Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

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

Postby GlibWizard » Sun Nov 08, 2020 8:13 pm

Act Zero: The Title. "Muzik Man" functions as our first reader hook (#3). Before reading, we know from that spelling that something's up. It's a name both familiar and new (#44).

Act One: The Beginning

First Line wrote:MUZIK STEPPED IN a clump of flowers that resembled daisies, growing on a distant hillside overlooking the capital city of planet Fendor.


The very first line starts with our protagonist (#9) and tells us that he's on a different planet than Earth, and he's unfamiliar with the plants so it's new to him (speculative element up front, #12).

We immediately get more details about Fendor, a physical description of Muzik (#45, setting the stage), and he clearly states his goal of spreading music (#15, a character, in a setting, with a problem) and his heart's desire, of leveling up (I'm a gamer too, Muzik, I get it).

For me, the exposition that he'd gained sentience and emotional intelligence through music was the promise (#5) that this was going to be more than a robot adventure, and had something to say.

We didn't drive to the story (#2), even though Muzik did, and I'm sure he stood around staring out windows at stars and thinking these same thoughts.

Muzik Man wrote:“This time I won’t screw up!”


I felt emotionally invested in Muzik at this line because I relate to that feeling of failure to live up to some external measure. For me, this was a major emotion and the story was balm for it. And we know he's failed before, so I'm calling this the first #22 Things Get Worse! because this knowledge makes it clear that his goal is actually a problem. Then the cultural study has failed (T.G.W.!) and we learn he could be demoted (T.G.W.!)

Muzik starts his quest right away (#18) and heads into town at the end of the first scene.

Act Two: The Middle

Muzik TRIES to spread his music, FAILS (to win over Darna, to avoid jail, to talk his way out of the charges at trial), and reaches a CLIMAX with lethal stakes. (Tracking #20's 7-point-model.) Things get worse and worse!

In the middle section we see Wulf Moon's voice as an author on display clearly, with a lot of comedy and imagination and words that patter along in a happy cadence. In fact, this story is basically Super Secret #9 in story form!

My favorite example of smart dialog (#43) is here in the middle...

Hoagley shrugged. “They must”—Clang—“have overlooked”—Clang—“something.” Clang—“I always thought”—Clang—“the seventy-third”—Clang—“ended sort of”—Clang—“abruptly.”


That's an Olympic-level punctuation performance, and not only did breaking this line up with literal beats make me laugh, it emphasized an important piece of foreshadowing.

At the climax Muzik faces a choice: be silent, or sing? He chooses to be himself.

His stoning is a sudden flip of the comedic tone, which is a super-duper secret here, and a concept that I've heard Helen Marshall call "emotional oscillation." Ha, ha, wham!

I believe that Muzik's magic sword (#32) is the music. He lifts it against the sultan-senate, and it fails, because he wasn't yet worthy, but...

Act Three: The Ending

...in his conversation with Zephrinna, Muzik has the realization that makes him worthy to wield it, and shares his music with Zephrinna. He's succeeded in planting the seed of the Maestro's music, his original goal, and gets his heart's desire, becoming a 3000.

In the denouncement, we come full circle to the virtual reality mansion and the scents of lavender and clove. We get explicit validation of Muzik from the Maestro, and he's returned to his tribe (either literally or spiritually) a hero.

Summary: What points or methods did I discover in this analysis that I can use to strengthen my own work?

I was struck by the way that every scene used the super secrets that open a story in order to orient the reader. I need to pay more attention to my first lines after a scene break. (...and in my KYD 250s.)

This story is filled with auditory details, and made me realize that's a sense that I neglect while writing.

One of the pov characters in the novel I'm working on didn't have a clear heart's desire. The other didn't put hers in words early enough. Recognizing that I need to put those on paper as part of introducing the character and not later forced me to clarify what both really want, and I saw an overlap that articulates the theme my subconscious was giving me. That's been chiropractic in straightening the narrative out.

(My little baby 'shroom's woken up! I may edit this later!)
C. A. Barrett
V.36 Q2: HM V.37 Q3: Finalist, Q4: HM V.38 - committed to four submissions!

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Nov 09, 2020 6:17 pm

You know your Super Secrets, GlibWizard! You weren't kidding when you said you studied the Super Secrets to help you make Finalist in Vol. 37, Q3! This is a masterful review, and shows you understand story structure and craft. I especially enjoyed your hyperlinks, something you thought up on your own. This makes your review super interactive and fun. Highest marks!

To all those doing the assignment, please create your own answers before reading GlibWizards'. It's excellent, but yours will be, too . . . if you aren't parroting one another but seeking your own insights into how the Secrets were played in the "Muzik Man" story.

If you wonder why we're using this story in the workshop, remember that I wrote the Super Secrets, and I wrote "Muzik Man." There should be a correlation. Indeed, there is. Your job is to find those Easter eggs and figure out why they work! You can use them to help you create your Writers of the Future winner!

Here's further proof the Secrets work. DEEP MAGIC Fall 2020 was reviewed by Tangent Online yesterday. "Muzik Man" received a wonderful review and earned their coveted "Recommended." What this designation means is that the story goes on the Tangent Online 2020 Reading List. This is an important list for everyone voting on the 2020 writing awards. Without making use of the Secrets, I can assure you this would not have happened. So study hard. When you understand how something works, you can duplicate it in your own work!

For all our onlurkers :), if you'd like to share in the exercise (and not have the story spoiled for you!), here's where you can get "Muzik Man." It's not expensive, and every story in this issue is a winner. Here's the link: https://amzn.to/313KGJf

And if you'd like to read the Tangent Online review, it's free! Here's the link. Just remember...SPOILER ALERT...it will tell you the ending if you haven't read it! So I highly recommend you read the story first! Here's Tangent's review: https://bit.ly/2IjghQs

To those registered in the workshop, I look forward to reading your assignments! You still have over a week to post! See many of you at Fyrecon Online!

Cheers!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby crlisle » Wed Nov 11, 2020 8:55 pm

Muzik Man and the Super Secrets
In this story, almost all of the Super Secrets, and even A Super-Duper Secret was used.

TITLE: MUZIK MAN

SS 3 – Set the Hook
The title promises a unique, interesting experience.


ACT 1: A character in a place with a problem

Super Secrets 1 & 15 Don’t Drive to the Story
The main character is Muzik Man, a 1000 model harmonic android who wishes to become a 3000 model. He is sent to the planet Fendor as music missionary. His desire is to not screw up. He can’t let Maestro down. This is all stated in the first two pages.

SS 9 – Open with the Protagonist
In the first paragraph we are given the name of the main character. It also states that he has servos which means he is a robot of some kind.

SS 5 – The Promise to the Reader
In the first 2 pages, we read that MM has feelings and dreams. We’re going to share his mission and see if he is successful or if he fails. This is the promise.

SUPER-DUPER Secret #1 – Take your reader on a “deep” emotional journey
I became emotionally invested in Muzik Man when he apologized to the flowers for stepping on them. (Daisies are my favorite flower.)

SS 6 – Grand Vista of the World
MM thinks about his past missions over 263 years. This hints of a very large, well-funded organization.

SS 8 – Kill “as you know Bobs”
There were no info dumps using dialogue.

SS 12 – Magic Up Front & SS 32 Deploy Your Magic Sword
At first, I thought the magic sword was being able to play music, but after doing this exercise, I realized that the magic was MM’s array of senses and sentience. These helped him to learn the language of emotion which was music. This magic sword was essential to his growth, and to his understanding of everyone in the story.

SS 16 – Read the Story Out Loud
This story is FUN to read out loud, so I’m sure that the author did so.


ACT 2: Things Get Worse

SS 18 Start Your Hero’s Quest & SS 22 Things Get Worse
His adventure as a music missionary begins on page 5 when he makes first contact with a resident.

SS 20 the 7 Point Plot Model
The 3 try/fail cycles are when he is arrested during first contact, teaches prisoners how to be a blues band but is brought into the Synod for a hearing, and then he is executed when he plays music for the Synod and their acolytes.


ACT 3 : Climax, Sacrifice, Denoument

SS 34 A Climax Goes Big Badda Boom
MM was being killed. He thought of running away. It was a tough choice. Run or stay. He chose to stay and play music for the Synod and the acolytes. This choice cost him his life.

SS18 Archetypes

There is a Biblical archetype here. The crisis is when MM’s message is rejected by the Synod and he is executed. During the execution, his side is pierced, and he leaks fluid. After his death, he is resurrected into a being of greater power. This is the Messiah archetype.


SS 35 Denoument
Zephrinna brings MM back to life. Her name means West Wind and is the female version of Zephyr which means soft, gentle breeze. He realizes that she is a person with hopes and dreams and not just a “mark” on his mission. He now has a friend who he wants to help.

After his resurrection, he found out he was now a model 3000. He was not just a music player, but a composer and also part of a minstrel team. His mission was a success! The Maestro told him, “Choose a name for the melody that is you.”

He played “OoooWaah!” Funkter Fusion.

This circles us back to the beginning.

SS 31 the Story Should Not Be Too Long
11,000 words which is not too long nor too short, but just right for this adventure.

The story brings you in from the start and doesn’t let you go until the end. A wonderful emotional journey indeed.
SS 4 – Major Emotion
The major emotions I experienced while reading the story:
While teaching the prisoners = Worry that he would get caught again
His execution was so unfair = Anger
His resurrection into a model 3000 = Triumph


SUMMARY AND LESSON LEARNED

This is a masterful work of writing! Every Super Secret was used, and then some.

From Muzik Man I learned about archetypes and will begin using them in my stories.
Last edited by crlisle on Mon Nov 16, 2020 6:03 am, edited 5 times in total.
Volume 37: R, HM, HM, Silver HM
Volume 38:
Published in Sci Fi Lampoon: "My Ten Cents"
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Henckel
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Henckel » Thu Nov 12, 2020 1:59 pm

So, I just got the call back from Joni. Unfortunately, I didn't win.
But you know what, I'm okay with that because (1) I'm pretty darn happy to have made Finalist and (2) I'm going to nail it next quarter.
..feeling determined... wotf011
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Thu Nov 12, 2020 2:04 pm

Henckel wrote:So, I just got the call back from Joni. Unfortunately, I didn't win.
But you know what, I'm okay with that because (1) I'm pretty darn happy to have made Finalist and (2) I'm going to nail it next quarter.
..feeling determined... wotf011


Exact right mentality. It's so tough to have gotten so close and not won, but you did GOOD. It means you can do it again, no matter how long it takes. You wrote an excellent story!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby Henckel » Thu Nov 12, 2020 9:12 pm

Thanks Leah.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Nov 12, 2020 11:32 pm

Henckel wrote:So, I just got the call back from Joni. Unfortunately, I didn't win.
But you know what, I'm okay with that because (1) I'm pretty darn happy to have made Finalist and (2) I'm going to nail it next quarter.
..feeling determined... wotf011


Top 8 in the world. It's disappointing not to get the ultimate reward, but that's an impressive achievement you just did. It's good to reflect on that. And I would certainly put that in a cover letter, until you trade up with your first, second, or third. :) It's a noteworthy credit.

WELL DONE, CHALLENGE BEASTIE! YOU SHOW HOW IT''S DONE!

Commander "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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby AjZach » Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:54 pm

Act One: The Beginning
We have a title, “Muzik Man”, the reader wonders what that will be about.
As the super secrets tell us, we need a character, in a setting, with a problem and a heart’s desire. We open with Muzik (as the super secrets advise) on a setting of a flowered hillside on a planet, Fendor, we are getting some hints of what that planet is like. The planet reference and Muzik’s mechanical references tells us we are reading science fiction. The scene with the stepping of the flowers allows the reader to connect with Muzik emotionally.
What comes next is a chance to throw in those smells and description that Dave likes: crushed lavender, ground cloves, recycled air. We are shown him waving to the ship, and the problem become clear, at least in a hint. “This time I won’t screw up!”, Muzik is on a mission, and this time he hopes he makes it. This is the promise to the reader, he will either make it this time, or not. There is also a hint that he can level up, to a Minstrel 2000.

Act Two: The Middle
Time for Muzik to spread the music, and things aren’t going to go smoothly for him. He tries first on a street. We get our first views of a typical neighbourhood and the residents of Fendor and some culture. Muzik plays for one citizen, but the authorities come to break it up and take Muzik to the senate, he has failed to spread the music. We get a glance of an Fendorian that becomes important later (a magic sword).
Muzik tries again to spread his cause in front of the sultans, but ends up getting stoned, playing through his destruction. Things are bad, and you really care about poor Muzik.

Act Three: The Ending
Muzik is in a dumpster, but all is not lost, the teenage Fendorian (magic sword) is back and she has an interest in mechanical things. When she repairs Muzik, he plays for her and he really gets through to her. This is the climax. They become friends, and Muzik understands empathy in a new way. Muzik is called to Maestro, and he levels up to “Muzik Man 3000.” A team is coming to help him on Fendor. Muzik has achieved his goal and has grown beyond his dreams. All the loose strands are tied up and music will come to Fendor. The promises the story made are complete.

Summary: What points or methods did I discover in this analysis that I can use to strengthen my own work?
Sometimes I have trouble getting my magic element clear immediately, as well as getting a problem and emotional element clear in the first few paragraphs.
I also need to be careful to put in enough world building so my reader knows what sort of world the story takes place in, and enough description for Dave.
Vol 35: R, R, R,
Vol 36: R, HM, R, HM,
Vol 37: HM, R, SF, HM

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

Postby Henckel » Sat Nov 14, 2020 1:06 am

Act 1
SUPER SECRET #6: Hint in your opening the grand vista of your world.
The story has a musical robot longing for ascension, deity factions volleying for galactic control, shroom headed aliens supressed by eye-pokingly odd societal rules… And all of this information was drip fed to readers at precisely the right pace. Readers were informed of exactly the right amount of information they needed to know so they didn’t feel lost, but without getting bogged down with info dumps.

SUPER SECRET #9: Open your story with your protagonist.
We meet the protagonist on page 1. He is (as stated in the title) Muzik Man. And that means music, music, music.

SUPER SECRET #12: MAGIC UP FRONT!
Reader know immediate that they’re reading sci-fi when we learn MC is a robot and he waves goodbye to the starship (See you in 10 years).

SUPER SECRET #2: DON'T drive to the story! & SUPER SECRET #15: Open your short story with 1. A CHARACTER, 2. in a SETTING, 3. with a PROBLEM.
The story opens with a character (Muzik Man) in a setting (the planet of Fendora) with a problem (converting the population). This problem is made even more intriguing by (1) Muzik Man didn’t know the programme—not the larger one (2) his longing to be more than a “field agent” (3) his determination not to screw it up this time, and (4) Muzik’s ambitious new untested plan to suceed is called big splash.

SUPER SECRET #18: Start your #%$@#%!& hero’s quest! We’re on the clock!
The story opens with Muzik having just been dropped off on the planet for his mission. He waves to the ship "See you in ten years”. Thus the story is already in motion by the time we start the first paragraph. While readers don’t know what’s going on yet, we know something has just been set in motion. The second bit of momentum is when Muzik encounters his first person outside of town.

SUPER SECRET #45: SET. YOUR. STAGE. A Character. 2. In a Setting. 3. With a Heart's Desire.)
Here we add "heart's desire" to the mix. We learn that Muzik has a secret yearning. While he is a 1000 model, he feels his worth is little more than a field agent. While he doesn’t outright say that he wants to be a 3000 model, this is implied by the regard in which he holds these models and his self-deprecating regard for his current position (be believes he’s little more than a field agent).

SUPER SECRET #4: Pick a major emotion and make your reader FEEL it down to their core!
Humorous determination and optimism.

Act 2
SUPER SECRET #22: THINGS GET WORSE!
Yes, things get worse on multiple levels. Muzik attempts to convert the people he meets, gets thrown in jail, and then stoned!

SUPER SECRET #43: "Write smart dialogue!" Moon exclaimed emphatically.
Yes, yes, yes. This story has some of the best dialogue ever! Muzik is determined to communicate an idea to people who have no concept or word for what he's talking about. This often results in cross purpose miscommunication that adds to the humor. The dialogue is masterfully done.

Act 3
SUPER SECRET #32: Deploy your MAGIC SWORD.
This one caused me to think a bit more. I feel like Muzik has 2 magic sword(s). In the beginning, he quantified his sucess (magic sword) in terms of how many people he converted to music. But by the end, his magic sword turned out to be a "friend". This, in turn, provided him with his emotional magic sword "ascension into the 3000 model". ....Or I may be really off the mark here.

SUPER SECRET #34: A Climax Goes Big Badda Boom
The climax is a realization that Muzik is here to help “people” rather than tally up the converts. Then the climactic moment is Mizik’s ascension to the 3000 model.

SUPER-DUPER SECRET #1: Take your reader on a *deep* emotional journey.
While the story is lathered giggle inducing humour, there is a deeper emotional journey here. Muzik begins by believing he’s here to convert these people. He believes this so much that he goes to jail for his beliefs and is ultimately put to death for trying. These are big emotions that can fall flat when addressed head-on. Thus, Wulf "steps to the side" and delivered this with humor. Muzik's dead body is pulled from the trash and his thoughts turn immediately to supporting the girl who helped him. Then he is rewarded with robotic ascension for this leap forward in wisdom.


Summary: What points or methods did I discover in this analysis that I can use to strengthen my own work?

Firstly, the humor in this story worked very well on may levels. I want to try this in my own writing.

Secondly, symbolism. I perceived this somewhat the first time I read this. But it wasnt until the second read that it really stood out for me.

Thirdly, using language / dialogue to enhance characterization. I loved the use of the internal monologues such as, "man, those cats could really play".

Lastly, an effective "pet the dog" moment. I'll keep this in mind in my own writing that every little bit helps readers sympathize with mc. In this story is was where Mizik accidentally stepped on flowers then apologised.
Last edited by Henckel on Sun Nov 15, 2020 4:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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

Postby StarReacher » Sat Nov 14, 2020 12:54 pm

Assignment – Find Super Secrets Easter Eggs in Moon’s story Muzik Man

Act 1 – The Beginning (Set Your Stage)

In Muzik Man, Moon sets the stage in the very first paragraph of the story per SS#15:

“Muzik stepped in a clump of flowers that resembled daisies, growing on a distant hillside overlooking the capital city of planet Fendor. His servos hummed as he backed up and adjusted his stance, careful to avoid damaging any more.

He bent over them and whispered, ‘Sorry little fellas.’”

Moon opens with a named protagonist (SS#9), Muzik, a good-natured, polite, artificial intelligence being on another planet. Shortly we will find out his mission:

Through the planting of musical seeds, to “transform rigid ideologies of alien species—like the curse Archalon—into ascending harmonies of thought, peace, and cooperation.”

Shortly after we discover that alien species often resist such attempts to assist them. Musik Man’s quest is not for the faint of heart. But, per SS# 45, we know that a heart’s desire is also necessary in the setup. And Musik Man’s heart desire, we learn, is that he fears that he is going to be demoted if he does not at last succeed in his mission. If he fails, he faces a gruesome horror: “tenure as minstrel-in-residence, teaching junior-level band to tone-deaf, flipper-fingered Purpluppians or some similarly encumbered race.”

SS#39 reminds us to protect our voice. One of the first things that grabs the reader in the store is the fresh and unique voice of the character. Muzik’s speech is not some cookie-cutter dialogue. From that very first bit of dialogue “Sorry little fellas” we get an immediate sense that this is no ordinary AI. This is a compassionate, happy go lucky sort of character who wants to make the world a better place.

SS#2 tells us not to drive to the story. Instead of explaining how this AI came to be, or expounding on his creator, Moon trusts us to believe that Muzik Man simply exists by placing him on the page and giving him a personality. This beginning also sets up an intriguing hook (SS#3). For me, there was the immediate question contrast between what we normally think of as a cold, unfeeling or clinical AI being shown to being tender to a flower he stepped on. This is going to be an unusual character.

Also, Moon took care (SS# 44) with naming his protagonist. Muzik is a clever name that perfectly describes this character who is obsessed with all things music. Further, Muzik’s body
itself is a musical instrument that he can contort at will. Paragraph 3 makes clearly that this character is not a simple AI unit: “Muzik took a deep breath, filling accordion bellows within as he savored the aromatics without.” Moon is showing us the first hints – there will be more mixed in the story as we go along -- hinting about SS#12 (magic up front).

SS#4 (emotional attraction) is met with by the predicament that Muzik Man finds himself in. Within a few pages we learn that he has been working on building his emotional intelligence for 263 years while traipsing from world to world to prep the inhabitants for the “Minstrel 2000s” and their teams. We sense that he is getting frustrated from his lack of progress but almost immediately gives himself a pep talk:

“Field agent,” Muzik said, practicing his freshly downloaded Fendorian. “Just a fancy name for a sodbuster. I’m a musical clodbuster.”

Shame fountained up; Muzik hung his head. This was no way to start a mission! He was a mission of the special forces . . .

After his airship flies off, leaving Muzik to seek new converts, he searches his directives and realizes that he has been left with nothing but “. . .a few static-riddled radio transmissions. No detailed cultural studies from prosthetically disguised undercover operatives . . .” He is on his own. Thus, per SS#18, Muzik sets out on his quest to convert the locals.

Act 2 – The Middle (Make Things Worse)

SS#22 tells us: Things Get Worse! Moon complies by throwing hurdles at Muzik. For example, just when Muzik is successfully mesmerizing suburban Fendorians, including a young teen, with his awesome Big Splash performance, the authorities arrive to arrest him for “inciting public assembly without consent of the sultans.” Things grown even stickier as Musik doesn’t quite take things perhaps as seriously as he should. In his excitement to continue spreading his joy of music, he makes the authorities angrier and angrier (while also starting to have an affect on those under the leader’s control.) His infectious beats threaten the sultans so that they decide to sentence him to death.

This teen, I thought, could be considered a “magic sword” (SS#32) but not sure if that is what Moon intended. She is introduced early in the story; through her, Muzik is literally resurrected.

Even faced with the execution squad, hurtling literal stones, Musik feels so strongly about his mission that he refuses to take the easy way out and flee.

“Muzik’s android psyche flashed RED ALERT and FLEE NOW FOR SELF-PRESERVATION across his internal readouts. He wanted to listen to its urgings. He still had tricks they hadn’t seen. But even if he managed to escape, he would be a fugitive. He would never be able to reach so many Fendorians again. One touching melody, one moment of epiphany—that was all it had taken to open up his emotions and change his life ever after. Would he run away and deny them their chance?”

Moon intensifies the emotional impact by using SS#1 (take your reader on a *deep* emotional journey). Musik pours out his soul in musical notes. “Muzik played on, filling the chamber with melodies that twined through the air like incense. He poured himself into its creation, plumbing new depths of feeling as he gave birth to each note. He could almost smell the music, sweet and heady, like crushed lavender and cloves.”

Even as the situation grows dire, Muzik refuses to give up. “Muzik looked down. Green oily fluid dribbled from a pierced bellows and pooled on the stones. Sparks of power shuddered along his limbs. Discordant sounds born from instruments across the galaxy bled from his body; Muzik struggled with all his remaining power to draw them into harmony.”

Act 3 – The End (Denouement – includes climax and resolution)

In SS#20 (Employ the 7 Point Plot model), supplemented by SS#4 (Heart’s Desire. It’s Really the 8 Point Plot), Moon talks about having your protagonist have an epiphany related to the heart’s desire—which might be different than what the protagonist thought it was. As Muzik plays jazz for Zephrinna, he has the following epiphany:

“She wasn’t just a mark on his mission, someone to train and point to in proving his proficiency as a Muzik Man. She was a person, just like him, with problems, just like him, with hopes and dreams, just like him.

He wanted to help her, to help others like her become whatever they wanted to be, whether that be musician, electrician, explorer, farmer. After all, Muzik had risen above the confines of his original programming—surely these beings could too. He just had to be discrete with this world, play a lot more cautiously, and be careful whom he chose as his . . . friends. How that word sparked in his mind.

Friends. Not marks. Not converts. Not stepping stones to his own ambitions and goals. Friends. He had it all wrong, all along. He was here for them . . . not they here for him.”

Per SS#35, Muzik finds his heart’s desire. After risking everything, he finally can enjoy the rewards and he finds himself transported inside the vault he has sought for so long and discovers he surpassed his goals by risking everything:

“Muzik thwopped his forehead with a clang and raised his hands heavenward. “Minstrel 3000 series? Me??? I shot right past the 2000s?”

As the reader, we can walk away knowing that Muzik is going to be more than okay. He is going to keep filling this world with his wonderful, life-changing music. We’ve sweated with him through all his trials, gotten past his short death, and now can watch him exult in his deserved rewards.

Summary: The effortlessness feel of all the elements working together in this story is what I am trying to achieve in my own writing. A few recent editorial suggestions have indicated that I need to actually expand my stories. So I will be working on that aspect while also making sure the details I add still help propel the story along.
2017 - R (Q4)
2018 - R (Q1), HM (Q2), R (Q4)
2019 - SHM (Q1), R (Q2), SHM (Q3), HM (Q4)
2020 - HM (Q1), HM (Q2), SHM (Q3), HM (Q4)

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Nov 16, 2020 5:22 am

Good morning, beasties! Today's Monday prompt is: DEADLY BEAUTIFUL THINGS.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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

Postby CCrawford » Mon Nov 16, 2020 1:34 pm

Muzik Man assignment

Act One: The Beginning

SUPER SECRET #2 -- Don’t Drive to the Story: Muzik is already in the new land when the story opens, rather than spending time on the transport ship showing his journey to the new land
SUPER SECRET #3 -- Set the Hook: “This time I won’t screw up!” We now know his goal and we’re also curious what he screwed up the last time and how he’s going to do things differently this time to achieve his goal.
SUPER SECRET #5 – A Story is a Promise: “This time I won’t screw up!” sets up reader expectations from the start; also, Muzik’s personality and the title both immediately set reader expectations for the tone of the story and the immediate details in the first few sentences (“servos,” “planet”) give genre cues for the reader as well.
SUPER SECRET #6 – Hint in Your Opening the Grand Vista of Your World: We immediately get Fendor, plus a mention of the transport ship, which hints at a much larger world outside of Fendor. We also find out Muzik Man has done a mission like this before, which implies other worlds he’s attempted this on, all right from the first few paragraphs of the story. We’re given more info on this a few paragraphs later, when we’re told Muzik has been alive for hundreds of years and has done initial pioneering on lots of backwater worlds prior to this.
SUPER SECRET #9 – Open Your Story with Your Protagonist: Muzik is named first word!
SUPER SECRET #12 – MAGIC UP FRONT!: “Planet Fendor” (1st sentence) and “His servos hummed” (2nd sentence) / “accordion bellows” (4th sentence) immediately show us sci-fi elements of the story. Muzik’s tech is revealed bit by bit as the story progresses but the basics are established up front.
SUPER SECRET #15 – Open with 1. a CHARACTER, 2. in a SETTING, 3. with a PROBLEM: Muzik is named immediately (first word!) and right away we’re old he’s on the planet Fendor. His problem and goal are also quickly supplied (“This time I won’t screw up!”). This is all given in the first few paragraphs, and we get further details on his goal as the story progresses... within the next few paragraphs we find out he’s a Field Agent, “an advance operative in the Maestro’s expanding galactic task force where musical seeds were planted to transform rigid ideologies of alien species... into ascending harmonies of thought, peace, and cooperation.” Plus – BONUS! – we also get a “Save the Cat” moment IMMEDIATELY, since the story opens with him stepping on flowers and then apologizing to the flowers and taking care not to step on any more.
SUPER SECRET #18 – Start your #%$@#%!& Hero’s Quest! We’re on the Clock!: Muzik does not take long after arrival on Fendor to jump into his quest – he accesses his directives within the first few paragraphs, and announces he has a “bold, new plan” he calls Big Splash. This launches us into Act Two of the story.
SUPER SECRET #41 – Heart’s Desire (It’s Really the 8 Point Plot Model): We are given Muzik’s heart’s desire within the first few paragraphs of the story, as well. In the first few paragraphs, we’re told Muzik’s “array of senses were hard won” and that “Muzik had vowed he would never take sentience and the gifts that came with it for granted.” Right after that, he waves at the ship and yells, “See you in ten years!” and “This time I won’t screw up!” – so even though we don’t yet know all the details, we know what matters to him – array of senses, sentience and the gifts that come with it -- and that he has some kind of mission/job to do that he’s determined not to screw up “this time.” Within the first few pages, we also find out that Muzik wants to “rise above the lonely routines of a solo galactic minstrel operative” and that he doesn’t want to be just a field agent. We also get his statement of belief that “the most effective [invasions] could be the injection into a culture of a word, a concept, a belief, or even...a song.”
SUPER SECRET #45 – SET. YOUR. STAGE.: This is done really well (and immediately) in this story, as we are dropped right in with a named character (Muzik) in a clear setting (planet Fendor, but also rich with sensory details and descriptions of the setting through Muzik’s perspective), clear genre cues, a “save the cat” moment that helps to bond the reader to the character, and a heart’s desire (“he vowed he would never take sentience and the gifts that came with it for granted”) all in the first 2-3 paragraphs.

Act Two: The Middle
SUPER SECRET #20 – Employ the 7 Point Plot Model : We’ve already had the first 3 of this (Character in a Setting with a Problem) in Act I. In Act 2, we get 4 & 5, where the character tries to solve the problem, and some try/fail cycles. (We’ll get points 6 & 7, the Climax and Validation, in Act 3). Here in Act 2, Muzik embarks on his Big Splash plan first by heading to the capital’s suburbs. He approaches what appears to be a farmer, but passes him by, heading for a more populated area to begin his Big Splash attempt. He finds a row of domiciles and begins playing music outside, hoping to draw the inhabitants out. They don’t come out until he announces himself as “a priest bearing the gift of truth!” One resident does come out, then, and Muzik introduces himself. He’s scolded a bit and told to keep it down because “It’s Sabbabah.” He converses with the person and draws him into the music, and does seem to be getting somewhere – neighbors start coming out – but then the man’s wife comes out and warns him to stop (“Hoagley, don’t you know this must be illegal?”) because he’s disturbing Sabbabah. Hoagley is on-board with Muzik, though, and keeps playing, and more neighbors pour out – but then the Constable shows up, and suddenly Muzik’s progress is halted when the Constable arrests Muzik for “inciting public assembly without consent of the sultans” and demands Muzik come down to the synod for the sultans to decide his fate. (This is a “yes, but” attempt – Muzik did succeed in reaching some of the Fendorians, but got arrested as a result.) T/F #2: While in prison, Muzik reaches some of his fellow prisoners and converts them with his music – then gets his synod hearing. All of his attempts to reach the synod (the same types of attempts which had been successful with the Fendalorian people and his cell mates in the prison) result only in angering the Synod and offending them. The charge of Blasphemy is added to his previous charges, and Muzik is ordered to remain silent as the sultans discuss his sentence. While waiting, Muzik eyes the crowd and realizes he has an opportunity to reach them – and begins his music in front of the crowd. The crowd is captivated – but then the Sultans return, and they are furious: “We gave you orders to cease and desist!” T/F#3: Muzik tries to win the mercy of the Synod. He replies (honestly) that he can’t “cease and desist” – that his music is who he is, he’s a Muzik Man – and pleads guilty to disturbing Sabbabah but explains he didn’t know the law and begs forgiveness – only to be sentenced to death by stoning.
SUPER SECRET #22 – Things Get Worse is also at play in the plot of the story, as Muzik is arrested, brought before the Senate, accused of blasphemy, and then condemned to death simply for being who and what he is.

Act Three: The Ending
SUPER-DUPER SECRET #1 – Take Your Reader on a Deep Emotional Journey: I’m putting this secret here (although it’s been at play throughout the story) because Act 3 is where this all comes to fruition. We’ve seen Muzik trying to connect with others by sharing music with those who have never experienced it. But now, he is a being who can barely take a breath without music escaping from one of his bellows or musical parts, in a world where the powers-that-be demand silence. Not only is he seemingly failing at his Big Splash, he is now rejected – and condemned to death – for being who and what he is.
SUPER SECRET #34 – A Climax Goes Big Badda Boom: Muzik is being stoned to death – but refuses to run away, because he could still have one last chance to reach the Fendorians in the crowd. He gives his best effort at reaching them with his music, even while being stoned, until the last moment, when he is damaged beyond hope and can no longer keep going – and he dies.
SUPER SECRET #32 – Deploy Your Magic Sword: An engineering/tech-savvy girl Muzik had reached while walking through her town (the day the constable dragged him away) finds his broken body in a dumpster. “How could they do this to you?” She repairs him. He plays his music for her, and realizes that his music can only reach those who already have the spark within them. He shifts his perspective – he is here for them, not they for him -- deciding to focus on making friends, not converts. This realization was the key—it triggers his ascension, and he becomes a Muzik Man 3000, with his very own minstrel team. But it was the planting of this girl from the opening scene, and her reappearance here at the end, which brought it all together for Muzik – by being himself at the beginning of the story, he reached the heart of this girl, who then helps restore him at the end so he can become an even truer version of himself.
SUPER SECRET #35 – “Who was that masked man?”: We get the validation/denouement in this story from the Maestro himself, who summarizes Muzik’s journey as this: Sometimes, Muzik, our greatest failures become our ultimate triumphs. Well done, my dear wondrous song. Carry on, Muzik Man 3000... And then validates Muzik’s entire emotional journey in this story in this one statement: You are a composer now. Choose a name for the melody that is you. And Muzik responds in true Muzik fashion. ;)

Summary: What points or methods did I discover in this analysis that I can use to strengthen my own work?

I think I struggle with feeling as though I need to explain/describe too much up front. In this story, we are given just enough about the character, setting, larger vista, heart’s desire, and basic conflict at the front – and then gradually shown more details of each of those as the story unfolds. This also shows me how to keep a strong emotional thread throughout a story... Muzik has such a pure, clear sense of who and what he is, and what his mission is (and what he has vowed not to take for granted), and as the story progresses, these never lose focus – they are tested and explored more as Things Get Worse, and everything centers around Muzik being true to who he is, and trying to share that with the world. Because the emotional core of the story is so solid, there is a strong emotional payout at the end.
v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Nov 16, 2020 3:42 pm

Great work on the assignment so far! We are still awaiting a few more, due in by end of day this Tuesday. For any onlurkers, we are reviewing the Super Secrets through analysis of “Muzik Man” in Deep Magic, Fall 2020. If you don’t want the story spoiled for you, please read it first before reading these.

I enjoyed seeing many of you at Fyrecon! Get ready for an assignment coming up on your personal highlights from the event! And don’t forget that two of you earned full edits this Q for your contest entries. Please get them to me by the end of the month or <gasp!> forfeit.

Write on!

Commander “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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby RSchibler » Mon Nov 16, 2020 6:39 pm

I'm assuming that Wulf followed Secret 0 and submitted in proper manuscript format (for the win).
Wulf has also said this story is a long love of his, which means it's been out before and he kept it out. That's Secret 1, for those who've left the deep chasms of WotF quarters.

The first thing we see is Muzik - Secret 9 - and discover he's a robot (the servos) - Secret 12. We open with a strong, sympathetic character, in a beautiful rich setting - Secret 6 -, and by page two (on my kindle app) we have a problem - Secret 15. This time he won't screw up. Uh oh.

Then Muzik indulges in some introspection. Oh dear, where's the hero's quest? AH - even Muzik notices, and off he goes to bring the tone-deaf society the wonders of music with his Big Splash - Secret 2 and 18.

As for Secret 3, where to begin? There are myriad hooks in this opening segment - from the attention Muzik pays to the flowers, to the scents, to Muzik's determination to succeed, his fear of failure and abandonment, and the curious mystery of a musical secret agent. We're hooked. Buried in these hooks is, I think, Secret 4 - Muzik has passion. He has dreams and is determined to achieve them, but it's hard, y'all. He's failed before. He might again. Hope, and despair. Secret 5 is there too - we've been promised he'll succeed, or there will be a very good reason he fails. This opening is too rich in character and world building for the reader to expect anything else. He's talking to himself in this scene - hard to do, sign of a pro - but the exposition is well handled - Rule 8.

Now we're into the meat of the story. Muzik is into the city, and things get more complicated - Secret 22 - and boom goes the magic sw... er, music - Secret 32. Things get a little bit worse - 22 again - these people don't even know about music. Then we start to see a little bit of Secret 20 because we're into a solid try, and our instincts tell us, this isn't going to end well. And here it is, he's in trouble, the constabulary is on their way. All through, we're still on SuperDuper Secret 1, our deep emotional journey is well underway. We're laughing, and smiling, and just a little bit worried for the innocent hope of our friend Muzik. We're on to try two in the jail, with Muzik's captive audience. And things got worse with his (literal) internal journey as well. We get another hook with old Muddy Waters, if you know it. Here's our fail for the try, as well - 20 - with the scary sultans and their sticks. He's into his final big try, but he really shouldn't, and he knows it. But he can't not, it's who and what he is and so, Muzik breaks out in song - Super Duper Secret 1, Secret 22 - he's got his honest heart and we're scared for him. Secret 22 again.

He digs deep for his final effort, our hearts breaking (super duper secret 1). He sings and dances and it's beautiful, but they're throwing rocks and hurting our friend. Secret 34. He's failed, totally and utterly and he's injured - Budrys again, Secret 20. Then Wulf does something unexpected, another mark of a pro - he changes POV. I think we could look to secret 14 here because "they" would say never to do this in a story, but it works and we are okay with it. She's on her own little journey, an echo of Muzik's, (Super Duper 1 again) and we have hope, oh such hope.

Muzik wakes up and snap and seamless we're back in his POV. And he's changed, because he is suddenly seeing her as a whole person. A friend. (SDS1!) He sings to her, plays her the right piece of music, and it changes them both (Secret 32). We get to the end of his external journey - a triumph! He has a friend who is going to show him around, and we zoom in for the closeup. He triumphs again - he's not just a 2000, he zoomed right through to 3000 and we get to cheer - Secret 35.

I think it's safe to say that Wulf did not overedit (secret 13) this piece, since I saw an earlier draft and the heart and soul are retained in this tighter, faster paced version. Same for secret 30 - Wulf had some darlings that were, if not killed, certainly transformed for the final piece. Similarly for secret 14 and 31, this piece is just right, not too much, not too little. Secret 24- Wulf knew Deep Magic might like this kind of story, it's the kind of hopeful, emotional, breathtaking world of a story they like. And - secret 30 - we know Wulf has plenty of experience with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and so this story speaks not just to our minds (Musical Evangelists!) but our hearts as well. OooWaah!

Edit: I forgot the follow up question. For me, this just reinforces what I see in the Apex slush and points to why some of my stories have sold while others just accrue rejection after rejection. It really does have to be the whole package. Rich world building isn't enough, on its own. A fun character isn't enough, in isolation. A well constructed plot isn't sufficient, if the rest is flat. And so on. One element can really shine - in this case for me it is the character of Muzik - but the rest is still there. We have to have the whole kit.
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, SHM
V38:

ALWAYS available for critique. PM me.

Stories in:
A Dying Planet, 2020
Upon A Once Time, 2020
Hold Your Fire, 2021
2020 Writers of the Future Superstars Scholarship

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

Postby zeeteebeez » Tue Nov 17, 2020 7:56 am

MUZIK MAN ASSIGNMENT

ACT ONE: THE BEGINNING
-Super Secret 44: Moon didn’t give his character some obscure, hard to pronounce, alien robot name. He named him something we could all pronounce and we knew exactly the connotation that had, even if the word Music was spelled different then we’re used to. Which is also another secret, I believe the one about hooks. Your title is your first hook and we know right away that this story will have something to do with Muzik—I mean, music.

Secrets 15 and 45: Moon gives us a character, in a setting, with a problem (15) and gives it to us early (45). In the first sentence we know Muzik is on a daisy riddled hillside on an unfamiliar planet. By sentence two, we get a sense of his robotic nature, which gets sprinkled in more in the first page. And very quickly we know the problem our upbeat-but-insecure hero faces.

- 12, Magic up front: there’s no doubt after the first page that this is an SF story about a sentient android set in a time where planet hopping is a normal occurrence. Science Fiction through and through.

I’m sure I could go on, but I shan’t. Got to get to the middle!

ACT 2: THE MIDDLE

- 18 Start the quest, we’re on the clock: this could probably go in the beginning section as well, but we get a clear view of Muzik’s quest, and the beginning of the try/fail cycles, with his “big splash” plan. He just needs one curious local to work his muzikal magic on.

- 22 THINGS GET WORSE: the middle is where we get the try/fail action and things are always getting worse. Muzik finds a willing loca, then gets interrupted by his less open minded spouse. He starts to make progress, but is then detained. He gets to plead his case in front of so many, a great opportunity, but things get worse and worse and worse until there’s seemingly no hope.

-43, smart dialogue: this goes without saying but Moon’s dialogue is professional. He doesn’t use tags when they aren’t needed, and he occasionally uses a word like “hooted” instead of said, which gives us a perfect auditory cue that isn’t out of place given Muzik’s nature.

ACT 3: THE END

-1, take your reader on a deep emotional journey: this secret is in play throughout the story, but it really hits home in the climax and denouement. We’re gutted at what happens to him, but filled with such hope at the end.

-34, climax goes big badda boom: The climax could seemingly not get any worse for Muzik. Moon didn’t simply give Muzik a slap on the wrist, he dropped the piano on him.

-35: in the denouement, we have a moment to enjoy Muzik’s success. Moon didn’t end on a quick note, he drew it out, let us watch as it fully settles for Muzik that he’s achieved more than his heart’s desire. Then we end on a note that brings us full circle and encompasses Muzik’s spirit. OOOOWAAH!

I’m realizing now that I didn’t even get to Heart’s desire or Magic sword. I’m sure others posted them. This could really be a full 5k word essay of how Muzik Man deployed the secrets.

As far as what could strengthen my own work... well, all of it. I do feel I’m starting to grasp more and more of these secrets. I’ve made strides on some of the secrets that take place in the beginning of stories, and now I’m working on keeping readers engaged through the middle. That means try/fail, and things getting worse. I guess that would be my takeaway from this assignment. Engage the reader by raising stakes and making things worse for your hero. The middle cannot stagnate through repetitive try/fails or a failure to escalate.
Z.T.

7x HM

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

Postby empressed » Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:54 am

Henckel wrote:So, I just got the call back from Joni. Unfortunately, I didn't win.
But you know what, I'm okay with that because (1) I'm pretty darn happy to have made Finalist and (2) I'm going to nail it next quarter.
..feeling determined... wotf011


I'm sorry you didn't get there this time, but you can make the summit! I believe in you.
Empress Editing
Victoria Dixon
Rx13
7x HM

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

Postby Henckel » Tue Nov 17, 2020 1:35 pm

Thanks empressed!

Likewise, you can do it wotf009 wotf008 wotf007 wotf011 wotf013 wotf010 wotf006 wotf009
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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

Postby AliciaCay » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:13 pm

SwiftPotato wrote:Good morning, beasties! Today's Monday prompt is: DEADLY BEAUTIFUL THINGS.


Ooooh, what a cool story prompt!

Good luck, all! Can't wait to to read what comes out of this one ;)

LoVeS ♥
Alicia Cay
V32: HM (Q4)
V33: HM, HM, SHM, HM
V34: R, R, HM, HM
V35: HM, HM, R, HM
V36: R, R, SHM, R
V37: SHM, Finalist, HM, SHM
V38: Q1-TBD
https://aliciacay.com

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:22 am

Thanks for the love on the prompt, Alicia! :)

ASSIGNMENT RESPONSE

First off, a quick apology for sliding in late on this one. I've been on a road trip for some family reasons (no worries - any interactions I had were gloved, masked, and socially distanced, followed by hand sanitizer and hand washing). Luckily I'd read Muzik Man previously and had some secrets in mind as I read so without further ado, my analysis is below!

Opening

The first line of Muzik Man alone encompasses more than one secret: introducing character and setting (Muzik, capital city of planet Fendor) and hinting at the world (planet Fendor, flowers that resembled daisies). This also immediately signals to me that this is speculative (magic up front). You could argue over whether it's sci-fi or fantasy if you only saw that one line in a vacuum, I suppose, but the next line (servos humming) solidifies that it's sci-fi.

Soon after character and setting comes our first hint of problem: "this time I won't screw it up." This makes me okay with not yet knowing Muzik's goal/problem, because here Moon is telling us "yes, I know you want to know what he's doing, and I'll tell you soon." These hints continue through Muzik's dialogue about the Maestro and the program and the backstory about Muzik as a galactic minstrel operative until we finally hit paydirt: "...musical seeds were planted to transform rigid ideologies of alien species...into ascending harmonies of thought, peace, and cooperation." There's Muzik's goal for the story: he's a musical missionary of sorts plopped onto a new planet to spread the good word.

What's the hook? IMO, it's Muzik himself - especially the descriptions of him as a robot made of musical instruments. Personally, I was interested in the world and what Muzik had to do, but in the opening, the freshest, most interesting thing was those descriptions of Muzik's polymer lips and sound hole eyes and accordion lungs. I wanted to hear more about this robot and how he carried out his mission.

A note: starting the story before Muzik arrives in the city skirts but doesn't quite get into "driving to the story" territory. The prep and thinking Muzik did in this opening make sense to me as part of the mission, and Moon didn't force us to walk all the way to the city with him. We got some character, some worldbuilding, and a proposed solution to the Big Problem out of this opening, which you wouldn't get out of someone driving through the rain to a meeting. Make sure you tread that line, folks. :)

Middle

We get more descriptions of Muzik's makeup right as we start the second scene, which satisfies my curiosity. And, again right at the start of the second scene, we start the #*@&ing hero's quest. He's in the suburbs, already playing his music and enacting Big Splash. He gets to his first person, who asks what he is and why he's here. It would be easy to throw an "as you know, Bob" in here. Luckily, Moon did not throw an "as you know, Bob" in here. :) He does, however, show us the magic sword for the first time: Funkterfusion.

Here's the first try/fail cycle: Muzik plays some muzik, he starts getting some folks into it, and then THINGS GET WORSE: the constable is here, taking Muzik away to jail. But, of course, Muzik uses the situation to his advantage and teaches his cell mates the blues over the next forty-six planetary rotations.

To the senate hearing, and the next try/fail cycle. Talking with the sultans goes poorly, as expected, and of course Muzik tries to convert the acolytes after they leave. This is going great until the sultans return and once again, THINGS GET WORSE - they convict him of disturbing Sabbabah and straight up stone him to death. And here's the interesting part: while it can be difficult to make a reader worry about a robot dying - they're robots, after all, so they can be repaired and restarted - I still felt for Muzik here. First because we're shown that Muzik is being damaged in potentially irreparable ways: his cymbal snapped off, oil spilling from pierced bellows, tambourine jingles spilling from his ear. Second because there's a line of resonance at the end of the scene where he apologizes to the Maestro because he did, indeed, "screw it up".

Climax goes big badda boom, folks. Main character DEAD. Yikes. But there's some hope and reason to read on, because Muzik is a robot. Perhaps he can be repaired.

End

Our favorite teenager is back from the beginning, and she's turned Muzik back on! Huzzah! And better yet, he's deployed his magic sword: Lazazarian funkterfusion. He's converted Zephrinna, and in the denouement, he gets promoted not to Muzik Man 2000, but 3000, completing the story and the 7 (8?) point plot.

Conclusion

I'm sure I missed some secrets myself, but I don't think this story did (besides, obviously, the ones that are specific to WotF). And the foreshadowing was done really well here. It's something I need to work on in my own stories. Nice work on this one, Moon! It was just as good the second read through as it was on the first.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Nov 19, 2020 4:44 pm

[This is part of Super Secret #46: The Three-Act Structure exercise, We used it to analyze use of the Super Secrets hidden in Wulf Moon's novelette "Muzik Man" in DEEP MAGIC, Fall 2020. And now, back to our story.]

In the Top Gun classroom, Jester kills the combat footage and flicks on the lights. Commander Moon stands to the side of the screen at a wooden lectern.

"Gentlemen. Ladies. Top Gun was created to teach ACM. Air Combat Maneuvering ... Dogfighting. Your Muzik Man maneuvers were some of the best flying I've seen to date. Each of you carried out brilliant execution, demonstrating you have a strong working knowledge of this flight school's Super Secrets. Highest marks; I know that was a tough assignment, and that you gave it your all. I was out there. I watched your flying. You have proven you understand the power of your aircraft and how to pull everything out of it. Well done!

"Two of you deserve special commendation."

The Commander fixes his cold steel gaze on two in the front row. "Lieutenant GlibWizard, Lieutenant SwiftPotato, please stand."

Both rise and stand at attention.

"Congratulations. Each of you locked radar and hit a unique target, very hard to discern. You are to be commended. Lieutenant SwiftPotato, for recognizing the Magic Sword was music's ability to create music, and the tip of that sword was indeed Lazazarian funkterfusion. Muzik recognized its special power, but had to grow in discernment as to WHEN and WHO to play it for. The denouement reveals he figured it out. SwiftPotato, for excellence in flight, you shall have the 450-word edit you have already won expanded to the first five pages of any story. Since I am an editor for Future Science Fiction Digest, may I suggest you submit a hard SF story with heart, perhaps with an East Asian setting or protagonist? I do take superlative stories to the editor-in-chief, as you well know.

"Lieutenant GlibWizard. That was some innovative flying out there. To utilize hyperlinks in your exercise to maneuver through the maze of Super Secrets was a stroke of genius. You proved you know our ACM manual inside and out, and that I made the right call inviting you to Top Gun. In addition to the many brilliant connections made, you did an insightful call on music being Muzik Man's magic sword, but that he needed to be worthy to wield it. Character growth through the experiences of the journey is often necessary before a hero can wield the true power of Magic Sword. I'm thinking WISHSONG OF SHANNARA here. I'm thinking "Muzik Man" here. You are absolutely correct. For proving you can hold your own in a sky full of MiGs, you are awarded a signed copy of "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" in Writers of the Future Vol. 35, along with a Moongirl collector's button and other cool swag. If you already have the anthology, you can opt instead for a DVD of TOP GUN. This is, after all, the Top Gun year. :)

"Well done to one and all. Just remember, at the end of the day, we're all on the same team. Dismissed."

Hollywood leans forward and whispers, "Gutsiest move I ever saw."
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Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Thu Nov 19, 2020 5:10 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:"Congratulations. Each of you locked radar and hit a unique target, very hard to discern. You are to be commended. Lieutenant SwiftPotato, for recognizing the Magic Sword was music's ability to create music, and the tip of that sword was indeed Lazazarian funkterfusion. Muzik recognized its special power, but had to grow in discernment as to WHEN and WHO to play it for. The denouement reveals he figured it out. SwiftPotato, for excellence in flight, you shall have the 450-word edit you have already won expanded to the first five pages of any story. Since I am an editor for Future Science Fiction Digest, may I suggest you submit a hard SF story with heart, perhaps with an East Asian setting or protagonist? I do take superlative stories to the editor-in-chief, as you well know.


Cool! Thanks, Moon! I'll see if I can come up with something for that, but regardless you'll get something strong to look at. :)
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Nov 20, 2020 7:38 pm

SPOILER ALERT: This is the conclusion to the assignment in SUPER SECRET #46: The Three-Act Structure. I sent workshop members on an Easter egg hunt to find all the hidden Super Secrets in my novelette “Muzik Man.” If you’d like to get the most from this exercise and don’t want the story spoiled--especially the ending--I recommend you read the story first. It’s in Deep Magic, Fall 2020, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It’s only three bucks! https://amzn.to/313KGJf

Ready? Did you read the story? Great! And so it begins ...

“Muzik Man” is the story of an android minstrel missionary, sent to save a tone-deaf world. And this time, he won’t screw up! The question is, did the author screw up? Did he deploy his own Super Secrets properly?

The proof is in the pudding. The story was selected from over a thousand stories submitted for that call period in a magazine that features NYT and USA Today bestselling authors in every issue. It’s tough competition to play on their stage; DM is known for their rigorous selections process. In addition, “Muzik Man” weighed in at 10,700 words, a novelette. Novelettes are hard sells because they take up more space in an issue--space you could fill with a couple more big-name authors. Also, the more words, the more chance for errors. Super Secret #31 comes into play. Do you risk it? Could I have told the same tale with less words? No, the story would have been diminished, so in this case, it was jusssst right.

More proof? The issue was reviewed by Tangent Online, the industry’s premiere reviewer of short fiction, and “Muzik Man” received a “Recommended” at the end of a long and positive review, which means it goes on their 2020 Recommended Reading List. ( https://bit.ly/2IjghQs ) Since I am here to teach, you should know this is an important list to make for awards consideration for stories published in the 2020 year. So it’s safe to say I had a good reason for asking you to read this story and to analyze it. Thank you for doing so. I trust it was a fun way to get each of you to refresh your knowledge of the Super Secrets--each of you did an insightful analysis. My objective was to reveal how to play the Secrets in your own work while studying mine.

I also taught a new Super Secret through this exercise. The three-act story structure. It’s a simple tool for understanding a story, which is why the teaching has been around for thousands of years. It’s useful for understanding stories because it’s easy to see. Beginning. Middle. End. Act One. Act Two. Act Three. And that’s exactly how we’ll break down my demonstration of how I utilized the Super Secrets in “Muzik Man.” We begin with act one.

But before a story begins, you have a title. It’s the chef’s tasty appetizer to whet your appetite for the meal to come. That morsel better deliver! Title must hook the reader with intrigue; it must also set theme. Super Secret #7: Title is Your First Hook. I used an untraditional spelling of music to tell you this is something different than what you might expect. Muzik, instead of music. This story is not going to be trouble right here in River City ... but I’m betting on the title subtly cueing up subconscious visions of an enthusiastic band leader coming to town ...


ACT ONE: The Beginning.

The story opens with our protagonist. Muzik is immediately named. We don’t wait pages and pages to find out who our hero is, whether this android has gender, and if he’s machine or human. It’s all there, no screwing around. Readers need this info STAT. If you don’t believe me, read David Farland’s writing tip from yesterday: Beware of False Suspense. Here’s a highlight from it: “Let me put this clearly: The author’s job is not to withhold mundane information, but to convey it. Your job isn’t to deprive the reader of story elements, but to create a powerful illusion of reality, a shared dream that the reader can easily enter into.”

Withholding necessary information your readers need so that you can create a false sense of suspense is a sin. We must know who the story is about, what the story is about, and where the story it is taking place. We need this immediately. This is Super Secret #9. That I thought long and hard about his name is Super Secret #44. And that I immediately set the stage with a robot watching a starship fly off leaving him alone on a planet is Super Secret #45: SET. YOUR. STAGE.

By the second sentence, I not only tell the reader Muzik is a robot, but I also tell the reader what genre the story is in. Super Secret #12: Speculative Element Up Front. Genre cue. Readers (and judges!) need to know what genre this story will be. There is no question this story’s genre cue is science fiction. Get this done quick. Many aspiring writers wait many pages before doing a “surprise reveal” that their modern New York City subway story is really an urban fantasy about trolls. Don’t be that guy. You will just annoy your readers and kill your chances with editors and contest judges. I know all of you are better than this. This is for that other guy, har har.

Note Super Secret #25: Avoid first person POV for WotF. This story is written in third person, past tense point of view. Note how every experience we perceive as readers is through the eyes and mind of Muzik (until he is dead, where I am forced to use another POV character until I can bring him back). This is third person close, or third person personal. It creates a very personal experience, binding sensory inputs and emotional inputs entirely through the perceptions of the protagonist. If I have done my job as a writer properly, creating the Reader/Hero bond, I have already bound my reader’s perceptions to those of the protagonist. By staying inside of Muzik’s head, I’m also keeping the story inside of yours.

So in the opening, act one, how long do I wait to create what I call the Reader/Hero bond? I don’t think I’ve specifically taught you this Secret, but it’s a major teaching in my “Winning Stories” master class. At what point do I make my first attempt to make you like or even fall in love with Muzik? Second line, and third line. You have a robot that cares whether or not he steps on flowers. He even apologizes to them in a kind way. “Sorry little fellas.” As the author, I’m telling you this robot is very human, caring and sensitive, and he has deep feelings about beauty and life. Do we like those kinds of people? I sure do, and wish this world had more of them. I’m betting you do, too. The Secret of the Reader/Hero bond is making this deep emotional connection between reader and protagonist throughout your entire story. This goes way beyond a “save the cat” moment. You must create a character readers will care about, or no one will care when you start throwing problems at them. You must continue to make those emotional connections from reader to protagonist throughout your entire tale. It’s not a gimmick. This is the Way. (Insert cool meme of the Mandalorian turning his head toward you here.)

How about Super Secret #6? Do I hint in the opening of the grand vista of my world? You bet! This is a galaxy hopping android, and act one gives you the basics of his age, previous missions, who’s his boss, and how massive their missionary program is. The first line even gives you a grand vista scene of planet Fendor, the place Muzik is about to go explore on an adventure. This is also Super Secret #45: Set. Your. Stage. Muzik can’t walk through a void. I have to show you the world he’s about to enter. This will be his Other World, the realm of unknown, and a hero must cross the threshold of the known world to the unknown to begin his journey.

How about Super Secret #15: Open your story with a character in a setting with a problem. First word is the character, setting is the first sentence, and problem? Top of the second page. “And this time, I won’t screw up!” We immediately know Muzik is in trouble. Trouble creates tension. If I’ve done my job right, you care that this sweet android is concerned about a serious problem. What is it? You have to read on to find out. How many pages do I make you wait? Same page, and the next three pages. It just gets worse, and worse, and worse. Muzik appears to have screwed up on every world he’s been sent to. This is his last chance to get it right! His Heart’s Desire is to ascend to the elite Minstrel 2000 series where he will no longer be alone and work alone. Instead of a long line of success, this is his last chance! What will failure mean this time? “Horrible confinement, hideous torment, the most excruciating agony a star-jumping Muzik Man could ever be afflicted with: tenure as Minstrel in Residence, teaching junior level band to tone-deaf flipper-fingered Purpluppians or similarly encumbered race.” The stakes are high for our dear Muzik, and they’re only going to get worse. Much worse. Life threatening worse. Secret #22: THINGS GET WORSE! But it all starts here, with Muzik behind the eight ball, right in the opening of the story. But it all starts here, with Muzik behind the eight ball, right in the opening of the story. Want me to repeat that?

Within act one, I reveal a Magic Sword. “He called it, Big Splash.” This is Super Secret #32. Guess what? I play with this Secret. It’s a faux Magic Sword, just like that fur coat you’re wearing. But Muzik believes it’s his Magic Sword, and off he goes to battle with it at the end of page five. What’s a Magic Sword? A thing of power to defeat that which keeps your protagonist from obtaining their Heart’s Desire. What’s Muzik’s Heart’s Desire? To convert the Fendorian’s in record time so that he can impress his Creator, the Maestro, which he believes will help him ascend to a higher plane of existence, the 2000 series. And he’s got just the weapon to defeat the culture crushing teachings of the Archalon--he called it “Big Splash.” See? He believes he has finally discovered the secret weapon those coveted 2000 series androids use to convert musically stunted worlds in record time. Alas, Muzik is not wise enough to realize his plan is flawed, and the Magic Sword he has forged will actually bring about his demise.

A tricky Super Secret for this story is Super Secret #18: Start Your *#&$^ Hero’s Quest! Dave has said you have five pages to create your opening with all the required ingredients. By page six, your protagonist better be crossing that threshold and entering their adventure! Remember that. In Writers of the Future, Dave gives you five pages to set your stage and start your quest (yes, he did a daily tip on this), and it’s really a good rule of thumb for any short story. Every detail better be interesting and hooking Dave along through each of those pages. This includes revealing your unique character, in a cool setting, with a desperate heart’s desire, and then having a soul-crushing problem drop its ugly combat boot down on top of that Heart’s Desire. Your hero is forced to make a decision to do something about the problem or say goodbye to their chances of ever getting that which they hold most dear. Again, a good rule of thumb for short stories is by the end of page five, your hero better have a plan to obtain that which they desire, and they better be heading out the door to get it. That is the end of act one.

Does “Muzik Man” accomplish all of this in five pages? Why yes it does! In fact, exactly five pages, at least on my word processor. In hard SF--which “Muzik Man” is--this is hard to do. Not only do you have all the elements of story to set up in that space, you also have to establish your science elements that govern your world. There are robotics issues, including establishing rules of emotional ascension. There are interplanetary issues like space travel and how long it takes. There are planetary issues, what’s the flora and fauna like, what level of technology is the society, how will the language barrier be crossed ... all of these things have to be anticipated and answered before your reader can raise logic questions. They must believe. Your job is to give them enough logical data parsed out in tasty morsels so that their minds will stop objecting and settle peacefully into your world.

But there’s another thing I had to fit in the front, act one, so that the payout at the end would be grand. On top of all these external necessities, I had to set up an internal emotional arc (Super-Duper Secret #1). Sure, on the outside, Muzik wants to convert this world in record time, and the story follows his attempt to do so. That’s the external story arc, or the plot. But Muzik has an internal growth arc as well, and the reader must know what his deepest Heart’s Desire is and how an android psyche can work to obtain it. So I reveal the system within him, the system of tests and exercises his creator the Maestro has given him that he must master if he ever hopes to achieve the emotional maturity and stability of the 2000 series. If I don’t reveal this maze and manor system he grapples with inside himself in the opening, it will be deus ex machina in the ending. The ending will fail. So in those five pages, I’m also prepping the reader for the ending (Super Secret #27), and Muzik will go on an internal journey of self discovery as well as an external one. Also, in hitting those notes of Muzik seeking knowledge of his creator and the divine nature of musical compositions, his internal arc takes on a spiritual quest as well, a search for god. That manor is actually a temple, and Muzik is denied access. He is troubled by the fact that he is not worthy.

And you thought this was just a story about a happy-go-lucky robot. : )

That’s not easy to do in five pages. But it has to be done if I’m to get the big payoff at the end. Super Secret #5, I make a huge promise to the reader in the opening. I reveal everything Muzik desires, externally and internally. By the end of the story, I had better deliver.

One word of caution. This is not an in medias res opening, Latin for “into the midst of things.” You don’t have here a protagonist engaged in an action scene, with backstory being thrown in between gunfire. Such openings are extremely popular today, I believe in large part due to imprinting by Hollywood action movies and our compressed attention spans from the glut of digital information we have to process each day. However, for this story, I started it exactly where it needed to begin. The trick is when you build character and world like this, you make the reader immediately care for your hero. If they fall in love with him or her, they will want details, as long as those details are interesting and bear directly on the story. So hook them all the way through your opening act with lots of tasty morsels. You are enticing them for the upcoming main course coming hot out of the kitchen.

Which is Act Two.



[To be continued ... But feel free to discuss.]
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Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby crlisle » Fri Nov 20, 2020 8:35 pm

On page 2, the story also mentions other cultures such as the Archalons and the Cycanthlopans.
The Archalons are another sect which spreads their version of worship. So they are the competition and their teachings cause problems for Muzik later on in the story.
The Cycanthlopians enjoy and make music. "Man-oh-man did those cats have rhythym."
These contribute to the world building.
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Re: Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Nov 21, 2020 3:59 pm

crlisle wrote:On page 2, the story also mentions other cultures such as the Archalons and the Cycanthlopans.
The Archalons are another sect which spreads their version of worship. So they are the competition and their teachings cause problems for Muzik later on in the story.
The Cycanthlopians enjoy and make music. "Man-oh-man did those cats have rhythym."
These contribute to the world building.


Exactly. This is world building. In a short story, you can't delve into these other cultures and races--we simply don't have the room Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson were/are given to build deep worlds and complex cultures. So you have to execute sleight of hand. Super Secret #6: "Hint in your opening the grand vista of your world." With just a sprinkling of choice images through code, I key up in the reader's mind impressions of a much larger world, indeed, an operation that spans the galaxy. This also creates a deeper character because Muzik now has history, he's not two-dimensional. You realize Muzik has been at this a long time, and he is frustrated that he has not progressed as fast as others. This gives depth to his character, and depth to his problem as well.

This is why I make sure you are doing KYD exercises. In fact, this year you must do at least one per month. Why? By working in confined space, you have to choose your coding carefully. You learn to choose evocative words that ignite larger visions and memories that you have no space to create on the page. Do enough KYDs and you will naturally construct powerful grand vistas with minimal coding. The exercise reprograms your writer mind. But to gain the results, you must first master the exercise. It's hard for a reason. Your mind seeks the path of least resistance. You are forcing it to work harder, to work smarter.

Christopher Henckel? He told me the chief reason he made finalist last quarter was because he did the KYD exercises. I need to teach a master workshop on that. But you already have the knowledge. All of you do.

Practice, practice, practice. This makes sure it's smart practice.

All the beast!

Commander "Beastmaster" Moon

P.S.: AjZach and GlibWizard, for excellence in flight, you both earned full line-by-line edits for your Q1 stories. Well done. You must submit them to me by end of day November 30th, 2020, or forfeit.

Henckel and RSchibler, for excellence in flight, you both earned full line-by-line edits for your Q2 stories. Well done. I need those one month before the close of Q2.

Please try to keep these to 6K ... okay, up to 8K max. Super Secret #31. Strained editor eyes #001. wotf013

Dismissed.
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.
Tangent 2020 Recommended: "Muzik Man" https://amzn.to/313KGJf

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

Postby GlibWizard » Sat Nov 21, 2020 7:54 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:"Lieutenant GlibWizard. That was some innovative flying out there. To utilize hyperlinks in your exercise to maneuver through the maze of Super Secrets was a stroke of genius. You proved you know our ACM manual inside and out, and that I made the right call inviting you to Top Gun. In addition to the many brilliant connections made, you did an insightful call on music being Muzik Man's magic sword, but that he needed to be worthy to wield it. Character growth through the experiences of the journey is often necessary before a hero can wield the true power of Magic Sword. I'm thinking WISHSONG OF SHANNARA here. I'm thinking "Muzik Man" here. You are absolutely correct. For proving you can hold your own in a sky full of MiGs, you are awarded a signed copy of "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" in Writers of the Future Vol. 35, along with a Moongirl collector's button and other cool swag. If you already have the anthology, you can opt instead for a DVD of TOP GUN. This is, after all, the Top Gun year. :)


I can't express how much I would treasure the anthology, as I read it on my kindle about two weeks after putting down my elderly Miniature Pinscher... so one story in particular hit me hard, and after the cathartic tears, I began a quest to learn what that author knew about writing emotional fiction. (What if the super secret Deploy Your Magic Sword becomes my magic sword?)

This breakdown of Muzik Man is an astounding addition to this thread. I love seeing the secrets connecting in order.
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V.36 Q2: HM V.37 Q3: Finalist, Q4: HM V.38 - committed to four submissions!

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

Postby Henckel » Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:12 pm

That's fantastic! Thanks Wulf!
(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 - ???

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Nov 23, 2020 5:04 am

Good morning, beasties. It's that time again! Today's Monday prompt is: SECRET LANGUAGE .
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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

Postby SwiftPotato » Wed Nov 25, 2020 5:00 am

Friends and neighbors: this is your reminder that there are five days left in the month. If you've completed your challenge requirements, remember to shoot me a PM. I'll post another reminder here on the last day of the month, but as always, I will not chase folks down individually. Happy writing, and have a happy Thanksgiving!
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

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