purposes of promotion. (I was going for iambic pentameter, but ended with idiot jivemeter)
14. How many books do you usually have to write and have success with before publishers will start considering you as their lead author? Between five and seven.

SUPER LEAD
15. What is a “super lead” author? From a publisher’s perspective, these are “good investments” They are authors that require little or no hand holding. They have an established sizable audience. And their books make the publisher a lot of money.
16. How does the publisher grow the super lead’s base? By digging even deeper into their pockets for promotional and advertising budgets. In terms of investments, spending $100k on a super lead will bring them larger returns on that investment than plugging that same money in a new unknown author or mid-lister.
17. Name some super lead authors and the kind of fan base we’re talking about. King James
18. What happens with movie producers when your books sell at these levels? They tell their secretaries to find out who wrote that and contact their agent.
19. When you get a blockbuster movie made from your book, what happens to your base? Depends on who acts in it. Are we talking Scarlett Johansson or Meryl Streep (Eww)?

APEX WRITER
20. What is an “apex writer” and who put the ape in apex? They are authors at the top of the industry and top of their game. They have the largest fan-base and publishers will spend the most money on these authors even before the book is released.
21. Do you become an apex writer by being a hobby writer? No, but you have to start somewhere. Yet, to bridge that gap, you must be motivated and act upon that motivation. Write, publish, grow your audience. Write, publish, grow your audience. Write, publish, grow your audience; over and over until you arrive at your destination or you fail so miserably that all of your friends pretend to not know you, and throw rocks at you, and release these picture all over the internet that they swore they’d never do, but they did it anyway, so now you hate them, and all of this because you couldn’t write you way out of a wet paper bag.

CONCLUSION:
I’m going to think on this.

This has been a really good assignment. Thanks Wulf!
On a side note, I recall Dave speaking about career goal somewhere also too. He talked about people having different pathways. Some people focused on just winning awards, just becoming a NYT Best Selling Author, just seeing their work in print at the book stores. He said, as this lesson has showed, that these are rather shallow short-term goals. Does anyone else remember this? I thought it was on the video recordings from his courses. I went back to check, but couldn’t find them.

Lastly, I’ll reiterate that the idea of growing an audience is genuinely terrifying for me. I’m probably not alone on this.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:53 pm

I found this perfect example from one of my favorite films – ROMANCING THE STONE. "In Romancing The Stone, what is Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) outwardly striving for? She wants to find the stone so she can save her sister. Is this a clear and visual goal? Yes. Is she consciously aware that this is what she's after? Yes. Is her goal opposed by anyone? Yes. Zolo wants it, as to the kidnappers. And Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) wants the stone so he can buy a boat and sail around the world.

What does Joan Wilder need? Romance. Is she striving for romance? No. She writes out her fantasies in her romance novels. Her flaw is simple indifference - she won't try. In this story, she gets what she needs by striving for the goal and overcoming her flaw. The stone is the external journey; the romance is the internal journey and character arc.

In my scriptwriting work, I receive many scripts that are completely missing a goal. To illustrate, let's pretend I was a consultant for Diane Thomas when she first started writing. She tells me she has a script about a woman who goes on vacation to South America and falls in love with an adventurer. Sounds interesting, but it's not compelling enough. So I ask Diane about the goal. "Happiness is Joan's goal," she responds. "Happiness is not a goal. It's too vague." "Well, romance is her goal. That's it." "That feels more like a need than a goal. It's actually part of your Inside/Emotional Story. You need an action track for this inside story to roll on." "Well, vacationing is her goal. She consciously wants to have a good vacation. She deserves it after all that writing." Diane relaxes. It appears as though she has a complex story now, but I disappoint her. "Technically, vacationing is a goal, but it does not stir my heart, nor does it set up strong opportunities for conflict. Something specific has to happen." "I know," Diane states triumphantly, "What if her sister is kidnapped and she has to save her?

Now, Diane has a strong Big Event and a story."

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:36 am

In line with all of this, while our mini wulf pack was dining at Superstars (GREAT pizza!), one of our group asked me why my career path seemed to be going along in a flat line, and then suddenly it went up, up, up. She asked why that was the case, if I knew why it happened like that. I didn't need a second to think. I told her I had planned for it. I saw it coming, and prepared to receive it.

Well, mapping out your career path is a good exercise. It helps you prepare ahead for what is coming. I would suggest that after you do this big picture exercise, do a smaller one. Take a magnifying glass over the bottom of your map where it says New Unpublished Writer. Create another map with that section blown up. The next tier up from New Unpublished Writer would be Respectably Published Writer and then Professionally Published Writer and then Pro Writer (as defined by SFWA with three pro sales). You can put Win Writers of the Future/Pro Out on those steps as well. Then ask yourself: What kind of writer wins WotF or pro's out? What kind of habits must they have? Write them down. Then drop down to the next level, ask similar questions about that type of writer, and so on. It should give you a clear picture of the habits each type of writer at that plateau must have developed to have gotten there, and will tell you much about what you need to do. Quite frankly, this challenge's requirements should give you some indication. : )

So go ahead. Make your current step map with these closer, more immediate levels. Try to visualize the type of writer at each of these levels and imagine the habits they have developed. Write them down. This is your next personal ASSIGNMENT. (Don't post it here.)

It's also preparing for your upcoming success.

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby zeeteebeez » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:27 am

Thanks for bringing some excellent advice back from superstars!

I’m a fan of Dan Wells from his fiction and his work on writing excuses. I also had the opportunity through his patreon to support him and get some critiques and join a writing group with him. It was excellent. If you’ve got some extra self development funds, I recommend checking it out.

Wulf this brings up a question I have for you:
If you could only choose one, would you recommend paying for professional critiques from a NYT bestseller on a monthly basis (like what I mentioned above) OR paying for a workshop (take Dave’s upcoming fantasy workshop for example)?



As far as a character’s internal conflict, I also have noticed a big “level up” moment in my own writing since focusing on internal vs external. Not that I have any sales to speak of, but PROGRESS!

Pixar has a fun video series through khan academy that did a good job of explaining this through character wants and needs.
Becky mentioned that’s part of what Dan talked about as well.

A big “ah-ha” moment for me was when I recognized that the theme of your story can be, and probably most often is, tied to your character understanding what they NEED, and letting go of what they WANT. That’s the heart of the story. That’s probably what your KYD’s hint at when you really condense them.

The character starts off with a want. This can propel them into the story (catalyst, inciting incident, etc) as they try to achieve it.

They try, try, try, to get what they want. And may even succeed.

But if they do, they come to realize their victory is hollow, and they’re left with the understanding that they NEEDED something else all along. Something that they’ve been pushing away because it’s uncomfortable, or it goes against the lie they tell themselves.

I hope to hit that concept hard in my stories this quarter. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks again for the superstars write ups! Keep ‘me coming!
Z.T.

5x HM


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