Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
Don Coyote
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Don Coyote » Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:18 am

Folks, whatever I post on this forum, feel free to critique. Because I'm getting too old to work on aircraft, I need to sharpen my writing skills (and quick) and can't do that in a vacuum or an echo chamber. I can stab at the keyboard and make words appear on the screen, but beyond that, I don't know what I don't know about this business. I still haven't a clue how to get paid.

I'll take all the help I can get.

Don Coyote
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Don Coyote » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:43 pm

If I may be permitted, here's the re-write of my dialogue. Critiques welcome.

Eager, the characters aren't just upset with each other. They hate each other. There's a story why Trolls and Elves hate each other, but that's for another time.


The rookie Warden stormed into the office, slamming the door. “I get it, Lieutenant. I’m an Elf. You're a mud-skinned Troll. We hate each other. But the Commander put me on your squad and we have to work together.”

“I’m only half Troll, Warden. By misfortune, the rest is…Elf. Now, Lieutenants out-rank pointy-eared woodrat Wardens and you are insubordinate. Get out, before I have you locked up.”

“No, sir! Not until I have my say. I know being the only Elf to wear the badge of the Wardens is a far cry from the Quorum allowing my kind a seat. But, if there's going to be a chance for it to happen, I must be allowed to do my job.”

“Cry me a river! This whole thing is a bad idea. Just... be happy polishing brass and fetching tea. The Quorum is too stiff-necked to give in and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of a city founded by Elves.”

“What?!? Listen you- you- the other kinds chafe under Elven rule, especially Humans. If there's an uprising, it’ll be as bad as when you mud-skins turned against us woodrats. Don’t stop me from doing my duty. I’ll go right through you if I must. I know how to deal with Trolls.”

“Right, then. Report to me at dusk in full kit for patrol. Make no mistake- Step out of line again and I’ll have more than your badge. I know how to deal with Elves.”

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Eagerink
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Eagerink » Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:21 pm

Don Coyote wrote:If I may be permitted, here's the re-write of my dialogue. Critiques welcome.

Eager, the characters aren't just upset with each other. They hate each other. There's a story why Trolls and Elves hate each other, but that's for another time.


The rookie Warden stormed into the office, slamming the door. “I get it, Lieutenant. I’m an Elf. You're a mud-skinned Troll. We hate each other. But the Commander put me on your squad and we have to work together.”

“I’m only half Troll, Warden. By misfortune, the rest is…Elf. Now, Lieutenants out-rank pointy-eared woodrat Wardens and you are insubordinate. Get out, before I have you locked up.”

“No, sir! Not until I have my say. I know being the only Elf to wear the badge of the Wardens is a far cry from the Quorum allowing my kind a seat. But, if there's going to be a chance for it to happen, I must be allowed to do my job.”

“Cry me a river! This whole thing is a bad idea. Just... be happy polishing brass and fetching tea. The Quorum is too stiff-necked to give in and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of a city founded by Elves.”

“What?!? Listen you- you- the other kinds chafe under Elven rule, especially Humans. If there's an uprising, it’ll be as bad as when you mud-skins turned against us woodrats. Don’t stop me from doing my duty. I’ll go right through you if I must. I know how to deal with Trolls.”

“Right, then. Report to me at dusk in full kit for patrol. Make no mistake- Step out of line again and I’ll have more than your badge. I know how to deal with Elves.”


The end is much clearer now! :)
Aster Glass

HM-HM-R-HM-R-HM-??

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. - Mark Twain

Goal: 40 rejections during year of V38: 3

wotf047

Don Coyote
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Don Coyote » Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:54 pm

The second half of the assignment. Turn the dialogue into a vignette with 250 words or less-

The Warden stormed into the office, slamming the door. “I get it, Lieutenant. You're a mud-skinned Troll and hate me for being an Elf. Good! I hate you too. But the Commander put me on your squad and we have to work together.”

The Lieutenant stopped writing and looked up from his desk. His eyes narrowed at the tall, whipcord lean figure before him. “I’m only half Troll, rookie. By misfortune, the rest is Elf.” He spat the last as a curse. “Let me point out that not only are you a mere Warden- and therefore beneath notice- but also an insubordinate pointy-eared woodrat who barged into my office without knocking.” He pointed at the door with his quill. “Get out.”

“No, sir. Not until I have my say. I am the first, and only Elf-“

“Get out, Woodrat-”

Elf to wear the badge of the Wardens. I know it’s a far cry from the Quorum granting Elves a seat, but it’s a start. For that seat to become a reality, I must be allowed to do my job.”

“Turn in your badge. The Quorum won’t compromise their position and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of the city. Now-” He waved his quill dismissively. “Take your pointy little ears along with that toad sticker you call a sword and leave. Go back to guarding your daddy’s caravans.”

The Warden slammed hard fists on the desktop. “Humans and Orcs chafe under Elven rule. If there’s an uprising, it will tear this city apart.” The Elf leaned in, face hard with anger. “Get in my way and by the Crystal, I’ll go right through you. I know how to deal with Trolls.”

The Lieutenant rose from his chair, his face tight. He was stocky for a Troll or Elf, with thick, ropy muscles and his sudden movement forced the Warden to straighten and take a step back. “Very well. Report to me at dusk in full patrol kit. You’ll beg to go back to fetching tea before I’m through with you. But make no mistake- Step out of line and I’ll have more than your badge. I know how to deal with Elves.”

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Reuben » Tue Dec 01, 2020 6:59 pm

Don Coyote wrote:The second half of the assignment. Turn the dialogue into a vignette with 250 words or less-

The Warden stormed into the office, slamming the door. “I get it, Lieutenant. You're a mud-skinned Troll and hate me for being an Elf. Good! I hate you too. But the Commander put me on your squad and we have to work together.”

The Lieutenant stopped writing and looked up from his desk. His eyes narrowed at the tall, whipcord lean figure before him. “I’m only half Troll, rookie. By misfortune, the rest is Elf.” He spat the last as a curse. “Let me point out that not only are you a mere Warden- and therefore beneath notice- but also an insubordinate pointy-eared woodrat who barged into my office without knocking.” He pointed at the door with his quill. “Get out.”

“No, sir. Not until I have my say. I am the first, and only Elf-“

“Get out, Woodrat-”

Elf to wear the badge of the Wardens. I know it’s a far cry from the Quorum granting Elves a seat, but it’s a start. For that seat to become a reality, I must be allowed to do my job.”

“Turn in your badge. The Quorum won’t compromise their position and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of the city. Now-” He waved his quill dismissively. “Take your pointy little ears along with that toad sticker you call a sword and leave. Go back to guarding your daddy’s caravans.”

The Warden slammed hard fists on the desktop. “Humans and Orcs chafe under Elven rule. If there’s an uprising, it will tear this city apart.” The Elf leaned in, face hard with anger. “Get in my way and by the Crystal, I’ll go right through you. I know how to deal with Trolls.”

The Lieutenant rose from his chair, his face tight. He was stocky for a Troll or Elf, with thick, ropy muscles and his sudden movement forced the Warden to straighten and take a step back. “Very well. Report to me at dusk in full patrol kit. You’ll beg to go back to fetching tea before I’m through with you. But make no mistake- Step out of line and I’ll have more than your badge. I know how to deal with Elves.”


Good work. The motion definitely added to the scene.

Criticism? Well firstly when you want to cut someone off--
you do two dashes, not one, that makes it into an em dash. Also, you have ““Turn in your badge. The Quorum won’t compromise their position and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of the city. Now-” He waved his quill dismissively. “Take your pointy little ears along with that toad sticker you call a sword and leave. Go back to guarding your daddy’s caravans.”” Wulf will want me to tell you that if you interrupt him--with a beat, using an em dash--you can’t put a period afterwards; you have to close the em dash.

More importantly, you have: “The Warden slammed hard fists on the desktop. “Humans and Orcs chafe under Elven rule. If there’s an uprising, it will tear this city apart.” The Elf leaned in, face hard with anger. “Get in my way and by the Crystal, I’ll go right through you. I know how to deal with Trolls.’” You call him elf one sentence and warden the next. This is not good. It’s confusing at the best of times; better to simply take one title and stick with it (even if in dialog he’s called something else).

I would put the last ‘elves’ in italics as well.

Good Luck!
Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. ~ Winston Churchill
V. 37: R, R, R, HM
V. 38: ?,

Don Coyote
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Don Coyote » Wed Dec 02, 2020 10:51 am

Thanks, Reuben. Here it is again, with corrections-


The rookie Warden stormed into the office, slamming the door. “I get it, Lieutenant. You're a mud-skinned Troll and hate me for being an Elf. Good! I hate you too. But the Commander put me on your squad and we have to work together.”

The Lieutenant stopped writing and looked up from his desk. His eyes narrowed at the tall, whipcord lean figure before him. “I’m only half Troll, rookie. By misfortune, the rest is Elf.” He spat the last as a curse. “Let me point out that not only are you a mere Warden- and therefore beneath notice- but also an insubordinate pointy-eared woodrat who barged into my office without knocking.” He pointed at the door with his quill. “Get out.”

“No, sir. Not until I have my say. I am the first and only Elf--“

“Get out, Woodrat--”

Elf to wear the badge of the Wardens. I know it’s a far cry from the Quorum granting Elves a seat, but it’s a start. For that seat to become a reality, I must be allowed to do my job.”

“The Quorum won’t compromise their position and your precious Throne will never relinquish control of the city. Now--” He waved his quill dismissively-- “turn in your badge, take your pointy little ears along with that toad sticker you call a sword and leave. Go back to guarding your daddy’s caravans.”

The Warden slammed hard fists on the desktop. “Humans and Orcs chafe under Elven rule. If there’s an uprising, it will tear this city apart.” The Warden leaned in, face edged with anger. “Get in my way and by the Crystal, I’ll go right through you. I know how to deal with Trolls.”

The Lieutenant rose from his chair, his face tight. He was stocky for a Troll or Elf, with thick, ropy muscles and the movement forced the Warden to straighten and take a step back. “Very well. Report to me at dusk in full patrol kit. You’ll beg to go back to fetching tea before I’m through with you. But make no mistake- Step out of line and I’ll have more than your badge. I know how to deal with Elves."

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby BlackInk » Mon Dec 07, 2020 7:17 pm

Hope it's ok for me to pop in here with a different assignment. I decided to do the assignment Wulf posted in his secrets thread a little while ago, as I could use a reminder of all the secrets, and wanted to show support for his work. So here is my go at Muzik Man. I didn’t look too much at what others in that thread posted about it, since I hadn’t read the story yet, so there could be a lot of repetition. I am not sure how to hide spoilers on here so be forewarned: SPOILERS!!!


SPOILERS!



SUPER SECRET #2: DON'T drive to the story! - p.2 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=30#p88408
The story starts with Muzik on a new planet ready to set out and complete his mission. No toothbrushing scenes here! There is some adjusting his bagpipes, so to speak, which may be the same for an android but it was great fun to read.

SUPER SECRET #3: Set the hook! - p.2 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=30#p88417

I think for some the hook may have started here: “ Muzik took a deep breath, filling accordion bellows within as he savored the aromatics without,” because of the accordion bellow. Possible some were hooked earlier with Muzik apologizing to the flower.

For me the real hook was this: “He might be clunky metal on the outside, but his array of senses were hard won, and Muzik had vowed he would never take sentience and the gifts that came with it for granted,” because it made me interested in Muzik and his mission. He’s a machine that things didn’t come easy for and I’m a lover of the underdogs, those who struggler in life to make it (and those who never make it there too).


SUPER SECRET #4: Pick a major emotion and make your reader FEEL it down to their core! - p.2 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=30#p88428

This emotion is shown earlier on but is echoed later also.

For me the big emotion early didn’t come when Muzik was crying in the beginning, because I didn’t care enough about him yet, it came here:
“‘Buh-bye!’ he hooted through his polymer lips. “See you in ten years!” And then, as an afterthought he trumpeted, “This time I won’t screw up!”” This is because it gave me that insight to his past. I can relate to struggle and screwing up and wanting to learn and do better. It also goes onto set up all the hope that is encompassed in that next attempt, in that wish maybe this one will be the success. I felt it all here.

There is the scene in the climax that is emotional also, which I’ll discuss later but without knowing how Muzik struggled earlier it wouldn’t have mattered as much. The big emotion? Hope for a better world through what have you. Disappointment at not achieving it (yet).

This part earlier:
“Tears welled in her eyes as she swayed to melodies stirred within her. Muzik knew that look on any world— teenagers were the most fertile fields for minstrel operatives. He gave her a knowing flash of the ivories. Seed planted. The roots would run deep in this one.

Later joined with:
“What must it be like to grow up in a world with so many restrictions? ...screwing bolts to blenders?”
Really packed a punch. The big question he asks gets at the core of who we are as people and what is our purpose in the world. What bigger questions are there?

This part together with all the rest drives the point home: “ “What is Empathy? Simply this. Your pain . . . in my heart.” “ Humans are social animals and yet the Earth has been soaked with blood and tears time and again because of our malice but if we could feel eachothers pain in our hearts? What a world it would be! And what a time to write a story that addresses this given the pandemic. The civil unrest in many countries, etc.


SUPER SECRET #5: A story is a PROMISE. - p.3 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=60#p88441

We know earlier Muzik said he won’t screw up and then we get this line:

“Not all invasions took place with armies— the most effective could be the injection into a culture of a word, a concept, a belief, or even . . . a song.” So we are promised that music is going to play a huge role in the story and its role is to change peoples.


SUPER SECRET #6: Hint in your opening the grand vista of your world. - p.3 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=60#p88453

There is so much of this throughout the story and none of it distracts from the main elements either. Which is masterful. So many times when I read novels or stories they bring in aspects of the world that interest me more than the story itself. Not here! It all just improves the story.


Lots of references to a bigger universe. Muzik just got off a ship and remarks about the fresh smell of the air.

The world has a past. “He stroked his chin. “Hmmm. Reminds me of the Cycanthlopan Mosques. Man-o-man, did those cats have rhythm.””

The master for Muzik isn’t even the only one. Others have had their say in how to culture worlds.
“The Maestro wasn’t the only seed planter in the galaxy. Which was why Muzik was here, of course.”

There are rules in place with how to contact others suggesting this has happened many places elsewhere and enough times to try to organize a proper system for it: “...Golden Directives: to the extent possible, show respect for alien customs (even when they are eye-pokingly stupid)...”


The rules are important, not just a minor detail and play a big role in the climax““don’t you think it would have been written in one of the seventy-three tomes of Ascension?””


SUPER SECRET #8: Kill "as you know, Bobs" in your story! - p.3 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=60#p88466
“One of the sultans stood up. Must be their leader, a prime. Muzik had to admit he looked imperious in that tall pointy hat. His staff, too, was different from the others, ending in a wicked-looking spear tip.” The story doesn’t go into excess about the leadership roles. Muzik notes social cues and makes assumptions. Great way not to info dump.


SUPER SECRET #9: Open your story with your protagonist. - p.3 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=60#p88472
We're introduced to the protagonist right away.

SUPER SECRET #12: MAGIC UP FRONT! - p.3 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=60#p88504

There are allusions to Muzik’s musical abilities as well as his VR world that show this magic in the beginning. Also the allusion to the ship he came from.


SUPER SECRET #14: Do not overthink your story! - p.4 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=90#p88542

What’s really unique about this story? The central plot? The music? No. It’s all about what is purpose, how to achieve it, how to be our true selves. What makes it unique is how Wulf chose to tell it but I don’t think he overthought trying to weave in complex situations. His story gets at the essence of so many philosophical works through the centuries and it works because we have a shared human interest in that. Or maybe I’m leaping the gun on this one.


SUPER SECRET #15: Open your short story with 1. A CHARACTER, 2. in a SETTING, 3. with a PROBLEM. - p.5 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=120#p88663

Early on we have Muzik on Fendor. There are a few problems set up, first the lock with the maestro and then with convincing/teaching the inhabitants (and then senate) about the worth of music.

SUPER SECRET #18: Start your #%$@#%!& hero’s quest! We’re on the clock! - p.7
http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=180#p88763
Very early the story introduces Muzik has a plan and he sets out to accomplish it. He lands on the planet and doesn’t waste time. Muzik needs to get to civilization so he starts walking: “Muzik had just the bait. He clinked his fingers together, added percussion to the melody of his gait, and raised a few valves in his neck, playing the sweet enticements of a trihorn. As he crossed into the next block, a door in one of the domiciles cracked open. Muzik stopped. Faced the door. Flashed his piano-key smile. “Why, hello there!” “



SUPER SECRET #20: Employ the 7 Point Plot model. - p.9 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=240#p88943

1. A character – Muzik. The rest of these get expanded throughout here but I wanted to say something more about Muzik as a character. After the beginning and as the story went on I felt a bit annoyed with Muzik. Why isn’t he taking the senate seriously? Doesn’t he understand how much danger he’s in? And then the big bomb drops. Even though he’s been at this for some hundreds of years or so, he never expected the aliens not to follow the directive or go so loose with their interpretations of the law. He was not being a fool, he was naïve. After all, he is only Muzik Man 1000, not even 2000. When he realizes his mistake he isn’t even allowed much character growth given what happened after the verdict of the trial but then with Zephrinna he grows. Not being as naïve as he once was, he understands how much can be lost by going against the rules. How much Zephrinna is risking. He deserves the reward at the end. It feels deserved.

2. In a setting -Fander
3. With a problem – needs to convert people to love music so he can get past maestro’s lock
4. Character must try to solve problem – tries to get converts by teaching about music to inhabitants
5. Must fail (repeat try/fails three times) -alludes to previous failures of not getting enough number, hence his new plan. Fails to convert Hoagley’s wife. Fails to avoid arrest. Fails to convince senate.
6. Must reach a do or die CLIMAX where character succeeds (comedy) or fails (tragedy) -Reaches this with the senate where he fails.
7. And life goes on with validation scene, also known as denouement.- Zephrinna has her own heart’s desire that brings her together with Muzik. Her rebellious nature and skill with electronics brings Muzik back to life and makes him realize his real purpose was not just to bring music and converts and numbers but to connect with others on a deeper level. Resolution is his advancement to 3000.


SUPER SECRET #21: KISS. - p.10 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=270#p88972

“And this time, he had a bold new plan. He called it Big Splash.”
And the story doesn’t keep us hanging for 500 pages to find out what that plan is. Readers very quickly are shown the big splash is to take big chances in trying to teach others music.


Another thing I wanted to note was the language used such as this here: “Muzik saluted with a clang. “Roger, that. Over and out.””

There are more examples of such speech. This seems to be set in a future world so there was no need to write like this and use so many euphemisms readers would be familiar with but in keeping it simple instead of making up random nonsensical futuristic mumbo jumbos (there are some of those) it’s kept simple. I appreciated reading it, smiled at some of the phrases even.


SUPER-DUPER SECRET #1: Take your reader on a *deep* emotional journey. - p.11 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=300#p89055

I mentioned some of the emotional bits before, I in particular was hit most with the emotional trip by the end with Zephrinno but this can’t go unmentioned: “Maestro,” he cried, weaving the tones into a dark requiem... fading into nothingness.”

Muzik is not a spring chicken. He’s been around the block and yet he was so naïve to believe he had justice on his side. Seeing this failure, and it’s a big one, before he is able to complete his mission and just at the cusp at rounding out his character hit deep.


SUPER SECRET #22: THINGS GET WORSE! - p.12 and p.14 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=390#p89357

Previous failings are alluded to.

“A dark feeling wormed through his consciousness...failure of his to open the lock.

He fails with Hoagley’s wife to convert her heart to love music.
Then he fails with the constable. And then the big failure of course.


SUPER SECRET #30: Experience life, don't just read about other people's experiences. - p.22 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=630#p90519
So these are my interpretations having read the story but I think it draws inspiration from Footloose, which may have been a very impactful to Wulf in the 80s (?). For me it also drew inspiration from Anthem, given Zephrinna’s interest but the counsils demands of her.

I think there were also many elements drawn from around the world and politics: “On most worlds, those in the fields tended toward conservativism, and those in the cities tended toward progressivism.”

Basic common decency but man, what a great way to spin it for this story: “Rule 337 in the Galactic Minstrel Operative’s Database: Reflect your audience. When they see themselves in you, their soil softens.”

Not to mention what happens with the verdict. Who doesn't know a religious group around the world that doesn't play loose with interpretation to punish the sinner and avoid helping the widow and orphaned?

SUPER SECRET #31: Not too long, not too short. Your story needs to be jusssst right. - p.23 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=660#p90576
Very linear progression with the story. It didn’t feel bogged down with things that didn’t matter to it while still having many layers of complexity (see world building).


After he teaches the 1st inhabitant what music is and all that with the conversation, the next time when he encounters the other character to teach music to, the scene is shorter. Not so much moosik and all that. Not so much changes in different sounds. Because the story doesn’t need it, as a reader I already encountered all that in the 1st exchange with Hoagley. I saw the story was 11,000 words and thought ok, hunker down. But when I looked at the % bar it said 50% and the climax had just happened. I got so confused, and then realized the bar was for the whole anthology, not just his story. Reading it flew by and I think it’s because in the hands of a professional nearly every word in the story has earned its spot there. I’m not suffering through pages and pages of angst for me to build a connection with the MC. I was honestly very surprised at how well paced this story was.

SUPER SECRET #32: Deploy your MAGIC SWORD. - p.30 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=870#p91088

All his musical abilities, his mission and it almost gets turned on its head: “Friends. Not marks. Not converts. Not stepping-stones to his own ambitions and goals. Friends. He had had it all wrong, all along. He was here for them . . . not they here for him.”


SUPER SECRET #33: KILL YOUR DARLINGS: The Economy of Words Flash Exercise - p.33 for summary and tip; p.22-28 for exercise and critiques http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=960#p92258

For an 11,000 word story it read incredibly quickly. There are not too many extraneous characters who get a spotlight. The early inhabitants he runs into (with Hoagley) could have gone on for much longer with more attention to other neighbors but it’s cut down. We see a little bit with the teenager but then later she’s brought back, an important spotlight on her early on. The senate could have had each leader sharing their thoughts. It could have shown us the scene with them deliberating the verdict. But it didn’t. Maybe in some earlier drafts.

SUPER SECRET #34: A Climax Goes Big Badda Boom - p.34 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=990#p92519

All his dalliance with flouting the laws even after he sees the punishment for just painting in eggshell and it’s no surprise when:

“The prime sultan cleared his throat. “There are only seventy-three tomes of Ascension.”

“With all due respect, sir, I beg to differ. If I could just be given a moment, I would be happy to project images of the original obsidian tablets held on Archalon Primus, which will clearly prove…”

And then despite his great attempts, his last song like a magnum opus stones are hurled at him until the music dies.

SUPER SECRET #35: "Who was that masked man?" - p.36 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=1050#p92708

“YES, MUZIK... “OoooWaah!””


SUPER SECRET #39: Protect your voice - p.63 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=1860#p94237

Having read Wulf’s WotF win and heard his collecting monster’s story this has a lot of the same kind of humor and easy-going dialogue I’ve seen in his other works. It sounds very Wulf.
Just look here: “Schmutz! Budget cuts!”

For a story that packs a lot of somber emotion there is so much humor in it through Muzik’s character.

“Muzik chuckled softly. “Voice?” He flashed a gap-toothed smile. “Baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.””


SUPER SECRET #41: Heart's Desire. It's Really the 8 Point Plot! - p.94 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=2790#p96696

There are Muzik’s heart’s desires, Zephrinna’s, and also the councils.

Here are what we’re told Muzik’s heart desires are:
“But if he succeeded...practiced this maze over and over on the flight in.”

“Muzik had been working on the lock for decades with no success.”

“Surely this was the way to advance in the Maestro’s labyrinthine system of android development.”

I want to argue that despite this being what he wants, what he really needed was to grow up and see that getting through the system and bringing music to others wasn’t enough. Seeing the cost there is in being true to oneself. Caring not only for your purpose but in helping others achieve their own purpose, that is what his heart’s desire becomes in the end.

“Zephrinna didn’t want to be a seamstress— …What she loved was electronics, but the district fathers would hear nothing of a female working in an exclusively male guild...“ Zephrinna is a mushroom alien thing that just wants to be herself but she also appreciates other things/beings for their wants and desires. Her desire? I think besides just wanting to work with electronics is to let aliens/androids have their purpose, whatever it may be.

What does the council desire? U-N-i-T-Y but only as they understand it

SUPER SECRET #43: "Write smart dialogue!" Moon exclaimed emphatically. - p.96 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=2850#p96931


Many examples of this. ““What’s mu-isic?” the Fendorian asked in his croaky voice, trying to pronounce the word correctly. “Magic, my boy. Pure magic!””

My favorite: “ “You crazy? I would have been capped for that, not even a trial.” “Capped?” Muzik had no translation for their slang. Beez drew a finger across his neck. Oh. Muzik understood that sign.”

Again with the color humor: “I’m going to teach you the blues.” Beez held up his hands. “I don’t want no trouble, man. I’m in it deep enough as it is just dipping my brush in the off-whites.” Muzik snorted through his trihorn.”

I could say more about how much world building and character development is accomplished through the dialogue but I think these examples will have to do.


“‘Peace rests in silence.’” “So does death.” The prime sultan tugged the wattles of his throat. “Indeed.”


SUPER SECRET #44: A Rose by Any Other Name Is Not Just as Sweet. - p.106 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=3150#p98227

Muzik turned up the reverb. “A Muzik Man makes music, music, music . . .”

Zeprhinna- zephyr, breeze, not sure how important her name is but these were the first things I thought of.

Shabababa- the weekend Muzik disrupts sounds A LOT like Shabbat. I wonder if this was intentional? I think it must be. It was interesting for me to read this as an observant Jew because we really can’t listen or play musical instruments on Shabbat so like any good off-planet story, it’s roots are back on Earth.

SUPER SECRET #45: SET. YOUR. STAGE. - p.108 http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=3210#p98409

There is a lot of setting in the story to ground it and not make it feel like it’s happening with a bunch of talking heads. “Muzik stared at the mushroom domes of the distant city. A faint veil of smog hovered over buildings gilded with amber sunlight.”

Time and place: “The sun now hung overhead as Muzik approached the capital’s suburbs...adorning ancient temples.”

“The domiciles along each side of the street were white domes, uniform in size and shape, resembling rows of mushrooms clinging to a tree limb.”

““Eggshell.” Muzik flapped his polymer lips, making the sound of a spent balloon.”

I love the polymer lips and in general constant look at how musical Muzik is built.

“Muzik stood in the center of a domed coliseum on a dais encircled by a stone banister.”

“Each shadowy tier was supported by colonnades ...still as stone.” The stone allusions are important!

Later: She strapped on her tool pack, trotted down dark alleys, and slipped over the recycling center’s fence. And now she was in a dumpster in the back lot.”

I never felt like I didn't know where the characters were, the time of day, or even how crowded they were.

This assignment was super helpful so thanks Wulf for suggesting it! Apologies for formatting and not putting things properly in quotes for easier reading. I first had all this in word and then pasted it over here.
Last edited by BlackInk on Tue Dec 08, 2020 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Dec 08, 2020 12:43 am

BlackInk! Wow! You did a super-duper review of the Super Secrets through the “Muzik Man” exercise. This story is in Deep Magic, Fall 2020, for any that might wish to read it first. Anyhow, I am truly impressed, BlackInk! You were able to plumb its depths, and there’s a lot of layers in this one.

I’ll write more later—it’s late—but GREAT job on the assignment!

I will say I used the POV of a frustrated android to explore some of those things that frustrate us as humans. We all screw up from time to time, and hope we won’t again. We all wonder what our purpose is, and why life has to be so hard. And the world would be a much better place if we worked harder at empathy and selflessness, instead of using people to get what we want. It’s all in there, and more. And because it’s a fun story about a naive android, I can talk about these heavy subjects while entertaining you in the process, making you laugh, making you cry. That’s the real magic trick in this story. That’s not easy to do.

Glad you enjoyed! Great analysis of how I used the Super Secrets!

All the beast!

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Dec 08, 2020 3:41 pm

Another day, another moment to finish what I was writing back to BlackInk. :)

BlackInk wrote:

"SUPER SECRET #4: Pick a major emotion and make your reader FEEL it down to their core! - p.2 viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&start=30#p88428

This emotion is shown earlier on but is echoed later also.

For me the big emotion early didn’t come when Muzik was crying in the beginning, because I didn’t care enough about him yet, it came here:
“‘Buh-bye!’ he hooted through his polymer lips. “See you in ten years!” And then, as an afterthought he trumpeted, “This time I won’t screw up!”” This is because it gave me that insight to his past. I can relate to struggle and screwing up and wanting to learn and do better. It also goes onto set up all the hope that is encompassed in that next attempt, in that wish maybe this one will be the success. I felt it all here.

There is the scene in the climax that is emotional also, which I’ll discuss later but without knowing how Muzik struggled earlier it wouldn’t have mattered as much. The big emotion? Hope for a better world through what have you. Disappointment at not achieving it (yet).

This part earlier:
“Tears welled in her eyes as she swayed to melodies stirred within her. Muzik knew that look on any world— teenagers were the most fertile fields for minstrel operatives. He gave her a knowing flash of the ivories. Seed planted. The roots would run deep in this one.

Later joined with:
“What must it be like to grow up in a world with so many restrictions? ...screwing bolts to blenders?”
Really packed a punch. The big question he asks gets at the core of who we are as people and what is our purpose in the world. What bigger questions are there?

This part together with all the rest drives the point home: “ “What is Empathy? Simply this. Your pain . . . in my heart.” “ Humans are social animals and yet the Earth has been soaked with blood and tears time and again because of our malice but if we could feel eachothers pain in our hearts? What a world it would be! And what a time to write a story that addresses this given the pandemic. The civil unrest in many countries, etc."

__________________________

You hit here one of the most important things I teach in my master classes, BlackInk. Heart's Desire and the Reader/Hero Bond. Note how you don't care that Muzik sheds a tear in the first paragraph, because you don't care about Muzik as a character yet. Until we bond readers to our hero, whatever problem we throw at them won't really matter, because the reader is not emotionally attached. So as writers, we must immediately create emotional connections. This goes way beyond a "save the cat' moment. You do this over and over again throughout the story, binding the reader up in the feelings and hopes and desires your protagonist is experiencing. Your pain in my heart. When you do your job right as a writer, the reader will experience powerful feelings, because they went on an emotional journey with your hero.

We all have many layers and unique experiences that make us who we are. But we have commonalities as well. The more you can tap into and explore some of those deep questions and concerns we all face as humans, the more resonance your story will have, and the more it will stand out as being something beyond a simple adventure story. Nothing wrong with a fast paced adventure story, but if we can engage deeper feelings and thoughts within our readers, they will be moved by our stories, perhaps even looking at the world around them in a new way. People talk about such stories because they touched their hearts. It's a big secret for winning contests as well . . . and for getting your stories noticed by editors and getting them published.

Good stories entertain. Great stories tell us something about our humanity and the world around us. And the best stories?

They do both.

Good eye, BlackInk! I'm impressed!

All the beast!

Wulf Moon
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby crlisle » Wed Dec 09, 2020 8:33 pm

Thank you blackink! You really helped me understand Muzik Man!
Volume 37: R, HM, HM, Silver HM
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby BlackInk » Thu Dec 10, 2020 11:18 am

Thank you for further commentary on it, Wulf! I hope I can one day make readers feel my character's pain in their hearts. It is very hard to do right (for me).

I saw my explanation for the resolution of the story got cut off, must have gotten deleted or something during my pasting/editing process. A few things I thought were interesting in the resolution, besides the MC getting what he wants and needs, was how the story with the mushroom aliens isn't over. The denoument has multiple endings and new beginnings really. For the Farlandians, it seems Muzik man will have access to backup, or some such, to help spread his message. So there is much to think about how their world and culture will change. More directly, there is Zephrinna and her future journey to think about too. Now she has an ally who can help her complete her life's purpose. There is an actual evolution of the android from Muzik man 1000 to 3000 as well as the metaphorical (?) evolution via character arc.

Crlisle, I'm so glad it was helpful to you! Doing this kind of assignment was really helpful to me because it made me think about all the secret rules in a different way. I'm interested in doing it for other stories too, after Q1 though.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Dec 18, 2020 7:42 pm

BlackInk wrote:Thank you for further commentary on it, Wulf! I hope I can one day make readers feel my character's pain in their hearts. It is very hard to do right (for me).

I saw my explanation for the resolution of the story got cut off, must have gotten deleted or something during my pasting/editing process. A few things I thought were interesting in the resolution, besides the MC getting what he wants and needs, was how the story with the mushroom aliens isn't over. The denoument has multiple endings and new beginnings really. For the Farlandians, it seems Muzik man will have access to backup, or some such, to help spread his message. So there is much to think about how their world and culture will change. More directly, there is Zephrinna and her future journey to think about too. Now she has an ally who can help her complete her life's purpose. There is an actual evolution of the android from Muzik man 1000 to 3000 as well as the metaphorical (?) evolution via character arc.

Crlisle, I'm so glad it was helpful to you! Doing this kind of assignment was really helpful to me because it made me think about all the secret rules in a different way. I'm interested in doing it for other stories too, after Q1 though.


Thanks for these thoughts as well, BlackInk. It's nice you are thinking about the ways Muzik changed the Fendorian's world. Muzik is a musical Johnny Appleseed. His job was to inject creativity and culture into a totalitarian society, with the hope that it would sprout. Obviously, it did in Zephrinna, and Muzik sees how to do it right. I'm thinking this time, he won't screw up! :)

A good ending should make readers think about what will happen to the world the author created after the hero concludes their climactic journey. Hopefully, the reader will reflect on their own world through the lens of the story, taking away lessons learned. And best of all? That the reader wishes the story could go on, because they fell in love with your characters. Sometimes editors wish for that as well, and that's a good place to be in, because they will welcome your sequels.

Again, nice work on this exercise. I better finish up my own in the Super Secrets' thread!

All the beast!

Wulf Moon
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