Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:46 pm

Psst: y'all go read this thing from Dave's newsletter if you haven't already! https://mystorydoctor.com/david-farland ... -a-winner/ Important tidbits on what really makes a story stand out to him. Good prose, good structure, surprising word choices, those are important...but it can fall flat without emotional impact.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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Henckel
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:42 pm

That's a great little article.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (published @ Sci-fi Lampoon)
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – pending
(2020) V37 Q4 – ?

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CCrawford
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:38 am

Checking in...

I have completed my July KYD/Flash based on the "Locked in a Box" prompt.

I have also written two fresh short stories for this quarter (based on expanded versions of 2 KYD Prompts), and have submitted both of them to respectable markets. (Both of these were written for specific themed calls for submission, so I combined the themes with the KYDs and ended up with stories I'm pretty happy with!)

I am revising a previously-written story for the contest this quarter as I feel it's my strongest story. But one of the markets I submitted a fresh story to this month told me they are making decisions by mid-August, so if I get a rejection for that story before the end of the quarter, I may revise it also and then submit whichever is my strongest story to Writers of the Future.
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, ??

SwiftPotato
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:22 am

Got you down, CCrawford! Nice job! :)
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

SwiftPotato
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:13 am

Hey, guys...I've got a virtual book signing happening today! It's at 4PM EST on Zoom. I'm told I'll be reading a section or two from Yellow and Pink, so if you'd like to see exactly how red one human being can get, feel free to pop in and watch/listen/ask questions...
Facebook event here (hyperlinked because the link is ungodly long) and event page here (hyperlinked because it felt inconsistent to not hyperlink...). If you want to jump on and are having issues, don't hesitate to reach out! I'll do my best to help!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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Wulf Moon
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:51 am

SwiftPotato wrote:Hey, guys...I've got a virtual book signing happening today! It's at 4PM EST on Zoom. I'm told I'll be reading a section or two from Yellow and Pink, so if you'd like to see exactly how red one human being can get, feel free to pop in and watch/listen/ask questions...
Facebook event here (hyperlinked because the link is ungodly long) and event page here (hyperlinked because it felt inconsistent to not hyperlink...). If you want to jump on and are having issues, don't hesitate to reach out! I'll do my best to help!


Leah won Writers of the Future. I believe every member of this Forum is trying to do the same. Why wouldn't you want to go to this event and ask her how she did it? Even one successful tip can help tip your scales toward success. Be there. And come with questions. Don't let Leah off easy! wotf001

Only hours away!

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:32 pm

Oh, I missed it. I woke up and ran over to attend but realized that's 5 AM here and I was too late. Let us know sooner next time! I want to see what a nervous wreck winning turns people into so I have more fuel for motivation!
R.J.K. Lee
2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs; 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 1 pending
Progress on Goal of 100 rejections in 2020: 44 rejections, 18 pending
Keep writing, revising, submitting! Don't break the circle!

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:21 pm

Swift Potato, I was late to the party, but I was there nonetheless. You handled yourself magnificently from what I saw – like the professional you are.
Thanks, again, to my daughter who navigated me through Zoom (what an interesting concept, Zoom). It sure beats rotary phones.

Best,

Retro wotf009
"Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love" - Rule 306
"Never compromise your integrity." LIFE'S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK by H.J. Browne, Jr.

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CCrawford
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:13 pm

I registered but then something came up and I wasn't able to make it! Was it recorded? I'd love to watch it later even though I missed the actual event.
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, ??

SwiftPotato
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:20 pm

Thanks, you guys! Yes, I'll definitely post earlier next time. I saw you pop in near the end, Retro! Glad you got in! :) And yes, it was recorded. The people running the show there said they'd shoot us a link to the recording at some point, so I'll pop it up here as soon as I've got it. It was a great time! They had some absolutely fantastic questions.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

SwiftPotato
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Sat Aug 01, 2020 7:27 pm

Checking in: first story for the quarter written and sent to a respectable market. Longest story I've ever written, but I'm told it needed the word count at 8.5k (and I do tend to write lean, so it got there from 7.9k during critiques). We'll see if this makes a difference in how quickly Charlie rejects me!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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Wulf Moon
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:25 am

Some happy news--I did sell a novelette last week to a pro-paying market. Novelettes are very hard to sell because they take up so much space in publications. This is the second in my career--my first was "Seventh Heaven" in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2 with Dean Wesley Smith as editor. "Muzik Man" is the title of this one. I'll fill you in once contracts are signed. You'll be able to read it this Fall!

More news! I am commandeering the Monday prompt. This is optional, not required. I'd like to challenge you current challenge beasties and beasties emeritus--SUPER SECRET members from year one AND this current year--to create KYD 250s this week and post them here no later than midnight on Friday. I have my reasons. No critiques on these--I'm still trying to catch up on the last bunch. If I deem yours worthy, you'll be getting additional info privately. If you don't hear from me, close, but no cigar.

As always, keep Q4 in WotF your priority. Last call. Make this your best story evah!

Here's the prompt, although it's more like a thematic call: Positive future SF, NOT fantasy, focused on the East Asia region. Go wild. Don't forget about Heart's Desire, and don't forget your SF element. Title them too, please.

Show me what you got.

Wulf Moon
Associate Editor, Future Science Fiction Digest
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby oishisushi911 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:06 am

Oh, prompt takeover and a public challenge. Sounds fun. Let's do it, fellow pack members. KYD 250s, so we leave them at 250, right?

Congrats on Muzik Man. Somehow, I knew it. Ha. Sounded like you really worked for that one, too.
R.J.K. Lee
2015-2017: 4 HMs, 5 Rs; 2019-2020: 6 Rs, 1 pending
Progress on Goal of 100 rejections in 2020: 44 rejections, 18 pending
Keep writing, revising, submitting! Don't break the circle!

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Ania
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Ania » Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:41 am

Hello, everyone!

I have been secretly reading the thread, doing some of the exercises (also secretly), and have been learning a lot. So please, Wulf man, consider reopening admissions to your secret academy!! There are a lot of stalkers out here who would love to go public!

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CCrawford
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby CCrawford » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:27 am

Wulf Moon wrote:Here's the prompt, although it's more like a thematic call: Positive future SF, NOT fantasy, focused on the East Asia region. Go wild. Don't forget about Heart's Desire, and don't forget your SF element. Title them too, please.


This sounds fun... going to start working on ideas today!
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, ??

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:50 am

oishisushi911 wrote:Oh, prompt takeover and a public challenge. Sounds fun. Let's do it, fellow pack members. KYD 250s, so we leave them at 250, right?

Congrats on Muzik Man. Somehow, I knew it. Ha. Sounded like you really worked for that one, too.


"You know my methods, Watson."--Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes.

Ryland, you know them most of all--you took my Prizewinner Master Class, you have the SUPER SECRET KYD instructions! You know how I won that huge contest, you know how my system works. 1. Do the 1000 word or so Stream of Consciousness. 2. Cut that to 500 using your editing skills. STOP. FIND THE BEATING HEART. 3. Redesign your piece into a vignette of 250 words, where every word bears down on the heart of the story. 4. Make sure you use the Crazy Title exercise, also from my master class, and post it here by Friday. Remember: must focus on East Asia, and must be positive future, not dystopia.

What could be simpler? wotf001

Thanks on "Muzik Man." Novelettes are hard to land; that one especially so. I suspect you might be in the know...

Keep up the good work on all your writing, submissions, and furthering your education. That's how you break through.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:09 pm

Ania wrote:Hello, everyone!

I have been secretly reading the thread, doing some of the exercises (also secretly), and have been learning a lot. So please, Wulf man, consider reopening admissions to your secret academy!! There are a lot of stalkers out here who would love to go public!


Hello, Ania! Happy to hear from you, and happy you are reading the Super Secrets and benefiting! Even doing the exercises on the side? You sound like Candice Lisle, she missed the enrollment period, but she's never given up and works right along with us on her own. She saw her first HM last quarter, second try in the contest!

And yes, I'm aware of the lurkers, they write to me from time to time, thanking me for sharing the Secrets, sending me notes on how they've helped them. I am glad for every aspiring writer that benefits. I did this so others didn't have to go through twenty-five years of trial and error like I did, not knowing what was holding me back. You've got a pretty good reference to figure it out now. Indeed, several have, and are skyrocketing up in their skills and sales.

I will be posting enrollment requirements for the next contest year in the weeks ahead. It's going to be different in Year Three of the Super Secrets, but you'll have your chance. And anyone can read the Super Secrets for free, which you have been doing. There's also special instruction in the master classes I conduct, which include some of the Hidden Super Secrets not posted to this thread. I had attendees from England and Japan in the past master workshop. I would love to have someone from Greece! Taking this GLOBAL! :) Here's the link for anyone interested. Two separate classes to choose from! https://www.fyrecon.com/master-classes/ ... -workshop/

Most importantly, keep writing FRESH stories, and dedicate yourself to submitting to WotF every quarter. More than anything else, those two things helped my writing the most. And the commitment to never miss the quarterly deadlines--that sacrosanct goal helped push me to produce my winner. It can do the same for you.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:41 pm

Here is my entry. It's based in East Asia, (SF), and on a positive note, the court docket was expeditiously cleared.


SWEET DEAL


The centuries-old courthouse sits atop the Flaming Mountains in the Taklamakan Desert, East-Asia Province. Magistrate Monkhbat’s powdered wig and gray hair mirror the timeworn ambience of this venue – Superior Court, Criminal Part IV. He’s dressed in traditional deel. His face could be sculpted from marble; pupils as compassionless as a star field sucked inside a black hole.

My life and freedom are the next case on the court docket.

Kuyuk, my defense counsel, whispers in my ear. “Prosecution’s offered you a deal.” His breath reeks of milk vodka. “I think the Magistrate said ‘sweet deal.’”

Monkhbat pulls his microphone closer. “Prisoner 1211, you’re entering a plea to trial by android jury or judge?”

I rise. “My travel companion and I were attacked inside our yurt by a drunken nomad. He dragged her to the edge of the cliff. I kicked him off it.”

“Answer my question.”

“I agree to trial by androids.”

“This Court finds you guilty.”

“But -- but I thought -- I agreed to trial by androids.”

Monkhbat flings his gavel tomahawk-style. It embeds in the far wall. “Just what do you think I am?”

Kuyuk is on his feet. “I request a mistrial. Circuitry malfunction.”

“Overruled! What -- what -- what -- do you think I am?” His hand clamps down on his head like a bulldozer. He yanks out his wig and gray hair. Exposed scalp is layered in blood and metal pieces. “I promised a SWEED deal. Special Weapons Enhancement Enforcement at Death.”

A laser projector rises from his cranium.


Best,

Retro
"Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love" - Rule 306
"Never compromise your integrity." LIFE'S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK by H.J. Browne, Jr.

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:32 am

That's fantastic news, Wulf! Grats on Muzik Man :) I'm looking forward to reading it.
HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, ?

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:13 pm

Hi Wulf, here is my 250 word story (positive + East Asia + Sci-Fi)

Camel Avatars

Negotiations ended when the Alpha Centarian Viceroys retracted their consciousness from their avatars, leaving two frightened and confused camels in Korea’s National Assembly Hall.
“They said my proposal failed to excite them,” Seung buried his fingers in the bull camel’s loft of brown fur. “It would have been Korea’s first Interstellar Trade Agreement.”
Temuulen, the Mongolian camel master, attached a lead to the camels’ harnesses and handed one to Seung. “But the Viceroys agreed to return tomorrow. So, there is still hope, no?”
Seung hung his head in shame. “To what end? I offered them money, land, and investment opportunities. If these fail to excite them, then I fear nothing will.”
Temuulen gave a sympathetic smile. “My family has bread Bactrian Camels for two hundred years. If you have questions about camels, then I can help you. But I know nothing of Alpha Centarians.”
Seung returned the camel master’s smile. If only the Viceroys were as easy to manage as camels.
They led the camels to the National Assembly’s loading bay where two more camels waited in steal cages, chewing cud.
“Temuulen, why must we swap the camels each day?”
“For safety, sir. Using camels as avatars puts them in heat: brings forward their mating season,” Temuulen said. “So, I provide fresh camels each day.”
Seung’s cheeks pulled into a grin. “Leave them, my friend. They will make tomorrow’s negotiations vastly more stimulating.”

Henckel wotf009
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (published @ Sci-fi Lampoon)
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – pending
(2020) V37 Q4 – ?

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Wulf Moon
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:06 pm

Henckel: Like I said, I won't be commenting on these. But I will offer something to consider in your writing.

You wrote: Seung’s cheeks pulled into a grin. “Leave them, my friend. They will make tomorrow’s negotiations vastly more stimulating.”

Instead, write: Seung grinned. “Leave them, my friend. They will make tomorrow’s negotiations vastly more stimulating.”

Cheeks have to lift to perform a grin, goes with the word grin. So just say grinned. :) 250s are about finding the fastest route to your target.

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:23 pm

officer wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:"All my life, the only thing I've wanted"--she wiped away a tear--"is to win Writers of the Future. Why does it have to be so hard?"

I've always wondered how to do this! Thanks!

Here's my 250-word version. I kept the dialogue as-is after revising based on Moon's suggestions and extended the scene:

"Come out of retirement? This again?" Michael slammed his beer bottle on the kitchen counter. "Are you mad?"

Scott took a deep breath. "We need you. The world needs you. Hell, I need you."

"Well, I need rest."

"I was with you every step of the way. I didn't give up."

"'Give up'? Please, you should have retired when I did, gotten out while you still could."

"Earth's reputation is at stake. I can't turn my back on everyone."

"The world turned its back on us when we lost to the Centauri Spiders, never even gave us a rematch. We're a planet of fair-weather fans!"

"Those aliens invented the damn game. Anyone who expected us to win our first tournament there was insane. Who cares? We never played for recognition."

"You're right. We did it for personal glory. To prove to ourselves we could be the best."

"Then why not return and achieve that glory again, together? Don't do it for me; do it for yourself. The ship launches in the morning."

"Where you headed?"

"Alpha Centauri." Scott pulled a grav-ball from his pocket and stared at it. “Just think about it. You haven’t let everything go. I saw you kept a net in your living room. We can win.” He tossed the ball into the air and turned without another word.

It landed gently in Michael’s palm as the front door slammed shut. Though built to alien standards, the grav-ball fit Michael’s hand perfectly. A chance at redemption? Even so, he had retired for his own sanity. He couldn’t let others dictate his fate. Michael chucked the ball over his shoulder.

Swoosh.


We return to the Ping Pong Dialogue Exercise, where the assignment was to convert the twelve lines of Ping Pong into 250-word vignettes. Here we have Officer's. Ari, this was already a strong piece, and your narrative made it even better. Good dialogue has energy, but it's also balanced by action beats and narrative to keep feeding us the scene and story details. I like your coup de grace last line. Makes the point that Michael's still got it. He's a natural. And you didn't ruin it by saying all that. You just had him do an action that spoke volumes. Perfect!

As I mentioned before, with a little more scene setting in the opening, this could be an interesting start to a story. I like introducing characters and where they are at before they start talking. Otherwise, you have talking heads, even for a few moments until they are identified.

Well done! I hope you give us a 250 on the new optional East Asia assignment!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:52 pm

RSchibler wrote:Dialogue Exercise Part 2:

Lou rolled on the narrow mattress toward his lover. “You don’t understand. I need to be the one to do it.” Dim flickers from outside lit the cube, the clatter of the drink shop three levels down echoing up the stacked column of steel boxes that passed for homes.
“Why does it matter?” Herry propped his stubbled chin on his hand, his elbow pressing into the soft mattress.
“Because. I want Mother to know it was me.” How else would he get her respect?
“There are thousands of Men. Dozens of radio jerks. She doesn’t care about you.”
She'd care if she knew I was her son. “Exactly! If she knew it was me, if I was the one… she might remember me.”
“I’m not sure I’d want Mother to know my name.”
“You think I haven’t thought of that? You... you just don’t understand.”
“Ambitious, aren’t you?”
Lou unclenched his fists. Herry didn't have all the facts. “It’s not that! Okay, maybe I don’t want to be a radio jerk forever. Who would? Pushing buttons all day, listening to traders moan about their schedules and scratchy signals from dead radio stations on Earth?”
“I like being a radio jerk. Jerk.” Herry rolled out of bed and started to dress, a waft of soap and sweat in his wake.
“I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant. Come back to bed.” He hadn't meant to fight.
“No. I have to get ready for work, you know, pushing buttons all day.”


We move to Becky's vignette, based on her twelve lines of Ping Pong. I suspected Becky's would be one of the hardest to convert, because hers was actually a slice out of a conversation--I never said you had to do the first exercise as a story, but many of you did. The original Ping Pong that Becky did worked great, but as a vignette, it's still hard to know what radio jerks are, who Mother is, and she's capitalized, so I don't believe it's a natural human mom, but who knows? What was the action that might have gotten Mother's attention? It's not clear. And there wasn't enough space in the 250 to fill us in. Such was the problem with the word restriction. You do your best to find a way to reveal what you have no room to put on the page.

I like it that Becky got in scent. "A waft of soap and sweat..." And she definitely caught and amplified the angst between the two in the last line, without saying Herry went away mad. You capture all of that from the tone of the dialogue spoken, which is very good. That's exactly what good dialogue does. Trust your reader to comprehend the emotion behind the words. Never tell your reader how they should feel about the words spoken. Well done!

A constructive comment:

A description that doesn't work for me is this line: Dim flickers from outside lit the cube...

Getting in your lighting is good--that's a Tim Powers' trick! But why say "dim flickers"? A flicker is already dim. You could have said: "Neon flickers from outside..." or something similar and given us one more detail about the setting's lighting. In a 250, economy of words is the name of the game. Don't modify a word that already contains everything needed to convey the thought.

Thanks for playing!

Is that everyone? Let me go back....
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Wulf Master Class SOLD OUT! Two new ones filling! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:20 am

Henckel wrote:Dialogue Exercise Part 2:

The railyard smelled of rust and hot grease and pockets of stale water evaporating. It was a haven for stray dogs and a breeding ground for mischief. Anything that stayed too long in this place was bound to turn bad.
Everett found his little brother, Cole, lounging in a derelict passenger car. Cole had his boot jacked against the seat in front of him and his tobacco pouch balanced on his knee as he slept.
A week had passed since the shooting, and Cole hadn’t come clean. The time had come for Everett to press the issue.
“It wasn’t me.” Cole stumbled backward nursing his jaw where Everett slapped him. “I wasn’t even there.”
“Don’t lie to me.”
“I was in the outhouse taking a wiz.”
“But, you were at his house.”
“It was an accident.”
“Bullshit!” Everett punched the train beside Cole’s head. It sounded a whopping clank, and Everett stiffened. “Accidents like that don't happen unless you're playing with guns. Normal people don't do that. Only idiots play with guns—and criminals. You're lucky Seth isn't dead and you're not in jail.”
Cole’s eyes reddened and his lower lip twitched. “I know. I’m sorry.”
Everett backed away and sniffed. “Whatever. Just keep your nose clean, alright.”
“You going to rat me out?”
“Rat you ou--. No.”
Two cars down, a stray dog clutched the rotting remains of a squirrel in its teeth and carried it deeper into the railyard.
“Just promise me you won’t come back here again, okay?”


And we come to Henckel's modifications on the Ping Pong Dialogue into a 250-word vignette. He did set the stage, giving us a vision of the railyard before he began with the dialogue. He also used setting to cast a shadow over the piece. "Anything that stayed too long in this place was bound to turn bad." That was nice, and what followed was exactly that--Cole had gotten into trouble. I commend Henckel for understanding that environment sets the mood; your descriptions set the tone for what is to come. Even at the end of the piece, the environment and what it does to a person is amplified again when the stray dog clutches a rotten squirrel in its teeth. Nicely done, Henckel!

Some constructive criticism:

The time had come for Everett to press the issue. Try to avoid coming in as the author--known as "authorial intrusion"--and telling us what your characters are about to do. You could have accomplished this with dialogue, and we would have figured it out. Something like, "Hey! I been looking for you! You hiding out after that shooting?"

"Taking a wiz" would be taking a wizard out of the outhouse. Taking a whiz would be urinating. I think that's the word you want in the outhouse department. :)

Cole stumbled backward nursing his jaw where Everett slapped him. You need to show the action first, not the reaction. Like this:
Everett backhanded him.
"It wasn't me!" Cole said, stumbling backward. "I wasn't even there!"

Where Everett punched the train? You slam your knuckles into steel, it's going to hurt, maybe bloody them or break them. And this whopping clank part clunks: It sounded a whopping clank, and Everett stiffened. And why did he stiffen? Don't use odd descriptions like that. It throws your reader right out of the story.

Again, nice work on the environment foreshadowing what was to come! You could turn this scene into an opening of a short story with a little more work. Big brother trying to straighten out his troubled younger brother makes for good story fodder. Don't ask me how I know....

Beastmaster Moon
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Aug 05, 2020 1:17 am

StarReacher wrote:250 Word Dialogue Rewrite Assignment

One lingering question I have is my use of questions. I debated changing the prose in the opening sentences to avoid questions, but I like to avoid using a lot of "he felt", "he wondered", etc. types of statements because it seems to yank a reader out of the story. I tend to ask myself a lot of questions in my head, so that is the way that seems natural to me. But maybe I'm just weird that way. wotf001

Does it work here, or is there a better strategy I should be employing? Thanks!!

Lucas stared at his patient, baffled by his questionable decision to save her. Had a century of wear and tear affected his logic circuits? Had the trigger of lost memories in his AI software stirred a wisp of lingering human consciousness?
“I'm Lucas, the pilot of this shuttle. Do you remember your name?”
“Where are we going?” Her glance bounced around the small cabin, flitted past the blinking life support machine, and back to him.
“Somewhere safe where you can continue to heal. You've been in a coma for two months.”
“I was trying to kill you.” She pawed at the sheet as though feeling for a gun.
“Yes. Shall I call you Ms. Assassin or do you have a preferred alias?” Lucas had the illogical urge to laugh. The emotion caught him off guard.
“Harper, if it makes a difference.” Her eyes flickered to the bandages. “What have you done?” A look of horror slid up her face.
Lucas gazed at the ceiling to avoid her eyes. “You weren't much to look at. Damaged beyond the skills of most humans. I did the best I could under the circumstances.”
“I don't understand.” Harper's hands explored the synthetic replacements. “You saved me? Were you programmed as a doctor?”
“Yes to the first question. No to the second.”
“So, you didn't see me before the explosion?”
Lucas cocked his head to the side. “You mean while you were aiming a gun at me?”
“You run faster than I expected.”


And we conclude the Ping Pong Dialogue Exercise, Phase 2, with StarReacher's vignette. She asks a question before she begins, so let's answer it. You are correct, StarReacher. Saying "he felt" or "he wondered" or "she questioned" or "she said irritably" is stating the obvious. Good dialogue implies all of this. Bad dialogue explains everything and describes feelings and annoys readers. We can see all these things in the dialogue. We don't need them explained.

As for Q&A Ping Pong, it certainly works, and is the easiest way to do it. However, if you do it for too long, it appears gimmicky, and readers will spot it. So you balance it out with other tricks, like action beats or narrative. You've done some of this in your vignette, which helps balance it out.

I like your premise here, a robot or cyborg saving someone that tried to destroy him. That makes for an intriguing opening, and an odd couple relationship for certain! I would read on, were this the opening of a larger tale. You've hooked me with the question of why Harper tried to kill him, and why Lucas would save her. I also like Lucas being caught off guard by his emotions. Has he become unstable over time? We don't know, but it would be fun to find out. You've got some interesting things to explore here.

Some constructive criticism:

It would be better not to open with this statement: ...baffled by his questionable decision to save her. That's the fun part about reading the dialogue, it gets revealed there! Don't let the air out of the ball before we get the chance to bounce it around for a bit.

When you answer a question with a question, it throws off the exchange. We expect an answer. She doesn't have to answer, of course, but replying with a question that seems a non sequitur throws us out of the tale:
“I'm Lucas, the pilot of this shuttle. Do you remember your name?”
“Where are we going?” Her glance bounced around the small cabin, flitted past the blinking life support machine, and back to him.


There's a few other spots where these small paragraphs and answers given don't seem directly chained to the last. You want it all to connect, you want it all to flow cohesively. I realize Harper is coming out of a coma, that there will be disorientation, but it feels disjointed in places. Like this one:
“Somewhere safe where you can continue to heal. You've been in a coma for two months.”
“I was trying to kill you.”


It seems odd to blurt this out, given the situation. It certainly doesn't follow the preceding statement.

Again, this has good potential for expanding out with a bit more scene setting before the dialogue begins. And your last line pops, always good. Well done!

So that's the end of the exercise! Thank you all for participating. I found it interesting that many of these could make great in medias res openings. In fact, if they lend themselves to do so, why not go to Phase 3 of this exercise, and build a short story from them? You've discovered a way to hit the ground running with active dialogue. Not many stories by aspiring writers open like this--they usually spend pages upon pages setting up their tale before anyone ever speaks! This is another tool that can make your story stand out as unique. And editors, including Dave, are always hunting for unique.

Happy writing!

Beastmaster Moon
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:29 am

Wulf Moon wrote:Henckel: Like I said, I won't be commenting on these. But I will offer something to consider in your writing.

You wrote: Seung’s cheeks pulled into a grin. “Leave them, my friend. They will make tomorrow’s negotiations vastly more stimulating.”

Instead, write: Seung grinned. “Leave them, my friend. They will make tomorrow’s negotiations vastly more stimulating.”

Cheeks have to lift to perform a grin, goes with the word grin. So just say grinned. :) 250s are about finding the fastest route to your target.

Beastmaster Moon


Thanks Wulf. I appreciate your feedback!

And, thank you for your feedback on my Dialogue Exercise Part 2. ... you totally picked up on my attempt to wrap this scene is a meileu shell.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM (published @ Sci-fi Lampoon)
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – pending
(2020) V37 Q4 – ?

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Wed Aug 05, 2020 3:29 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:We move to Becky's vignette, based on her twelve lines of Ping Pong. I suspected Becky's would be one of the hardest to convert, because hers was actually a slice out of a conversation--I never said you had to do the first exercise as a story, but many of you did.


Yeah I took this from a larger scene. I appreciate your feedback!
V34: R, HM, R
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V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, P

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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby AjZach » Thu Aug 06, 2020 11:53 am

East Asia, Positive SF prompt:

The Soul of Trees

Hua clipped the flower translator to her ear. It gave a soft ping to indicate it was working. She stepped out into the garden that had once belonged to her grandfather and listened to the chorus of voices coming from each blossom and shrub that she passed.

Hua surveyed the calling flowers, trying to decide what she should attend to first. The hosta nearest her was crying out.

“More water, please. The sunlight off that plaque gives me too much light in the morning!”

The plaque was on the side of the ginkgo tree that stood in the center of the garden. It marked the spot where they had strewn her grandfather’s ashes.

Hua heard her name called. She looked, but no one was around.

She heard her name again. It came from right before her. The ginkgo shivered its fan shaped leaves and beckoned her forward.

“You know who I am?” Hua asked.

“Yes, little Hua. You spent many summers with me. We shared bites of mochi and picked the goji berries off the branches.”

“Grandfather!”

Hua knelt next to the tree, the grass prickling her knees.

“I did not think I would be able to speak to you again for quite some time.” Hua said, looking up into the boughs of the tree.

She placed her hands on the trunk of the tree, feeling the soul inside through the rough bark. The translator gave a soft ping to indicate it was working.
R, R, R, R, HM, R, HM, HM, R, ?


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